It’s a Matter of Trust

I had to trust her, I was reaching to pick up a back foot. It had taken the better part of a year to get to this point and if actions reflect thoughts, trust had to be visible in everything I did. I had to trust me.

Pheobe joined the herd when a divorce required the assets be divided. Her trip to the meat pen was intercepted by a friend who put out a call for anyone willing to take on mares in foal. My offer to take a couple was clearly emotional as the logic of taking on four more horses typically requires planning.

Two mares arrived mid-January, once unloaded you couldn’t get anywhere near either of them. So here we are a year later, she has progressed from the base instinct of flight or fight, to me trimming her feet.

Phoebe has been a brutally honest mirror of not only what I’ve learned about horsemanship and leadership, but what I have learned about myself. If leadership is about enabling others she has truly been the test, “Was she able to see me as a fair and willing human?”

“You can always tell what a horse is thinking, by watching their ears.” However, when you are picking up a back foot, you are not in a good position to see their ears, so you have to go on trust and feel. There are a lot of what ifs that can get in the way of being successful in this situation so you truly have to go based on what you know, what you feel and most importantly belief in what you know.

I am always assessing the situation, weighing the options and managing the risk when working with a horse. Sometimes all at the same time, conscious competence can become incompetence in a heartbeat. However there is always the point you must get beyond assessment and do something, simply acknowledging that learning from failure is a possibility.

I have been cautious with Pheobe and the greatest challenge with being cautious is not to appear tentative. Moving bravely with confidence is what she needs to see and feel from me so as I slid my hand down her back leg and asked for the foot I had to keep breathing and remain relaxed so she could feel that confidence in me.

It took a number of goes to complete the trim each time she offered the opportunity to try again, her relaxing a bit more each time which in turn increased my confidence and trust in both of us.

ps – now to get a post trim pic

Nancy Lowery has been blogging about her Leadership Learning through Horsemanship Experiences for almost ten years. To find out how The Natural Leader programs can complement your Leadership Training programs she would love to hear from you. 

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