It’s Never Too Late To Take A Fresh Start

Kirsten

“In the beginners mind there are many possibilities. In the expert’s mind there are few.
Shunryu Suzuki

Taking a Fresh Start 

Ronnie Willis, a true horse master and cowboy, would often ride up to someone in a clinic struggling with a horse, because he could see that a battle was about to begin or things were going sideways. He would calmly state, “It’s never too late to take a fresh start.” Those words stopped everyone in their tracks and created a pause. The idea that it is never too late to take a fresh start pulled our minds back, created space and stopped the action-reaction tussle. Suddenly the thought that there may be a different and better way to go about things had room to creep into the situation. 

Eventually we all arrive at a point of struggle with the horse we have, or life in general. These moments are calling us to make a change. No matter how many years we have been around horses, we all get “that horse” or find ourselves in a situation that makes us feel like a beginner again. When things are going sideways, with or without our horse involved, we can learn to take a pause, clear our minds and simply start over again. It’s never too late. 

Developing a mutually beneficial relationship with our horse is really a journey into self-mastery. Horses have a way of making sure that we all have plenty of of opportunities to work on mastering ourselves. As soon as we think we know a thing or two, our horse points out just how much we don’t know yet by deciding not to cooperate. Horses cause us to grow as people and develop a few skills that help us with life in general. 

Horses are sensitive to what we communicate nonverbally, even if we are not aware of ourselves. Horses have opposite instincts to people, so it is a relationship that naturally feels challenging. And horses have an internal world of their own, that if we don’t understand, then we might take what our horse does a bit too personally. 

If our horse still perceives people as predators, then our horse is hard to catch, coming up with creative ways to avoid people. It is not personal, just instincts playing out because our horse does not feel safe with people in general. 

If our horse is easy to catch, then our horse has accepted us a herd member and now a new set of problems arise. Our horse needs to know if we qualify as a trusted herd member or one that only needs to be tolerated, because survival for horses is a collective effort. Again, it’s not personal, horses just need to know if we are capable of defending the herd, protecting and providing safety to all, or not. 

The way our horse decides if we are capable of becoming a trusted herd member is by poking at our weaknesses and reading our responses. Once our horse causes an emotional upset or instinctive reaction, then we are not be trusted but instead need to be trained. Our horse will push that same trigger button over and over until we change our response. Horses are relentless teachers, finding our personal, private weaknesses through energy and nonverbal communication. Once we can change our response, by maintaining our internal balance despite the button pushing, then our horse changes because we prove we can be trusted. Game over. All is well. 

We typically call these private lessons offered by our horse a “horse problem” but it is really our horse’s effort to strengthen us. As we learn to maintain balance internally, what used to feel frustrating feels more interesting. The things our horse does make us laugh instead of making us mad. We can come to a place of equilibrium inside ourselves because our horse, who really wrote the book on training, has tested us and taught us how to manage ourselves better. We become stable people as well as better riders by changing our response to problems as the need arises. 

Taking responsibility for our own mental and emotional state as well as our actions is what qualifies us as a trusted herd member in our horse’s mind. It can be difficult to do, but an honest internal evaluation is where we begin resolving problems. 

Purposely deciding to learn something new or make significant changes, also means we will step into periods of instability, discomfort and questioning. When we give ourselves permission to take a fresh start, as often as needed, we can move through these moments with more ease, until significant changes take hold and feel easier.  

Assessing our contribution to any situation, what we feel right now in the heat of the moment, without judgement, guilt or blame, is a critical step to self-mastery. When we find ourselves mired in unpleasant feelings, acting out or struggling with our horse, then remembering that it is never too late to take a fresh start can help us relax, reset and keep going. 

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