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Reflection in the Mirrror
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kcooper
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 Posted: Sat Jan 7th, 2012 07:24 pm
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I am hesitant to respond.
I am so used to apparent failure and apparent losing in life now and hitting the apparent 'dead end', that I am practically excited about it because I know its not a dead end but a re-routing... re-routing to A) something better and more true and B)the learning experience.
That's why I am hesitant to respond because I know by now from all past re-routings that this is 'home' and I don't want to do anything to jeopardize it by sticking both feet in my mouth.

See I could write a list a mile long of all the sports teams, western games days, track teams, not to mention choirs, ballet clubs, jazz clubs, I have been in when I was younger and I never EVER won any first or even second place or got picked lead or solo for anything! If ribbons and buckles were going to be the incentive for me I would have been too humiliated to keep going ages ago!
I believe the biggest contributing factor in not developing a 'winning is most important' attitude was having parents who never put pressure on us TO win, like sadly many kids are.
If my parents detected one iota of greed or selfishness or need to win a ribbin-ness in regards to riding we would have been ripped off our horses, lost our priveleges and sent crying to the house .... but they didn't raise us to be that way so we never got in trouble for that at least.

I am old enough now to realize that it is A GOOD THING to own up to what you've done and what your real feelings are and take your lumps, I am really trying, I want to grow. Especially because I want to raise good kids of my own, its all part an parcel (I think at least).

I came to this class on my own free will and I am not a sadist and so I have done, like most others here I'm sure, and immense amount of research and reflection before I EVER considered posting something here. There really is enough information posted in these threads that there is no excuse not to equip yourself with the tools you need to get to the route of the problem and do most of the excavating yourself. I see the problems will lie both in your soul and in your skill set.

I can not in good conscience admit that I have felt or acted in a way that I don't believe (or cant yet recognize) that I have.

While I freely admit that I am volatile, emotional, never passive when I should be, anxious and selfish (only initially), those 'uglies' only arise where my knowledge ends.
BUT.... I know with every cell in my body that I DO NOT ride for ribbons, buckles or notoriety. I ride and have horses because I truly feel that its Gods call on my life period.
I AM 'ambitious' .... about not effing it up.

And Dr Deb, I DO get angry... enraged even... although not for lengthy periods, but I can't say that I have ever been angry AT my horse or angry because I wasn't going to win something, I was angry because I lacked knowledge and that lack of knowledge was letting me screw up and HURT a living breathing animal that I had been so graciously given stewardship over. I mean that.

One last thing, just because I wanted to barrel race doesn't mean I want to be a 'barrel rac-ER' , my husband and I also ride in the mountains and bring in cows and rope at brandings but I really want to 'play horsey' every day and so I need to learn a variety of things to do with my horse and I am learning some of those great things to do here. What I would really like to build is a willing, competent working cow horse that is capable, safe and happy to do whatever.
It is easy to get polluted in the world I (we all) live in because nearly everything seems to start with a frigging 3 year old 'futurity' class: reining, cutting, working cow horse (although barrel fut.s start at 5 in Can.)... now if you have a heart and you watch that stuff it will make you barf.

I hope all that was ok to get out here, maybe helpful and not a waste of space or time.
I really appreciate you folks trying (pleading) with me to wake up and come to terms and there is a part of me that just wants to admit false (in my mind) things about myself so we can move on...

Kim

Last edited on Sat Jan 7th, 2012 07:59 pm by kcooper

kcooper
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 Posted: Sat Jan 7th, 2012 07:50 pm
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DR Deb, it took me apprx 3 hours to write my last post and in that time you responded to Jam with some things that I really feel will help me identify feelings, their route cause and progress.

Am I correct in observing that...So maybe I dont get mad AT my horse... big deal...I'm still getting mad. And even though I have learned also to 'stop the show' and regroup and not abuse my horse further because I have lost my cool... big deal...I still got mad and thats the part that needs recognizing..?
Is that right?

After all this do you think I am still BS-ing my self?

I am not trying to convince you per say I just want to discover and express my real intentions so I get the help that I really need.

DrDeb
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 Posted: Sat Jan 7th, 2012 09:30 pm
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You're getting a lot closer to not BSing I'd say! Great!! Now we're cooking, as Judy's husband said last night! Yay!! YES you're supposed to recognize that the anger is in fact in there -- there is no kind of so-called 'frustration' that isn't just a synonym for 'I'm really mad as hell'. Cheers, and welcome to the human race Kim -- Dr. Deb

Karla D.
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 Posted: Mon Jan 9th, 2012 06:15 am
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Dr.  Deb:

    If I were to answer the question as to how I feel when my horse doesn't do what I want it to do, I'd say that I feel incompetent.  I don't feel anger toward my horse.  As a kid learning to ride, to blame the horse or to be mad at the horse because it didn't do what I wanted it to do was not acceptable.  That was just the way it was and that is the belief system that I grew up in.

   When I think about what is underneath feeling incompetent, I think that I am angry at myself for not knowing how to resolve the problem.  And within that there is also a feeling of regret.  I wonder how it is that I still don't know much of anything!!! 

   The other thing that happens to me is that if my horse gets acting up alot, I shut down.  I don't like alot of trouble and if big trouble occurs, I think that it is happening because I don't know what I am doing.  Fear comes in then - the fear of getting hurt or of causing the horse to get hurt. 

    So when things don't work out as I planned my response is to feel incompetent - angry at myself - regretful for not knowing more - and sometimes fearful and lacking in courage.

AdamTill
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 Posted: Mon Jan 9th, 2012 08:38 pm
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Hi Dr Deb,

When we're able to recognize and acknowledge what we're feeling, how to we stay emotionally congruent WITH our horses without presenting the unhelpful emotions TO our horses? Is is even necessary, given that they're far better able to read us then I'm sure we even know?

Is is a matter of being honest about those emotions without letting that state affect the decisions we make, or do we (akin to how I've heard Josh mention lately about having certain thoughts we keep from our horses) develop the ability to have those emotions WITHOUT presenting them?

Is emotional congruency a matter of being honest about the feelings with ourselves more-so then hiding them from others?

I have two examples I can think of from the past week that I can now think of more dispassionately.

1) Anger. This year the owners of our facility changed the indoor footing from dark sand to an almost white sand. Great stuff to ride on, but the horses seem overall spookier on it due to what I believe are contrast issues (a line of footsteps are sometimes a problem in a newly groomed arena etc). The cavaletti we use are also largely white, with a black stripe around the middle third. My horse would happily cross them before, and will happily do so outside, but all but refuses to cross them when used against the white sand (first noticed a week ago).

When he refused to walk across them I assumed his reluctance was an issue of visibility, and after forcing him to cross once on the ground to satisfy my own ego and because "he should know better" since there was another rider watching at the time, I resigned myself to "do things properly" after my "frustration" (which I now read as anger) had gone away. Not a positive experience.

A few nights later, after relating this trouble to my girlfriend, she very helpfully offered to help demonstrate to Tindur that all was okay by riding through on her mare first and letting us follow behind. He was having none of it, and I found myself getting mad at Tindur again ("frustrated" was my thought again). The thought occured to me that I shouldn't teach him that he could ignore my leg, and after blocking each attempt to duck sideways or backwards and noticing the first time he thought about the cavaletti, I ASKED him to turn away and we left it at that. This seemed to be a positive experience overall.

Forcing him across is clearly the wrong concept and actually counterproductive, since it had no purpose other then "preventing my loss of face" and damaged his trust in my leadership. In the second attempt, I think it seems appropriate to feel mad but quit on a tiny bit of progress, since I knew that if I worked longer I would end up facing the demon of pride again and try to force the issue. Is that a correct read on the situation?

2) Fear. Having finally secured and modified a saddle that fits Tindur and which I feel perfectly at ease in, I'm now more able to stop making him fill in for me when either he or I get scared. Due to fear of falling off or the saddles I've had injuring me when I stayed on, I've tended to shut my horse down when these things happen. Due to Tindur's nature Josh has been encouraging me to really let him move at all times, however, and I'm now starting to explore how beneficial that can be to both of us with increasing enthusiasm.

While we're still organizing our transitions, I've found that my horse really enjoys cantering. At the moment I'm trying to manage my fear of loose rein transitions  to the canter and let him move, since I find I'm fine when we get there. I'm learning that there's actually a lot of SECURITY to be found in being able to trust the horse in a loose rein transition, and that the way in which they make these transitions can be extremely helpful later on when I look back at my 5 min schooling blocks. Likewise, rather then shutting him down when he gets going, I'm now often the one who wants to go a little faster or longer.

Flying pace aside since I'm not yet able to deal with that mentally, canter is the gait where I can most feel Tindur "crowding the back of the balance box", to borrow from Buck. As such, yesterday we were working on really stretching out in the canter, and I was asking him to keep that big movement around the entire arena...including the previously-spooky end, which contains the door where people and horses come in and out.

At the same time, one of the trainers called out that she was coming into the arena, and as we passed the door I gave her the all-clear. I was feeling good, and having fun. There was another rider on a horse coming down the long side that I'd turned onto as well.

As I turned to go down the long side, the other rider's horse threw her head up in the air and started to panic a bit. I wasn't sure if it was because Tindur was thundering down towards her or because of the other horse coming into the arena, but Tindur decided he didn't like the look of that and REALLY took off.

Normally, that's one of the "life flashing before eyes" moments for me since he's bolted before in the past, but this time I just took a deep seat, sat in and rode it out. I was afraid, but for probably the first time ever I did what I knew I had been directed to by my teachers when that happened. While he thought about ducking out around a manure pile, I asked him not to and he didn't commit, and it only took a half round of the arena for him to come down to a walk. I was able to pat him on the neck, walk around for a bit, and felt simultaneously relieved but also inspired because Tindur seemed fine afterwards.

When I go out tonight, I know that I'll have that memory in my mind's eye. I'll be afraid, but less so then before. How do I comport myself when I go to canter again?

Thanks much, very cool thread.

Adam
 

kcooper
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 Posted: Tue Jan 10th, 2012 01:38 am
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Quote from Adams post:
"Is emotional congruency a matter of being honest about the feelings with ourselves more-so then hiding them from others?"


I am interested to hear what Dr Deb replies with Adam because what you said above seems to make sense to me.

Do we not have a responsibility when handling horses to correctly identify the feelings that arise because there will be appropriate (and in-appropriate)actions/responses that will coincide with those feelings. And getting familiar with the feelings you get from the situations that arise will help you better delegate the best response/reaction in a clear, fluid and timely manner?
I am thinking about this feeling stuff overlapping into the 'can you get small enough' and 'can you be firm when neccessary' area.? I imagine if you stay real with your feelings on a day to day basis you will avoid all kinds of messes really.

So far we have fear and anger...is there anything else?

I also cant see that the fear or anger that comes over us as a result of a 'not so good' horse interaction can stem from anything else other than lack of the right kind of experience and knowledge. Can it?

Dr Deb you said you thought I was angry all the time (which I am still puzzled about) so I am guessing that it does not just stem from a horse incident but is being drug in by us (like baggage) from our day to day life?


Kim

Last edited on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 01:41 am by kcooper

ilam
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 Posted: Tue Jan 10th, 2012 06:37 pm
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While I cannot speak for anyone else, but at least for me I have some idea how it works. Sort of like Buck, I came from a very dysfunctional family, and in order to be able to become a reasonably functional human being in a social setting I had to learn how to identify emotions, then figure out where they came from and why, then figure out how to think and act differently so that the next time when a situation arose, I would be able to quickly change course rather than reacting in an inwardly or outwardly destructive fashion. It is a process of: what, why, and what else? What are we feeling, why are we feeling it (where is it coming from?), then what are alternate ways of feeling or acting, so that the old feelings will subside?

In humans, often what causes negative emotions are not rooted in what is happening in the moment. It appears that way, but it is not. It is our internal dialogue that we are often not aware of that is the culprit, which comes from our past experiences and emotional imprints, and that is what we bring to our horses.

From some of the posts in this thread I saw a few showing issues with self-acceptance and self-esteem. How can the horse be at peace if his rider is not at peace with him or herself? Like Ray said, he has no time to worry about making mistakes, he's too busy making new ones. You have to be able to be okay with yourself in order to be able to have that attitude. For some of us it requires a really, really deep look into ourselves why e.g. we are really getting angry or frustrated at a particular moment. We know in our heads that it is not the horse's fault, but be need to know in our hearts what is really going on. You have to know why you are getting angry; in that process of recognition you will find out that it had nothing to do with the reality of the current moment. Once you know that reality, you can change your internal thought/dialogue patterns, because you think of it in a totally different way than before, which in turn will change your emotional responses.

This process requires much practice, it took me YEARS, and just this past year I learned from this horsemanship process that there still were important things that I had not recognized previously. Initially, it would be months between an event, where I overreacted like crazy, to the point where I finally recognized where it came from. Then I'd go back and rehearse the trigger event in my head how I could have behaved differently. Over time, the space between a reaction and recognition became shorter, and then one day I was able to recognize it the instant it happened, and I was able to change course mid-way. I still remember exactly what moment that was too. Then eventually you are able to not react the 'dysfunctional' way at all any more, because you can anticipate it coming beforehand and change course beforehand. By 'change course' I mean, think differently, hence generate different feelings.

Hopefully this process won't be so long and difficult for someone with a good upbringing. As Buck said, not sure now whether it was in "Believe" or at a clinic or both, it requires constant vigilance if you grew up and were imprinted in a toxic environment. But it is a neverending process, it does become a habit after a while, which is good. I hope some of this what I just wrote makes some sense LOL

Isabel

Last edited on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 06:37 pm by ilam

Karla D.
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 Posted: Tue Jan 10th, 2012 11:39 pm
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Dr.  Deb:

   I took lessons from a fellow who used to say:  "well we'll have to work on that"  and "we are here to enjoy our horses and have some fun".  He is not on the friends of the institute list so perhaps I should not be making mention of his teachings however those words struck home for me.  When I come from the perspective of "working on things" and "enjoying my horse", things seem to work out better all around. 

sarahmorloff
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 Posted: Mon Jan 16th, 2012 06:05 pm
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I have to admit that I felt some relief to learn that I am not alone in this.  I have always felt that horses were a a huge incite to the "deep truths" of their owners or handlers...

For a long time now I have been trying to sort out my true intentions.  Is this about keeping to a schedule or progress of some sort, or is this about just enjoying the moment and working with what I have in that moment?  I know in my heart that it is about the moment, but I find myself pushing for improvement and betterment... I know that horses are a huge reflection of us and I guess that scares me cause they don't sugar coat it like we would like them to... and when I don't like how my horse responds I really have to force myself to take a look at myself first.

My husband built me a fancy pedestal and I brought it into the barn, showing off proudly to my barn buddies.  My horse just danced around it while I was suggesting to him he should try it out... I have to admit that I was disappointed (the day wasn't turning out how I had envisioned it)  and that again my horse didn't have any interest in being with me (or my beautiful pedestal) and really just wanted to get back out to his friends (although he wasn't being rude about it just a little disinterested).  Then I felt mad at myself for being so selfish and not taking it on HIS time.  Wanting to smack myself in the thick skull... Did I REALLY think he was going to just know what to do and then be able to in the first try?? 

When he did finally get up there I was so exited and happy (for him and his happy face), but I do have to admit that I was also relieved - that I had done something right.

This is a horse that has lots of tension within his body that is slowly (extemely) loosening up and releasing... it is hard to admit that I am probably his biggest stumbling block and the days when there is no expectaions of him (for me) are usually the days when we have a great time...  I have no literal dreams of fancy showing or big competitions... my dreams are of HIM feeling great and being able to enjoy each others company and friendship no matter what we do or where life takes us... I truly love this animal and it pains me to know that he doesn't enjoy using his body or that he would end up bracing through is life (much like myself)... my biggest "goal/hope" (yes I will admit it) that he would meet me at the fence and say, "I feel great, what took you so long... lets go!" (no matter what it may be - a light trail, cows, arena etc).  BUT that is my dream, and it scares me to think that my horse may not want to even be with me... I tend to get emotional and angry when his soundness and his comfort slip away from us... It also reveals that I possibly don't want to pay $$ to nurse a horse along for several years just to have him maintain his current soundness level.  Or that I don't want to just cur-plunk around a trail or arena forever... It isn't enjoyable to me at the moment and he seems to be bored... wow, that sounds selfish but it's the truth... so I guess feeling STUCK is a yucky feeling to me and I then slather the anger and frustration on top... because surely being STUCK is not where I want to be.

In every day life I tend to have extreme ups and downs with my own health and feel STUCK quite often and it has been a true struggle to admit, accept and move forward.  I suppose that is where acquiring the adequate tools for self improvement come in.  For me, not knowing how to proceed or 'fix' things is like a hamster running on his wheel.

I am thankful to say I now have the courage to look deep into the mirror, but accepting what I see and doing something about it is always a struggle...  Sorry this was so lengthy, it is hard to write about "feelings".

Jeannie
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 Posted: Sun Jan 22nd, 2012 10:50 pm
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Hi Folks,  here is an interesting story about how two non horsey people coped with fear: I remember at the photo shoot I posted pictures of last year, the female stylist wanted to put a ribbon around my horse's neck, and she freely admitted she was afraid to do it, so I immediately volunteered. The photographer's assistant was a big, middle aged man, and when the photographer asked him to hold the reflective screen up about two feet from B, he replied he didn't think the horse would like it. The photographer seemed puzzled and said that the owner had assured him the horse would be fine with it. Still, the guy refused. I stayed out of it, preferring to let them work it out. After about half an hour, during which B had acted in a calm and obedient manner, I noticed the assistant had moved up and was able to stand close to the horse. This made me realize he had been afraid at first, but hadn't wanted to admit it.

Anger and fear tend to come in when the horse has been asked to fill in for the person at a level he is incapable of. Just like in the post 'Big Time Trailer Fun", the horse has been expected to know how to do something without having had it broken down for him into chunks he can understand and begin to feel confident about.

I have noticed that crossing water in a group trail ride will often elicit similar emotions for the owners of horses who have a problem with water, as asking the horse to mount the drum for the first time. They are worried and embarrassed about holding everyone up, and this quickly turns to anger at the horse for not just getting over the water. The horse starts backing up, the rider starts hitting and kicking the horse to go forward, and pretty soon the horse will just refuse to go, or will blindly jump the water in an attempt to get away from the pressure. The emotions cloud the rider's perception of any try the horse may have offered, and instead of getting release and relief at the right moment, the horse just gets more pressure.

 As Dr Deb stated, it is better to note the emotions, and they start to have less power to run the show. I'm sure horsemen  like Harry and Buck have a way to put those emotions on the back burner and not let them interfere with their ability to recognize where they have to start with a horse and when they need to release in order for the horse to learn.

 The word respect is used a lot with horses, and it's a pretty good word, because when a horse is soft and obedient, that is what it will look like to a person. We have to remember that the horse is really waiting on us and complying because he has come to realize that to do so takes all the pressure off of him, and increases his sense of well being. They learn that they can gain confidence by following our directions.

 I have noticed that horses go through three stages with regard to how they handle themselves with a rider on them when they suddenly have a need to move or release themselves from some pressure they are feeling. (a) they need to try to rid themselves of the rider, who seems to be part of the pressure. (b) they are fine with the rider staying on, but it's up to the rider to figure out how to do this. (c) they actively help the rider stay on, at the same time that they do whatever maneuver they have to. I learned this by doing something stupid a few years ago, when I hopped on B's back at liberty to go back to the barn. A loose horse came up behind him and started bothering him, so B bucked and kicked out at the horse without moving me at all. I hadn't even realized horses could do that, and it gave me a new respect and appreciation for how much control they have over their bodies. But I should never have put him in the position where he had to look after me and himself at the same time.

  So, my advice , when in doubt, chunk it down to a piece small enough that you know your horse can cope with, and build on that.
                                                              Jeannie




kcooper
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 Posted: Thu Apr 26th, 2012 08:42 pm
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I have been re-reading questions I have asked here and the responses to them to see what has been cleared up and what hasnt yet and I feel like I have come to a different understanding about the meaning of 'the man in the glass'.

I have spent the winter trailering back and forth to Josh Nichols to get the (just about 1 on 1) help I need.
It is a complete breaking down and reconstruction process. The weightiness of what has been taking place has been so profound that each time I head home after the 3 day session I come home with a lump in my throat and a chest cold!

I think I over emotionalized this question when it was first posed about the 'man in the glass' about the horse being a reflection of you because I was lost and panicking about it. But I do see now, how every person has particular traits...the way they react to something, the way they conduct themselves, what it looks like and that it comes from inside.

I have 3 horses that I am working on steadily and they all reflect right back to me a short coming in myself that I am manifesting through them. I believe that they each reflect something different because they are individuals and more benevolent in different areas, but never the less they come from me as I am the constant!.

Also, re-reading over threads I can really relate to the anguish that people show over being 'stuck' and being faced with either giving up, getting hurt or else maybe carrying on with your head in the sand. When I first went to Josh he said I was buried up past my eyeballs in mud.... and now he says I have got at least my head and neck out and have developed some skills that I know how and when to use. So I just want to share that things don't seems so totally dire once you let one of the recommended teachers tear you down and start to build you back in the right way.


I know that getting to a low point and feeling like a failure where I had lost all my confidence kind of clouded my ability to tell the difference between things that resulted from a lack of technical skill and from things on your insides that need working on.

The most surprising thing of all (I think the reason why I came home emotionally exhausted and sick) was that getting proper direct guidance unearths and fixes both problems simultaneously. Where as you could copy people or make your own interpretations til you are blue in the face but when things are so subtle you could be off by a mile.

I hope its ok to post this...its not a question like we are supposed to write in with but I thought it might be encouraging to some people who feel stuck and weighed down.

Last edited on Thu Apr 26th, 2012 08:47 pm by kcooper

Tammy 2
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 Posted: Fri Apr 27th, 2012 05:17 pm
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Hi Kim,

I just came off a 4 day clinic with Josh. I have been riding with him for 4 years now.

Thanks for posting your thoughts. It IS very helpful for people to read for sure. You are right in that these are things that we need to discover for ourselves because it is unique to us, meaning our tendencies.

For instance I am controlling and try to make things happen and in turn remove the choice from my horse. He is very sensitive and extremely aware about his surroundings, even at home. So, this is very awful for him cause it means so much to him. This is MY struggle and it is all up to me to change. It is very hard to look in the mirror, which is my horse, and see the turmoil I can cause him at times. But, I also have it in me to make him feel so very secure. I have not lived this change long enough and my shortcomings sneak back in sometimes. Letting go and allowing my horse to make choices. It is something I have to constantly work at. I often feel like a breakthrough is eluding me and lose confidence, feel stuck. It can be the small stuff that can get me over that, but then another hump might come along. I just keep working at it and working at myself.

Josh and I had a good talk about all of this, down to a spritual level. All of us face these things with our type of horsemanship that we choose to practise. Of course it is not easy. Josh told me of him hearing Dr. Deb say, if you wanted something easy, you should have taken up making paper dolls. And ya, I could just quit, but the horses are my life. So I am going to keep working on myself. I am better than I used to be for sure. There will never be a time when I can say, Ok, I'm there, cause this is constant learning and improvement. It usually takes me a few days to recover from a Josh clinic as it is mentally draining and there is much contemplation over all that I have learned.

Kim, what struck me about your post is that you seem alot more calm, slower and more mindful of what you have been learning. So congratulations, it sounds to me that you are on the right track !!


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