I firmly believe that horses reflect back to us an image of our inner self. Their learned behaviors while interacting with our environment carry an influence of who we are and how we got them there. Typically we take the credit for their success, but rarely do we accept the responsibility for their undesired actions. Now that I have children I take the credit for their good behavior and blame the bad on their mothers side of the family! There comes a time when we have a realization about who we are and we begin to decide what we want to do about it. For some that time comes early in life, before marriage, kids, mortgages, truck payments, jobs/careers etc. For others it is after the responsibility of our life is set in motion. I have come to realize that I do not envy anyone and I do not have regret, instead I have hope and faith that life will be what I make of it and unless I contribute to the forming of my life, I will inevitably be formed by someone or something else.
It was not until my early thirty’s, that I discovered I cannot dictate my life’s events, but I can greatly influence the direction. However, knowing a general philosophy and applying it after thirty years of living by a different method (blood, sweat, tears, ego) seemed depressingly impossible. With the help of Dr. Edgell Franklin Pyles, my wife, friends, family, and clients, I was able to begin a journey toward a tangible direction.
Knowledge is now easier than ever to attain. TV shows, books, DVD’s, YouTube, etc. And it seems that every one is saying the same thing! Some just say it with a little more flare! Therefore, if you look, you will find someone that is speaking to you. Horse people are more educated than ever, living rooms and grandstands are full of armchair quarterbacks! I believe that this has become a dilemma, Zig Ziglar, coined the phrase “Paralysis by Analysis”, knowing so much you are either lost as where to start or greatly intimidated to the grandness of the journey.
It was in conversations with Dr. Pyles that we discussed these issues and began to integrate his years of work and expertise as a psychologist and minister into my personal program. Thus began my realization that most of the time I was the problem (not my wife’s genetics!). I’m not trying to say that people such as the Pope or the Dali Lama or even Mother Theresa have a magical touch with horses, but I am saying they may have the tools to develop their potential relationships with horses. This book is also not about creating a magical bond that is void of negative reinforcement. Life has consequences, and it is from those consequences that most of our lessons are absorbed. It may be clichÃ©, but life is about balance. The clearer we understand our actions the easier it will be to express them in a way that can be easily understood, therefore, reducing the ratio of negative to positive reinforcement and building greater confidence. Always taking from the glass will surely leave it empty. Conversely, always giving to the glass will surely run it over and make a mess, “entitlement”.
Read this journal and give it a chance to allow you to find your answers, not mine, Edgell’s, or someone else’s. When you have completed it refer back as often as needed or choose different aspects of your life each time. “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second best time is today”
[This article was published in Performance Horse Digest, Volume 4, Issue 8.]
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