I saw this post on A Dare A Day facebook page and I had to share.
“He who binds to himself a joy does the winged life destroy; but he who kisses the joy as it flies, lives in eternity’s sunrise.”–W. Blake. When we try and hold onto things and control them, we destroy the joy they bring us. Appreciating the things that come into our lives for however long they are supposed to stay and without trying to influence anything about the experience allows us to experience true happiness.
This really hit home with me. I come from a long line of controlling family members, so you might say this comes to me naturally. What doesn’t come naturally is “patience!” Being impulsive and wanting instant gratification, is not a good combination with a controlling tendency.
I found myself always unsettled and wanting more. Because of my controlling nature, I tried to make things happen. Funny part is that I missed so much of the joy that comes in the journey.
The first lesson I had in this area was with my first horse. I am not going to bore you with any details, but in short it took me five years to tame her enough for me to ride her. No, I am not a cowgirl by birth. I am cowgirl made from bruises, falls, determination, hard work, and stubbornness. Without these – I would never have learned to be a better person.
My first horse was an abused Arabian. Her flanks showed the scars of years of abuse, if you didn’t see it there you could easily see it in her wary, wild eyes. All I ever dreamed of as a little girl was horses. So, with the opportunity to have my own horse right before me, there was no stopping. I HAD TO HAVE THIS HORSE!!!! Ignorance was my friend, because I didn’t know enough to be scared or deterred from her.
I brought home my first horse and the lesson began immediately. Dreamcatcher, my aptly named horse, didn’t trust anyone and wasn’t easy. I can remember the days of holding onto her lead rope staring up at her in wonder, love, and naivete. I was so in love and a little scared. From the outside view, I was the crazy girl on the end of a lead rope of a wild horse. You see, I was standing there staring as she was running crazily around me in tiny circles and rearing over my head. Boy, how love blinds!!!
None of this stopped me. I had dreams of taking her into the show ring and bringing home ribbons. I really thought I would be in the ring within a year. Absolutely impulsive, I never thought this one through. First off, Dreamer was so abused – it took 3 years just to be able to ride her with some confidence. I was thrown over and over! I cried many tears! I threw my equipment! But for once in my life, it never crossed my mind to quit!
I got help and started understanding how much patience and hard work this was going to take. No matter how much I wanted it, I could not control Dreamer or make her behave.
Dreamer showed the importance of patience, letting go, and building trust over time. During our 10 years together, I have been able to observe how many changes she has made and that she has made in me. I never gave up and let her direct our course. In the beginning I wanted to show her in Hunter shows, but I soon learned that she was not interested in this. The dream changed to showing in the western arena. Nope – not this one either.
The valuable lesson that the horse gave me was to stop trying to make things into what I wanted them to be. I learned how to observe and recognize what the other person/animal was interested in doing. Taking their natural interests and helping them build upon them, was the road to success.
After the many years of battling over control, Dreamer showed me the clear path. She went from an extremely frightened, abused, and with no will to live horse – into a Diva (to say the least). I discovered that she loved to show off, she had a ton of personality (more of a clown), and she loved to walk around trails investigating things. Once she came to trust me, she gave me her whole heart. Bravery, self confidence (too much, actually), loyalty, and playfulness became her new definition of self.
Dreamer had her day in the spotlight, she shone so brightly it was blinding! She proudly carried me to my soon to be husband on our wedding day. She did this with grace and beauty! She gave all of my hard work back to me that day. The pictures speak for themselves – this down-trodden, neglected mare,became the proud Arabian princess that she was meant to be.
By stepping back and not controlling her, I was able to help her blossom. If I had continued down the road of her previous owners, I would have broken her. By broken, I mean destroyed her spirit, life, and left with a shell of a horse. She would never have been happy and perhaps never rideable. Instead I was able to learn with her and I blossomed as well!!!
Currently Dreamer had to retire from an injury that happened before she came to me. I suspect it was from all of her abuse. She had broken her pelvis years ago, and has now developed weakness in her back and can’t support a rider without pain. In fact, I think she has always been a small amount of pain that she hid. Her past behavior is clear explained by this pain, but she managed to push it all aside for me. Now that I know about her suffering, I have unselfishly retired her to enjoy playing with the other horses. She is safe at home with me and enjoying her princesshood 🙂
As for me, she taught me so much. I now help Standardbreds off the track or abused, find homes. I retrain and reteach them the fun of having a home and an owner who dotes on them. The organization that I foster horses for is The Standardbred Retirement Foundation, they rescue these wonderful horses from an uncertain fate after their race career is over. My personal horse was from this organization. I got her at 2 years old to train the way I wanted her to be. She is now 5, and a dream as well! She and Dreamer are best friends. I am lucky to have such special horses in my life. Not to mention the exceptional foster horses I have here and have worked with.
Thank you Dreamer!