14.08.30: Staying within Your Power

I was very much looking forward to our next lesson, and I had that gut feeling that I had no idea what we were going to do. After the fit that he had I felt that some things needed to be addressed, but I wasn't completely sure/confident of where we needed to start. I planned to grab my stuff and tack him up as usual and just see what happened.
It is always interesting to me watching lessons for the half day on Friday how themes will appear across the weekend of lessons. It seems that many of us arrive at the same theme from very different directions, and yet, the theme is extremely relevant no matter what level/skill we are working on in that moment. From novice through the very advanced riders, we will all wrestle with the same topic while she's here.
Watching lessons with Ellen I was fascinated to watch her work through the lesson of staying within her own power. She has two horses that she works with and one of them is her old standby that she can rely on all the time. He is the horse that she gets to really work on herself most with because she can trust him and they are at a place where they can move forward together. Her second horse has quite a bit more struggle, and for whatever reason is more of a challenge to her and her own confidence. Kirsten began to work with her on finding and staying within her own power regardless of what Shelby did. Changing her own presence changed Shelby's attitude and presence very quickly, and it was beautiful to watch the two of them really settle into a much better frame of mine and work. Adjusting something as small as her own personal internal energy changed the entire outlook of their work session, and yet, she really didn't "work" at all. The effect was profound. I sat and watched wishing I could have participated, because I could tell this was a lesson that was much needed for myself.
Sure enough, Saturday morning rolled around and I got Storm and got him fed. Kirsten came down in the barn while I was finishing up grooming. As she walked into the barn he got a little worried, and so we started our conversation from there. I commented on how valuable Ellen's lesson was for me, and she went on to expand on that idea for me since I couldn't hear all of what was being said. I told her about the couple times I was picking Storm's back feet and he spooked, and how spooky he had gotten in the barn again, along with his horrible work day that we had previously. She noted that he had a bit of pent up energy from lack of work, but we also discussed that he needed to learn to manage it as well. He was short on patience, which he knows better, but was simply choosing not to do. She and I talked, and Storm stood there waiting, and was being very antsy and not wanting to stand patiently and so I continually corrected him and asked over and over with the same attitude to simply stand where I left him.
I felt a profound sense of gratitude for Kirsten being as revealing as she was with the conversation that we had. She talked about her journey and the fact that she has wrestled with the same demons that everyone does, the frustration, taking things out on the horse, taking things out on herself, losing patience, over reacting, all of those little demons that rear up now and then and cause us to regret who we are in that moment. It was humbling to hear someone that has such an amazing presence talk about the fact that it IS a journey, no one is perfect, and it takes learning the entire way to get better at it.
She talked about the fact that being able to be in your power in the moment is all about love. Love is the opposite of fear, anger and anxiety. So being able to get back to a place of balanced love in whatever moment is happening is what is so important. Building on each moment to stay within that power gives balance to the situation so that the horses will naturally find stability. Being able to be unrattled when they are flying off the handle helps them to decide that it isn't worth flying off the handle, and also that you won't fly off the handle with them. Not getting sucked into their drama is key for being able to make forward progress. Spiraling into the drama with them will only escalate the drama and cause the situations to continue to get bigger every time they happen. The leader isn't a leader if they end up out of control following the horses drama.
For the entire hour we conversed, I shed a few tears from vulnerability and stress, and Storm danced around. She was highly complimentary of my ability to have the conversation with her and yet correct Storm the whole time without getting involved in his drama. She noted that as much as people would like to believe that they can control everything, it is still a relationship with another thinking breathing being that also has their own free will. So he may have bad days, but its my responsibility to not get pulled into that. I need to be "on" all the time, even if he isn't, and the more that happens the better the relationship and his behavior will be.
By the time the hour was up, Storm pooped twice and peed twice in the barn aisle. He almost never does that, and despite doing that, I simply made him stand where he was, even knowing that it was going to make more of a mess to clean up because he was dancing around in it. Kirsten was encouraging that it was actually a good sign that he was processing things, and releasing, despite the mess on the floor. I was worried that it could be a sign something was wrong since both of his pees were short and it is unusual for a horse to go that frequently. She reassured me that she felt he was processing and releasing.
She headed out for the next lesson, and I turned Storm out and began the chore of cleaning up the lake in the middle of the aisle, which involved throwing a bucket of water on it and sweeping it out the door. Despite the lack of physical work, I was tired and drained afterwards. The struggle I have is that my animals are so connected to me that they usually mirror me. In my moments of weakness they break down, which is the moment that I could really use them lifting me up instead. I'm left with the shambles of myself not being balanced, and my animals acting out and giving me a hard time. It is hard not to slip into blaming the animal, and succumbing to the frustration of taking things out on them. Being able to find that place of inner power and love to get rebalanced is so important, and it is a constant struggle always looking for center.