Corazon has been in training for the past two months. It has been a wonderful growth period for him and I marvel as he demonstrates a high desire to understand what is being asked of him. He wants to please.
It is important to blend training with other unexpected moments of sharing. These moments keep your horse curious and excited about interacting with you. It breaks up the flow and prevents redundancy. Yesterday, I arrived at the barn and Hugh, my trainer, was not there. I decided to walk on out to the gelding pasture. On the far side I saw Corazon. He was standing in the first warm sunshine we have had in weeks. He was relaxed and partly asleep I trudged through the eight inches of new snow until I reached him.
I am a very tactile person. I love to touch everything. When I shop or I am in new environments I touch everything, fabrics, veggies (all the more reason to wash your veggies), countertops, and plants. Many people that come to my programs have this same desire. It compels them to want to touch the horses, to feel the warmth of their bodies and the texture of their coat.
Today, instead of reaching out to touch and scratch my horse, instead, I stood quietly, about two feet beside him. Not once did I reach up to touch or stroke him. As we stood together I allowed myself to enter into ‘horse’ time. Breathing in the air, tuning into the distance sounds, and feeling sunshine on my face, time slowed down. After about five minutes the other horses in the pasture became curious.
A horse broke away from a group positioned about fifty feet away from us. He headed straight towards us and I could feel his intention to come right into the inner circle that Corazon and I were sharing. Corazon continued to stand, not moving an inch. I stepped forward, like a horse, and sent my energy right to the approaching horse with a verbal NO. The horse instantly turned and walked in a circle around us. I stepped back to my spot. Corazon let out a deep sign and began to lick and chew. Five seconds later I could see out of the corner of my eye that the horse was once again was poking into our inner circle, but from the side that Corazon was standing on.
This time Corazon lifted his head, turned his body and directed his energy towards the horse, ordering him out of our space one more time. I stood silently. Once the horse walked off for the last time, Corazon stepped back to the exact spot he was originally in next to me. He let out another sigh. Then, very gently and slowly, he moved his front leg one step closer to me and assumed his position of relaxation.
My heart skipped a beat and a smile spread across my face. As Hugh has been working with Corazon on a regular basis, I had become concern that my connection and bond with Corazon would be compromised. In that moment my fears were dispelled. I felt that Corazon first saw me preserving our inner private circle of personal space from the approaching horse. Then when the horse attempting to get into our space again Corazon stepped forward as if to say ‘we said no, this is our space.’
In that moment I felt close and accepted by Corazon. I felt he was protecting me and out space. This simply small gesture said more to me than if he stood there an allowed me to scratch and pet him. This gesture said to me, “Our connection is important, you are a part of my herd and I honor you.” We stood silently together as three more horses broke away from the other group and came over to explore what was going on. Each one would hit the edge of our private space and then move off. Together Corazon and I stood for about 20 minutes. As I stood there I felt into my body and my whole being, taking an inventory of my inner landscape. I walked away never touching Corazon, showing him that I can also honor him and his personal space and that I do not have to touch to feel connected to him.
If I had been caught up in my thinking head and unconscious of the present moment, I would have simply done the usual. Scratch and petted him, like an object that I get to love on. Instead, my ability to simply be with him, in his way, the way of the horse, allowed him to step forward towards me, even if it was a single small step. One small step from Corazon is one big step for our relationship.
Do something different in your life and in your relationships. If you have the tendency to step forward and approach, experiment with standing still and waiting. If you have the tendency to wait, then do the opposite, be the first to reach out. There is no right or wrong. Simply embrace the curiosity of what might happen if you do something differently. Offer the unexpected.