Otis and I are trotting around the arena. I’m feeling a bit confused, because it seems like Otis is on a mission, and I’m on a mission too, but we’re not on the SAME mission. His mission is to head toward the center of the arena as frequently as possible (or actually head out of the arena completely so he can head back to his stall for some hay). My mission is to keep him on the side rail of the arena, and as far away from the center as possible. I also would like him to go straight. As I’m wondering how we ended up on such different missions, my trainer gently reminds me to look where I’m going. Such simple advice really. It almost seems ridiculous to have to say it. But there it is: Look where you want to go. Not down at the ground, or off to the left. Not if you want to go straight. Looking where you want to go when you’re riding a horse is providing clarity for the horse, and as it turns out, also for the rider.
When you take language away, and start to communicate without words, the impossible seems to happen. It still never ceases to amaze me that when I start thinking about heading straight down the line toward the flag at the end of the arena, that Otis does exactly what I’m asking. It’s creepy almost; like he’s reading my mind! He’s not of course. But he is reading my energy. And when I am not clear about where I’m headed, he is not either. That’s when he decides to go on his own mission.
This sounds so simple, but the truth is my trainer has to tell me in every single lesson to look where I want to go. And there’s been some major spill over into the rest of my life from this simple directive. I’ve started to see how little clarity I often feel about lots of things. And how poorly I communicate when I am not clear. In the last few weeks I’ve been observing this all over my life. It’s amazing that when I decide that I’m putting the kids to bed at 8:30, it actually happens. Or when I decide that we will have dinner at 6:30 (rather than our typical, whenever dinner time) and we actually sit down to eat then. Being clear about where you’re headed seems to be the first step in any endeavor. But it’s certainly one that many of struggle with.
Heading out without a map or a GPS if you have a destination in mind is not something most of us would do. Sure you may get there eventually. In fact, likely you will. But it's going to take a whole lot more time, more stops, more turn-arounds, more start overs. You may even lose your enthusiasm for the whole venture before you reach where you're headed.
It's a small thing. Just start to notice. Where could you be more clear in your life? More focused? More certain of the outcome you're pursuing and the best route to get there. For now, I’m just working on actually looking out over Otis’ head, instead of down in the dirt. Because when both of our missions match it feels amazing.
My friend, colleague, and AH-mazing therapist, Beth Anstandig-Killough, are hosting an Equine Workshop together. If you've ever wanted to learn more about how the rest of the world sees you, come see yourself through the eyes of a horse! For more information or to register, check out our website.
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Susan McCusker is on a mission to create the perfect life. Failing that, she can be found avidly reading self-help books, teaching classes, and hanging out with her family. A native of South Africa, she considers herself a global citizen and currently resides in Cincinnati, OH. She is a certified coach, and holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Notre Dame. You can check her out at http://susanmccusker.com
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