Mary Corning dedicated seeker second

Being Early

The second installment in a series for the deep seeker. 

You can read the first installment “Conscious Awareness” here, and the third installment “Natural Progression — Being Aware of the Line in the Sand” here.

Being Early

Almost 3 decades ago I was starting my horse Far Go in a colt class clinic. Looking back now I would do things very differently.

There were many horses in a very small arena. The clinician was showing us how making the wrong thing difficult and the right thing easy worked.

The clinician would have one rider allow his colt into the mix of other horses, and then the rider would use his legs to tap the horse on his sides to discourage him when he got in there.

When the colt pointed away from the other horses, the rider would get quiet and release the stimulus.

I’ve seen this done many times. And still it’s a common practice. It was indeed effective, the horse in question would end up at the other end of the corral standing quietly without the company of the herd.

In theory, this is a relatable and reasonable concept. In practice, it looked like a can of worms! And even more so because in this particular application the colts were completely inexperienced carrying their riders.

Far Go and I were absolutely in survival mode. The chosen rider would use pressure to hurry his horse while in the herd. It became apparent that the mare the guy was riding was deeply drawn to my horse, Far Go.

I knew the rider and perhaps there was something to that as well. Perhaps he also unconsciously felt familiarity with me. Nonetheless, his horse would continually slam into Far Go and I.

The guidance from the clinician was that I bend Far Go‘s neck around and disengage his hindquarters. I still have a vision in my head of this colt class.

Far Go and I made it through, in spite of the mayhem. At lunch as the clinician was walking across the parking lot, he said to me in passing, “You gotta be early, you gotta be early!”

I knew what he meant. Before that horse got to me and Far Go, I needed to be ready. I needed to be prepared, “To be early”. And by his recommendation to “Bend him.”

Well, these days I have a completely different view of being early.

Early would have been preparing my horse for life. Not throwing him in a corral with a dozen other fearful horses and putting him into survival mode.

Now, I’m doing things very differently. I want to be there to take care of my horse Grace. Starting a colt 25 years later has given me another chance. And it has offered a very contrasting view to horsemanship and to life.

Of course mayhem happens, but Grace knows that I will provide a safe place for her. I won’t kick her into the deep end and hope she’ll swim. This has become a vital foundational component for our combined wellbeing.

For example:
The other day, I was educating Grace about an electric fence. We are going to be traveling and she needs to know about this type of fencing.

I fenced off an area around the guest cabin that we have here. It’s a desirable place as it has lush green grass. I turned her loose and stayed in there with her. All the other horses were out of sight.

Sure enough, she touched the wire and was nicked by it. After her initial reaction, she came over to where I was sitting in a chair.
Grace stood by me for quite some time. She didn’t even eat the tall grass that was there. Security is what mattered most to her through that challenge. And I was happy that I could provide that for her.

I was Grace’s choice for peace.

Soon she began to lick her lips and let down. She nuzzled me a bit, then finally nibbled on some grass there where I was sitting.

This experience also showed in detail how horses (and all of us) benefit from time to process.

Giving space is being early. Offering time to soak makes a lasting impact.

I was so happy that I felt to stay and be in that fenced in area with her. I didn’t just throw her in there by herself and hope for the best.

Grace could find comfort and wellbeing with me.

I want to play an active role in her advancement. And then I too, advance with her.

What would love do?

I feel strongly that this is a subtle and extremely important element in all relationships —feeling that love (unity) provides a safe place to fall.

I feel that most people want to feel a belonging to life. We want to feel connected. Yet there is an element in us that causes defensiveness. And defensiveness causes separation.

I know of no better experience than my relationship with horses to teach me these essential elements of life.

Grace and I practice success. We practice feeling good, confident, curious and secure with each other, in the partnership and in our environment.

I have incrementally increased the stimulus of her world as well as her exposure to challenging things. No different than I would a child.

Somehow I think we forget that a 3 or 4-year-old horse is an adolescent. Much like a 15 or 16-year-old child. Adolescence is a very pivotal time. It’s when they begin to develop how they interact with their world through the choices they make.

It is my heartfelt intention to provide a safe haven for my children, my horse, my husband, my friends, my clients and especially…for myself.

That’s what love would do.

I lived my early childhood in survival. It taught me to be tough and scared. I spent the second half of my life, unlearning fear. I can see the benefit of never having adopted the habit of fear in the first place.

Survival is natural. We don’t have to practice it.

The Education of Peace

When it’s time to react to the environment, the horse is a master at it. But when we take the reins, or the rope, we are also taking the responsibility and this absolutely should require us to offer an education for peace.

Not long ago I heard a quote from a brilliant woman who I admire very much. While, speaking in a political forum she shared…

“We cannot live in a world without war, until we can deeply understand how to live in peace”.

It is the same for our horses. Teach peace to have peace.

Humans are good at conflict. But peace is elusive for much of the human race. This is apparent. And this is what we most need to change.

I have learned by contrast the effectiveness of “Being early”. But being early is not putting the first rides on a horse thrown into mayhem.

Teaching peace

Survival is inherent, fear is acquired. And if fear is the source of how we live, then pain, resistance and suffering are not far behind. And so it is.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. We don’t have to settle for fear. We can live our lives from a state of grace.

Some indicators that we are living unconsciously from a fear-based system are when we consistently feel…
– [ ] Shame
– [ ] Blame
– [ ] Guilt
– [ ] Separation
– [ ] Striving
– [ ] Scarcity

These are pointers of negative emotions indicating we need to shift our perspective.

Life is a miracle. It is truly natural for it to flourish and grow. We can see this in nature. Life takes care of life.

It would seem many of us need to experience a lot of pain before we look for another way. But once we set our mind to it, the shift has already begun.

This is part of the second step: committing to another way. And for us to break our habitual thinking, we have to be early. This is why the first step is conscious awareness. We have to realize we are habitual.

Being early involves the willingness to slow down and truly see what our part is. Then we can break the habit of projecting the responsibility for our wellbeing outward.

We are more than capable of letting go of living our lives from the fear-based thought system.

And with this shift —we return to our innate freedom.

Our awareness is what enables us to be early.

Because we are conscious in each step we don’t have to ‘Cowboy up’. We can be self-aware.

We can learn to live in peace and eliminate much suffering and fear.

Being early is simple. And working from a success to a success is divine. It’s actually the nature of life.


If this blog resonates with you, please consider reading my book Perfect Practice. You can read an excerpt from the book HERE.

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