Above All Else – Willingness
My horse life was spent thinking of ways I could make a horse supple. To create a partnership that didn’t weigh heavy on either one of us. I went to the finest teachers, attended endless clinics. I was looking and looking for the how.
Many horses that came through my life arrived with resistance as their skin. Even my horses I raised from babies all packed this brace that I spent decades wanting to undo. Trial and error and more trial would give some results. But the brace in the horse never left him. It would often be covered up by achievement. In other words my horses sensed my good intention and they would try with all their hearts to please. But it still, somehow wasn’t their idea. It was my idea about a better deal for them. This was a subtle but massive glitch.
When I brought Grace home as a baby, I made a vow not to put a brace in her. Thankfully this was a solemn vow. Because if it wasn’t I would have reverted long ago.
Grace has a heart of a queen, and a mind that never ceases to ponder. She has a body that is athletic and balanced and above all else she is led by her Spirit. I could not improve on this horse. Not even one solitary hair.
So, when Grace found a spot that was a hard no, it was easy to see. She would not settle for less than a unified experience and nor would I. This meant that each time we came to this kind of crossroads I had to stop and look at my part. Because of this I have scrutinized nearly every belief I ever created in my horsemanship. And frankly about all relationships.
The one most prominent component is that I had to be empty. I had to get very comfortable with the idea that I knew nothing. I had to accept this before I could be willing enough to hear what Grace had to teach.
First up was this little issue of a time clock. I prided myself on being extremely patient with horses. But I had no idea what truly letting go of agenda meant. When even the thoughts in my head were too much pressure. I had to let go of the next anything. Just stay with where we were and how it felt. That’s it.
This is how Grace taught me acceptance. Right here, right now was all I was cut out for. And as I realized this my whole body softened. This may have been one of the most peaceful experiences I’ve had with a horse. “No next!” Wow!!! Instant freedom. And if it felt that good to me, I can imagine how great it felt for Grace too.
Then, and only then, was the dialogue based on an even bridge. I could stop here because this realization would be enough. But there’s so much more.
Once it was confirmed that I wouldn’t take Grace beyond what she was ready for, I started asking her opinion about things. I could see on the ground, and from her back and in the day to day she seemed to feel more confident with the halter rope. She liked things being defined without being forced. This inspired the element of consistency. When I saw there was a good response (or a negative one) I noted not only the physical application but also the mental state that went with it. My number one desire in our activities was that there was willingness. This was the piece I refused to compromise. If the willingness is there Grace shows such flow and balance that no man could better it. But if it’s not, the hard no comes through and all bets are off.
So I held our willingness in high regard. Hers… but also mine. I had to remain willing even when I felt pressured by my own doubts. And this practice led to another valuable element… faith. The faith that Grace and I shared in each other was growing exponentially through each crossroads we traversed.
Because the fundamental elements of a strong bond; presence, willingness, consistency, and faith were not only present but calling all the shots we moved forward at a snails pace. But the most incredible benefit came from that pace.
Going slow meant we could see the minutia of components that went into each move. And we could be sure that a brace didn’t hide behind performance. As I said, I knew this subtly from my past. Each move had to be clean to move to the next.
For instance I witnessed how simply lifting a rein operates a chain reaction of responses. Starting in awareness and moving into discernment and response. Before she ever moved a foot we had a whole conversation about what, why, when and how. Oh my goodness! What I had been over looking. No wonder I had to try so hard in my past. I was trying to do my part and theirs too.
Now I see I can ask questions. How does this feel? What if I wait longer and you choose? What happens if I do nothing at all? Then what? When I’m not trying to finish her sentences I get to learn a lot more about her natural brilliance.
And then there are the times she looks for guidance. After all she’s young and this is all new to her. She had no idea when she was born what life meant. None of us do. So moving incrementally has meant moving with Grace.
What is rising out of this is the most divine thing I have ever seen. It’s as if life, in all its perfection, prior to being molded or cultivated is moving her body.
Because the 3rd entity of our combined lives is not born of the earth, it is born out of consciousness. It’s far more than a mental, physical, or emotional process. This awareness is actually rising far beyond those constrictions.
Because one can’t see it, learn it, or create it—we can only be a part of it. No one can take credit for it.
Grace would not have risen without me nor I without her. The 3rd entity is made of a harmonized blend of our awareness. And it’s nearly impossible to describe. But it’s marvelous to feel. And be.
I am home. I have travelled the long way around. I circled back around to the beginning. Yet this time I have the gift of hard travel. I have the contrast of force verses Source.
It’s no different in life. The rules of engagement are the same. We get to choose. Are we a host to the magic of unity or are we a hostage of our ambitions. Either way life doesn’t mind. Either way we move forward. But my horse and I now know that this world was made for us to see with clear true vision. To see what was always hidden in plain sight. To know the goodness of unity.