Call in Show Tuesday, August 4, 8PM Eastern, 7 PM Centra, 6 PM Mountain, 5 PM Pacific. Click on link above for details.
What would you think if I sang out of tune,
Would you stand up and walk out on me.
Lend me your ears and I’ll sing you a song,
And I’ll try not to sing out of key.
I get by with a little help from my friends
Last November, I was bucked off my horse, Elvis. I landed on my hand and the force of the blow smashed my radius bone above the wrist. As far as things that could break when coming off a horse, a wrist is a small thing. I didn’t break my head, neck or back, and all my injuries are healed.
I had two surgeries in four months, and it was a total of six months in which I was forbidden to ride by my surgeon. But, once I could ride, I didn’t. I had lots of things to fix around the ranchito: tractoring to do, fences to fix, weeds to hack. I have a business to run, and I have gone back to my computer nerd job part time. I just don’t have time to ride.
But, that wasn’t the whole truth. I had time to do ground work with the horses and do some training that way. I just didn’t want to ride. It’s too hot. The mosquitoes and flies would bug the horses. I had excuse after excuse.
I really had to admit something I didn’t want to:
I was afraid to ride my horse.
I’ve always thought of myself as a fairly fearless rider. I was careful about when and where I rode, and I am not reckless. But I was seldom afraid. Not so now. That injury took a lot out of me.
If even the Beatles would worry about singing out of tune, I guess it’s not unusual for a horseman to be afraid sometimes. My question was, should I share this fear with my friends? I pass myself off as a horseman who teaches life lessons through horsemanship. What would it look like to admit fear of riding?
Working through my own fear is a life lesson I have to learn myself. Why not share that process in real time? While I am working through my issues and learning lessons, I’ll open up and let the world see me. My son, Dean, who is a TV anchorman, visited us a couple of weeks ago. We had discussed us doing some filming for my web site. I asked him to video me getting on a horse for the first time. We are now editing that video and it will be out soon.
My plan was to get on Hoss, my regular, dependable mount. I figured that would be easy. Then, I would work up to getting on Elvis, which would be scary, since he’s the one that bucked me off. It turns out, it was plenty scary getting on Hoss.
Because I was afraid, and wrapped up in my own fear, I could not see what was going on with Hoss. He was agitated, but I thought I it was because I was wound up. What my fear would not let me see was that Hoss’s bridle was mal-adjusted and it was bugging him. When I finally fixed the bridle, Hoss calmed down and I calmed down.
And I got on. And it was great.
The video showed me all the mistakes I made. How’s that for a lesson learned in real time: When you are afraid, you can’t see what is really happening around you. Fear clouds your judgment. Information that you need can be blocked by your own brain.
This is just one lesson I learned that I want to share with you.
The video won’t be out for a couple of weeks, but you can listen to my 15 minute on-line radio show any time at http://WhisperedByHorses.com.
Tonight, Tuesday, August 4 and 8:00 PM Eastern Time, I will have a live call-in show about my fears and how I am working through them. Please call in and talk to me. Details are at the Whispered By Horses link above.
When I visited Scott Sheperd’s web site, I saw this quote:
"Why are people driving you crazy? It’s your car. Quit giving away the keys!"
This quote made me think of a friend who keep buying calm horses and turning them into agitated horses. She didn’t do it on purpose, of course, but we who watched her could see that her intensity would cause the horse to get wound up. This woman always blamed her horses for her problems.
Scott says that we often do this even with our relationships with other people. We allow ourselves to be emotional victims rather than building our emotional power.
In this week’s show, Scott and I discuss these topics and more. Please take sixteen minutes to listen to us.
Mara Gordon has traveled the world helping companies large and small with her expertise in process engineering. As an outsider coming in to these organizations, she was able to see problems that the people who worked there could not.
This last weekend Iwas doing some filming for my web site, and I got myself into some trouble with my horse during the shoot. I was so close to the situation, I could not see that the real problem was that I did not have my horse’s bridle adjusted correctly.
Whether you are in business or riding a horse, sometimes you just can’t see the problem because you are too close to it. You either need some outside help, or you have to step away to get some perspective.
Mara and I met on Twitter a couple of months ago and have become great friends. We had a lot of fun putting together this show. Please give us a listen. We hope you enjoy it, too!
We will be having a live call in show on Tuesday, July 21 at 8:00 PM Eastern time. Information about how to call in or listen on-line is just below the show links. Please call in and ask us a question.
In this week’s edition of Whispered by Horses, I had a conversation with Ann Romberg and Lynn Baskfield of Wisdom Horse Coaching. We talked about how horses deal with adversity. When confronted with a mountain lion in the wild, a horses will obviously run away. But once they are safe, they don’t focus on the past fears. They always seek the point of balance in their lives. It’s a lesson that we humans can learn.
We also discussed how a horse herd will get closer and take action that helps save the herd when there is danger. We have noticed that in these difficult times people are learning to work together and be less isolated.
Mark Hundley is a grief counselor who helps people through their journey of grieving the loss of a loved one. When I told my story of my horse, Hoss, in the bucking chutes, Mark saw a parallel between being a bucking horse and being a grieving person. You’re put into a difficult situation that is not of your choosing, and you are told to deal with it in a very short time. For a bucking horse, it’s 8 seconds. Similarly, we expect a grieving person to "get over it" and get back to work in three days.
Listen now for this interesting intersection of the worlds of grieving and horsemanship.
This week we will premier our on-line radio show, Whispered By Horses. This show will be available to listen to each Friday.
We will share a "Horse to Human" story and compare that lesson to a "Human to Human" relationship. The week before each show, we will announce the week’s topic. We will ask YOU to tell how the week’s lesson relates to you. We will share as many stories and observations as we can during the show.
This week’s topic:
Jamie has always wanted to ride on the trails near her home. She sees other people riding and wishes she could do the same. But, she is afraid. She took riding lessons, but she could not get over her fear. She would have to get off the horse halfway through a thirty minute lesson because the fear was stronger than the fun.
Jamie’s instructor basically told her to get on the horse and ride. She did not understand Jamie’s fear. The instructor did not know how to help her through it, so she never got over it.
When dealing with people’s fears, you need to take the time to understand where they are so that you can help them expand their comfort zone without busting through it.
What Jamie’s instructor could have done is have Jamie work with the horse when she was on the ground rather than riding. This way, Jamie could expand her comfort zone and work up to feeling safe when riding
What does this lesson say to you? How does it relate to your life?
Tom Morris, a friend I met on Twitter (https://twitter.com/TomVMorris), sent a couple of tweets today that got me thinking about learning new skills. Tom said that simplicity and elegance require confidence and that when we are unsure we complicate things. What I think that Tom is saying that someone with experience can find the elegant solution because he is confident that his solution is correct and inexperienced people will throw as much as they can at a problem because they don’t know what works. My take is a little different. I think that inexperienced people tend to have complicated solutions because they haven’t found the simple, elegant solution, yet.
By the time you reach adulthood, your mind and body have developed a pretty good relationship. If you need to go to the grocery store, your mind knows how to tell your body to pick up the car keys, put on your jacket, open the door, walk to the car, get in, and turn it on. You turn around to watch behind the car as you back out of the driveway, and ease out onto the street. With years of experience, you know just how much pressure to put on the brake and accelerator. You can steer so that you make dozens of minute corrections to the steering wheel each minute to keep your car on the road. Because you have the confidence and the experience, your motions are spare, smooth, and simple.
For all of these activities, your mind and body have learned to get along and work together, and you can perform these tasks with little conscious effort. Now, imagine that you pick up a new activity, say, horsemanship. And this activity requires that your mind and body learn all sorts of new tasks. Your mind and your body may start to rebel a little bit. Your mind will say, “Huh? You want me to do what?” Your body will say, “Hey, this wasn’t the deal. After we got through that gawky teenage stage, we weren’t going to have to learn anything new.” And, “I figured I wouldn’t ever have to bend this way again.”
Learning new physical tasks is one of the more fascinating parts of my adventure in learning horsemanship in middle age. And it all started with handling the lead rope.
One of our first tasks was learning how to just swing the end of the rope. We had to practice this when the rope wasn’t attached to the horse so that we didn’t confuse, frustrate or hurt the horse. The task is to let out three or four feet of the end of the lead rope and twirl it in a circle. At first, it’s hard to find the rhythm so that the rope doesn’t flop around and to make the circle clean and smooth. The mind and body are working hard to build new pathways, new muscle memory. It’s awkward. It’s uncomfortable.
When I was a kid and learning new stuff like this, I would go practice in my room with no one watching before I let anyone see me struggle with it. Now, I understand that the struggle is part of the process. I can just laugh at my mistakes and fumbling.
But soon, a magical thing happens. All of a sudden, the feel is there. The timing is there. My mind has figured how instruct my body to move so that the rope feels just right in my hands and the circles are smooth and easy. Not only does the rhythm of the swinging rope feel comfortable and easy, but there is a thrill of learning something new.
I’ve found myself noticing this same process in most everything new I learn. There is the “Huh?” part, where I’m not sure what I am supposed to do. Then, comes the awkward, clumsy steps that are the necessary process to mesh the mind’s goals with the body’s knowledge of the task. And with enough repetitions and tries, something clicks and it all works.
Pretty soon, I’ve forgotten how hard it was to learn the task and I can do it without thinking. I can start swinging the rope with either hand. Or over my head. Or touch the end of the rope to a rock that is on the ground in front of me. Or touch my toe with the rope. I can swing the rope with some energy behind to get a horse to move away, or I can gently lay it across her back in a friendly, easy motion.
Recently, I was working with a young mule that was resistant to being led to her pen for dinner. She wanted to stay with her buddies. She turned away from me and showed me her butt. With hardly a thought, and in a blink of an eye, I swung the end of the lead rope so that it popped her on the butt with a nice smack. It got her attention and she quickly turned to face me. As we continued on toward her pen, I smiled as I remembered that at one time, it was difficult for me to even hold the rope without getting it tangled, and now the rope is just a simple extension of my body.
In learning to work with the rope, my mind and body have found the elegant, simple solution to making it move and work for me. Yes, I am confident in my use of the rope, but it’s the experience and muscle memory that make my motions fluid and easy. In my beginning days, my motions were jerky, complicated, and difficult. It wasn’t my lack of confidence that caused the clumsy rope work, but my lack of experience. The elegance flows from experience, and it’s the experience that gives me confidence.