Fight or Flight
Last week I was in a lunge line lesson, with a new student. The lunge line is a long rope which attaches to the horse’s halter, and I hold the other end of the rope. This is so that the rider can focus on their hand, legs and seat, without having to worry about affecting the horses mouth, i.e. pulling and yanking on reins, causing discomfort to the horse. Many years ago, this was a common form of lessons, but in this day and age, very few offer it. I do, because I think it forms a solid foundation. And, I must confess, I want to keep my horses mouths soft and light. The only way to do that is to make sure that only those with more skill use reins and a bridle.
So, we are in the lesson, and I ask for the two point position. This is the position one would be in before they approach a jump. Your seat is off the saddle, you are bending forward at the waist, your eyes are up looking between the horse’s ears, and your hands are farther up on the neck. It’s a great exercise to do, to work on one’s form. My student brought her body up into the two point, but her hands stayed close to the saddle, making her center of gravity off balance. I said: “Kathy, move your hands forward.” No reaction or response. Again, I said: “Kathy, move your hands forward, up his neck, closer to his ears.” Again, no response. Two more times I asked. After the fourth time, Kathy responded, finally bringing her hands up the horse’s neck a bit. WOW! I thought, staying curious, but definitely wondering what caused the delay in responding. After the exercise, we chatted about it. I asked her, “Kathy, what was going on in your mind when I asked you to get up in the two point?” She responded, “I was scared. I did not know if I could trust the horse, trust myself, to do the exercise. I was not used to having my body in that position. My brain went wild.”
I asked her: “Did you know that I asked you four times to move your hands forward?”
“You did? She responded, incredulously.
“I had no idea!”
I found her perspective to be so incredibly helpful. When we are in trauma, we are not able to hear correctly, to make sane decisions. We do not have an accurate lens of what we are going through. We are in the flight or flight mode, and our brains are wired to protect ourselves. What I found so intriguing was Kathy’s fear prevented her from even hearing me. This was fascinating!
If we want to change our lives, if we want to be more open and free, we cannot do it if we are under any kind of duress or fear. Only love creates the safety where transformation can grow. Only love allows for the space where we can learn to be free enough to love, and be loved, and change. My dear friend Mariah Gladis gave a TEDX Talk on “Arriving Already Loved.” How magnificent is that title! THAT kind of love inspires, empowers and transforms. Which, by the way, is exactly what the horses do for us! May you all live from the place of love in your life, not fear. If this seems like a far-off concept, then contact us!! The horses just may provide the antidote to your fear and concern!
After all…One can ONLY LOVE a face such as this!!