there are days that things just don’t go well. even when we have all these techniques in our mind and can implement them well, we are still emotional beings, as are our horses, and emotions can take over.
being emotionally fit is very difficult for me. i’ve had and handled horses all my life, but haven’t been doing parelli for very long. i used to be “normal” in my horse handling. one of the rules that weighed heavy in my mind then, was that it was paramount that i win. in every situation i must win the game. though at that time it was more work than play. it didn’t matter what the session looked like as long as i came out on top. most of the time if things got tricky both the horse and myself would come back to the barn sweaty, tired and grumpy. i didn’t want much to do with that horse and i’m certain it didn’t want much to do with me.
one of the things that really drew me into parelli was the idea that being with my horse could be fun, a game. horses were always work for me. i would enjoy driving them or riding them, there was lots of laughter and good times. but when things didn’t go well or “right” it was all business and things could get a little ugly. i never beat my horses by any means, but i did win the argument.
my goal now is to keep our session fun. even when things go wrong. that does not always happen and man do i beat myself up when i fall back into my old pattern. i have to remember that i spent 34 years doing it the “normal” way and only 2 years the natural way. it might take a little time for me to be totally consistent with my emotional fitness. this is not an excuse for my behavior when i fall back into old patterns however and when i do, the best thing i can do for billy and for myself is to stop whatever i’m doing and put him away. just stop. don’t push through my problem and make it his problem. when i do that i can break down the trust that i’ve worked for 2 years to build up.
it’s important to remember that trust can take a long time to build and just a short time to break.
when billy doesn’t do what i’ve asked it’s usually because he doesn’t understand what i’m asking. sometimes it’s because i haven’t proven to him that i’m a good leader that day.
escape comes from a place of fear or confusion.
disrespect comes from a place of contempt or disregard for me.
yielding to the pressure comes when he has respect for me.
if i’m angry or frustrated i can become very predatory and scary. billy may try to escape me in that situation. which can lead to me feeling even more frustrated or angry. that’s when i have to quit. just stop. put him away and come back later with a different frame of mind. after we’ve had a rough time i feel like it’s a good idea to go back a bit and spend some undemanding time with him.
undemanding time is time spent with him when i am not asking him to do anything. for me this usually means i take a book out to his pen and sit and read for awhile. i will sit in with him or just sit outside his pen along the fence. he will come and stand over me and doze when i do this. sometimes he tries to eat my book, or my hair, or my clothes. i have my kids stick with me to help him back off a little if he gets too friendly. this time is very relaxing for both of us. i think of it as a reset. i’m not frustrated or angry. i’m just quiet and relaxed. this puts both of us in a better frame of mind for our next play.
it can be easy to get frustrated with this process. that is why people quit horses. they get frustrated or scared and just walk away. to me, horses are my passion. being a natural horse-woman is my passion. the journey and the process fascinate me. that is what keeps me from walking away.
i remind myself that the principles are more important then the purpose. and more important than the goals, the relationship must come before the goals can be met.
this journey is a process.
and always i remind myself to play with my horse, work on myself.