Mary Corning Line in the sand

Where is the Line Between Fight and Free?

“The hardest part of a bad habit is not letting go of it. It’s living it.“

Where is the line between fight and free?

This is a very significant and important element of relationships. Whether it’s with horses or humans understanding the dynamics of interaction is an essential element for success.

My teacher asked, in every lesson, “Can you do less?”

This has been a guiding light for me in understanding the dynamic of moving the line in the sand.

The line in the sand is a principal that I have used throughout my life with horses and in personal relationships. Over the years it has evolved to a much deeper philosophy than a simple application.

The line in the sand is the point of transition from non-resistance to resistance.

When we can be present right at the apex of that transition, we can learn to grow without practicing fear.

The practice of fear is one of the most debilitating conditions of the human psyche.

As I wrote in Perfect Practice, “Overcoming fear is natural. The fear response is meant as a temporary effect, not a permanent way of life.”

This line in the sand then moves incrementally with each expansive experience. Horses are masters at teaching this. But humans can be very unaware of the advantages of doing less.

The human ego is hardwired for more. And frequently, when something isn’t working, we will do more of it. We can learn to do less in these situations.

Just the other day, when I was working with my horse Grace, a feral cat jumped up on the rail of the arena and started howling. Grace couldn’t believe it. And she wanted to get as far from that end of the arena as she could be. She was on a halter rope. So I turned her loose so she could make her decisions about her own line in the sand.

Soon the cat left, but the fear didn’t. Together Grace and I moved side-by-side back-and-forth over that line that she had drawn through her comfort zone.

She was loose and therefore retained her own ultimate decisions. I did not make her go where she felt she couldn’t. I was simply there to interact, support and encourage.

This has been an absolute fundamental practice throughout bringing her up.

As we were working together, I shared with her that this experience was divine. It was absolutely poetically designed for us to develop faith, trust and courage. It was not long before I had my hand on top of her neck and side-by-side together we walked all the way around the arena and then changed directions and came back the other way. Then I got on her and the moment I got on she let out a big breath of release and licked her lips.

Grace picked up a deeply relaxed walk. I call it the trail walk. It’s when their heads are low and swing to and fro. She was so relaxed her body was moving like silk. This is literally 20 minutes after her blood was on fire in flight.

I laughed because in the old days I would’ve made a conflict out of that need to be free and insisted she go where she didn’t want to go.

Still today I see this taught, even by professionals. Some folks took the quote “Make the right thing easy and cause the wrong thing to be difficult” to mean make life and the relationship difficult.

I didn’t have to cause difficulties. That cat did that. I was there as her ultimate guide back to peace. And the result was just that… a beautiful, peaceful presence.

Honestly, I feel strongly that this is the one area where people can lose their horse’s respect forever. When we jeopardize the horse’s need for safety. I speak from experience. I used to do it.

On this beautiful evening, I also realized how much I love the walk. How much I value it more than ever before.

Grace and I are going out to see much of the world this year. She is now 4 years old, it’s time to go exploring. I know that this experience along with all the others we have had only strengthen our opportunity for success.

I feel it’s also important to mention, that this realization is equally effective in human relationships. When two people, who are in conflict, are willing to do less they soon find more opportunities to unite.

In conflict, people often want to debate their position and prove they are right. This tendency is inherent of the human ego. It is birthed and fueled by habitual fear.

I often say the idea that we are separate is the fall from Grace. We all want the same things. We all want non-resistance. But the paradox and the problem is that we still think we have to fight to get it.

Mary Corning Grace

I stand in testimony for both horses and humans that there is another way.

This other way takes little to no effort once we have developed consistent practice. But like anything unconditioned, we must implement it into our lives.

The hardest part of a bad habit is not letting go of it. It’s living it.

Having rid my life of both dependency and codependency I am the voice of experience on this as well.

Once realized, the freedom of non-resistance is the easiest thing we can live. We CAN end the repeated results of defensiveness.

This world needs this understanding now. We can’t afford to wait another day. I’m here to help because I’ve been in the trenches. I have made these mistakes and I can share from experience the contrast of realizing peace as an option.

I love the teaching shared by Mooji that says “We are free to be free and we are free to be bound.”

I’ve lived both worlds. And I’m so grateful that I’ve come to understand another way, not only for myself, but for my horses and all my relationships.

It’s a new world when we see freedom over fear. And it all begins at the line in the sand.


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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