Thursday, March 26, 2015

Letting go of expectations

This has always been a big problem area in my life.  

Born with an overactive imagination and prone to daydreaming have produced expectations in my life about everything.  I cannot even begin to tell you about the family holidays, celebrations, vacations and everything else, that have been unmatched and in some way, have fallen short, of my bloody expectations of what they will be like, how everything should be, etc, etc, etc...


The easiest and most direct route to disappointment.  

Bar none.  

And now in the midst of my fifth decade in life, I am still working on this.  I am trying to really focus on the here and now.  Live, breathe, see and experience everything around me for what it is.  Not how I'd imagined it would be.  Be wholly present and appreciative of what is.  Accepting and grateful for the imperfect beauty of what is.  Aaahh grasshopper, so much easier said than done for this dreamer.  It's really about embracing the unexpected, spontaneous, messy bits of this life which sometimes turn out to be more about the lesson, than the actual event, that counts in the end.  For as ever-changing, growing and learning people, life's lessons never really conclude do they?  

Nor would we want them to.

Coming up in July will be our third year together, Eags and I.  Can I just say that I absolutely adore this horse!?  He is so imperfectly perfect.  He blesses me with tiny little gifts of growing trust every single day.  Sometimes, I'm sure, I miss them completely.  Most assuredly, my loss.  But by trying to be fully present and cognizant of my surroundings, I'm getting better at realizing and savoring these little blessings of himself he graciously gives to me.  For what better gift than a piece of someone's heart, their trust and ultimately their love?  He is so much better at forgiveness than I am.  I've got so much more to learn from this beautiful horse.  But, slowly but surely, I am learning to trust him too.  And it feels really, really good.  And when I feel good, Eagle feels wonderful.  He looks to me for reassurance that we're alright.  We're both gonna be just fine.  

One of the two people I'd tried to contact about working with us, has gotten back to me.  Rachel has a full schedule right now, but around the end of May will be able to start working with us, if we both feel it's a good match.  I'm not very familiar with her ideas of good horsemanship, but have seen some very good and relaxed horses whom she's worked with.  And I truly believe that relaxation and feeling good about what they're doing, is the ultimate key to understanding, and the "try" that comes through a horse when we're trying to communicate our wishes through their actions.  Hopefully that makes sense, because it's rather difficult to put my thoughts into words.  I don't really think we "teach" or "school" anything to our horses that they don't already know how to do, and do those things very well.  We humans are an arrogant lot.  Rather, I like to think of spending time with my horse as relaying my ideas or wishes through their minds, into their bodies and ultimately into the desired reaction or movement from them.  I want them to completely understand what I'm asking of them, and to accomplish that, we need to let them take the time to figure our requests out.  We certainly don't expect children to learn how to read for example, straight out, but instead it's a process of learning.  That takes time and patience.  There's certainly no room for egos in good horsemanship.  That is the one thing that I simply will not abide from anyone working with my horse, or me for that matter.  Ego, arrogance, demanding...uh-huh.  Not with my horse.  Ever.  They are as intelligent as we are.  It's just a different level of intelligence.  Learning to think like the horse is the greatest advantage that we can bring into the equation.  Should be pretty easy, considering we're the "smarter" of the team, right?  One would think.  But we routinely have grand expectations from our horses to understand exactly what it is we're trying to convey to them immediately.  And if they don't "get it" and respond just like we think they should; we get frustrated, or worse and blame them.  When in reality, if we were any good at teaching, they would understand.  It takes the time that it takes.  We should never approach a horse with expectations.  We should rather, show up, accept the horse for the horse that he is in that moment, and move forward accordingly.  No time frame, no schedule and certainly no egos.  

Leave your expectations at the door and approach your horse with humility, grace and respect.  

...and I whispered to the horse; "Trust no man in whose eye you do not see yourself reflected as an equal."
    Don Vincenzo Giobbe circa 1700

I hope to be worthy of my Eagle's respect and the trust he's learning to place in me.  

Such a beautiful thing.


Grey Horse Matters said...

I honestly don't think you'll have any trouble communicating with Eagle when you start riding him. You've got the right mind set to form a wonderful relationship with him.

And you're also right about how we "teach/train" horses. I can only say that horses already know how to trot, canter or jump. In other words, a horse already knows how to be a horse. It's up to us to learn how to ask for it correctly so they understand what we want.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post and great principles to live by with horses, and well-stated. Looking forward to hearing how you and Eagle go along together.

Mrs Shoes said...

Great post, love the message.
Reminds me of the John legend song:
"Love your curves & all your edges,
Love your perfect imperfections."

Annette Mickelson said...

I agree completely and identify with the forward dreaming thing. I've always been anxious for the next chapter, imagining it to be so much better than now... even tho when it arrives, it is what it is, ..and I look forward more. In my mid-50s, I wonder when I'm going to stop thinking about getting older; at present I daydream about retirement. The only time I'm really grounded in the present is when I am with the horses. I need to learn to translate that to all aspects of my life. Excellent post.

aurora said...

Great first photo of your handsome boy, Eagle is so beautiful! It's wonderful you found someone to help you on your journey together. Looking forward to hearing more about it.

C-ingspots said...

Thanks so much everyone! I so appreciate the feedback. This journey with Eagle and I has been a long, slow one...but we've come so far already. I am SO anxious to really begin riding him! :)

Ranch Girl Diaries said...

Great post! You and I are so much alike! ;-) I can't wait to read how Eagle's training goes. I can't wait to start my next younger horse (mustang.) I really want to do things differently this time....I think I was really lacking in the time and patience department (didn't loose temper, I just mean wanting her to be finished and broke before she'd had all the rides, time, and miles on her.) I just didn't make the commitment. But I'm ready now, and excited, about doing that!

T.L. Merrybard said...

I think it was one of Eckhart Tolle's books where I read first that one of the greatest sources of human stress and unhappiness is expecting people to act in ways you think they should. They rarely ever do!

I'm still much better at letting go of stuff with animals but I do try to remember this when I deal with humans and it does help.

I agree that that sense of, "My thoughts to your thoughts," and "Your thoughts to my thoughts," too, is what is most desirable in riding. It is why I don't really bother riding other people's horses now I don't have my own, though I have had offers. It is all about the understanding you build. If you aren't enjoying or working on that, it is just exercise. For some people that is enough, but not for me.

fernvalley01 said...

well put, I know you will get there with this lovely horse !