As a school kid, many of the subjects I was struggling with came down to being insecure in my base; a lack of basic understanding of how my brain would ever be able to just ‘put one foot in front of the other!’ How could I ever ‘happy hack’, so to speak with this dyslexia life, seemed like one insurmountable challenge after another.
My base confidence was often low, because I didn’t understand why my brain didn’t work in the same way as 99% of the small pool of people I was surrounded by on a daily basis, bar one or two other ‘doughy eyed rabbits in the headlights’ I had met in the playground (as adults we like to call ourselves creative’s!)
Then starts the cycle, we (or our horse) have the expectation that it will be scary because our brain says “I cant, I won’t be able to, I’m rubbish at this”. Sure enough your fear paralyzes you from accessing your knowledge. So it looks like you were right, it is scary because you ‘cant, you’re not able to, no matter how hard you tried, you are rubbish at this’; and so the self fulfilling prophesy goes on.
How to get out? We are forever being told to get out of our comfort zones, just do it, and step outside the box. But to what gain if we are already insecure and stretched to the max? It’s so important to put yourself in a safe supportive environment with good knowledge and people/horses, which can first and foremost coach you on how to keep your confidence in tact.
Without the fear you will be amazed at how many talents you already have, and how easily you can pick up new techniques.
As I travel around the country coaching I’m lucky to get to observe the habits of many people. Often if we are fearful about our ability, within our chosen path (ie. leisure time, career, relationship etc) it can cause us to make rash decisions, based on the opinion or information of others. In the horse world this many times leads to nervous or unprepared horses being jumped on, taken riding on the roads and often to compete at a show; all because someone’s friend told them they should.
If you are trying to expand your life and step out of your comfort zone, don’t just impulsively leap and scare yourself or your horse, as this can lead to even greater fear. For many horses (and people) they may never want to leave their herd or comfort zone again!
Make sure you have a good systematic approach to stretching yourself and your horse. Stay present with your horse, plan first at home but be prepared to stay in the moment with your horse. There is no shame in taking your time, in fact by honouring the process, staying in the moment with your horse and recognising the maybe subtle, yet important ‘mini milestones’ of development you will build a more stable and lasting confidence and relationship together.
Observe advice but don’t feel you have to take it. Avoid ‘should, could, would, black & white’ thinking. Don’t beat yourself up, take a step back, give yourself a break, step away from the horse and have a rethink.
‘Should, could, would’ing’ yourself may cause you to fall out of the moment and if you and your horse are about to step out of your comfort zone you need to both be there, in the present – not thinking what you could do next (in the future) or what you should have done before (in the past.)
Take time later, by yourself over a coffee to deliberate. But for now, you and your horse need you calmly secured in this moment, in the now.
On our foundation clinics we are building the base of the relationship with our horse. For many horses, they already feel insecure about leaving their horse herd with a human mind that maybe unavailable to connect with, because their human is thinking about what they are learning, rather than necessarily what their body language is saying. Learning the French language and counselling someone in French are two separate things, best not done at the same time!
Learning with confidence as an individual or within a team must grow like a pizza base, if you over stretch in one go your pizza will have holes in it. Every human/horse/pizza dough will be different in each moment, due to ones experience and perception of our environment.
“ Our observation rests on our perception and our perception rests on our personal truth”
I went to Italy recently and watched the pizza makers spinning huge discs of dough over their heads. The fascinating part is how we determine when we can stretch ourselves\horse\dough without pushing ourselves over the edge.
We can either be open minded, in the moment and NURTURE an expectation of growth in understanding and confidence. Or we can live in our future goals or past experiences and push ourselves to breaking point without even knowing it.
We need to establish a daily plan to work with our personal dough, our base, our foundation. The bigger the base the more fun toppings we can fit on it. For me the mozzarella, pesto and olives of life are bought from focused and dedicated connectedness; with our families, our horses and ourselves. This connectedness brings travel, art, personal richness, contentment; atonement (all the good stuff) but it can only exist with a good layer of confident understanding, stretchable dough; the base, the foundation.
This stretchable, spongy, elastic, soft, open, big hearted creative, adjustable, confident horse does exist and can be grown I promise.
Over the last 15 years I have met a lot of people and horses. By speaking to trainers on the phone I get a good idea of what their horses will be (feel like) based on them; personality, tone, environment. On a few occasions when working with horses before meeting their humans, I can also feel how their humans feel inside when they are working with them and the impact this has on the horse. In the same way foodies learn about other foodies through food, artists learn about artists through art and so on, in many ways we are not so different from our horses we just want to connect.
It’s always difficult to teach ‘feel’ in any discipline but I do know that fear is one of its biggest blockers. So stay in this moment, take a deep breath and understand your fear and that of your horses, so you build a solid base together from knowledge and understanding.
Then cover with whatever toppings you like.
Being in the moment with my Horses