Those bittersweet visits I made to the barn filled empty hours with the essence they emit – Kept up my spirits and me looking forward, never allowing me any reason or option to quit.
All of our childhood days we are instructed to “Look where you are going”. This seemed like wise advice coming from adults at the time. Little did we know, that was a lie – albeit not intentional. The real truth is that you need to keep your focus on where you want to go, not where you are now or where you seem to be going. Keep looking at the desired destination and never waver your attention from that goal. Sooner or later, you will get there, one way or another. This has been one of life’s biggest lessons that I have learned and have found it particularly true when it comes to working with horses. Anyone who has jumped a horse knows that it is fatal mistake to look at the the jump as you approach it. You look up over and past the jump because that is the goal – not the jump itself. The jump is merely an obstacle to overcome to get there. Another example is riding a horse that is intent on trying to get out of the gate when working in the arena. If your thoughts and attention are on the gate such as: “I know he is going to fight me when we go by the gate”, that is what will happen. When your focus is on the gate, so will your horse’s. Don’t even let that thought of the gate come into your mind. Visualize you and your horse heading to a spot past the gate. Even if it takes a few tries, it will no longer be a stopping point for your horse if that is not where the attention is. Life is like riding a horse. We tend to pay way too much attention to where we are at the moment, forgetting what we really set out to do. We get caught up in the moments when things seem to be heading in the wrong direction and put all of our energy there working on the problem instead of the solution. The obstacles become a diversion and instead of figuring out how to get past them, we allow them to change our direction. Stay the course and set your goals and dreams where you want them to be, working constantly toward them. Rarely is there a straight easy path to achieve anything worthwhile – in either life or with horses. Take the detours when necessary and go around the obstacles. They are only temporary setbacks. Remember that we always get what we really, really want. We also always get what we really, really don’t want. Depends on which aspect we focus on.
If I consider his feelings, he will take care of me.
Halter Training Eddy-O
“If you train a horse against his will, he will be of the same opinion still.” I love that phrase and I keep it at the front of my mind whenever I am working with my young horse. Sure, I could make him do things that he just isn’t ready or willing to do – but just where would that get me in the long run? Are threats, intimidation, pain, force and punishment really going to convince him of anything long term? I think not. In fact, I know that doesn’t work. I learned at a very young age that it definitely never changed my mind about anything, even if I was made to comply. My personal experience proving that theory comes to mind of when I was in the third grade. I attended a Catholic school at the time and although my teacher was not a nun, she was as strict as any of them I ever had. The matter at hand which we struggled with had to do with my handwriting. I was left-handed which was not acceptable due to the following belief: The right hand of God, the left hand of the devil. I was some kind of evil child because I possessed this trait and had to be broken of it. (This was confusing in itself because I came by it honestly. My mother was left handed and I certainly did not think of her as some faulty being because of it. I never saw any signs of the dark side coming out in her when she picked up a pen or a fork.) While we sat writing at our desks, my teacher would stroll around the room. If she caught me using my left hand – which was just about always – she would snatch my pencil from my hand, bop me over the head with it and insist I write with my right hand. When I had to write on the blackboard, I had no choice but to use my right hand and actually could write very nicely that way. She always made it a point to tell me that. The thing is, it never felt right – it was a struggle and awkward and even though I got pretty good at it, I always defaulted back to what came natural to me. The end result is that I am 60 years old now and after having to live my life in a right handed world, I have acquired the skills to be right handed in almost everything I do – except write and eat.
Christmas didn’t hold wishes for baby dolls or Barbies for me –
it was that big deluxe farm set I wanted to see under the tree!
Visions of sugarplums
I always knew I was a country girl at heart, even though I grew up living in town. I loved those weekend visits to the farm – any farm – and jumped at the opportunity to visit whenever it presented itself, even when I was very young.
I loved everything about the country. I could physically run free on what seemed to be endless acres while my imagination happily played out real life-in-the-country scenes. There were barns with hay lofts, corn cribs, rows of corn in the fields, fresh garden foods in the fruit cellars and homemade quilts on the beds. Everything about it appealed to my deepest sense of harmony. Most of all, I loved the animals. It seemed like there was always a batch of new kittens scurrying around, the family dogs ran at your side without leashes or restraints, the chickens roamed free-range and the cows were treated with care and respect. My cousins and I would climb over the wood fences and roll under the electric wires then make wild dashes across the field with our hearts pounding hoping to get to the other side before the bull figured out he could outrun us. Rides on the tractor, the hay wagon or in the back of the pickup were always a highlight but nothing compared to the rides on the old farm horse. Two or three of us would pile on and away we would go until we would slide off in a heap only to get back up and do it again.
One of my uncles lived on a farm but didn’t have horses. He knew that one of my greatest wishes was to ride so he would do the next best thing and lead me around on his dairy cow, Knucklehead. Worked for me. In my mind, I was a cowgirl (literally).
Try as they might, my parents could never quite sissify me and I remain a proverbial tomboy to this very day. Luckily, I now am living the life I always dreamed of. My days are now filled with horses, dogs, cats and chickens.
If you know a little girl who loves that life as I did, who dreams of having a horse of her own, do both of you a favor and indulge her whims. It is not a passing phase, especially if horses are at the center of her fantasy. For those natural-born horse lovers, dolls, tea sets, ballet and ruffles will never hold a candle to pair of boots and anything even remotely related to horse stuff. If Santa is listening, he will skip the dolls section in the toy store and go country.