Emily Kemp returned for another clinic last week and once again an inspiring week of growing deeper with friends and horses.
The takeaway with the most impact this time for me was:
Will you meet me here?
Behind this question is the idea you have to give what you want to get. I believe that is true in life:
Do you want better friendships? Be a better friend. Do you want compassion when you struggle? Be a more compassionate person. Do you want a fruitful life? Sow into the lives of others. Do you want to see your dreams come true? Invest in helping others achieve their dreams. Do you want more financial prosperity? Give generously from what you DO have. Could you use some grace and mercy? Be a more forgiving person.
In working with horses I want trust and softness among other things. Thus I must be willing to lead and invite. Trust and softness can never be forced.
Over years I have observed riders who insist their horses trust them but they do not trust their horses. I find the more I trust my horses, the more confident they become and they are more willing trust me. This takes some sensitivity, knowledge and risk.
Will you meet me here means that I offer trust and see if the horse will accept the offer and be trustworthy. This has challenged the idea for me that trust must be earned. There is an element of earning trust, but also an element of making a decision to trust or one cannot begin to earn or grow in trust. Trust requires a risk to begin the process. This is where discernment is important. It would be foolish to offer to trust my horse with something I am certain they are not ready to carry yet. But it isn’t much trust if I offer to trust something so unquestionable it takes no risk at all.
For example: If I had a 13 year old son I may decide to trust him to ride his bike to his friends home and come back before dark. I would likely be foolish to give him the car keys. However if he has been riding to his friends house and returning on time for 3 years now that isn’t much of a risk. If we will continue to grow I may send him to the grocery store with some money and a small list- now I am asking him to carry more responsibility. That trust continues to deepen.
With my horse I find opportunities to say: I trust you as often as possible. Sometimes it doesn’t work out and that shows me where the edge is and where to keep working together. The more things I trust her with the more I find she also trusts me. She will meet me there.
Some examples offhand with my horse are: I don’t use cross ties (in fact I don’t tie her or ground tie whenever I can); I allow her to load and unload herself from the trailer without micromanaging her body; I ask her to maintain my chosen tempo and gait instead of using my body/seat/legs to keep her moving; I ask her to pick me up and stand quietly as I mount never allowing anyone else to help ‘hold my horse’… there are countless situations we can offer trust to our horses and give them the opportunity to meet us or show us an opportunity to grow together.
What do I not yet trust? I always bring my lead mare from the field to the barn in a halter- the couple of times I have not I learned a hard lesson in wasted time as she finds both the ungrazed grasses and the boys in another field way more interesting than anything I have to offer at the moment. She is not easy to retrieve when something more powerful draws her. On the other hand, my mustang mare is a middle of the pack horse more inclined to follow and she can be trusted to follow us to the barn without a halter or lead.
It is valuable to have trust in relationships. This doesn’t mean you are never let down or disappointed, but that is ok. It is better to extend trust and be let down from time to time and have to work through it than to live trying to control and force to never to have to be disappointed. For me, as a choice, trust is a better way to live. The more I extend trust, the more others around me including my horse can meet me there.
I want my horse light in my hands. Someday I want to think and it comes to be. For now I want to barely vibrate a lead rope and see my smallest intention play out in my horse’s legs with willing impulsion. Unfortunately most of us get stuck at the equivalent of yelling back and forth at each other to get things done.
I must offer softness first. This will only be effective if I remember every time to begin with the lightest touch and ask my horse: will you meet me here?
Sometimes the answer is I can’t or I am not ready or I can’t hear you or I don’t understand or simply no, I won’t, and I can get stuck in the loud voice or yelling mode. I forget to begin with the gentle whisper every time.
When I do remember to be absolutely soft with the slightest twitch of a finger on the lead rope or barely a feel on my rein and the horse responds in willing movement – meets me there– it is breathtaking.
Once you get a taste of it you’d rather do that than eat. You couldn’t get enough of it, you’d hunger for it the rest of your life.Buck Brannaman
Yes. It is that good.
You can only get there by offering that lightness first and what I learned this week is even my soft feel, the one I work with varying results on remembering – it isn’t soft enough. And in the videos this was clear to me. It sure felt soft but I saw that it wasn’t even close to Emily’s soft… barely touching the line soft. When the 1200 pound mustang mare hustles to back up on a touch that you can barely see it is like ballet in its elegance.
In my human relationships it’s a reminder to me to always invite first with softness and give someone (even someone who hasn’t ever responded softly in the past) to meet me there. What do we lose by risking that soft feel? So much less than we stand to gain.
I am certain God wants us to rise to that level. Along my journey with him I used to ask him to yell at me because I know I am hard of hearing. And while he will do that for a time- what he wants is to use the still small voice, the whisper.
Think about the whisper… it is easier on the one speaking than yelling, but more importantly it brings intimacy, you must lean in close to speak softly, we rarely would whisper to a stranger or acquaintance- we whisper to those closest to us, beloved. And it’s hard to be critical and hard in a whisper, there is softness inherent. And a risk we may not be heard.
Come closer it beckons.
Meet me here…..