The Lotus flower is a symbol of Eastern Culture, of peace, harmony and loving compassion. Wouldn’t we love to have that with our horses and in our life too? Suppose we made that the rule to live by? Namaste means “the God in me sees and recognizes the God in you”. Wow.
Maybe it’s time to evaluate the rules we all live by. What do they really mean and are they helping you or hindering you to live “your best life?” That’s a question we all need to answer. How harshly do you judge yourself, your life, your horse, you success, your relationships? OR do you let it just happen organically? Many rules we live by serve others better than they serve you – that is how hate crimes are born. Lack of understanding of another’s journey, culture or upbringing leads to false pride and prejudice that actually has no bearing on real life at all. Our jails are full – but did the rules help to stop them becoming criminals? NO. If you really love your neighbour as yourself, you would never steal from him. If you treated others as you would like to be treated, we could eliminate crime and terrorism. What a concept.
With your horse, would you treat yourself as you treat your horse? Would you appreciate harsh bits, spurs, rough hands and too many rules that don’t allow you to live life as you really want to? Why should the horse accept this treatment? We all need our freedom back, but that doesn’t mean it’s a licence to kill – in fact the opposite – for with understanding the need for violence disappears. I will give you and example. Right now I am training a horse who was a Standard bred race horse for years. He now has the chance to become a riding horse, but he knows nothing about that job, nor does he have pleasant memories of people. This is evidenced by this melt downs when in the cross ties in the barn, a place he associates with racing and the rough handling he received. When he’s in the cross ties he has flashbacks and he poops and walks around, waiting for something awful to happen. He’s bolted out of the barn a couple of times when I’m bridling him, so now I have to bridle him in a stall where he still tries to leave in a panic even if the door is closed, so we go around in circles. Gradually he is getting quieter in the stall, and he is beginning to realize that nothing bad is happening, so the trust is growing. I bring him back into the barn after his sessions and I give him cookies in the cross ties, I’m working on breaking down the fear gradually. Finally after our last training session when somebody else’s horse freaked out in the ring, so did Beauty, but I managed to keep him from losing it and by the end of the session, he kept his cool trotting around quietly while the other horse freaked out again as his owner was cracking the lunge whip really loudly. Of course that signified to Beauty that he should run really fast now, having been a driving horse. I had to talk him out of it.
At last and for the first time when we got back to the paddock – he actually talked to me. He said “thanks for teaching me that I don’t have to be afraid”. Previously he did not realize that he could talk to people or that we even heard him. That was quite a shock to him but it was a big breakthrough for him. You see the only rule I have around horses is that they are not allowed to hurt me. I give them the freedom to be who they are, to express emotion however it shows up for them, but to control the situation with calmness instead of excitement. The human has to keep their cool so that the horse feels safe. End of Story.
So now think about how many rules we have around horses and life that are rooted in fear. How much of them are meant to contain, restrict and force either the horse or the human to shut off emotion which usually ends in an explosion. Expressing emotion is healthy, but it’s the way it comes out which is the key. Shutting it down leads to depression, anger issues and uncontrolled outbursts. This gets us nowhere. If the rules are fair you have no problem – like not allowing a horse to hurt you. But when they get unfair, like riding a tired horse over fences, not allowing time off in between rides or too much showing, too many expectations, it starts to have serious repercussions. Like the kids who are doing dance lessons, soccer, music etc., the parents are living their dreams out through their kids; did anybody ask the kid what they want to do? Did anybody ask the horse if they like dressage, jumping or roping? Not likely. We take away their choices and then expect them to like it and obey. That’s how rule breakers are created – too many restrictions and not enough freedom. The resentment builds over time and one day they let fly and throw you into a wall. I know a lot of trainers that horses have put in hospital – I wonder why?
When the horse is allowed horse time out with friends in a field, when they always have a clean stall, good water and plenty to eat, when the owner or trainer gives them time off to rest after training or showing, these things mean as lot to a horse. It gives them time to detox rest and recuperate. Your rule breakers become kind, willing and peaceful – isn’t that what we all want from our horses, our kids and our spouses? I think so, but you have to be willing to let go of judgement, false pride and ego first, for if you don’t – you will never have the harmony you crave in life. Namaste!!