Mark Rashid, in his book Horsemanship Through Life, writes that if one wants to be soft and build relationship with horses, they need to model that throughout their lives. He goes on to say that you can't yell at your kids, be mean to your wife, beat your dog, run other drivers off the road and then be soft with your horse. If you want to be that way with your horse you have to model that in all of your relationships.
That really struck home with me . . .
I try very hard to be the same person all the time. You'd think it would be easy, right? But really, it's not. It's hard not to get angry when you are cut off in traffic or someone won't let you in, but it doesn't seem hypocritical fifteen minutes later when you are the person hitting the gas to cut off the person trying to move into your lane. Part of my journey in this lifetime is modeling who I want to be all the time, regardless of the circumstances, regardless of the timeframe.
So, what does that look like? It looks like not fighting with my soon to be wife. It looks like not yelling at my kid when I am feeling frustrated. It's not whacking the dogs on the butt or Ashke on the shoulder when I am feeling frustrated and angry that they don't get whatever I am asking them to do. It's using humor and conversation to really find out what is bothering J, or why T is angry and slamming doors. It's not taking the destruction of property seriously when the puppies decide to chew up Rockies tickets and cash the cat knocked off the counter for them. It's not screaming at the dogs when they take food off the counter while I am getting something out of the refrigerator. It's not being short and terse with T when we leave the house fifteen minutes after it's time to catch the bus. It's being patient. It's listening. It's not taking things so seriously. It's taking responsibility for my own reactions when I've had a bad day.
None of this is easy when hormones are involved. About ten years ago now I started menopause and the one constant emotion I had to deal with was anger. At that time I was given the Lakota name of Badger Woman (Ihokawin) by Uncle Daniel (a Lakota man who adopted our family) to remind me to be wary of my anger. Badgers are very quick to anger, very protective of their family, and Uncle Daniel gave me that name to raise my awareness. I helped. It made me much more aware of the consequences of my actions and the ramifications of untimely explosions. (I'm not a fighter, I'm a lover, but living with someone that is perpetually angry is no fun on any level. It's like living next to a hive of yellowjackets. The incessant buzz kills all joy.) Thankfully, my hormones and menopause journey have leveled out and tailed off just in time to deal with the hormones and anger issues of a thirteen year old man-child just on the verge of developing into a bearded, brooding teenage man.
So, how does this combine with the joys and frustrations of owning Ashke? I need to remember to be calm and patient. I don't have an issue with dealing with Arabians, because I love the energy, the constant up, the almost-hyper awareness of surroundings, but I do sometimes get a little frustrated with the lack of what I see as progress. I want to grow our relationship to the point where we become a centaur, where the connection is so tight and complete that I can think about what I want and the horse does. I get impatient that it hasn't happened yet. I worry that he's not going to have the mental fortitude to handle long rides and weary legs and quick paced gymkhanas, and backcountry trail rides and camping in Wyoming and maybe a couple of LD's. (I have seriously reconsidered my desire to ride the Tevis, considering the number of horses that seem to fall off that trail.) It's having fun with my horse and spending time developing our relationship.
Like most things, this is a journey.