Something happened yesterday, something wonderful, scary, and interesting. I went over to my friend Lea’s house to go horse back riding. I remember trying to calm my nerves as I was driving up her drive way. I wanted to have a great horse experience today, an experience which included actually getting on the horse. I have worked with Lea and her horses for the past six months, and although I have ridden horses many times before meeting Lea, these past six months have been completely different. Long story short, I had to let go of what I thought I knew about horses in order to understand them and myself on a completely new level. Each week I went to Lea’s and spent time with the horses, the experience almost always corresponded with how I was feeling on a personal level. It was like the horse mirrored whatever I was feeling at that particular time in my life, which is why yesterdays experience was so profound.
Over the course of the past couple of months, I have learned a vast amount about myself and horses have played a significant part in that. I didn’t realize how much of my time I was wasting on the thoughts and opinions of others. I actually wasn’t aware of it at all. I was trapped by ‘dogma’, which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. I was allowing the noise of other’s opinions to drown out my own inner voice. I still struggle with this. However, by spending time with horses I have slowly developed a higher sense of self-awareness.
Horses have this unique ability to mirror whatever energy you may be omitting around them. If you are scared they will soon mirror your fear and also become scared. They will reveal to you your true colors, whether you like what you see or not.
For many weeks my experiences with the horses seemed to always disappoint me. Why couldn’t I make a connection with one of them? Why didn’t they want to befriend me? Looking back it makes me laugh a little, because now I am able to connect the dots. The energy that I was omitting wasn’t pure or honest with how I felt in that moment. I was yet again, caught up in the rapid chatter of my mind; concerned more about how I should act around the horses and how they were perceiving me, than I was with my own feelings. Subsequently, I couldn’t connect with the horse. None the less, each visit taught me something valuable and led me to where I am today.
By now you are probably wondering why yesterday was such a memorable and meaningful horse experience for me. Well, as I said earlier, upon arriving to Lea’s, I was pretty nervous. Although I repeatedly tried to remind myself to be present, by bringing myself back to my body, listening to it and my surroundings, moment by moment, I was still not succeeding. Then something interesting happened. I began shaking. This shake used to be very familiar to me. It was a nervous shake that I would get around a guy I dated years ago. So when this happened, I was a little shocked and surprised. Why on earth was I having the same shakes around Eva as I did with a past-lover? One word: EXPECTATIONS. Proceeding Lea’s, I had formed an expectation in my mind of how I wanted to experience that day. I was so fixated on that expectation, that when my nerves got the best of me and my ‘expectation of the day’ wasn’t matching the idea in my head, I began nervously shaking. By the time this happened, I was ready to give in my reins and call it day. I was putting SO MUCH pressure on myself to fulfill this fabricated illusion that I had formed in my mind, that I forgot to just be and have fun.
I forget what happened next, but I vividly remember Lea reminding me to stop being so hard on myself and get OUT of my head! It was at that juncture that I decided to get on Eva and hope for the best.
I think the decision to get on her, despite what my mind was telling me to do (don’t get on, just give up), allowed me to let go and surrender to whatever may be. And soon after that, something shifted inside of me and in Eva. The fear and nervousness I once felt was replaced with confidence and self-trust. It was magical. That once fearless ‘Sarah’ came out of the woodworks and it was in that moment that I began to enjoy myself. I felt Eva beginning to enjoy herself as well. Facing my fears head on, allowed them to disappear.
The most eye-opening, jaw dropping, and inspiring part of the entire experience was witnessing the same shift I felt, in Eva. She began to mirror me, but this time in a way I never thought possible. It brings me such joy just writing about it. As I began to trust myself, she began to trust me, as I became calm, she did too. If I wanted to walk, so did she. She looked to me for confidence and I was able to provide that for her. One of my favorite teachers and horse whisperers, Koelle Simpson, introduced me to this new concept of staying in our own business. There were moments on the ride where Eva began to get excited, as she witnessed the other horses in the herd galloping and acting playfully on the opposite side of the fence. Prior to this experience, I probably would have gotten off Eva and walked her, but instead, I remained calm and composed and stayed in MY BUSINESS. Eva is easily influenced by her environment, especially when there is a lot of commotion going on around her. If I were to get tangled up in her excitement, I may have lost control and ended up on the ground. However, I was confident. I knew she would look to me for reassurance that she was going to be fine, walking on the path, without the rest of her herd. It took about a minute or less for her to respond to my energy, but when she did she became calm and collected.
Staying in our own business is a helpful life tool to use whether we are spending time with horses or not. So many of us can become tangled up in others emotions, reactions, thoughts, etc, that we lose track of ourselves and our own voice. This entire experience with Eva has helped me realize just that. If someone acts out towards me with their anger, sadness, frustration, or a mixture of both, I now realize that their emotions have nothing to do with me, and if I stay in my own business, I will not be effected negatively by their so-called ‘stuff’.
Eva has taught me a tremendous amount about myself over the past eight months. Spending time with her has developed my entire sense of self-awareness, as I am always reminded to be in the present moment. That is where she lives, and if I want to create a relationship with her, that is where I have to live as well. It is so inspiring to know that Eva, a horse, can help me grow as an individual and become a better person and horseman. I am beyond grateful for this experience and for Eva. So, I thank you Eva, for being you. It has been a great ride and I look forward to our future together.