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The final piece of the puzzle

Posted on


kissing Sherlock

Hmm, still processing some recent learning. This part is stuff that I have been trying to put into words for years, but explaining my thoughts to someone in America has crystallised my feelings into better words. It’s about confidence, and <BLOG_BREAK>believing in yourself.

I have helped people with all kinds of confidence issues, it could be with handling, hacking, cantering, but the most common one I come up against is jumping.  I have been helping quite a few people with this , and have been e mailing with someone who was interested in my philosophy of what I was doing, as they had seen dramatic results.

Being questioned is great, the right question sets you to thinking, and clarifies your own thoughts, and in a few e mails I was expressing myself better. I realised that I hate it when people are encouraged to "be brave" and feel the fear and do it anyway, without tackling the real issue, as I think it takes them from being able to listen to their instincts and inner guidance. This makes them lose confidence in themselves even if they manage to do the task.


I often hear from people that, for instance, in jumping they are scared and do not enjoy it, but they would like to enjoy it as it looks like fun, and it is exhilarating. Usually this confidence loss will be after a fall. I often hear that they have been encouraged to jump and jump, in the hopes that once they have jumped a few times safely then they will realise that they are safe(ish) even if they have previously suffered a fall, possibly with an injury (or potential of injury) and subsequent confidence loss.


For some people this must be a successful tactic, however I hear from a lot of people who have jumped the jump, time after time, but still, inside, have a nasty fearful feeling, and never really enjoy jumping. That tactic did not work for them.


In my published “training philosophy” (see link from my web home page) I have looked at the issue some time ago and it reads that I offer “Help with understanding the reasoning behind fears that stop people doing what they want to do. Often being to let the client see that what they may have perceived as them being “cowardly” is in fact a wise inner voice warning of real danger, or that information has been missed. We can then work objectively on the information and risk.”


I have found that usually when a client has a fear, for instance jumping, then there IS a problem. The “problem” may not be big enough to cause an issue on 99% of jumps but the mind has realised that there IS a danger. It may be a lack of core strength, a technical lack of knowledge, a lack of balance. I usually find that the thing that is missing is that the whole physical flow of jumping has not been moved into the subconscious “muscle memory” of the body, so the conscious mind is stressing as it cannot process all those necessary adjustments.


Having taken a training course in confidence techniques such as taking time back and reframing experiences to help the mind put things into a different perspective, I do think such techniques have their place. However, I realised that in doing this I was ignoring the fact that the mind had perceived the possibility of Danger, and in reprogramming the mind without at least looking in to the possibility that there was something actually missing I was at best ignoring a gift, also possibly leaving the perceived danger in place, and at worst diss-ing (dis as in disempower, discredit, disrespect) my client and their perceived views.


I like it when we can explore the issue, explain it and work on it, agree how we will proceed, even if that does still mean a period of being "brave" while the new technique is tried, assessed and refined. For jumping we often work with balance and core strength on the flat, aligning the body in various positions of high and low, until the body can recover its equilibrium from any position without conscious thought. We can also play with scrambling up banks and steep hills (like a take-off time and time again), and cantering down a hill (like landing, time and time again!), until the body is poised and strong, and the body is able to self adjust.


When we return to jumping it will be with agreement and with an informed bravery, trying something, an assessment of your new feelings, reacting to the new information; not bashing on without regard to your feelings.


I was talking to someone recently about how their fears had been ignored, and worse, derided. They felt crushed, even though they had in fact successfully jumped fences a good number of times. Jumping the fence had not made them feel better or the fear go away. They had done the task, but felt bad inside.


I again made a realisation, something I had known but had not previously found the words to explain.


“There can't be anything more destructive than being ignored and disregarded by YOURSELF!!!”


This brings me back to FUN. If you are having fun, you will recognise that you do not feel panic and fear, you are learning and feeling exhilarated, absorbed and in the moment. With riding horses there will always be a degree of risk and an acceptance of this. If you are having fun you may be feeling the exhilaration of facing the risk down, but to feel it is "FUN" you will be on the right side of that risk, you are in agreement with your inner self.


I believe we are here to listen to our inner feelings. It is the way we become happy. Horses, or driving cars, or playing tennis, cooking, or practising Aikido, even our relationships with friends and loved ones, these are all just mediums that we use to explore this, the listening to our inner feelings and being true to ourselves. The riding or jumping is the side issue, the being true to yourself is the whole point.


I was speaking recently to someone I was helping about their journey, and discussing how I could put into writing what I have learned. They said that to them it was finding the last piece of the puzzle to make up the big picture. With their jumping there was one piece missing, and although they could jump it was not a happy experience. When we changed the way we were learning, broke the technique down to small pieces, they found the missing piece, and the whole picture came into focus.


We were discussing how so many clients, when they have become confident with an aspect of their horsemanship, then they also gain in confidence in other areas of their life. We discussed how that once they had given themselves the respect to take time to listen to their instincts, and quantify and solve the problem, they trusted in themselves. The crossover into other aspects of people's lives has often surprised me, my role is not that of psychologist, psychoanalyst or councillor, it is possible for anyone to become trapped in an unhelpful pattern of thought and need the services of any one of these qualified professionals. The role I seek is that of teacher, coach and mentor, the roles are distinct.
We further discussed that for that person, they had seen that once you had fitted the final piece of the jigsaw in place you had the full picture as regards jumping, but you could also change the picture to whatever subject you like. The framework of the basic jigsaw, and being able to analyse a problem and trust in yourself to listen to your instincts to see an answer was in place. The subject, or picture, can then change. I like that analogy.



There, that is what I have learned! The quantum leap learning to me is that horses are just a medium for exploring life and practicing being true to myself. As is EVERYTHING else.

Not to say that horses are not VERY IMPORTANT, of course they are even MORE important to me as they are THE primary way that I am learning about life and how I fit with it. Horses are the way that I have poured time and effort and love into becoming more feeling. It is through horses that I have been able to practice stillness and presence and feeling the flow of energy and the universe itself.

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