What can a horse teach a person who doesn’t know what they need to learn? With the guidance of a true horseman many years ago, I learned to soften my action and learn how to make my mark on life. Here is my story…
Several years ago, I was giving a demonstration to an instructor who was sharing his knowledge of horses with the class. I was working really hard at making this gelding that I was riding complete a maneuver, expecting perfection because I knew what the instructor was asking for. I knew my horse could do it because we had done it several times at home and now it was my chance to show off my capabilities as a trainer in front of the whole class. But my horse refused to give or even offer what I was wanting. After several attempts I was frustrated near to tears. Ival came and put a hand on my leg as I set upon the gelding.
“But he does it at home.” I stated, to share my bit of wisdom to a horseman and teacher.
Ival went to move my leg, I held tight and stiff as a board. I was so frustrated, I knew this horse could do better, I had done this work a thousand times at home, but right now I could not get this animal to hardly move. Ival again put subtle pressure on the calf of my leg, as he talked to me, again I held steady. I complained that my horse was not doing as I asked. I felt embarrassed and ashamed, for some reason he had sulled up on me and refused to move his shoulders over and do a spin as I expected.
Again, I felt Ivals hand on my calf of my leg. My horse as I: held fast to my belief and ridged posture. When I finished defending myself for the third time, Ival looked up at me with clear bright blue eyes and gentle tone, he said, “Kathy, you are a writer right?”
“Close your eyes and think for a moment how hard do you have to press pen to paper to make your mark?”
I thought what? We are riding horses, not writing on paper. But I closed my eyes and did as he asked.
First I thought, well it depends on if the pen will write. I think I was getting a little defensive and embarrassed. Then I thought of what it took to make a mark on paper.
He said, “Breathe and think about it.”
I did as he asked, I closed my eyes and took a deep breath in and let it out. I began to imagine how I would write on a piece of paper, how I would form a word letter by letter. How each word formed a sentence and each sentence created a story. In the quietness Ival taught me through subtle pressure what I was searching for. In that moment I felt my leg move with Ivals gentle hand, I felt my horse sigh. I had opened my mind in consideration and possibilities and began writing a story with my horse.
I thought of what it takes to move my pen across the paper and make a mark there. Felt the pen actually glide across the paper with only strokes of imagination. How hard do I have to press to make a mark?
I opened my eyes and Ival was gone, although I still felt his hand on my leg and my leg soft and relaxed … I adjusted my leg and my horse moved freely under me. I wanted to call Ival back to share, but in that instant I realized he had left his mark on me. I closed my eyes and once again gave my horse the same gift with subtle softness and again received understanding and softness as together we wrote our story. I was the writer and he was my pen, through soft action communication was formed into a story of one girl and one horse.
I had been expecting perfection from my horse as if I was trying to get a stick to write on paper. As soon as I understood the concept, a gift from a quiet horseman, my horse moved effortlessly and easily under me. His motions were as fluid as the ink flows on paper, when ever I got tight or restrictive he would hesitate.
As I go through life I think of Ival and the mark. How hard do I have to press to make my mark? I soften more easily with more of an idea instead of expectation, it is given back ten fold.
No matter how many years pass or how tough things get, those words bring softness and possibilities to my mind. Just thinking of how my fingers move with imagination and my writing flows without effort. Just setting my intention on how I want the words to look and form each letter with ease, grace and style of its very own. My story is written, not only on paper and horseback, but in my life.
So I invite you to close your eyes and breathe. Then ask yourself… How hard do you press to make your mark?