I went to a horse clinic earlier this month. The title was Compassionate Connection, and the instructor was Heidi Potter. If someone walked into the room, they never would have guessed we were in a horse clinic.
Heidi started by suggesting we give our worry up to a higher faith. We discussed breathing patterns, that the inhale brings energy and the exhale brings calm. She introduced us to Brené Brown’s 7 Super Tips. For example, empathy is the antidote to shame.
Heidi told us to be aware of judgment during our time together. To help with this, she had each of us put a handful of dried beans in our right pocket. Every time we judged something; ourselves, others in the group, etc. we had to take a bean out of our right pocket and place it in the left pocket. I found this exercise helpful in raising my awareness of my judging mind.
The previous day, participants focused on presence. I pondered that this could be a good exercise to use with ourselves in an effort to bring awareness to our tendencies toward negative self-thoughts. This technique also could be used with kids when trying to teach them things like hands forward, heels down, or soft elbows.
Before going out to work with the horses we did a breathing exercise to calm and center ourselves then we shared our dream for the day. It doesn’t sound like the usual horse clinic, does it?
About two years into working with Rudy a friend was performing Reiki on him. She shared with me the following; “Rudy asks that you think of nothing but positive thoughts when you’re riding him. He suggests, things, like it’s a nice day or I’m so happy to be here.” She also said, “when you think negative thoughts, he thinks he’s doing something wrong and this makes him feel bad.”
This was an early lesson on the sensitivity of horses and how in tune they are with everything that we bring to them both desirable and undesirable. It goes without saying that most humans carry baggage, yet we fail to recognize the effect this has on our human-horse relationships.
This raised the question for me, “how can I be the best partner for Rudy?”
Heidi suggested we create a new positive mantra to use when we're with our horses. She suggested, “brave, strong, and balanced.” She also asked us to consider our Wish for our horse. I immediately began thinking about options.
Rudy is the herd sentry. He’s the one that’s on the lookout for danger, the first to alert the other horses to any perceived threat. He’s hypervigilant, a trait we both share. Perhaps he was born this way but my hypervigilance grew as a byproduct of my family of experiences in my family of origin. This trait helped me to predict, dodge, and try to peace-keep potentially unpredictable and volatile home situations. Knowing the burden this role carries, I decided that my Wish for Rudy is to feel safe with me.
Written June 2021