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The Project:

One Mustang directly off the range, One Trainer, Many Students, Communication through body language, Tools used only for safety, never to train

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The Goal:

To discover how far Equestrian Art can be developed solely using body language.

Far from Perfection

Since the movie came out and I have been working on the book, I am realizing a personal trend that needs some course correcting. The temptation to focus on the positive lures me, as though filling my mind with all that is good, can completely drown out the bad days, the hard moments, and the places where I get everything wrong. I want to set the story straight here, I am a very flawed as a human being!
Being flawed is part of what drives me to be better, and perhaps it is high time I wrote about that more of the time.

We all tend to think our less than stellar moments are something to be covered up and hidden, as if people won’t like us because we screwed up. That is true to a point; no one likes a friend who treats the world with negativity and does nothing to make things right. We all mess up, get it wrong, and then the important part is we do our best to make it right.

I have spent years working on and writing about the peaceful possibilities when working with horses. The building of relationship and the pieces it might take to have a relationship with a horse that is voluntary and cooperative. No force, no bribes, just a shared language where we find a harmony together, where we want to do the same things.

Let me assure you though, on the path of all these methods and patterns of working positively there are many many moments that are not so positive. In those not so positive moments I have to bow my head and consider, how do I make this right?

Perhaps I should admit that to my readers more of the time. It’s not all perfect at my barn.

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Tonight, carrying a bucket of grain across the paddock for my skinny older warmblood, everyone crowded around me wanting some. It was raining and dark and I had had a long day and I thought, they SHOULD have more respect for my personal space! Before I had a chance to get out the gate with the bucket, someone jostled me and the bucket fell to the ground spilling all its contents. An anger filled me in that moment and before I knew what was happening I was yelling and waving my arms and throwing the bucket across the paddock. It was embarrassingly inappropriate, and, if my neighbors had been outside – unlikely in the rain and the dark –  I am sure I was a spectacle to behold.

The horses scattered a little ways away and watched me, remarkably undisturbed by my temper tantrum – was I going to relent and let them come over to clean the grain up from the ground? I was furious, irrational, and the tantrum continued, “ Everyone out!” With very little grace I chased them all into the far paddock and closed them off so I could clean up all the grain and throw it in the bushes; they would get none of it!!!

A new batch of grain retrieved from the barn, and safely placed in a separate space, I stormed out to the paddock and beckoned my warmblood with a twitch of a finger – yes, I am still furious and not taking to the others. My mustangs of course assumed I meant them and started sauntering over, and I threw another fit, -yelling, jumping up and down – “If I wanted your company, I would have looked at you and I didn’t!” (of course that is confusing, because now I am looking at them, and not in a good way.) “Go away! I am not talking to you!” It wasn’t pretty.

Zohari walked slowly over to me, head low, every movement cautious. I was still too mad to be appropriate, all my moments rough and too fast. I told him to come with me. He has known me for twenty years now and was surprisingly patient and gentle with me about my outburst.

Crying, I sat next to Zohari as he art his grain… I blew it again. All this work I do to have a peaceful existence with my horses and tonight I totally lose my cool. Where did I go wrong?

First it occurs to me, emotions happen. It has to be OK to feel angry or sad or happy or elated… However there is an appropriate space to be kept between our emotions and our actions.

Feeling things is the richness in life and I would never want any less emotion. However, I would like to set my life up so my emotions have space to exist without flooding into everyone else’s experience.

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So on a night when it’s raining and dark and I am tired, perhaps I could plan ahead for the frustration I know might be a hair trigger away. I could have walked the long way around to the private paddock with the grain pan, instead of taking the short cut through the herd. I could have picked up a rope or a stick to make it clear I am not to be messed with tonight. I could have just taken a few extra minutes before I went and got the grain, to check in with each member of the herd and establish today’s relationships before I challenged them with temptation.

I am thinking about the lessons I taught to students this week. Perhaps if I had applied the same concepts to my herd at home, everything might have been different tonight.

This week has found me talking a great deal about drive and draw. You see, once we have some draw with our horses, where we can call them to us or walk together or stop or turn or back up TOGETHER, it feels so good we tend to do less and less of the drive that created the draw in the first place.

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I walk people through 5 steps with their horses:
First- we follow the horse.
Second- the horse follows us.
Third- the horse touches us.
Fourth- we touch the horse.
Fifth- we mix and interchange the first four steps.

 
That first step is the most important, and tends to get forgotten as we develop farther into our relationships. You see, if the horse won’t let us follow, we have to use a little bit of drive to motivate some motion for us to follow.

With people I see it all the time; we like the draw so much we drop the drive as soon as possible. I am as guilty of this as anyone else. I would much rather draw the horse to me and do things with them, than push them away and follow. The yin and the yang balance each other though; we need the drive and the follow to balance the draw and be followed.

Here is something I read that might cause us all to think a little: “True leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders”.

I tell people that true leaders are simply the last one of the group to make a decision. True leaders hand leadership over to the others all the time; however, they always have the last word. By making the last decision before a time of harmony or rest, a true leader gets associated with all things good, and chosen as the leader time and again. True leaders also know how to use some drive to ask someone else to lead for a while.

If I had taken a little more time to practice this with my herd this week, perhaps things would have been different when I asked for space around carrying the grain pan through the paddock. Perhaps I need to practice what I preach and spend more time asking horses to do things for me to follow, instead of always having them follow me.

I did my best to end my evening right. Each horse got a little time in the private paddock with me, and each one got a bite of something yummy – I do share after all – and then I sat in the hay while they all gathered around me nibbling away.

I promised them all I would try to do better at knowing when my emotions are close to boiling over and act in ways that would safeguard our relationship better than I had tonight. I also know, that just isn’t possible all the time, so, I will pour my heart into continuing to develop our bond in ways that give them a sense of safety, even when I fall apart and make a mistake or two.

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Here is to owning our mistakes, our bad days, and times when emotions get hot.
Here is to making amends.

 
Elsa Sinclair
EquineClarity.com
TamingWild.com

The Project:

One Mustang directly off the range, One Trainer, Many Students, Communication through body language, Tools used only for safety, never to train

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The Goal:

To discover how far Equestrian Art can be developed solely using body language.

 

How Much is Too Much?

 

I think all the time about how training horses is less about what we do than it is about when we do it. It is less about the actions we take than it is about the emotion we feel while we take them. It is the intangible pieces that make horse training challenging to teach.

 

I like the tangible, I like the understandable, I like the logical, I like the teachable. I refuse to give in to the classic natural horsemanship jargon that gets thrown around of “your energy needs to be right” whatever that means. Or, “it’s all in the intention; when you have the right intention, the horse will be with you”. How am I supposed to know what the right intention is?

 

Those two statements, and many like them, are absolutely true; and also I believe, very challenging to learn from.

 

I want to create physical step by step processes that we can walk through that let us experience what it feels like, on a personal level, to have the “right energy” or know what the “right intention” might be.

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I think Myrnah has had the greatest impact on my learning, helping me through processes that allowed me to feel those “right feelings”.

 

Horses don’t have words, horses have movements; so we need to move with them to have a conversation. They will tell us when it is right and when it is less right; what they won’t tell us is what to do until we find those perfect moments.

 

The project with Myrnah was about finding out some of the things I could do on the way to better partnership.

 

There is a book in the works that will spell it out in a more linear fashion, and an online course I will teach starting this fall where we can walk together through bonding with our horses, and another movie plan on the horizon.

 

For now, enjoy the blog and the pieces of inspiration these ideas might light up in you. The movie “Taming Wild” will also be for sale shortly on the website TamingWild.com.

 

Today I want to talk about how much is too much. We think so much about what to do, we often forget how important it is to not do anything. We are determined communicators as humans, either with others, or lost in our own thoughts with ourselves. There is an art to being with someone else in quiet. There is an art to being mindful of when to talk and when to listen, and when to simply exist.

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Here is how we know what to do when, and when to be quiet.

 

Check in with the emotional intensity and ask yourself, is this level of feeling, useful in this situation?

 

Is the thing you are doing right now causing the intensity of feeling?

 

If it is too much, break it down so you take a little action, and then take some time to just be. Then take a little action and then take some time to just be… and so on.

 

Once the feeling is of an appropriate intensity for the situation then we can do the action for longer and longer periods of time. As we come into this phase of training we look for the moments when it feels better and take some time to just BE on that mark.

 

In partnership with a horse, BEING together is being matched in movement or energy.

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Here is where I see the common mistake: We like communicating and often are challenged by the neutral BEING time with our horses, so it is tempting to ask for things all the time.

 

We need to realize when too much is too much.

 

Can we be happy being with our horses? Or are they never quite good enough?

 

Ask for something, and then take time to enjoy it with them.

 

Or, if you didn’t get what you asked for, retreat a little and ask again.

 

If it is clear you are not going to get what you asked for without emotional upheaval, then ask for something more reasonable so you can enjoy what you and your horse CAN do together.

 

Here is where I come back to my original points:

 

It isn’t so much what you ask for as when you ask. Did you take some time to enjoy being with your horse exactly as they are first?

 

There are only six directions a horse can move – forward, backward, left, right, up and down. What you ask for can be any one of the six, it doesn’t matter, however, it does matter a great deal when you ask and when you are quiet.

 

It is less about the actions we take than it is about the emotion at play while we take them. If emotions are running too hot in either you or your horse, it is too much too soon. Break it down. If it feels great to both of you, you can do anything.

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Hooves and Heartbeats,

Elsa Sinclair

EquineClarity.com

TamingWild.com

The Project:

One Mustang directly off the range, One Trainer, Many Students, Communication through body language, Tools used only for safety, never to train

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The Goal:

To discover how far Equestrian Art can be developed solely using body language.

 

Stairs to a goal

 

The other night, at a small informal gathering for a screening of the movie, I realized a great deal of my success with Myrnah and this project of “Taming Wild” is thanks to my mother. I was remembering growing up riding horses with all my friends and the community of us horses and humans, fostered and cared for by my mother.

 

The conglomerate of rescued and adopted horses we had led to a large variety in experiences. No matter the challenge at hand my mother always seemed to have the utmost confidence that we would find a solution.

 

Being thrown off on the trail and having to walk home yet again, or not being able to catch your horse to begin with, or having to ask all your friends to please only gallop on the steepest hills so stopping might actually be possible at the end, in hind sight these kind of challenges day after day, horse after horse, for all of us kids, seem a daunting prospect. I can’t even begin to understand how my mother did it, and I can only thank her for the gift I now see it to be and the fortitude it gave me going forward.

 

I can remember the pony who galloped under a low hanging branch in the orchard wiping me off painfully for what seemed like the millionth time. I can remember my frustration and anger and being sure I never wanted to ride, ever again! I can also remember my mother calmly persisting that I get on again and walk that pony around the trees until we found a peaceful place to end the day.

 

It can’t have been easy to be my mother in that moment amidst the tears, and yet, that moment is metaphorical for life in so many ways. We get knocked down, sometimes it stings, sometimes we have no idea how we could possibly succeed where we have failed so many times. Having someone calmly say they are absolutely sure you will figure it out without actually telling you how is a gift.

 

That is how we learn how to learn.

 

Life challenges us, and there is something we want just out of reach. We make an attempt and fail, and then take what we learned and try again.

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I would like to think in this project with Myrnah I have gotten smarter about navigating the learning curve. That is probably naïve; there is so much more to learn and I am sure I have only begun. However, any small ease I can bring into the process is gratifying.

 

Here is how I build the stairs to my goals with Myrnah.

 

We start with knowing what we are good at, the thing that we want that we know how to get.

 

In the beginning with Myrnah that was just being in the paddock with her, far enough away that she was comfortable moving around and didn’t need to be against the fence to get away from me. Just being in any proximity to her, a recently wild horse, felt amazing!

 

Then we look at the ultimate goals branching out in front of us.

 

With Myrnah, my ultimate goal for the year was to ride her at all speeds in the fields, on the trails, and ultimately on the beach, maintaining her sense of freedom and only using our body language to develop our relationship.

 

Then we look for our first step on the stairs. What is the thing that is a little closer to our ultimate goal, a little challenging for us yet still reachable from where we are?

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With Myrnah, being in the paddock together we could do, we were good at that. Getting closer to each other was a challenge. Getting closer with my body was too much of a challenge at first, but getting closer with my eyes was something we could do, so long as it wasn’t all the time.

 

Here is the formula:

 

The thing you are consistently good at:

(i.e. being in the paddock together)

 

The thing that is challenging:

(i.e. getting closer together)

 

Taking the challenge through its stages.

Tolerance

Acceptance

Enjoyment

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If the challenge can’t even be tolerated, find the next step closer to you on the stairs. What is the challenge that can be tolerated?

 

Toleration looks like this:

We do the challenge for a moment, and then go back to what is comfortable before anyone gets too upset. Then try the challenge again. Advance and retreat, over and over.

Slowly tolerance starts to look like acceptance as we realize we can do the challenge for longer and longer without any emotional upheaval.

 

Acceptance looks like being able to do the challenge for longer and longer without any upset and slowly we realize there is a flicker of interest or enjoyment that happens here and there while doing the challenge.

 

If we can retreat to what is totally comfortable in the moment of interest or enjoyment of the challenge, then we foster that skill.

(i.e. being in the paddock with Myrnah, looking at her- and then when she becomes interested in me, looking away)

 

This starting pattern worked on many levels with Myrnah. By moving what was easy into what was challenging, through tolerance, then acceptance, then enjoyment it stepped me toward my goal.

 

While at the same time it worked on the basic herd principles. Horses seek safety, and, in order to feel safe, someone needs to be watching the environment for danger. If you have a group the leaders watch for danger and the followers watch the leaders. Herd dynamics are often fluid, and leaders and followers switch roles often. Real leaders just have better timing than real followers.

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Real leaders know when to get closer and when to move away, when to look to their herd and be a follower for a moment and when to look away and survey the environment. Real leaders know how to walk their herd through challenges and use the stages of tolerance, acceptance and enjoyment to build community.

 

So here I was with Myrnah in the beginning stages thinking my goal was all about riding… and then realizing my actual goal was to become a real leader for her. I wanted to be the best kind of leader whom she wanted to follow anywhere and share every life experience. I have to admit I am still working on that. We may have a myriad of physical goals and challenges; however, I find they are all just ways we discover more about what it is to work together, be together and be better partners.

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Enjoy building your stairs wherever they may lead you.

 

Hooves and Heartbeats,

Elsa Sinclair

EquineClarity.com

TamingWild.com_E0A8226

The Project:

One Mustang directly off the range, One Trainer, Many Students, Communication through body language, Tools used only for safety, never to train

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The Goal:

To discover how far Equestrian Art can be developed solely using body language.

 

Freedom-Based Training

 

In all my years with horses, the year I focused with Myrnah to learn something new and film “Taming Wild” was the most powerful learning I have ever done.

 

Why you might ask?

Because of the freedom involved.

 

It sounds like a contradiction in terms, freedom-based training, and I think it is in the very best way. The contradiction and balance of extremities adds such richness to this life.

 

Freedom: The power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.

 

Training: The act of teaching a person or animal a particular skill or type of behavior.

 

With horse training we aim to develop a certain range of skills and responses we can count on in the relationship, so where does freedom come in?

 

I believe freedom is something we all long for, and relationship is something we all want also. The very basic importance of relationship to each one of us curbs our freedoms. Can we actually fully say or do what we want in relationship without fearing the consequences?

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Will the relationship still exist in the way we want after we say or do whatever we wanted in the moment? How can that sense of freedom coexist with living in community in a way that feeds and supports us?

 

How do we do that?

 

I believe the more specific our needs of someone else, the less freedom they have to be who they are and do what they need to do. However, if we have no requests at all, the relationship and sense of community suffer.

 

The more tools we use to train a horse (food rewards, bridles, sticks, ropes, fences etc.), the more specific our pressure gets. Do this and get what you want, or do this and avoid what you don’t want. We use tools to expedite training in the directions we want it to develop. I want to be clear; I don’t think this is wrong because I believe good training builds good partnership and a sense of community that is beautiful.

 

However, when we add awareness of how essential the need for freedom is in life, that is where our individual natures get to shine within the setting of relationship.

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When Myrnah and I took away all the tools that were not our bodies, we greatly limited how fast we could get specific about training. Training still happened and helped us develop a relationship, but in a very gradual way that also honored her basic need for freedom.

 

Here is how it works.

 

Body movements are the words that make up conversations between horse and rider. Stillness, quietness and harmony are the punctuation and emphasis. When we move in ways that are different from each other, it is a basic request for change that would create harmony. When we move or are still together, it emphasizes how much we enjoy our togetherness.

 

Myrnah had the freedom to make her own choices; however, it was important that I be honest with her about which choices I felt comfortable with and which I didn’t.

 

Wait, but doesn’t that limit her freedom?

 

Yes, however, she has a whole range of choices she could make with very minor consequence, and that is pretty close to freedom. The only thing she gains by making choices that keep me happy, is my harmony with her.

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The real training we are doing together is learning how to harmonize with each other.

 

Here are the nuts and bolts of the process:

 

  1. I can always ask Myrnah to move.

(What she does after she moves is up to her.)

 

  1. If movement results in something that feels connected, we harmonize. If movement leads to disconnection, we simply keep moving until we find connection.

 

That’s it.

 

Freedom means, if I ask for something that is too difficult for Myrnah and she can’t find connection, I have to give up that specific idea for the moment and ask for something she is willing to do.

 

Freedom-based training is very slow. Freedom-based training is very deep. Freedom-based training allows us to be who we are, while slowly adapting to the needs of our environment and our community.

 

I believe spending a year focused on freedom-based training developed me more than anything else I have ever done, and it was also one of the hardest things I have ever done.

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This project was so challenging for me, I have still not chosen to do it again fully with any other horses.

 

What I have done is incorporate periods of time in all of my other horse relationships where we walk through the same exercises Myrnah and I did together. That in itself has had a profound impact.

 

Freedom-based training does not need to be one hundred percent of the time, or one hundred percent of your life in order to be incredibly beneficial.

 

I believe freedom-based training pays dividends you have to experience to believe, and it is worth every moment spent.

 

I encourage you to consider freedom and training and the beauty and balance of their seeming contradictions.

 

Elsa Sinclair

EquineClarity.com

TamingWild.com

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This blog aims to be an ongoing weekly inspiration, for all of you readers- long time, occasional and new to the group -welcome!

 

The book “Taming Wild” is in process and will describe and explain more in detail the process and the work Myrnah and I did together in our first year. We hope to have that finished and available in 2016.

 

For those of you who might like to be part of a larger community, there will be an on-line course starting in the Fall of 2016 where in I will start with a new horse and walk through the process step by step with you. The course will be designed to be useful as an add-on to the other training and living you do with your horse, or a complete system for those of you who like to dive in the deep end. Any amount of time spent in freedom-based training is beneficial in ways you can only know when you have experienced it. I look forward to sharing the journey with you!

The Project:

One Mustang directly off the range, One Trainer, Many Students, Communication through body language, Tools used only for safety, never to train

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The Goal:

To discover how far Equestrian Art can be developed solely using body language.

 

Missing, Wanting, and Dreaming

 

“Dreams”

 

“Hold onto Dreams

For if dreams die

Life is like a broken-winged bird

That cannot fly.

 

Hold fast to dreams

For when dreams go

Life is a barren field

Frozen with snow.”

 

Langston Hughes

 

This blog is recognition, that in all the joy and wonder and awe that making a movie contains, there is also a yearning and a hunger for the original work that created the movie.

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This is a recognition that missing, wanting, and dreaming are vital and beautiful in their own way.

 

I am thrilled beyond belief that “Taming Wild” has made it into its butterfly stage of a movie. I am excited to share it in Seattle on the big screen this week. I am thrilled I get to stand on stage with mic in hand and play at questions and answers and theory, batting words back and forth with old friends and new.

 

This movie has a life of its own to revel in and watch with joy as it inspires people to follow their own dreams with their own horses.

 

I find myself also, in this long evolution of making a movie, missing the caterpillar stages of the project – the slow, long hours with Myrnah where we poured hours and hours into each other in an endeavor with an unknown outcome.

 

I find myself wanting more time with my fingers in fur and less time with them tapping away at a keyboard.

 

I find myself dreaming of what comes next, and yet more simply than that, I find myself dreaming of time lost in the flow of BEING with horses. That way of losing time is so very precious to me.

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This week I had a rare day in which there were no lessons to teach, no travel calling me away, and the movie business needed a little less attention. The rain paused for a few hours and I grabbed hold of my chance to get back to the work I love.

 

Myrnah and I spent an hour moving together, practicing our skills and remembering what together felt like. I had a million things more I wanted to do and feel and remember with her; and then she told me it was naptime, lying down in the pea gravel, dropping her nose to the ground, shutting her eyes, and drifting off to dream land.

 

I could have pushed her back to work; I could have made action more important that stillness. However, that is not this work we do together. Dreaming is every bit as important as doing. Wanting is every bit as important as having. Missing is poignantly beautiful.

 

So I curled up next to Myrnah, feeling the heat of her body emanate through me against the chill of the day, and we both fell asleep.

 

There will be more days full of riding, galloping down trails, exploring new places, honing movements together and building the intensity of the things we can do.

 

Some days though, are just for curling up and dreaming about what might be ahead.

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Enjoy your success.

 

Enjoy your dreaming.

 

Enjoy your missing of things you hold dear.

 

That chrysalis of longing is so very beautiful in its own way.

 

Hold it tenderly until it is ready to become the work and the evolution we long for.

 

Myrnah and I send you all our love in your dreaming.

 

Elsa Sinclair

EquineClarity.com

TamingWild.com

The Project:

One Mustang directly off the range, One Trainer, Many Students, Communication through body language, Tools used only for safety, never to train

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The Goal:

To discover how far Equestrian Art can be developed solely using body language.

 

What and How

 

I believe with horses we generally have a pretty good idea of WHAT we want. It varies from relationship to relationship in the details, of course, but it generally falls somewhere in the category of wanting the horse to want to do the same things we want to do.

 

We all crave a sense of community.

 

Community is built with relationship.

 

Relationship is built with interaction.

 

We can play, we can fight, we can be still, we can be active, we can collaborate, we can train, we can coerce, we can bribe. The list goes on, and, regardless of what comes after it, WE is the part that feels important.

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The part that is usually challenging is the HOW.

 

How do we have interactions that draw us closer together? How do we avoid interactions that splinter us apart and cause us to feel there is no WE. If there is only me and you going in separate directions, that sense of community we all crave is being ripped from us. All too often we don’t know HOW to find our sense of community again.

 

Often I hear stories of a rider having a fall off a horse and having their confidence shaken. Falls can be hard and injuries can occur. Yet there is something about a fall off a horse that seems to strike a primal chord of fear in people above and beyond normal. I think it’s that loss of community, that feeling that the creature you thought was there for you wasn’t anymore.

 

The hardest part about a fall off a horse or any dramatic separating of the ways is: though we know what we want (being part of community), we often don’t know how to get there or bring it back when it comes apart.

 

This developing of HOW, learning how to build a sense of community, this is what Taming Wild is all about.

 

I was asked, why the title “Taming Wild” when it perhaps seems more like I let Myrnah stay somewhat wild with all the freedom I gave her in our training. While that part may be true, the title “Taming Wild” reaches a little deeper than that. When we realize we crave community, we realize each one of us needs to tame the wild independence we carry in order to build strong community.

 

Wild independence usually means we want WHAT we want, WHEN we want it. Then we realize if WHAT we want includes another living being, either they must become subservient, or the WHAT and the WHEN have to soften in the face of the HOW.

 

Taming our own wild independence becomes a necessary part of learning How to get what we want in the realm of building community.

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We crave community so much that, when we don’t know how to build it, we will often settle for subservience; however, we all know deep down that a community of the dominant and the subservient is never as satisfying as a community of collaborative partners.

 

This is what “Taming Wild” is about.

 

If you are in the Seattle area in mid-December, come watch “Taming Wild” with us on the big screen. We will not be selling tickets, come one come all, donations accepted at the door.

Tuesday, December 15th–  Seattle- Location to be announced. (updates will be posted on Facebook, TamingWild.com and in the blog.)

Wednesday, December 16th – Cinnebarre Theater in Issaquah.

8:00 Start time at both Venues, both dates!

This journey into community we are all on, it just keeps getting more satisfying as we figure out the HOW to go along with all the WHAT. I am glad to have you all along with me as we figure out better and better ways to build community.

 

Elsa Sinclair

EquineClarity.com

TamingWild.com

The Project:

One Mustang directly off the range, One Trainer, Many Students, Communication through body language, Tools used only for safety, never to train

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The Goal:

To discover how far Equestrian Art can be developed solely using body language.

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

I am thankful most of all for all of you who read my blog, and through thick and thin have seen Myrnah and I through the making of Taming Wild.

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New York City gave us an amazing Premiere at the Equus Film Festival.

IMG_0805So grateful my beautiful daughter Cameron could be there to see the completion of this work she has graciously shared her mother’s attention with for so many years.

IMG_0812So many to thank, and so much to be grateful for on this Thanksgiving. You know who you are… I am sending all my love and gratitude!

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Mostly, I have to admit, I am so glad to be back home in my real work again with Myrnah.

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We are moving forward on plans for a local premiere here in Seattle and getting the movie out to everyone as soon as we put the final polish on it. Promise to keep you all posted!

My Love to everyone!

Elsa Sinclair

EquineClarity.com

TamingWild.com

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The Project:

One Mustang directly off the range, One Trainer, Many Students, Communication through body language, Tools used only for safety, never to train

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The Goal:

To discover how far Equestrian Art can be developed solely using body language.

 

Choosing Life

 

My sister once said to me, “The only thing you can count on in life is change.” I am sure I was in the midst of a depressive episode at the time, and positively sure the grief I was feeling would never pass. At the time she said it to me I couldn’t believe it, but it has stuck with me anyway, able to sink in later when my mind was clearer and become one of those anchors of belief that keep me on track when things feel like they will never be right again.

 

Having just flown into New York City for the premiere of the movie “Taming Wild”, I find myself in the most beautiful, peaceful, brilliant elation. The world is so full of wonder it is almost unbelievable and life feels gorgeous.

 

I am reminded of Robin Sharma’s quote:

“All change is hard at first, messy in the middle and gorgeous at the end.”

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Not only do I believe that the one thing you can count on in life is change, I also believe change is a fairly constant state that we all resist to some extent. We resist it because of the ebb and flow of feeling that goes with it. I experience the shifting emotional states perhaps more extremely than most, because of my personal experience with bipolar condition. However, I think everyone feels it to their own degree.

 

When things start to change, it can feel hard, then messy, and then, as we get comfortable, it feels gorgeous. This can be plugged into Csikszentmihalyi’s chart that I love to think about when addressing the state of flow. When we look at change, we look at potentially doing something challenging enough – we do not have enough skill for it and that feels hard, and then messy as we gain the necessary skills. Then at some point our skills and our challenge start to match, and that is that perfect place of being in the flow, in the zone – life feels gorgeous!

 

Last night, in a beautiful little French restaurant in Brooklyn with another one of my sisters and her husband, I felt so deeply in the flow of life and perfection. We were talking about making the movie “Taming Wild” and the five-year journey I have been on. My sister asked me, “What was the hardest part?”

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Looking back, I had to say the hardest part was persevering – there were so many beginning again moments when I felt like I didn’t have the skills for this, and it was too hard, and was never going to work. During every one of those moments I needed to remember: change is the only constant, show up, do what you can do, and learn what you need to learn. Something will shift, and gradually it will go from feeling hard to just feeling messy… and then one day you realize it doesn’t feel messy anymore, it feels gorgeous. This is life at its best!

 

You have to revel in those moments, soak them up and luxuriate in them. I talk about this all the time with Myrnah’s process and working with the horses; rest on the moments that are about connection. That thing that you want, just keep moving until you feel a little closer to it; then pause there, breath it in, and enjoy THAT moment. Soon enough you are going to reach a little farther and realize you don’t have the skills for that reach yet; it’s going to feel hard and you just have to keep moving until you gain the skills needed to get the job done. Gaining skills feels messy, and then using those skills so hard won…. That is perfection.

 

When you feel life as extremely as I do, there is a way of being that becomes necessary for survival. Choosing life.

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I know that sounds excessively dramatic, but here is how it works for the overly emotional. (This is important, because I think a great many horses fall into this category of overly emotional, and, if we can help them choose life when they feel like this, we have made the world a better place for everyone.) When emotions run hot, it is hard to believe that change is inevitable. Whatever we feel right now feels so rich and real, it feels like it is going to last forever!

 

It becomes absolutely essential to break process down to small manageable pieces. If we reach too far, look too far ahead, take on a challenge that is too big, that beginning stage is so hard sometimes death feels like a better option than moving forward. And then the messy stage of developing skills, that feels so messy it isn’t even worth it, why bother, why not give up… becoming despondent and frozen is tempting. When emotions run this hot, taking on something too big can feel akin to choosing death instead of life.

 

So how did I do this? Why did I choose to take on such a huge challenge? Was it worth it?

 

Absolutely yes, worth every moment! I think I did it because we get out of life what we put into it, and big challenges have big pay offs. I got it done by taking only one small piece at a time. I learned how to keep my head down and stay focused on the task at hand through the hard and the messy until it started to feel good, then I could take a breather, come up for air, and look ahead at the larger goals and wider view. Then, when I felt rested and at peace with the world, I dove in again embracing the hard and the messy until I could find another moment that felt good. Ahhh, yes, there it is; that is why I do this, this is what if feels like to choose life!

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Change is inevitable – Embrace it. Just remember, we each have our own emotional journey to take through it. Choose life, break it into pieces you can manage and just do one at a time.

 

If you are like me, before you know it you have made a movie, and you are looking back in wonder and awe: How in the world did that all happen?

 

One piece at a time – choosing life – that’s how.

What is it you want to do? How are you going to break it down into sections that let you choose life again and again and again?

 

There is a question worth pondering….

 

Elsa Sinclair

EquineClarity.com

TamingWild.com

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The Project:

One Mustang directly off the range, One Trainer, Many Students, Communication through body language, Tools used only for safety, never to train

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The Goal:

To discover how far Equestrian Art can be developed solely using body language.

 

The Weight of Choices

 

Myrnah has been and continues to be my greatest teacher when it comes to making choices.

 

When we moved from our Island lifestyle with all its rural freedoms, life changed somewhat. Our home in Redmond, WA is beautifully situated up on a hill overlooking a busy set of soccer fields and a high traffic trail system. Myrnah and I like to head out on the trail fairly often and I find this a meditation on choices.

 

The interesting thing about Myrnah and my relationship is she has a great deal more freedom of choice than in most horse/human relationships and that always brings me food for thought.

 

With the traffic on the trail I do, out of consideration to all our fellow travelers, put a few more limits on Myrnah. A rope looped around the base of her neck, there mostly for show, but also requiring a little more consistent closeness from both of us. Occasionally, if I ask too much without any tools to back up my leadership, the rope puts a limit on how far away she can walk from me when she says no.

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Myrnah, like any horse given her full free choices, would find the nearest patch of grass, graze until she had her fill, and then head home to her friends in the pasture. Partnered together with me there develops a weight to our choices.

 

The things Myrnah and I choose together need to weigh lightly on our natural inclinations. If I ask too much too soon, the burden of those requests becomes a heavy weight on our bond and I quickly find out Myrnah remembers how to say no.

 

If there are too many “no” answers in a row, I start losing credibility as a leader. A leader knows how to ask questions that have “yes” answers naturally. This is the weight I feel of choices.

 

What can I ask for? How much do I need to ask Myrnah to do the things she wants to do already? How often can I push or stretch us to do more of what I want and put her wants on hold for a moment.

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In our initial year together Myrnah and I did all the filming for the movie and lived firmly together in our framework of freedom based training. I learned more in that year with her than I have in any year of my life. The following year I gave Myrnah time off to play with her friends in the pasture while I buckled down to work. Our third year together I introduced conventional tack and more normal horse human interaction rules, and I was amazed at how smoothly and easily Myrnah accepted bridle and saddle and rules after so much freedom.

 

I feel strongly that I want my horses to be educated enough to be able to make their way in the world, finding good homes and lives even if I were to die and leave them unexpectedly. That third year of our time together felt important for Myrnah’s education; I needed to know she could have a happy life even if it was less freedom-based.

 

Now, though, I find I want the life lessons Myrnah brings me when she has the freedom to express herself. The weight of my choices are endlessly interesting to me. Can I tread lightly enough on our bond that the answers stay predominantly yes? Can I strengthen our bond to a place where I can ask for more things outside of her comfort zone and we are strong enough together to carry that weight of choice?

 

Time – how much time we spend together – this is the biggest factor in strengthening our bond. So, I am going to keep this blog short so I can get back out to the barn.

 

I leave you with this one thought to ponder this week. How much can you ask from anyone with confidence they will say yes? Then ask yourself, how heavy does that question and answer and choice of action weigh on your bond?

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Weight builds strength when it’s used consciously in the right intervals. Not enough weight and the bond between you will lack strength, too much weight too soon and life feels too hard with too much fight and push-back driving individuals apart instead of bonding them together.

 

Food for thought.

Enjoy!

Elsa Sinclair

EquineClarity.com

TamingWild.com

The Project:

One Mustang directly off the range, One Trainer, Many Students, Communication through body language, Tools used only for safety, never to train

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The Goal:

To discover how far Equestrian Art can be developed solely using body language.

 

She let go.

She let go. Without a thought or a word, she let go.

She let go of the fear.

She let go of the judgments.

She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head.

She let go of the committee of indecision within her.

She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons.

Wholly and completely, without hesitation or worry, she just let go.

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She didn’t ask anyone for advice.

She didn’t read a book on how to let go.

She didn’t search the scriptures.

She just let go.

She let go of all of the memories that held her back.

She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward.

She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right.

She didn’t promise to let go.

She didn’t journal about it.

She didn’t write the projected date in her Day-Timer.

She made no public announcement and put no ad in the paper.

She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope.

She just let go.

She didn’t analyze whether she should let go.

She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter.

She didn’t do a five-step Spiritual Mind Treatment.

She didn’t call the prayer line.

She didn’t utter one word.

She just let go.

No one was around when it happened.

There was no applause or congratulations.

No one thanked her or praised her.

No one noticed a thing.

Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.

There was no effort.

There was no struggle.

It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad.

It was what it was, and it is just that.

In the space of letting go, she let it all be.

A small smile came over her face.

A light breeze blew through her. And the sun and the moon shone forevermore…

~ Rev. Safire Rose

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