Friday, January 8, 2021

Looking for Release

I see horses as a mirror that allows me to see into my subconscious in ways that very few other things do. 

What drives me. What motivates me. How do I talk to myself about it. How do I think about myself because of it. What am I trying to gain.

What am I willing to give up to get what I think I need. 

We can psychoanalyze that all day (and it's fascinating on a certain level), but the practical ramifications are interesting. 

I took Zoe down the ditchbank the other day. She was predictably slow away from home, then a little scooty wanting to go back to it. She can be mildly herd bound if she's not getting out regularly and she definitely does better if we do a couple rides with a buddy before I just launch into a long solo ride as we lose daylight. 

And like. 

She wasn't bad. She was a little jiggy. She stopped when I asked her. She wanted to be pushy, so I pushed her into a shoulder fore down the trail and she was like MUM UR SO MEAN THIS IZ HARD BOO but she did it. 

I knew that I didn't handle it well. I didn't really establish myself. I didn't train my horse. I just totally abdicated all responsibility, had a crummy ride back, didn't school it, didn't reassure her. I felt irritated, then untacked and went home. 

And when you have an actual disney horse, you can do that and she's still great the next time you see her. But maybe you don't take her down the ditch bank again because your coping skills are just not that good right now and you're having a hard time. You know that SOMEONE needs to school her, but you need it to not be you. 

So you play in the arena but GODDAMN you want her dialed and soft and ON IT right TF now and since you ride like ass (a conservative assessment), she's kind of stiff and heavy and not super engaged. It's ok. It's not terrible. She's not flipping you the bird, but like. Things aren't right. 

I went home. It's cold. I'm tired. The SO says "how was Zoe" and I have to explain to him how actually, she was pretty good. It's just that I expected a lot. And demanded a lot. And didn't give her any release. 

And actually what I interpreted as "her being heavy" was really "me refusing to give". 

And "her being stiff" was more accurately "me being rigid". 

As I explained all that, I realized that stupid mirror thing was happening again. She's fine. She's just being a horse. But when I don't have the emotional capacity to provide good training, she's going to be a bit lackluster. 

When I respond to her responding to me with an unyielding YOU WILL GIVE, all I'm doing to her is what I do to myself. 

Which is never give myself room to fail. I demand more, push harder, get through it, and when I do that, I penalize myself for my very humanity that is begging for a little mercy. 

I'm hard. I'm strong. It's a weakness. 

She's better than that. She's so just... I dunno. Inherently kind and pure. She brings her whole self every day and does her very best. She deserves someone who says "you can have an off day and it's ok and you're still my #1". She has earned that a thousand times over. And it's true--she can have those things. She just needs me to recognize it. 

She needs me to release.

Now switch the pronouns in that statement. Like the mirror does. Show me how I talk about myself. 

What am I willing to give up to get what I think I need.

I can have an off day and it's ok. That's a really hard concept for my overly-driven, very-intense self. 

I can tell my trainer that I need her to put a few rides on zb and then we'll take a couple lessons. 

And then I can go to the barn after work and ride my beautiful disney horse in a halter. Feed her cookies and say I'm sorry. 

I'll do better for both of us. 


  1. I feel this so much on a macro level after this whole full training thing. Love your relationship with her <3

    1. Training is so great. Love that it's an option I have available.

  2. This is very poignant for me, and very eloquently written.
    Thanks from me and all my animals. didn’t realize I needed this message.

  3. Very well written. I've had my current pony 13 years and he has completely changed how I train and ride but also how I relate to a lot of other things. He is such a good egg that I am almost always certain the problem is me. This has led to expanding my training tools vastly but also to a lot of personal development. Riding and training can be just about horses but a lot of times improvement is really about personal growth. Getting off my hippy soapbox now...

    1. I love that relationship when you and the horse know each other so well.

  4. This is spot on for me. Thank you for sharing it.

  5. I've never once thought of my horse as a mirror, and I find that view profoundly accurate. Thank you for this

  6. They say that pets usually resemble their owners. It's probably more the case they are a reflection of ourselves.


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