I am currently riding under the training of a husband and wife here in Louisiana. The wife is wonderful. She and I have similarities in our backgrounds as we both came from middle class families in the mid-west, are college educated and selected a career that follows our life’s passions. Her husband on the other hand, is an older Colombian man who is the antithesis of politically correct, with broken English, a fairly large ego, a health food nut and is full of feist, all within an approximately 5’3 frame.
He is a talker, as I too, would describe myself and in our many discussions, I have recognized his wisdom.
Listed are a few life lessons I have learned from my Colombian horse trainer:
1.) It doesn’t matter how pretty you are if you’re not in control of your horse ( life)
While riding, I am focused on my posture and the guidance I am providing to the horse, but if I’m not controlling the horse, it doesn’t matter how good I look, the horse will show the lack of control of the rider.
In applying this to real life, I say these are the beautiful, yet bat shit crazy women. The exterior can only get us so far. With confidence, stability, goals, and being centered, then our true beauty can really shine.
2) The horse makes no mistakes, you do
In life, its easiest to blame others, to say we have no control. Its you not me statements. What we know is that, it is really all about us; how we react, interpret, respond and cope. Stop blaming, start doing, learning, practicing and trying, and life will go in the best direction.
3) Get back in the saddle and don’t whine about it
When I was 9 years old, my father was harmed while attempting to train a horse; and despite riding regularly, his injury sparked a large fear in me about the harm that can come from horses. When my father’s injuries healed and we returned to the stable, I was so nervous that I would only be on the horse if it was on a lead (similar to a leash). Shortly after his injuries healed, my father died, my mother sold all the horses, and my 9 year old child fear turned into an adult phobia.
A few years ago, I talked about enrolling my son in horse riding lessons and my husband noted how I had been talking a lot about horses lately and he felt my desires to get our son on a horse was really about my need to return to riding. I listened to his advice, found a fantastic stable/trainer in Michigan, informed them of my phobia and set up a lesson.
On my first lesson, the trainer had me sitting on the saddle while the horse was walking and drop the reigns. As I did so, tears fell on my face. My sense of fear and panic was high. I remember how my trainer mentioned that one day I would feel so comfortable and safe on a horse that I would be cantering. I gasped, I could barely tolerate sitting in the saddle while the horse very slowly walked and I had no reigns in my hands, let alone cantering.
Two and one half years later, I was cantering bare back and thrilled to pieces.
I informed my current trainer of my past phobia and despite having worked through so much of it, I still allow fear to interfere with my riding. His wisdom was brief and brusk: get back on and stop whining, which he said all with a smile on his face, which I knew he had faith in my abilities to eliminate the remainder of my fears. The horse bucks, rears, runs…deal with it.
When we have a fear in life, we can overcome, we can succeed and we can do it all, without whining.
4) Being angry changes nothing, get over it
I disclosed to my trainer how riding again helped me heal my relationship with my deceased father as I previously held onto resentments and anger, his response was to challenge why I had held onto anger for so many years. He reminded me of how my anger over my fathers poor choices as a man, husband and father were irrelevant to who I am today. He bluntly told me that he was a man who died a long time ago and I turned out fine.
This statement shocked me as a therapist, I would never suggest ‘just get over it, you’re fine’ to a client. As I believe so much in therapy is to empower our clients to learn from their history, process their thoughts and feelings and start to put puzzle pieces together to create healing, yet my trainer was right. I had been through therapy myself, worked through a lot of the pain and it really was time for me to get over it.
In real life, this is much easier said than done. Emotions can really help us learn and be a guide to our healing yet at the same time, isn’t there a limit to some of our self induced suffering, our painful histories that pull us down. We can get to a point when we have worked through it, processed it, prayed upon it, that we can finally say, I am over it.
5) Don’t forget to enjoy it and have fun
I take riding very seriously, and it is not like I show horses or have some sort of competition in which to perform, I just have a goal to be a strong rider. When my trainer guides me, I intently listen. I listen and try so hard that my sole focus is on that task or skill. I am even reminded to breathe when I get in this mode. It is at times when I try so hard that I need to remember the pleasure in riding, the relaxation that comes with it, the energy of the horse and myself.
There are so many joys and challenges in life.
Remember that you never know who will provide you with that needed wisdom; so keep your ears open, you too may have a surprisingly wise Colombian horse trainer in your life.