It seems that at some point in every relationship there is a chance that trust will be broken. The question is if it can be repaired, mended, and eventually create even a deeper level of connection and bond.
Corazon de la Montana, sometimes also called Romeo, continues to teach me about the importance of trust in a relationship. His wild ways and highly tuned instincts examine my motives and my levels of leadership every day I see him. I am convinced he knows me better than I know myself.
Corazon is doing well with his transition from the wild mountains of Montana to the human world. He has been with me for one year, and during that time we have spent an enormous amount of time bonding. Sometimes through doing nothing, other times during training, or his favorite times when he gets to eat. He trusts me and therefore other humans. Unfortunately, it only takes one human doing the wrong thing that can break the trust that we have built.
Horses receive their vaccinations in the spring. One vaccination, for strangles, requires a very thin straw to be placed inside the horse’s nostril and then the vaccination is sprayed up their nose. As you can image not too many horses enjoy this. When the vet came to give spring shots I was busy with a program and could not be present. I did not even think to suggest that Corazon not receive the strangles vaccination, instead I completely trusted my veterinarian’s judgment and methodology for administering the vaccination. After all, I had seen him work with Corazon before and Corazon seemed completely comfortable with this man.
Unfortunately, it was the vet tech who administered the vaccination. She befriended Corazon, stuck the straw up his nose, shot the fluids in and then stepped backward with relief and an exclamation “I did it!” and at the same time completely startling Corazon. He was not so sure what had just crept up on him and what the heck was happening to his nose. He was not happy to say the least.
I went to visit Corazon the next day. I approached Corazon in the usual way, not knowing what had happened. He wanted nothing to do with me. Around and around the pasture we went. At times I could get near him, but as soon as I reached to touch him he would take off. I decided it was because I had not been out to see him for over a week, a cold wind was blowing from the north making all the horses rambunctious, and it was feeding time. My trainer, Hugh, came out to help and eventually he caught Corazon. However, it was not because Corazon wanted to connect; he had complete resistance to us.
The next day my trainer and I worked with him. We both noticed how differently he was acting. He attention was not fully with me as he head was slightly cocked away from me. He was reticent to allow my hands around his head and nose. He seemed more sensitive than he had in months. It seemed that we were back to some basic foundational processes in the round pen, joining up and working on relationship pieces.
It wasn’t until the next day that Hugh connected the dots. He told me about what had happened during the spring shots and that he thought some trust was broken from Corazon experience with a human sneaking up on him to administer the shots. Back to the round pen we all went and for another day we worked to rebuild the relationship with Corazon and his new issues about being touched around the head and especially his nose.
Hugh and I spent several sessions working through the trust that we perceived had been broken between Corazon and humans. Eventually Corazon came around. Now, he trusts both of us again, and to some degree I believe he trusts us even more. This was possible because: we were able to identify that his misbehavior was a form of communication (we listened to what he was telling us), we were willing to invest the time needed to rebuild that trust (we had the patience to stay in the conversation with him) and we already had built a strong foundation of trust with him that we could be reestablish, verses starting from scratch with distrust.
Trust is not a simply thing. It has many nuances around intention, honesty, kindness, straight talk, consistence, reliability, and the level of one’s abilities and skills. Horses in the wild extend trust as needed in order to form relationships, belong to a herd, and have a higher chance of survive within the herd. Horses follow and extend the greatest level of trust to those who demonstrate a higher level of trustworthiness. Horses need to depend on each other.
In my human-to-human relationships, I have ended relationships because of broken promises, betrayal, and hurt that I felt could not be restored. I have stepped away from budding relationships because of gut feelings that a person was not trustworthy. Some of my choices were made from a consciousness of being wounded, others from a place of strength and trusting myself. I have also welcomed people back into my life after they have broken trust. In these times I had to find my place of heart-based power, a place of knowing that I would be ok no mater what the circumstance around me. Each time of extended trust or distrust was a learning lessons for me.
As I work with Corazon he deepens my understanding of how trust flowers, wilts, and buds again. These cycles can only happen through the nurturing of the beings in the relationship and through a commitment to understand before judging and to have patience and courage to explore what is possible. As Corazon steps into another level of accepting the human world, and me, it only sparks me to become a better person for him. His extension of trust to me has inspired me to extend the same to him. To be in relationship with him I must be willing to grow.