Training Sticks, Dark Clouds and Little Spotted Horses

Training Sticks, Dark Clouds and Little Spotted Horses

A little over 11 months ago we acquired our third horse – a little Appaloosa (spotted horse for you non-horsey people), who we called “Charlie Bronson” (but who now gets called a number of variations of that including “Charlie Bear” or “Chuck”). From the outside, Charlie gave the appearance of being a quiet, calm little horse. Most things we asked him to do, he would do with minimum fuss. Indeed, some things we asked him to do he would do almost falling asleep while doing it. There is however a saying in the horse world that says “a safe horse is a quiet horse, but a quiet horse is not always a safe horse” and it became quite apparent to me that while Charlie was a quiet horse, he wasn’t a safe horse…

See, for what ever reason, Charlie had learnt a way of coping where he would essentially shut down – block out the world around him – do what we asked in the hope that we would then leave him alone. However, if you pushed a few buttons in the right sequence, he would explode – dangerous for us and dangerous for him. Faced with this, I had two options – leave him as he was or try to “unpack” him – get him to release whatever it was that was bothering him, in the hope that he would then emerge a more confident horse. The first option was the easiest option but not really an option at all for someone who values the power of being an over-comer.

IMG_1414 (2)So, for the last 4 -5 months I have tried to systematically get inside the heart and mind of Charlie. Armed with a flag and training stick, I have pushed him through various exercises that saw our quiet little horse turn into a wide eyed, snorting, nervous, fear filled animal. In asking him to confront his fears and to expose those fears he has now learnt to overcome those fears. And the result?  We now have a quiet horse again – but not just a quiet horse but a much safer horse…

All of this gets me wondering  about us as well. How many of us have chosen to hide our true feelings – afraid that if people saw the real us, that they wouldn’t like us.How many of us walk around with a smile on our face but pain, hurt, fear and distrust inside? We do the “right” thing and hope that people my leave the real us alone. It might seem to work for a while, but like Charlie, when the buttons get pushed in the right sequence, that pain has to come out and when it does it is UGLY.

There is a different way. Last year, I was challenged about some attitudes and beliefs that I was carrying around with me – negative words spoken over me many years ago had left their mark. And while I knew those things that had been said where not true, the ache that they caused seem to rear up and pull me back at the most unexpected times. Early one morning, my Creator spoke and likened those past comments to a dark cloud – He whispered to me that it was time to simply step away from under the dark cloud. Every time I found myself reflecting on what was said, I made the conscious decision to step away (and even mentally pictured myself stepping away). Rather than ignore the disappointment caused by those comments – I acknowledged it, faced it and decided to leave it. And the result – the ache that I felt has gone. Like Charlie, one little shackle has been broken and what haIMG_1409 (2)s emerged is more confident, less afraid and safer for all.

Reality is we live in a world where we will get hurt. People will say and do things and we, in turn, will say and do things that will hurt others. The pain and hurt caused by others can be intimidating and the condemnation we bring on ourselves can be like a prison. So what do we do with it? Ignore it? Pretend it hasn’t happened? Retaliate? There is another option – face it, embrace it, overcome it. And maybe like Charlie we will see that in the end it really was nothing more than a little flag on a big stick…


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