Through my foundational training to work with horses as leaders and teachers of humans, I learned to connect from a place of authentic mutuality in my interactions with horses. I initially worked with a large herd, where I learned to intentionally invite horses that wanted to participate the day’s group and program. I then listened, and honored their self-selection.
Inevitably they would come, and what wanted to happen was met by the powerful exchanges that took place in each learning space. It was beautiful to be connected in such an organic and respectful way.
Of course, differing human values, agendas, and unforeseen circumstances do not always fully allow for this sacred space of choosing to work together. However, to the degree possible, it is something that I have continued to practice, and part of the foundation from which I build relationships with and work with horses.
Last week I was reminded of how important this is, when a very special horse called out my agenda.
I had a packed schedule last week and therefore a shorter window of time with the horses. In this mindset, I approached the horses with a task-oriented mindset that day. In doing so, I overrode Babar’s communication, from his fussing over having his halter on, to his seemingly minor irritations in the arena. They were subtle cues, and nonetheless a clear departure from our previous interactions.
It was only after I walked him back into the pasture and he ran off, which is not his usual pattern that I realized where my mind had been. I had decided when I was going to work with him that day and how we were going to work together. I bypassed the invitation, and I took our relationship for granted.
When I reflected on this exchange, I considered where else this is showing up in my life. Am I inviting myself from a heart space to new practices and changes in my life or am I allowing my mind to dictate them to me?
Where in my relationships might I be focused more on how the other person or situation is meeting my needs and not, as opposed to the value of my own offer, or vice versa?
Whether it is in relationship with yourself or others, how often are you consciously or unconsciously operating with an agenda? How do you approach your loved ones or colleagues? What might be different when you make an authentic invitation to connect, work, or play?
Before I left the farm that day, I reconnected with Babar in the pasture. When he came over to me, I apologized for my lack of awareness and invitation. I also thanked him for reminding me to be present, to pause and listen to what is being communicated, and to respond from a place of mutuality in all relationships.