I have been thinking about this topic a lot this year, as it was one of my goals to set better boundaries in my interpersonal and work relationships.
One of my big motivators for this has bee watching my mentors have peaceful and lovely interactions with their horses and students. They are so able to be this soft because they have great boundary setting and keeping skills. The initial introduction to new people or horses is setting the expectation and boundaries, and from then on the encounters are peaceful. If a person pushes these boundaries, the interaction with them is finished. They are able to maintain a peaceful frame of mind free of resentment for this reason, and to keep attention on the students working with in the set parameters.
With horses, too, they are able to stay soft and not make big, ugly corrections when they boundaries are set initially. Horses who are spoiled or not given consistent boundaries are the most frustrated and confused – how can they know where the middle is without parameters? They can’t be soft and they can’t be relaxed when one minute they push on a boundary that was never made clear, and the next reprimanded.
Boundary keeping doesn’t have to be ugly or mean. It really is the kindest thing to do. To yourself and to your horse.
In retrospect, every situation I’ve left with resentment where I felt taken advantage of, was really poor boundary making and keeping on my end. Yes some people are mean, rude, and take advantage- but I could have left, or made clear how I’d interact and up to what limit. It could have been so much easier and more peaceful –
Here are two pictures- one of a horse who hasn’t had clear boundaries, being shown the boundaries in a big correction.
It could have been prevented.
The second is a horse even in both reins, peacefully in the middle. He is soft because he is able to find the consistent middle – boundaries have brought him peace.