I grew up on a small farm, barely on the outskirts of our small town. I dad dreamed of land and somehow convinced my mom to move just outside of the town she grew up in so they could have a garden, some chickens, and someday a mule.
Until he could convince her that we needed a mule, he would have to settle for each of his family members having their own horse for impromptu trail rides, tilling the old fashion way, and setting on the porch with a cup of coffee watching them run through the field. I grew up hearing my dad claim, “he was a horsemen, not a cowboy. A cowboy thinks he knows what he’s doing, but a horsemen actually does.”
And, our horses, well they each had a personality of their own, but they kind of mirrored their owners. My dad’s was daisy, the confident leader. Mom’s was Bunny, beautiful and stubborn. Dixie was Annie’s, feisty, unique, and making it clear how she felt.
Mine was Buster. I may be a little partial, but Buster was the horse that anyone could ride because he was gentle. He was also known for getting the job done. He wasn’t without his quirks, though, much like his owner. He could be lazy at times and sometimes he was too smart for his own good, often allowing his curiosity to get him into trouble.
Our horses were a reflection of us and our lifestyle.
I always knew there was something special about horses. Through the years, we had lots of different types of animals: cows, pigs, chickens, dogs, and every once in awhile a turtle in the basement. But, our horses were our friends; a part of our life. And it seemed like Buster always knew how to make everything better.
Now I have a new appreciation of horses. Last week, we took our staff to our equine therapist so we could get a taste of what our young ladies may experience.
Our first group consisted of eight of us having to get a horse over, through, and around an obstacle. Hard enough right! The catch was we had to do while all connected together. With only moments to think, plan, and respond we had to react. Almost instantly, personalities, emotions, and ideas started to emerge. We quickly learned we can guide and direct but we had to consider where the horse was and where it wanted to go before moving too quickly. We also learned that accomplishing a goal sometimes looks differently than we had originally expected.
Then, the second group stepped up, perhaps with a little more apprehension. Their goal was very different. They had to fasten a lead rope to each side and then without overstepping boundaries weave him through a series of obstacles. You would witness the group slowly getting a rhythm, with one staff gently telling which side to pull and which side to give. As the rhythm got smoother, the horse began to relax and move with them.
Then, we watched as the staff who was originally hesitant and unsure, stepped up and decided to be the guide. Again, we watched as they gently guided the horse through each obstacle, each side having to give and take when appropriate.
That one hour in Equine Therapy reinforced so much of what we know about people and relationships.
1. We have to meet people where they are – it’s their story, journey, process!
2. Sometimes we have to stay connected, even when it’s difficult.
3. Every relationship needs give and take, and sometimes we have to trust what we feel and hear, not just what we see.
4 . Fear comes at each of us. We get to respond individually and as a group how we will respond to it.