I just got back today from my 5th Colt start with the Nokota horses.
This one by far was the most profound. I can’t really say what made it so, but it was amazing.
What I realized and it was because the entire group was talking about it is how open and honest this clinic is. Everyone feels free to express and not be judged on their innermost personal thoughts, blocks and problems.
People were so open this clinic talking about what holds them back, what scares them and what made them truly happy every step of the way and it’s so refreshing to realize we are all at different stages and even with that not being judged by those with more experience and not being chastised by those who may not be there yet or are from a different background.
Everyone really dove down deep and the deeper we went the deeper all of us felt free to express. Everyone was choking up or tearing up on the last day expressing what we felt and we were all laughing together about how each one of us had an emotional transformation and were happy for eachother no matter what “level” we may have been at.
One of the factors that hit me is that this is not just a colt start, it’s not just about the horses…the horses play a major factor but it’s really about us and our journey with ourselves. We are able to change in major strides because of the horses but it’s within ourselves that we find that openness, that strive, that determination to keep learning and allowing the horses to teach us.
I know that sounds all touchy feely but it’s really not. Jack Lieser has a way with horses and people and getting us to learn on our own terms about who we are and what OUR holes are that we need to fill to complete the transformation for our horses AND ourselves to continue our own personal trek…to build on it and to continually make progress to better on what we do and who we are to achieve small goals that lead to a big picture.
Using myself as an example because I can only speak for me.
I went into this event like I usually did with no expectations and total faith that I would end up with the horse I NEEDED to be with (not wanted…but needed) It’s worked for me in the past and it worked for me again this time.
Sure, I had the horses I wanted to work with sorted out and I got to work with one of them but then Jack changed everything on me.
He asked me to work with a “Doughy” horse….you know, one of those left brained Introverts that basically asks you “yeah, You and what army?”
This is the type of horse I have had the least success with in my entire horsemanship life.
He had worked with two other beginners before me at this point and was really pushy and leaning heavy….any of those words we use to describe a less than willing horse.
To my astonishment, I actually was able to get this guy LIGHT…as a feather! I don’t even know really how I did it, I just gave him the normal feel and release I give a super sensitive horse and he started responding! I had to do it a lot louder than I do a sensitive horse but I did it and he responded wonderfully to it!!!!
As usual with these horses, he had a super strong play drive so we pulled lots of different obstacles in the arena. I asked this giant 3 year old if he wanted to play with everything and he did so we would do something and then go play with something….anytime he gave me a true effort we would go play and I had this guy eating out of my hand! Literally …and anyone who has worked with wild horses knows that’s not real common – he actually was taking alfalfa treats right out of my hand and wolfing them down. It’s not something they recognize as food but this guy just ate them right up!
All of a sudden the thoughts I was thinking would come to life and we would reward with play and the next time around he was like “what next? I LOVE this.”
Anyone who reads my blogs knows I have a hard time with creativity but it was just streaming out of me at this point and Pillsbury was just licking it up and asking for more!
I was shocked at my own transformation and super happy I was able to do it and make it work for this young boy.
Here is where it got sticky for me. He was so willing and so compliant and so nonchalant about everything we did. When I got the saddle on him without a problem I got scared…..I got REALLY petrified. I was thinking “Okay, horses like this that don’t seem to get bothered by anything usually will have a blow up under saddle.” Which can be true but I scared myself so much with my own anxiety I was SURE that was going to happen.
I told my trainer Jack Lieser that I was afraid to get on so he used him in his demo for everyone else…which went splendidly and he left me to get on to move him around afterwards…..Even though I was petrified, I did get on and we fumbled thru it just fine without incident.
I felt a little unhinged though and I couldn’t pin point why. We ended on a good note and I dismounted still shaken.
I later realized I did not trust him and it was because I didn’t trust myself and that’s what was causing my bad feelings. That led into me asking myself why the hell I thought I was good enough to even be doing this anyway, I don’t have enough experience ..this guy must just be yearning for a great trainer and he gets me…the dumbass pretending to be the leader when I was afraid.
I rolled around all night thinking of those thoughts.
When morning came though and I was faced with the fact I would have to get on this horse again probably repeatedly I was shaking.
On the way to the clinic I decided to ask myself what was I afraid of? I answered, of being bucked off, run off with, thrown to the ground, trampled or worse and I let myself feel those emotions for a few seconds and released them. I felt surprisingly better after I verbalized them to myself and let myself feel that fear, just for a few moments.
I walked into the last day of the clinic thinking if it happens, it happens.
I haltered my big beautiful sexy pony and I told him in my head, I was afraid, I am pretty sure there is a better leader out there for him but I was going to try, try and try some more to be his partner……..and you know what happened?
Because I started to trust him, he trusted me….I gave and inch and he gave me a few thousand miles. We were rhythm in motion. I tried my damnedest to listen to him and he gave me everything.
We rode perfect, he wasn’t sticky or heavy at all, in fact we were moving around confidently and gracefully and sometimes even leading the rest of the horses and their humans around the arena at a decent beginner pace.
I was so happy and I had so much love and respect in my heart as I was un saddling Pillsbury. I thought I felt true connection but I wasn’t sure…….
Until I took off the halter….and he followed me all the way from one side of the arena to the other totally un tethered to me except by bond.
Even when I was taking pictures on the fence line with him and his buddies he stopped to acknowledge me. I felt so honored and humbled by him.
He forced me to find the holes in myself and encouraged me to fix them and once I tried, he gave more than his share to make sure I knew he was listening to me too. I will never forget him and I wish I had the means to adopt him myself because I would take that colt home in a second if I could.
BUT I realize fate is fate and it may not be in the cards right now so all I can give him is gratitude. I hope to see you again soon Pillsbury, you changed my life in four short days but I will never, ever forget you or stop thanking you for what you have given me. I would not have learned this lesson without you.
Pillsbury checking in with me during his play with the other studs.