Ever lost your way?
Today I did.
Got in the car with plenty of time to reach a client at a stable on the city limits, I must have visited this stable more than 40 times over the last 18 months for various reasons. I have never had any major issues getting there really. I was using my GPS for security most of the time until I switched cars three months ago, and the power point in my ‘new old’ car is broken… meaning my GPS is useless unless I bring a fully charged battery pack with me, which today I did. For some reason, this battery pack did not work with my GPS. I don’t know why. A perfect storm was building.
Somewhere between my waking up and my too-hot-to-drink-yet-black coffee, I missed my usual turn off the intercity to the region where this stable is located. No worries, I am also familiar with the other route. Also, the regular route is inundated with heavy road work since the last six months and taking the way around might actually save me time through the construction work.
Good got through that. 10 minutes pass. Hang on? I don’t remember that park. 15 minutes. Bugger, where the hell am I?
I had to call client and apologise and reschedule I was so damn lost. I still do not know how I got lost. And my ‘smart phone’? An old hand-me-down with a busted navigation. Absolutely my fault. But I was going to a KNOWN location. I KNEW where to go. But I got severely lost. The stable is 25km from my house and I did a 73km round trip today.
It got me thinking as always about horses. They get lost sometimes. They get lost even on things that they KNOW. Things they have practised many times and have proven mastery.
But then sometimes, like a bolt of lightening out of a blue sky, trouble will arrive. The horse struggles with something easy and familiar. What does their rider normally do? Reprimand. It’s annoying to us perhaps. We get frustrated with them. The horse is probably already upset that they find themselves lost. They do not know where they are nor how to navigate that moment. It could be a trot-canter transition. It could be a soft feel to the rein. It could be walking past that scary gate on the corner. Doesn’t matter. They are lost. Are you going to be able to help them find themselves? Or is your reaction going to drive them further away from the moment?
This is the kicker: If you load pressure onto the horse or worse, heavy or hard emotion on the horse- against them- when they are troubled or lost, you have successfully ruined what could have been a wonderful opportunity to guide and soften your horse through a tough spot. It could have been a teaching moment for both of you to develop a new level of trust and connection. But if you get mad at your horse when they get lost, confused or resistant out of the blue, what you created is fear in the horse, the horse will then be sacred of becoming confused. Then you have very quickly a severe pathology and a negative spiral. This will take you to bad places real fast.
If someone was in my car with me today and began yelling at me when I got lost… I might have cried. Really. Or yelled back. I would have become very upset with them because I did not WANT to get lost, but for whatever reason today I just did.
I knew that what I needed most today was to go back to basics, return to HOME and try again next time. Go back to something simple and basic. To many things were working against me today, together with me being a bit over tired after getting home late the day before. A perfect storm. Know when to get in, when to get out, and when not to get in at all.
Think about it, next time your horse presents with a bit of resistance or confusion, in something they ‘know’. They are not being a dick. They are being a living creature.
Almost one year ago, I got lost with Sanson in the forest. I began to panic, it was Christmas eve and dark was settling and I had spent 45 minutes trying to find my way, and realised I was lost. Well, I dropped the reins, and said one word to my horse: HELP.
Five minutes later I was walking into my stable. Fact was, I was no more than 200 metres from home. But my disorientation visually caused me to lose my way. Despite the fact that I was closer than I had thought I was, to what I wanted and needed.
I swear the longer I spend around Sanson the more I become like him and the more he becomes like me.