Over the weekend I ventured to a Horse Fair in central Massachusetts, a bit more accessible than my usual horse adventures in Montana, as much as I love them. We had the amazing opportunity to watch the engaging but also deeply talented Australian horse trainer Guy McLain work with his Australian stock horses.
His training process is all about "asking" the horse into a partnership, versus old models of dominance and force, which horsemanship is largely moving away from. Guy is also an award winning entertainer and bush poet, a total joy to watch.
The week before I had the good fortune of taking a ground skills course at Horse Tender Farm in Greenfield, New Hampshire with extremely talented young trainer Kris Kokal. I had been looking forwards to the class, but was completely floored and humbled by the deep connection I was able to create with the mustangs in just two hours as I relearned everything I thought I knew about horses, humans and communication.
Kris spoke calmly about the power of non verbal communication, that this is the majority of the communication in the world, and we as humans use the crutch of language and miss out on a great deal of what is being said, and what we are communicating as well.
He spends hundreds of hours each year observing and training third strike mustangs, those who people have given up hope on and will be slaughtered, and publishing about what he has learned. And out of this he created his training perspective and his exercises. Kris spoke of doing your PART within the relationship with the horse, meaning approaching each relationship with :
Attitude (the right one)
Time (giving the relationship all the time it takes)
Keep in mind that Chris was speaking specifically about horses (and with no political intentions whatsoever) but as I left, feeling so relaxed and deeply connected to the horses, I couldn't help but see the applications to my professional life and personal relationships as well. The first horse Dagger had worked with me, letting me learn how to be a partner, but the last horse Coachee had challenged me to simply be with him in patience and respect, not become afraid, angry or frustrated, as he worked out his kinks across the ring. Kris reminded me to wait, to be with him and be patience and calm. When he was done testing and twitching, we began the exercises and he was beautiful. It was entirely beautiful, when I showed up with compassion and patience.
And this weekend watching Ian McLain end his training session by wishing our great country healing and love in place the hate and fear, to work together, I thought again of the importance of doing our PART, or whatever you find as a tool to truly connect and understand each other in this, and all times.
Largely, we all now live in our own echo chambers of news feeds, algorithms or channels giving us only the news which we will like, by people like us, making the other seem even more alien. And it often seems that the press and internet create a game of telephone, as the story moves further and further from it's origin, whether you believe the speaker spoke the truth, sadly and confusingly.
As I understand it there was a time we could debate and talk through challenging subjects of divided opinions with respect, without hate and fear, but for the moment I think we need a ceasefire, a time out, to simply see the human in each of us. We are all too wounded, whatever your opinion this month, and we are too divided, we need to mend.
It seems we need to put away the technology and reconnect, human to human, face to face, heal with people we feel kinship with but also learn how to reconnect with people who are different than us and listen, we need to do our Part; show Patience, a kind Attitude, have Respect and give it Time.
And perhaps if that is still too much, then just walk together awhile and do not talk at all. Remember that we all share a lot as humans, as sisters, daughters, husbands, fathers, whatever it is, even if at first it is in the silence, because we can say a lot in silence. And maybe we can realize that there is a less to fear in each other than we thought, if we walk side by side together.
And if you cannot do that, then perhaps, start with a horse.
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