Something I always understood about horses is that each one is so unique, you never walk away from that interaction without them teaching you something. This was especially true during my time working at a horse rescue north of Gainesville. I'm not talking "unwanted pets", I'm talking "bad mamma jammas" who had serious issues which labeled them as "fix it, or they're going on a one way trip to Mexico".
As someone with several trauma responses, I recognized and connected to that in those horses. So, fix them, I did.
Just when I thought I knew everything I needed to know in order to handle a simple pushy broodmare, she has shown me the extent to which I have allowed myself to be consumed by my thoughts. Defined by them. Ruled by them.
I *thought* bringing Destiny into my life was going to be easy. I *thought* training her up was going to be simple process considering what I worked with in the past. I *thought* the aspects that made me a good trainer were wrapped up in only what I was taught through my certification and the tools I used to do my job. Since nothing, not ONE DAMN THING, about having her in my life has gone smoothly for me, I immediately *thought*, "this is because I'm not worthy of having something this amazing in my life". She has shown me how wrong I've been on all accounts.
So today's reflection is an extension of the ongoing inner work I've been doing for the last 2 years: What makes us.... us?
When Destiny moved to her new location, I lost access to all the things I thought I needed to train her- no roundpen, no arena, no space to run her or work her. No space to bathe her (or teach her to stand for it), everything I knew how to use was gone. She has pasture for daaaaaays but the fences cannot withstand a horse of her stature applying the smallest amount of pressure during a training session... I know. I already tried it.
So, I almost gave up doing so. "I have been stripped of all the things I need to be a successful partner to her. Why bother?" I felt like I had been robbed of an otherwise exceptional milestone in my life and would have to resign to keeping her as a broodmare and "pasture companion". These thoughts evolved into questioning myself on deeper levels as well! I had other definitions of Self pop up: failure, inexperienced, incapable, unworthy, fuckup.
But... was any of that true?
Was I a horsemanship trainer because I had a roundpen to work in? A lunge line to work with? An arena to use? Literally any space other than a stall to work a horse? Or was I a good trainer because I knew how to "speak horse"? Was stripping me of all my tools making me an ineffective trainer? Or was this meant to be a harsh reminder and make me *better*?
After essentially a 3 week hiatus from training, Destiny is learning and retaining the following basics at an exceptional rate: - Standing - Picking up her feet - Stall manners - Turning to face me - Moving off of pressure - Personal space - Backing up - Leading - Following me - Desensitization (how to be scared in place or not at all) - Respect - Trust in me
No arena. No roundpen. No lunge line. No food bribes. Just a stall, a conversation, and a loooooot of patience (she's a sensitive sally).
I now think of how many other people are living their lives consumed by the thoughts they've allowed to define who they are, what they are capable of, and their worth. Every minute, of every day. Just like I did/do. While I finally allowed myself to realize, "I am not the thoughts of other people", the next step I struggled with (and still do) was, "I am not MY thoughts". Thoughts are content, and I am the context.
Working with horses taught me how to have limitless patience, externally, but I NEVER had one teach me how to be patient with *MYSELF*. Of all the lessons I've learned from horses, I never *thought* an entire damned paradigm shift was going to be one of them! I've been told by a few people now that Destiny was both aptly named and brought into my life for a reason. I had no idea how true that really was.