There is a wonderful blog called “The Red Mare”, that I read with an almost manic obsession. Both the topic (the retraining of a thoroughbred mare known only by her colour) and the writing style of the gifted Scottish author, I find enthralling. In her latest blog, the author describes her most recent horsey addition to her family and her goals in retraining this horse. One sentence in particulate hit me like the proverbial train…
“Her life was about speed and I want her to understand the steady ways of the horsemanship I have adopted…”
This one line got me thinking about Flynn, our little bay Standardbred gelding. Flynn’s early life was also about speed – about being pushed to a limit, to a level of performance that he unfortunately (but fortunately for us) couldn’t attain. It has however left its mark – for there resides within him a degree of anxiousness – that when asked to do something he is not comfortable with, will result in a shake of his head and a look towards me as if to say ‘I’m sorry, I can’t.’ And so, as part of my developing relationship with him – one that I strive to build on the foundations of trust and respect – I set out to “show” him that his new life is no longer about speed and performance – I seek to reward the effort he makes, no matter how small it may seem – and in doing so, help to create within him a greater level of confidence and ultimately courage.
And as so often happens, Flynn mirrors me. For as I reflect on Flynn I cannot help but notice that I too have lived with that same degree of anxiousness – an anxiousness that has resulted from being part of a task focused, performance based world. A world less interested in who you are and more interested in what you can or might do. A world preoccupied with the spectacular. A world that is so quick to dismiss and throw away those things deemed useless. And as much as we might want to, we cannot simply step away from this world and live in a cave, isolated from all human interaction. It is a world that we need to navigate through and to do so in a way that does not destroy us. Like Flynn we need those who will take the time to develop a special friendship with us – one built on trust and respect.
Over the years, those people who have left the greatest mark on my life have not always been the ones with the most impressive CV’s or fancy titles – but instead the ones who took the time to encourage and help – those who through their honesty in both word and action – have been an example to me. These people inspire me to face, acknowledge and overcome the obstacles before me. To them I say thank you.
Horses are very transparent in what they are “feeling”. Be it upset, playful, nervous, angry – there is no hiding or pretending. We, on the other hand, are not so transparent. However, if we want to gain victory over those things that try to hold us back, then we must begin to be more honest about ourselves. As I travel further and further into this new world of horses – I find myself confronting and slowly overcoming the demons of my past. With each passing day, I find myself more secure in what I do – and on a spiritual level – my soul is full. And so together with Flynn, I will continue to walk this path before me. Will we confront the things we fear and we will emerge on the other side with a sense of freedom that we did not have before. Together we are learning to leave the old behind in order to embrace the new…
“No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.” (Philippians 3:13)