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Growing from adversity

Sometimes when people come to us they find it a lot more difficult to win over the horses trust, respect and collaboration than they were expecting.

This can often produce overwhelming feelings of "not good enough" and a reminder of their crumbling self-esteem that started well before they stepped in the arena.

It isn't a bad lesson for children to learn that life isn't always easy and that co-operation isn't always handed out on a platter.

When the horses plant their feet (which happens for a range of reasons), it's not the getting them moving again that's important, it's the thought process that happens between stopping and moving.

How do we respond?

How do we respond to unexpected setbacks and unforseen difficulties? When something seems harder than it first appeared, where do we go to in our heads? How do we move ourselves forwards from there? What stops us from giving up and settling for less than what we're capable of? How can this be an opportunity to understand and respond to all of life better?

When we lead a horse, it's not a competition of human versus horse. A horse planting its feet isn't the leader failing at a task, it is simply a horse planting it's feet. It's us humans that give it the label "failing", a horse would never think that, because they don't think that way.

To a horse, planting it's feet can be fear, lack of connection, trying to tell you something, tired, disinterested, pain, needing a wee or poo(!) or something else. Jumping to the conclusion "I've failed" or "I'm not good enough" or "I can't do it" is missing all the rich learning that comes from being open and curious.


It's not surprising our young people jump to these conclusions. The human world is heavily task and achievement orientated, the antithesis of horses who take a much more holistic approach to survival. Horses don't enter themselves into competitions, humans do. Horses don't try to outcompete everyone and resource-hoard, that's a human thing too. And horses don't set exams and then forevermore judge their self-worth on the outcomes.

Horses know that in order to thrive, all herd members need to thrive. Yes, a stallion would fight another stallion for a herd of mares, but once a decision has been come to, it's respected and everyone moves on. Safety exists in the whole herd being healthy, not there being one winner and everyone else looses.

Finding something hard isn't a reason to think less of yourself, it is a reason to dig deeper and come out stronger.

Horses have taught the world so much about resilience, compassion and inner strength through role modeling it and through inviting us to enact it for our own good. On account they have been on this planet for 50 million years longer than humans, I am going to say, they have some wisdom on the matter worth listening to.

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