Nearly every new lesson or training horse comes with a story, and often this story is long, winding through details both relevant and not relevant, heavy with emotion, and rife with confusion and struggle.
Any teacher who’s been working with the public has heard their share of stories, and as a student, I find my own story entangled in the stories of others. Over the years, you notice a common thread in these stories, and you see and hear yourself in the stories of others. Over time you realize the story is actually much less important than we think- because the story is just that: a tangled up collection of thoughts, opinions, perceptions and ideas of what happened or is happening.
The truth of the matter, the map of the past and road to the future, is written clear as day- in the way the horse’s skin ripples over their muscles. In the way their ears lay. In the way the skin pulls around their eyes. In the way they stand next to the rider during the story telling, in the way they walk and move.
The rider, too, tells the story- in how they talk- anxious, fast, frantic, scattered, or quiet, tight, or boasting, or unsure. In the way they walk, in the way they hold the lead rope and reins. In the way they mount. In the way they take direction- the student has in the expression on their face where they’ve been and what they need.
We think often that our troubles are unique to us, that we are the only ones who struggle. But the reality is, everyone struggles, and many of our struggles are in the same vein- variations of the same imbalance and insecurities, like little pictures viewed through a kaleidoscope, the fragmented view makes us believe we are somehow separate.
The story is how we carry this separateness, and keep it alive. The story is irrelevant, and most often, in the way. To move forward, peel back the brambled branches of what we think is happening to reveal the path to the Here and Now, where the solution is illuminated- all you have to do is walk forward.
Photo by Nicole Churilla