When I get started on a project I get very focused, I should say very very focused. This works extremely well in the male dominated corporate industry I work in, but with my horses ……. not so much…
Over the years I have tried to tone down my plans, goals and expectations but I was aware that I still gave off some sparky energy. This is usually okay with Thunderhooves as he is a happy go lucky kinda guy who likes to please, but Sparklehorse doesn’t suffer fools and I found she switched off and I lost my connection with her.
For the last couple of years I have found that the only way I can be with her is to do nothing. It is not that I haven’t tried, I cannot tell you how much, but at first I was trying too hard, then I was hampered by not feeling good enough for her, I have become incredibly grounded and open to her but this did not seem to be effective and I just felt guilt at not being good enough, so I left it for us to just share space. We did no training at all, usually she only wore a headcollar when the hoof trimmer or dentist came and had the occasional groom. Everyday I would talk to her, tell her how fine she was looking and give her a caress, occasionally apologising for not being good enough. So I waited, to see what would emerge to allow us to connect again.
Over the past few months I have started to focus on Thunderhooves, after time off due to his hock and getting too fat it was clear we needed to introduce some activity this year and he is always up for some fun. But first I needed to address Sparklehorse’s separation anxiety which was so bad I couldn’t separate them. This journey is written about in this blog and is still going very well. I have no previous emotional baggage with Thunderhooves so find it easier to work with him, and he is such a chilled guy who is up for some fun.
During one of these sessions when I was fully focused on Thunderhooves and had forgotten to keep an eye on Sparklehorse to see that she was still calm, I heard her whinny. I looked up and for a split second I thought ‘oh shit I have pushed her tolerance too far’, then I took in what I was seeing and hearing. Not the pacing and high pitched whinny of a distressed horse, she was calmly stood at the gate and giving a soft low whinny.
I stood and looked at her in amazement and gently asked ‘do you want to join in?’, the look she gave me was so wonderful it made my heart leap.
I finished up my session with Thunderhooves and invited Sparklehorse to join me. She was so soft and connected and we went through some of the simple liberty movements that we used to play with years ago. I couldn’t believe it and could barely contain my excitement, I had despaired of ever having the same relationship with her again. It was a huge a-ha moment for me.
So why now?
It was not enough just to drop my aims and my goal focussed approach, I had to become grounded and present, I had to get over my feelings of not being good enough for her and on top of that I had to recapture my sense of fun (thank you Thunderhooves for that!)
With Sparklehorse it is not a case of ‘Fake it til you Make it’, absolute authenticity is the only way she will meet me halfway. What a teacher, I am still her humble student and still smiling.