When I first began to work with horses in a more understanding, aware, and almost spiritual way, I had to take a good look at what my goals were and why I was into horses to begin with. So many times we find ourselves hauling ourselves out to the barn out of obligation to ‘work’ on something or to achieve a goal. So many times we lose our motivation out of it and end up resenting the thought of going out to the horses. I was
horribly guilty of it for a long time, and continue to struggle with it. The fact is, my horse picked up on my discontent, and although he was patient with me and unfailingly optimistic despite the unrest, there were things that he could never give me. It was like when children run away from their parents when it’s time to go home from a play date …are they running away just to be belligerent, or are they running away from the discomfort they feel on a regular basis at home?
As a child, horses were nothing but fun and games – a magical escape from real life. When I became a teenager, I began to think more like a plagued teacher. I had to accomplish this. I had to achieve that. Life became more about teaching my horse different things and less about enjoying what I already had and growing where I could.
My horse at the time had endured with me for about 5 years before I finally changed my attitude. It was so amazing to watch what it did to our relationship when I finally remembered what horses meant to me. After all, why do we have horses? For fun. For pleasure. For self-discovery. Once you remember that, then going out to the barn becomes a magical escape again! Learning sessions become shorter and more effective. You become more forgiving and fair with your horse. Everything just gets better.
A quote that I remember every time I feel my ego rising is from ‘The Horse and His Boy’ by C.S. Lewis: “Forget your pride (what have you to be proud of?) and your anger (who has done you wrong?)” I translated it into a more applicable statement for me: Forget your pride (what have you to lose?) and your impatience (what have you to control?)
The year that I gained this revelation and really began to act on it, my horse had to be suddenly put down due to an accident. I thought I would die. It had happened exactly when I thought we had reached our goal …exactly when I thought we could begin to enjoy the fruits of our labors. It seemed totally unfair; like that moment a hard drive gets destroyed and all of its contents.
But that is the point. Goals have the power to fixate and distract from what truly matters. We can become so focused on a the goal to build, build, build, that we miss all the time in between to form memories and bonds that will never be forgotten. We don’t know what the future holds, or how long we’ll have the great gifts we’ve been given. Enjoy what you have. Take time to pause and bask in the relationship you’ve already formed with your horse. I wish I’d done more of that. It’s only now that Epic is gone that I really begin to see what we had that was so magical. The pictures you see above were the last ever taken of us. It was one of those perfect evenings that I just felt compelled to be a part of. It’s a memory that I made with him and will never forget.
Your horse wants more of these moments. Your horse wants you to become childlike again. If this was the last day you were ever going to have with him, what would you two do together?