In this day and time the word fearless is beginning to shift into a new dimension.
“Fearless” has often been associated with aggressive, bold and gutsy. Now I see that definition as, what I call, “The flip side of the same coin”. I see fearful and gutsy as two shades of the same dysfunction.
When it comes to horses, I think many of us have seen the type…the folks who aren’t afraid of anything. They just want to get on the horse and ride. They don’t possess the fear of what could happen, when mounting 1000lbs of self- preservation. This would be fine, but often enough they also don’t possess respect.
These have always been the tougher candidates in educating. I’d much rather have someone who had a healthy respect for what it was they were getting into.
The “fearlessness” I speak of is neither side of that coin, but rather achieving freedom from fear. It is about overcoming it. Not overlooking it. This is a subtlety that is paramount.
Horses possess natural instinctive fear. It is not only healthy, but functional for survival. Fear only turns dysfunctional when it ceases to be temporary.
Fear was designed to be an alarm not a way of life.
Because we bring horses into our state of minds, we also introduce them to addictive patterns and responses that come with the conditioning of their lifestyle.
An addictive pattern is simply a coping device gone south into the unconscious.
These patterns are formed when we rely on a temporary, pseudo sense of relief. So, rather than ultimately finding freedom from fear, we actually build an inadequate dependency against it.
A great example of this is how, we as a culture use substance to relax. I can speak to this with great authority. In the first half of my life, I thought if 1 beer was good, then 6 would be great! It wasn’t long before what I reached for to find relief, all but nearly ruined my life.
Another area that is widely seen and seems to be in epidemic proportion is the use of pharmaceutical drugs. We have pills for everything. And now even gummy’s. They wrap them in neat little sweet-tasting packages that are easy to eat. And so we get a pseudo sense of relief and subsequently build addictions to such things. Never overcoming the cause of our resistance.
I feel it is absolutely essential to call this human tendency out in every element of life. And, it is not lost on horses.
Bubba had experienced great trauma early in life that set him up with a dire need for relief from his internal burden of a fearful existence.
What We don’t Resolve Progresses.
Bubba would be so reactive to unexpected circumstances that he repeatedly bucked his riders off. Eventually his owner gave up. To this day she adores him, but his fearful nature creates the same in her. And they drifted widely apart.
Bubba lives with me and his person “Sam” has given me the great opportunity to give him whatever therapeutic experience that I deemed may lighten his burden. Sam wants Bubba to have a peaceful life.
With this open armed approach, I was also given an opportunity to dive deeper into his psyche. Without training for a certain outcome, I was simply left with the task to free his soul. And this was right up my alley.
I began to recognize that at times, when Bubba wanted to lie down in the arena, he would have a strong visceral reaction and then opt out. This wouldn’t have alerted my concern, except for the fact that it was clear something other than his free will was causing his actions.
I noticed this through the opportunity of observation. Since I was hired to spend time once a week with Bubba, but we were not limited to a training regime observation and communication became the curriculum.
I watched as Bubba would consider the option of lying down then would tremble and shake at the thought of it. I really began to believe that if we could break through the fear that prevented him from relaxing and letting down fully that it would make a monumental difference in his life.
My task was set and my resolve was tested. Once a week Bubba and I would venture into the arena and I would offer a simple suggestion for him to lie down. This began by looking at the lying down process elementally.
First, he would need to be comfortable lowering his head while I was nearby or even while I was touching him. Then he would have to learn to reach his hindquarters deep under his belly and arc while lowering his head.
If you ever watch a horse go to lie down, they often circle and smell the ground while bringing all four quarters closely together. Then they bend at the hocks and knees and go down. To lie down they don’t stop movement. There is much movement that takes place as they prepare.
What I recognized with Bubba was that he would begin to think of lying down and then he would abruptly stop the movement and go very stoic. His eyes would actually dull. I witnessed that it looked as if he wasn’t even in his body. He would literally zone out. I came to understand that, that zoning became his relief. That coping devise of refusal and the stoic response became his go to… his addictive response. Bubba had actually formed an addiction.
This temporary relief from the turmoil and the burden of fear that Bubba carried overtook his gift of choice. It did not serve him!
I wanted to see him overcome his fear not simply cover it up.
Seeing this kind of coping taking place in a horse was quite an education. And, it was a stark example of how conditioning can affect everyone. Is it any wonder that our world is led by marketing of escapism?
So now for the good news.
In this clip you get to see Bubba clear his slate. You get to see how he chooses freedom over fear. And you get to see each nuance involved in overcoming fear with faith.
To me this is the most important lesson a human, horse or any sentient being can live. This is how we build our world from our own truth, rather than from the fear we acquired.
Bubba is giving a clinic in what true bravery looks like. True bravery is not a ballsy attempt to combat the things in our world that we deem as threatening.
True bravery is freeing our hearts from the mind’s confines of conditioned fear.
May we share this education with the world in every aspect—with our children, in the work place, within our marriages and in all relationships. May our governments heal the addiction of power, may our churches and temples unite because we have found the unity inside our own hearts.
May Bubba inspire a deeper reflection inside ourselves and with each other.
If Bubba the bronc can become an earth angel, so can we.