I Accept the Teaching That Is Offered
In my early days as a developing rider, I’d get my horse in the grooming stall to prepare for a lesson only to find that there were issues to be dealt with even before I mounted. There were times when I never even got on the horse.
Other times, a lesson was planned on X, but we ended up working on Y for an hour instead. Why? Because my trainer felt very strongly that you worked on whatever came up. This was a hard lesson for someone as goal-oriented as I.
For months, even years, I felt I was making no progress. “I’ve been riding for months and I still don’t know how to (insert skill here)!” What I didn’t realize was that I was learning the foundations of horsemanship in a very elemental way.
Accepting with the teaching that is offered, rather than the teaching you hope to receive, is a matter of relinquishing your ego’s white-knuckled grip on its expectations.
image courtesy Sergei Rubenshtein, http://www.sergeyrubenshtein.net
Many people assert, right here in this blog’s comments and in their own, that horses are our best teachers. I wonder if they really are open to all the teachings their horses offer moment by moment. True mindfulness demands that we not only be aware of what is being offered to us but also that we accept it with an open heart.
This means setting aside feelings of frustration when reaching our goal is stymied. Allowing the horse to teach us works on several levels:
• We accept the horse as an equal partner in the endeavor.
• We set aside our need to achieve the goal of the day and the endgame, whatever it may be. For example, if my goal in a given lesson is to trot softly and easily over ground poles, with good transitions to the walk afterwards, I have to be willing to give that goal up in the face of a few bucks and the refusal to transition neatly into the trot. Why? Because there is something else going on, and as my horse’s partner, I owe him the honor of finding out what it is and working through it. In that way, that little horse taught me not only how to deal with whatever comes up, but also how to deal with the specifics of the issue.
In those early years, particularly with this trainer, I would end my lessons sitting in the tack room in tears. “This is not fun,” I would say, “I’m not learning anything at all.”
I felt I would never learn to ride. Indeed, that horse and I were not a good match. But the lessons he taught me have stayed with me. They form the foundation of everything I am able to do with horses to this day. He didn’t only teach me about horses, riding and horsemanship. He taught me about patience, acceptance, love in the face of adversity, loyalty, facing fear, and calculating acceptable risks.
I regret that I was not able to accept those lessons at the time. Had I been more mindful, more awake, more aware, I’d have grown as a person, as a rider, far more than I expected.
Are you able to accept the lessons offered to you by your horse?
© 2009 enlightened horsemanship through touch
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