We all live at the mercy of our emotions. Our motions influence and shape our desires, thoughts and behaviors and above all our destiny.Hang on- this might get a bit new-agey and mystical.– Dr T.P.Chia
I believe that I am a logical person. I am also an emotional person. I'd like to think that that means I'm well balanced. More likely it means that I can always find a way to justify what I'm feeling.
And I doubt that I'm alone in that.
I have always heard that emotions and riding/training don't mix. I've worked very hard to keep my emotions out of riding.
I now believe that I had it wrong. The truth is that we always have emotions- happy, anger, stress, sadness and all the subtle nuances. In the past 18 months I've had to come to terms with how my 'emotional baggage' is impacting my ability to ride. For the longest time I try to achieve a state of calm and objectivity, with mixed success. Horses are very good at seeing through any masks we put on. A sensitive mare like Carmen is really good at it. And calling me on my lies.
What I've learned with Royce (one of the many things) is that leadership is not just a state- it's mostly actions and reactions. I'm never going to be as good as he is at just going with the flow.
But I am good at honesty (mostly). So I've been adding that to the mix. I no longer try to mask or suppress my emotions. Instead I acknowledge them and use them to work through whatever is going on.
Royce wants to me start mounting down by the barn and riding Carmen up to the ring. Okay. The first time I did it, half-way up the neighbour started his ride on lawn mower. That would not be a big deal except that his is the loudest one I've ever heard. The first time I heard it I thought he had an excavator going on. Carmen was getting very worried and so was I so got off and led her the rest of the way. Yesterday I decided to do it again. I got on and as we headed up to the ring I could feel her getting tight. So was I.
I know I said, I'm not so sure about this either but I believe that we can handle it.
She blew a bit and relaxed. Not a lot but some. And we survived. In the ring at one point she gave a bit startle at something and I jumped too. Oh, that gave me a start. And then we went on. Before I would have tried to gather her up and tell her to not be so foolish. Which was not me removing emotion but actually reacting with anger.
Today we did it again with much less tension. In the ring we didn't have to warm up to 'troll corner'. Not that she was happy to go that way, she wasn't but she was responsive. She gave this huge start when a grasshopper
I'm doing lots of external acknowledgement of how I feel when I ride- happy, frustrated, startled, freaked out. I think because I'm saying it out loud to myself (and Carmen) I can then deal and move on. Her spooking is getting less often and less explosive for lots of reasons. One small component is my being open about how I feel. This is making me more resilient in my schooling.
Even if that's not really why it works, I don't care. It works for me.