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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.

 

Showing up

 

What is this thing I do with Myrnah? Is it a method of training? Is it a form of meditation? Is it for my benefit? Is it for her benefit? Why take away all the tools and all the bribes? What is the point behind doing everything differently?

 

I will tell you, for me the magic is in the mundane. When I show up to spend time with Myrnah I know she gets to be who she is, and the things I do have very little power to change her. The things we do together develop US together, and very slowly over time entrain us to be better partners for each other.

 

Tom Dorrance said it perfectly:

“First you go with the horse. Then the horse goes with you. Then you go together.” –

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It is the same things I do with Myrnah that everyone does with their horse. We move forward, backward, left and right, sometimes more together, and sometimes less together. It is the attention and persistence toward partnership, that is what this is about.

 

If we think of this as a training method, we have to accept that without tools or bribes there is a great deal more of

“First you go with the horse.”

than most people are truly comfortable with. That is perhaps what makes this more of a form of meditation than a training method.

 

Is this thing Myrnah and I do together for my benefit or for hers? How does one even quantify a benefit? Are we happier for this way of existing together?

 

I find those questions really difficult to answer. I believe we are happier, but at the same time we are often more frustrated, and at the same time we are more peaceful together, and we are also more at odds with each other at times. The answers are as complicated as the questions.

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We get to show up and feel more of everything together. We get to show up for each other regardless of how it feels, good or bad.

 

Showing up and feeling what we feel from moment to moment together, that is the work.

 

On one particular day at the beach Myrnah was tired from traveling; I wanted to ride and she did not. If I had some tools or bribes, I could have quickly won her over to my way of thinking, getting us efficiently to Tom Dorrance’s final idea: “Then you go together.” –

 

I find, though, there is a whole world of getting to know each other in deep and profound ways that we pass right over when we rush to the end.

 

“First you go with the horse.”

allows you to ask what the horse wants.

 

And then there is a dance where you ask the horse to go with your idea for a moment, which is the second part: “Then the horse goes with you”.

 

In our linear, human way of thinking we tend to want the third part to happen directly: “Then you go together”. –

 

 

I will tell you, training methods have been developed with tools and bribes to get us there fairly efficiently. What I do is different, and it requires that I show up willing to dance the first part of the dance for as long as it takes to get us to: “Then you go together.” –

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It is not easier, it is not faster, I am really not even sure it is better. But what I can tell you is, it is a richer experience with a horse than any I have had before.

 

The depth of connection Myrnah and I have together is more fulfilling than anything I have ever known and that makes it worth it.

 

You get out what you put in though, so, on that day that Myrnah was tired from traveling and I really wanted to ride when she didn’t, four hours later she was ready to give me a short ride.

 

Those four hours consisted of walking and stopping and turning and, for a while, lying down together to take a nap. My job was to show up and follow her, and then ask her to follow me, and then follow her some more.

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This experience is about showing up and being who we are together, even if our wants do not always line up right away. It is humbling and beautiful to show up with a will to align and work together, and a total acceptance that it will take the time it takes.

 

One day at the beach we were walking through the dunes and crossed a section of the path where there was some bear scat. Shortly after that we saw two people walking through the grass off in the distance. Those shapes moving against the backdrop of the yellow dunes combined with the smells to put Myrnah on alert- meant we were no longer walking to the beach on my time frame. She felt she needed to watch those shapes moving though the distant grass with total devotion, which meant, if I was “following the horse”, I needed to watch them too.

 

From time to time I could ask her to take a few more steps toward the beach with me, and then we would watch some more. It was a very long time before we made it all the way to the ocean together. Feeling her fear, feeling my frustration, all of that was part of showing up that day, and the payoff is how much deeper our relationship is for the chance to experience it together.

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I had other horses with me at the beach this past week. I had tools and rewards to help get us to the end goal of working together. We had wonderful rides, and I loved every moment I spent with them.

 

The work I do with Myrnah though…. It really is deeper and richer and ultimately more satisfying that any work I have ever done with a horse.

 

Myrnah and I may have started off together with a simple challenge, to find out if this way of working together is even a possible or viable training method, but along the way we found gold in the day-to-day process.

 

The personal value of a relationship this deep and rich from moment to moment is a worth above and beyond any end result we could ever achieve.

 

Elsa SinclairIMG_1077

EquineClarity.com

TamingWild.com

12 Comments

  1. Your words ring so true and reflect the experience I’ve been having with my horse and my students. Sometimes actual work toward an end goal is a great thing, beneficial and satisfying. But I find as humans and as horsemen with any kind of traditional training, we need a lot of “un-doing” of assumptions and habits! That first step, going with the horse, can be the hardest, especially when we’ve been wired to think the horse needs to do what we ask…meeting the horse where she is, allowing her own power and agency, stepping into her lived experience – this is where partnership is formed. And I find it’s the only way to truly get to “the horse goes with you” and especially “we go together.” I’ve only recently discovered your blog but it’s lining up so nicely with my journey – thank you for putting such eloquent words on it!

    • You are most welcome! As we “un-do” the things we thought we knew, there is so much beautiful space for the things we want to know. Enjoy!

  2. Everything you’ve said here also could be applied to a very special relationship (perhaps a marriage) shared by 2 people who are willing to bring the same patience, respect and love to the adventure. This has been an amazing journey – the depths of which may not be understood by you on a deeper level for some time. It will take time to filter through you and be thoroughly comprehended by you. I’m so very happy for you, Elsa, you were somehow chosen for this journey and had the courage to explore and embrace the challenges.

    • Thank you so much Ingrid. I think I have had the courage to embrace and explore, perhaps in part because of support from beautiful people like you over the years. So here is to you too! 😉 Thank you!

  3. Elsa,
    I read your meditations and your words touch my very soul. Many times they are ideas and methods that I have read or heard before, but you are able to express these familiar concepts in a deeper, esoteric way. You answer questions I didn’t know I had. I “bought” a horse because I wanted to ride, I keep my horse because he gives great meaning to my life. Developing our relationship is one of the greatest joys of my life and also at times quite frustrating. While I am using more traditional “natural horsemanship” methods (mostly Parelli) my journey keeps opening new paths of contemplation and possibilities and process. You are an immensely gifted horsewoman and writer. I look forward to your updates on what you have discovered. I admire your bravery in even attempting this and knowing you have been successful is amazing!
    SHOWING UP made me weep.
    Thank you and thank Myrnah

    • Thank you Debbie,
      Showing up often makes me weep too 😉 It’s a powerful idea. I can’t wait to share the movie. This process is so much bigger than just Myrnah and I. So glad you feel touched by it like I do.

  4. Dear Elsa,
    now in this blog, in very simple words and wonderfully explained, you wrote the whole idea of your working with Myrnah… it got straight into my heart and soul…. THANK YOU 🙂
    Iwona

    • Iwona, I am so glad this is how the blog read for you. That was very much my intention here. Thank YOU for sharing this journey with me.

        • Iwona
        • Posted November 5, 2015 at 6:21 am
        • Permalink

        it was and it is a delightfull pleasure 🙂 my horses thank you and Myrnah too 🙂

      • Thank you! So happy you and your horses are part of our virtual herd 😉

  5. This is the essence of true relationship, one few find with any other being. It is my belief that a horse can teach us more about ourselves than any other creature being I have met, and therefore help us in every other relationship. I am deeply moved, and resonate with every word and image you share. Thank you– Connie Funk

    • Connie, I am right there with you that. Horses do something amazing for us when it comes to understanding. Thank goodness for the horses in our lives!


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