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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.

 

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

One Comment

  1. Beautifully said AND done.
    Another special blog!
    Maggie


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