Horses live, ultimately, in this moment. They are here. They are experiencing this instant in a way that we as humans struggle with. To me, horses have been my dearest friends, my cruelest teachers, and the most honest beings I know. The same horse carried me through crushing depression in highschool and forgave me for losing my mind and screaming at her rather than trying to see things from her point of view.
I anthropomorphize horses. These days, I manage to do so in a less detrimental way than I did when I was a child. I no longer assume "he just knows better." or "he's just doing this to be an asshole." But I still see horses as kind, and generous, and honest. These are feelings echoed by a great many horsepeople, so I don't see this as anything that needs fixing.
My point is that horses have shown me a nonjudgemental relationship where I can be accepted for who I am no matter the clothing, attitude, or time of day.
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Last night, I worked with two students who are going through some really dark times. It feels lonely, down there in the day-to-day, when it feels like this week will never end and you have seven more freaking months until summer. Or until Thanksgiving, or whatever you're waiting for. It feels frustrating, crushing, scary, and overwhelming. These two feel as if there are bullies lurking in every corner, as if everyone they speak to ignores them, and as if it will never get better.
I listened the best I could. I asked one what his game plan is. I asked if I could help. And then I told him to gallop as fast as he possibly could and let it all wash away for the rest of the night.
I stood in the middle of the arena, biting my tongue on "keep your elbows closer to your ribs", wondering how the hell I was supposed to get this kid through this moment.
It's not my job. I am merely one adult in plethora who care about him. Between parents, teachers, friend's parents, tutors, etc, I am just one coach. I have no right to assume that I have any leverage that these people don't in terms of getting the kid through.
But I have horses. I have these wonderful, soft-nosed beasts who test us, challenge us, and love us despite it all. I have a partner in this challenge.
My conclusion, after all this rambling? The best I can do is continue to mirror horses, allow them to find pride and improvement in their lessons, and encourage them to know that they are whole, complete, wonderful people.
What does your riding coach mean to you? Has your trainer ever supported you through tough or difficult times?