Friday, July 29, 2011

Photo Shoot with Cheyenne....

I was lucky enough to get to have photos done of Cheyenne and I, by Bailey at B. Olson Photography. This is a just a sneak peak of the amazing photos she took!!!!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Riding through life with looser reigns.....

"There are times when you can trust a horse, times when you can't and times when you have to..."

Everything I read, everyone I talk to, tells me that how you are in life is how you ride your horse. That horses reflect back who we are at our core. I had heard the comment, but I hadn't taken it to heart, even though it was happening right in front of my face, with both Snapper and Cheyenne. And even in my interactions with one of Cheyenne's pasture mates.

The first piece of the puzzle happened last week during my riding lesson on Snapper. Snapper is usually not the most He has it in him, I have seen him run, he is a talented smart horse, but he chooses most of the time to give only what you push him to give. Like I said, he's smart, why work harder than his rider makes him. And as a newbie, I was ok with that most of the time. Slow, safe, controlled. They make me feel good. So I was a little caught off guard last week when Snapper decided on our trail ride to show me what he was capable of (well some of it, I know he has more) and actually pick up the pace. We were following another horse and he wasnt going to be outdone and trotted at a moderate clip. My first reaction, reign him in, slow him down. Because while it wasnt fast, it was outside my comfort zone. I do the same when riding Cheyenne. One of my first questions to her owner was how do I make her trot slower.

What was interesting wasn't my reaction when Snapper stepped it up. It was typical me, but my instructors comment when I went to slow him down. When I said I wanted to get him to a safer pace, she pointed out "you are a safe, a lot safer than you realize". I heard the comment, I thought about it, but I didnt get until tonight what it really meant.

The second piece of the puzzle that I was living like I ride, or riding like I live, was in the gym last week. I have had a rough couple weeks again with food. After being on track for a bit I have fallen again. And my trainer pointed out, that everytime we get close to making a breakthrough something happens and we move backwards again. I didnt get it then, but I am starting to get it now. The what happens is me reigning things in when it starts to feel a little fast or beyond my control for me. But even when he said this I didn't connect the comments.

The last piece came tonight reading a book a friend loaned me ("Chicken Soup for the Horse Lover's Soul"). It is a collection of short stories, and one ("Big Brother is Watching") talks about how the main character anytime his horse would gather himself to run he would rein him in from his fear of falling  and have to watch as his brother raced off the way he wanted to.

Something in reading that made me connect my behavior, my riding instructor's comments and my trainers comment's. I live like I ride, or ride like I live. There is so much I want to do, I want to run, be it literally on my horse or metaphorically in life. But every time I start to make that progress my fear of falling has me grabbing for the reins. I never get to find out if I am safe or not, because in my mind I have already predetermined what will happen and launched my emergency plan.

Another comment just crossed my mind, one made by Cheyenne's owner. She said to ride and be around horses you have to expect at some point to be thrown, to break bones, to be kicked, to be bitten. My problem is while I am willing to accept that risk with horses, I have spent a lot of my life, and still do, trying to not get bruised, to not fall down, to not be thrown and to avoid anything that spooks me in the rest of my word. And when I do get spooked I, like the horses, follow my first instinct to flee instead of testing out if the fear is founded. Run now ask later!

Today's big lesson, just like I need to learn to trust my horse and ride with a softer reign and less of a tendency to jump right to "whoa" when things feel unfamiliar or chancy, I need to find that same trait in life. I need to figure out how to trust myself more and to willing to be thrown and get back in the saddle. To accept that is part of life, not failing. To not only ride at a pace I know I can manage but to take that chance of trotting at full speed. Otherwise I am always going to be the one watching from the sideline too afraid to move forward and sabatoging myself every time a chance to grow presents itself.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

When the Student is Ready.....

"When the student is ready, the right teacher will be there"

The last seven weeks in a lot of ways feel like a blur. I agreed to take a riding lesson with my friend Janet totally terrified, expecting complete failure and vowing this would never happen again. Yesterday I stood in the pasture surrounded by a wall of at least 10 horses at Woodloch and couldnt have been happier. I felt like part of the herd, and like I had found a part of my heart that has been missing for a very long time.

The day only got better when I got to ride Cheyenne for the first time alone. I just kept thinking the whole ride...I am riding "my horse", how did this ever happen. Actually that thought started yesterday morning, when I went out to walk her and bring her treats and I found myself just stopping and staring at her and she took my breath away. Don't get me wrong, I get part of it is that I do have a personal bond with her, but she is also just gorgeous. And I kept thinking "I have the chance to ride the horse every little girl dreams of". There are TONS of gorgeous horses, and I will admit before meeting Cheyenne I thought I wanted to a horse who was more unique in coloring (a buckskin maybe or a flea bit like Snapper), but she is just that perfect bay that we all thought of when we thought of a horse as a child. She is tall, perfectly shaped and beautiful. Even though I was never the little girl who dreamed of having my own horse, I know now I am living every little girl's fantasy! And I am so blessed to have this chance.

I thought a LOT about that yesterday, how amazing life can be, how the right things fall into place when they are supposed to. I had multiple conversations last week about things happening for a reason. But there is a second part of that I think we leave out often, that the right people also come into our lives for a reason. I read the book the Celestine Prophecy years ago and I dont remember much about it, but I have never forgotten the basic premise that people cross our paths for a reason, and that until their reason is fulfilled they continue crossing our lives.

One of my challenges in life has always been letting people in far enough to fulfill the reason they came into my life. Trust, fear, insecurity. Most people are kept outside the "walls", or they are let in only a portion of the way. This is especially true with situations where I am feeling over my head or new to something. I have always feared failure, letting people down, not being perfect, not having the right answers. It comes back to that fear of screwing up and being seen as inadequate and abandonded. So even when I am doing something new I do everything I can to learn it all. I veraciously read everything I can get my hands on, I practice over and over, I study til I know at least as much as the people around me. But in doing that I definitely make my life harder and don't always learn things the best way, just the way to get through them.

Another realization I have had the last two days, is that that is slowly changing. That my biggest growth in the last year has been learning to admit to people I dont have all the answers. That I need help, that I need something explained again, that I am imperfect and flawed. And in doing that I have realized I have some really great teachers around me when I let them do their jobs. A big part of the answer to the "how did this happen" with Cheyenne is found in those teachers, especially my personal trainer and my riding instructor.

Anyone who has read the blog over the last 18 months knows my trainer journey was bumpy at times. Nick took me on almost a year ago after my training with Gui ended abruptly. And the last year of training with Nick hasnt always been easy (I dont make it easy most days). My weight not moving and my eating disorder have plagued Nick and I a lot more than it did Gui and I.

But at the same time, what I lose sight of too often, is that a lot of other physical stuff and my confidence level in my body has improved in ways it never did with Gui - especially in the last 3 months. I know Nick often feels he lives in Gui's shadow, and I take a lot of the blame for that. I put him there on a lot of things. But what I realized yesterday, I trust Nick in a way I never did Gui. With Gui, I always feared his reaction if I didnt have all the answers, if I couldn't be perfect. That he would give up on me or stop working with me if I wasnt perfect. The last six months of my training with Gui I would say I walked into our sessions more afraid than anything. And in the end, I cant say that fear was unfounded. But that isnt the case with Nick.

With Nick I have slowly learned to say "show me that again", "explain that to me", "I dont get it", "Why". I would rather ask why now than have to go find the answer myself, and that is a huge change. And that huge change is part of what is fueling this new found courage/interest in trying new things, like horseback riding (and some other challenges I have listed for myself to get through this summer).

And I think learning that with Nick was a big part of what has opened me up to the absolutely amazing experience I am having working with my riding instructor Etta. Talk about a person crossing my life at the right moment. From my first lesson with Etta I have had this freedom I have never felt with anyone to admit I am a completely newbie, and I am clueless and please teach me. I have allowed myself to be a sponge and I have found myself turning to her over and over again asking for more help on doing things related to riding or horses and it shocks me, because that has never been me. The hardest words in the world for me, in any situation have ALWAYS been "help me", but with her they come naturally.

If I am honest with myself, that is probably why I have progressed so fast with this in the seven weeks I have, because I am letting the people who know the right answers do their job, not stubborning my way through figuring it out myself and at the same time fighting the people trying to help me! Yeah I have still read everything I could find, but this time more for the background not the training. I still don't get why this immediate trust in being imperfect was there, and a lot of the credit goes to Etta, but not once through all this have I felt dumb because I needed more help or to ask more questions.

Do I have this challenge overcome yet, no. I still find myself doing it with some people. This is still a lesson I need to work on. I caught myself this morning in my old trap when I realized I was shutting down Cheyenne's owner Missi who was offering to help me and that I was shutting her down because I am afraid to let her down with her horse. That instead of finding all the help I can from everyone around me I was trying to find my answers in other ways so she wouldnt think less of me or be concerned about the safety of her horse with me. I still need some work on that end, but I figure that is another part of the lessons Cheyenne is bringing into my life.

When we were riding yesterday Etta made a comment about horses teaching us humility, and they do (I learned yesterday trying to put a halter on Cheyenne that you have never truly been called an idiot until a horse looks at you like you are one *grin*) but what was rather prophetic in her statment is that I am also learning humility from the people around me with my this new passion of horses.