Circumstances in my life recently have led me to do a lot of deep introspection about myself; what drives me, how I act, and what my interpersonal relationships are like. Additionally, within the last year I acquired a new, young horse – George – who I’m learning to ride and bringing along to be my dream dressage horse. (The fact that he is bred to do dressage puts me 98% to my dream…the other 2% is the hard work it’ll take to make me look like I know what I’m doing!)How does this tie into my Aha! moment? It’s more of an ongoing evolution than a single moment, but I’m finding it very interesting. What I have discovered is that how I relate to my horses is, in many ways, a direct reflection of how I relate to people. This is both good and bad.
Some of the good: my experience with horses has caused me to become more patient – you can’t force a relationship, you can’t influence change to happen immediately, it takes time. I’m compassionate and understanding. I’m willing to give the benefit of the doubt, but I also value discipline. I’ve learned not to lose my temper (too much).
Some of the bad: I tend to be too “nice” – too willing to make allowances and excuses for the other rather than immediately ask for accountability or respect; often too slow to act on an injustice or misbehavior. This has become a major issue that reflects itself when I ride George.
I am finding that I am too willing to let the mistakes happen and then be slow about addressing them because I’m afraid of ‘ruining’ him, ‘making him mad’, or not treating him ‘nice’. By my reluctance to act quickly, I am prolonging the lessons we both need to learn and get past so we can continue to grow and improve. When I am attentive to making corrections immediately, and firmly but respectfully demanding that George be accountable for not doing what I ask, he is quick to respond, ‘gets it’, and we can either end on a positive note or challenge ourselves with something new. When I fall into my comfortable place of being tentative with my commands … we wind up doing endless wobbly circles with no real connection but lots of frustration.
That last sentence really sums up a lot of issues that have cropped up in interpersonal relationships over the years, too. I’ve wound up being a doormat more than my share of the time simply because I didn’t stand up for myself in a firm but respectful manner. The result: limited connection and lots of frustration!
There are many other ways in which I’m finding that bringing along this young horse is like holding up a mirror to myself. I’m grateful that I am able to make the connection between the two so that I can work on both areas of my life simultaneously. As I strengthen one, I’m certain to strengthen the other.
It really does make one wonder, however, how much could we learn about ourselves by paying attention to our strengths and weaknesses in our relationships – both human and equine? If we are a timid rider, does that mean we lack confidence in social situations as well? If we have a horse that is beautiful to look at but not good for much else, does that say something about us being superficial? If we have a horse that is obviously too much for us to handle, does that reflect the situations we find ourselves in in other areas of life? I don’t have the answers to these questions, but when approached with honesty, this introspection can really humble a person – there is so much to ponder, and we may likely find some things we don’t like, but which, if addressed can make us better people all around.
So, my Aha! moment really is more of a journey. As I continue to ride George, I’m discovering new areas of weaknesses which need to be addressed, but many strengths, too. I guess that means I’m not all bad…I just have a lot of work to do!