Saturday, July 2, 2011

Horse Reflections

This morning I was watching the trailer for the new movie, BUCK – a documentary about the legendary horseman, Buck Brannaman.  I’m particularly interested in seeing this movie not only to see a great horseman in action, but because I feel a personal connection to the man.  I was lucky enough to be able to attend one of Buck’s horsemanship clinics several years ago and have incorporated much of what I’ve learned from him and others in the natural horsemanship field into the work I do with horses, kids and adults. 

The basic premise of the natural horsemanship movement is that humans don’t need to dominate, intimidate or strong-arm horses to get them to work with us.  We just need to understand how they learn and behave in their natural, herd environment and then use this knowledge to partner with them to gain their trust and desire to cooperate with us.  By considering their point of view and respecting what they are communicating to us, we can build a strong relationship and they’ll actually enjoy working with us.

Me and Amigo talking to Buck!
 One of the things Buck mentions in his trailer is how horses are mirrors, reflecting back to their handlers elements of the human’s personality, style and sometimes baggage.  I know about this concept and utilize it a great deal in some of my clinics with adults where I combine natural horsemanship and life coaching principals to teach important life lessons.  This is a concept I’ve helped others gain self-awareness from but I haven’t always thought about how it applies to me.  Now part of what Buck’s talking about is how a specific behavior from your horse at a given time may have to do with how you’re feeling or behaving at that moment.  But hearing him mention it this morning got me thinking about what my horses have to say about me in general.  Here are a few of the things I came up with:

·   *   My small herd is a close-knit family that gets along well most of the time, although squabbles do break out now and then.
·   *   Belle, my lone mare, is the leader and she’s usually pretty kind, except for when she’s in heat.  Then she’s pretty moody and snippy.   
·   *   Amigo can be kind of bossy and pushy but he’s basically a good guy.
·   *   Spirit gets into trouble when he’s bored.
·   *   Ringo is pretty agreeable most of the time unless you ask him to do something he doesn’t want to do.
·   *   Chummie is really reliable and trustworthy.
·   *   They all like variety but don’t want to physically work too hard.
·   *   They're all pretty spoiled.
* *   They’re good with kids.

Hmm, it sure sounds like there are some similarities between me and my herd! 

Life Lesson:  Take the time to reflect and you’ll sometimes be surprised what you see.

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