I knew I was beyond “rusty” with my horsemanship skills. I had a horse when I was young for a few years, but I had only taken a few lessons here and there over the last few years. Horses had remained a staple in my dreams but not realistic for my life.
So I knew when I signed up for an intensive horsemanship clinic in the mountains led by a well-known trainer / “horse whisperer” that I would be learning a lot.
But I had no idea what I would learn about myself in the process.
Babe was my horse for the week, as she was when I came to this same ranch a few weeks ago. I remembered that she was hard-headed and we struggled a bit, and that I had much to learn with her.
As the trainer introduced the horses who the twelve of us students would be riding for the week, he mentioned that Babe was one of the most sensitive horses in the arena. A great horse, but very sensitive. I took a nervous gulp. I wondered why the trainers wouldn’t think a more easy-going gelding instead of a quirky and sometimes hormonal mare wouldn’t be a better fit for someone like me? But I soon realized there was a reason Babe and I were together again.
All of the other eleven riders had more experience than me. Many of them had their own horses and were simply here to fine-tune their skills. I was intimidated from the start as I tried to rein in my self-doubt which began to run wild at the start of each new exercise.
But in the end, as I released Babe from her halter that last day and the snow was falling all around us and she nuzzled her head into my chest, I realized that I had learned much more than horsemanship that week. And that Babe and I had truly bonded and learned from each other. I smiled as I gave her a kiss on the cheek and remembered that I too have been called hard-headed and sensitive on more than one occasion. It had all been part of the plan.
What I learned from Babe
– Sometimes it takes a while to connect. Babe seemed irritated as we groomed our horses that first morning and would hardly engage or acknowledge me while all of the other horses seemed to be loving the attention. (We’re not all hard-wired the same and some things take time.)
– If you’re having trouble, it’s a good idea to look inside yourself before you blame anyone else. (It’s hardly ever the horse’s fault.)
– Positive energy is key to everything. (I knew this stuff, why had I forgotten that like attracts like, negative thoughts attract the same, positive attracts positive?)
– Horses are smarter than people, and way more perceptive. (It’s always beneficial to leave your ego at the barn door and be truly open to learning.)
– Overanalysis can lead to paralysis. (The brain simply can’t be open to learning new things when it’s bogged down and you’re not breathing and giving it fuel.)
– Everything is relative. (Comparing yourself to anyone is never a good idea.)
– Expectations have got to make sense. (Appreciate a little bit of improvement so you can be thrilled when you experience more.)
– Know the direction you’re wanting to go and make it happen, even if you’re told otherwise. (As a quote I saw recently says: You have the power at any given moment to say “This is not how the story is going to end.”) Babe just wanted to make sure I was serious first.
– Visualizing success before you begin calms your soul and primes the pump. (Wow does this ever apply to everything.)
– When you’re leading anyone, they must know you are in charge to feel secure. (They need your guidance and confidence. And it can be given with love and appreciation at the same time. Balance is a beautiful thing.)
– Never end a day on a negative. Figure out a way to make sure of this with kids, spouses, employees, friends, and yes, animals. (The way we end a day has a lot to do with the way we start the next.)
– Relax. (When you’re tense others can sense it … and it affects everything.)
– When things come easily we don’t appreciate them near as much. (The strongest love is born from struggle and sweat.) Ain’t that the truth.
– Sometimes we’re presented with just the exact challenge that the universe knows we need. (You just have to be open to seeing it.)
Have you ever learned about yourself in a most unexpected place?