On a positive note, during this period, I had a horse visit Four Oaks in the need of some help. I learned way more from this mare than I could ever teach her. I put this down to the different levels of awareness and consciousness when interacting with horses and the difference between being too linear in my approach rather than really listening to what’s going on for the horse I am interacting with. I have learned a lot from some of the best horsemen and woman in the world and I am still very aware that I am only scratching the surface of Horsemanship, although I am happy knowing that once I continue listening with awareness, I will continue to improve after every session.
I always work in the order of Energy – Intention – Focus – followed by the physical feel that I am offering. From the horse’s perspective, this obviously varies from person to person, so it’s not always easy for them to deal with it, never mind getting into the frame of mind to actually learn. It’s very important that we can stay focused to help our horses, but at the same time not get too intense that it’s almost a predatory behaviour. This is what hit home to me most when this particular mare came to us for help. I felt like I approached her with the correct energy, intention and focus, but the physical technique, including my body language, caused her to get emotional and she started to defend herself. This behaviour was pretty extreme to the point of aggression. Even though I was constantly aware of not putting her under ‘pressure’, she obviously felt under pressure from my approach. I have helped a lot of horses up to this point and I have never had a horse react in such a defensive way as this little mare did.
The fact it got this far, led me to take a step back and look at it from her perspective, and to search through the skill base that I have gathered up to this point, I also contacted my good friend Leslie Desmond for help. Leslie has always thought me to be very aware of my body language to a much higher degree than I ever picked up on in the past. Leslie also gave me a quick reminder, just like my friend James Roberts did in the past, that if you learn to listen and change your approach to what the horse may need, things will always work out for the better. Instead of staying too linear and pushing ahead in the hope that the horse will learn to handle what is being put before them, an adjustment sooner rather than later will help them immensely. In this case, it meant listening to her to find out what she enjoyed and to work from that point. The result was a very small amount of groundwork and more riding. She is a lot more comfortable with that and is learning to trust humans a lot more. This has allowed her owner to slowly add in more groundwork and enjoy bringing her out on more riding adventures, which she really enjoys. She finds it easier to learn this way.
In reflection, I have learned to check my ego by self-reflection and working hard on eliminating the linear approaches I can get drawn into. Drawing on all the different approaches I have learned from all my mentors and to always seek out advice from high level mentors. This goes a long way to rein in the ego. I am blessed to have direct contact to some of the best in the world and I will continue to respect every horse I come in contact with by learning to listen with more awareness. This will help me become a better teacher for humans and horses and generally a better human being.