I don’t know how many times I have gone out to work with a horse with an agenda – only to find the horse has little interest, certainly no intention and is quite content to just see what shows up.
Learning to adjust to the mindset of living in the moment and being prepared to adapt to the situation continues to test me. Rain is one horse that seems determined to test my resolve on being present. Regardless of progress in previous sessions we usually spend the first half of any session fiddle farting around to reach to a mutually agreeable starting point. Once and if that point is reached all moves along well.
I say if, because the if is dependant on me. Each ride is like a previous conversation where Rain needs to state his opinion and feel confident that I am listening. Working with a horse is truly no different than coaching a person along. I’ve learned that once Rain has had that opportunity to vent, he appears more open to a dialogue where he is willing to answer my questions. Push him too a point and his resistance and frustration grows, guide him through the discussion and pretty soon we’re loping along smooth as can be.
In his fabulous book “The Mentors Mentor”, Corey Olynik, suggests that a “mentor must first and foremost be a “Confidante: a person who listens without judgement.” Olynik’s many years as a mentor helped him define the six different roles he has played in coaching others. It helped me see that as a “Role model” my experience in starting other horses must demonstrate to Rain that I am willing to be a “Guide”, a “Tutor” and a “Coach” to facilitate his learning, and as a “Sage” I am willing to allow him time to understand.
Each role I play offers something different to define Rain’s development as a riding horse. As a “Guide” I have used the recent construction zone near the farm to help him see things that may appear foreboding, from a new perspective, as a “Coach” I am bringing accountability, discipline and motivation into the relationship by supporting, repeating and rewarding. As a “Tutor” I am looking for the right way to explain something new to him, recognising each horse will find understanding if we give them time. Finally as a “Sage” I can’t loose site of the ultimate vision – being one with the horse.
Olynik’s book has been a wonderful reminder for me to find the perspective that will be helpful with each horse at each moment. To enjoy what shows up and be playful. To use each experience to strengthen the relationship, finding the path together so I don’t end up being the only one taking myself too seriously.