One Mustang directly off the range, One Trainer, Many Students, Communication through body language,
Tools used only for safety, never to train
To discover how far Equestrian Art can be developed solely using body language.
Holding the job title I do of Trainer and Teacher, there is an expectation everywhere I go to create change and evoke growth. Last week’s blog – “Focus, Persistence and Confidence” – was all about how that comes to pass for me. This week, however, I find myself thinking more about the basis for that growth and change.
I believe we are only willing to grow and change to the degree we feel safe and stable where we are.
In this culture we are taught, “you have to get out of your comfort zone to grow” and “being uncomfortable is an important part of learning something new.” I do agree with these sentiments if our goal is to change fast; if we aim to get from where we are to where we are going quickly, it might indeed be uncomfortable.
That discomfort, though, tends to lead to students resisting and fighting the very growth and learning they are seeking. Adult humans can rationalize, talking through the uses of discomfort so they learn to tolerate or even seek it. Animals and children, though, tend to fight ever harder when their feelings of core safety are threatened by discomfort.
What if this life is for living and enjoying with the full breadth and depth of who we are NOW… instead of who or what we seek to be.
Change is inevitable, growth happens, whether we seek it or not. We are all constantly evolving because it is simply the nature of being alive.
As a teacher and a trainer I find myself at this balance point: my job is to create growth and foster learning, and yet, I find the best way to do that is to start from the premise that my student, horse or human, is already perfect.
Right now, in this moment, they are exactly what they need to be – not lacking or “less than” in any way!
My first job is to let them feel safe, connected, and supported exactly how they are, because that is how a love for learning and growing is fostered.
Give any of us enough safety and base of support, we learn to love and seek our own evolution.
How do we do that?
We hold space.
This piece written by Heather Plett says it best.
I often feel as Heather does about holding space:
“It’s not always easy, because I have a very human tendency to want to fix people, give them advice, or judge them for not being further along the path than they are, but I keep trying because I know that it’s important.”
It is important we know we are really okay however we are right now, because right now is our jumping off place for everything we are about to become. When I teach or I train, I endeavor to build this base of support. It seems a little counter intuitive, my job being to change things for the better, and yet I walk in first saying everything is perfect just as it is. Why would you need me if that was the case?
You don’t need me; that’s the point. I just have the tools to make the inevitable growth and evolution of being alive way more fun. Because I can do that for you, together we discover. The more fun you think learning is, the more you will seek it and reach for it and change, in fact faster than if I had pushed you hard to grow in the first place.
So here are the keys to holding space that let a person or an animal feel they have a strong enough base of support to leap into what they are becoming.
- Give others permission to trust their own intuition and wisdom.
- Give others only as much information as they can handle.
- Don’t take their power away.
- Keep your own ego out of it.
- Make them feel safe enough to fail.
- Give guidance and help with humility and thoughtfulness.
- Create a container for complex emotions.
- Allow them to make different decisions and to have different experiences than you would.
Heather goes into more details, I encourage you to read her piece.
Growth and learning make us feel alive; I simply question, how far out of our comfort zone must we step in this reaching for life?
How might we instead revel in whatever is felt now, as we support it and build firm ground under our feet so we grow into the delight of tomorrow with grace.
While holding space for people is a concept that is gaining traction in the world, I am now putting a bid in for people to also learn how to hold space for their horses.
Now is all we really have. I am voting in this “now” to foster safety and security and a stable learning base from which to push off into the future fearlessly.