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You know how every once in a while we have those moments where someone says something and it resonates? Like you don’t just hear it, you FEEL it.

I had one of those moments the other day, and the realization and acknowledging of it is transformative.

I was in a lesson with Biggie, whom my instructor was seeing for the first time. I was explaining to him that he felt eager to do the lesson with me which confused me because though he wants to nip and me and interact with me in a pushy playful way, he seems to reject anything we do together.

I described it as a personality conflict. Both of us stubborn with different ideas of fun, and maybe not seeing eye to eye for whatever reason.

So we started our lesson and my instructor was just smiling about how connected he was with me, how he was appreciating the interaction etc, and I was like yes! This is fun.. where’s the push back?!

Don’t worry, we found it, haha!

As he started exhibiting his normal behaviors that he does when we work together: pulling/rooting the lead rope, disengaging and walking away, sometimes spinning and bucking or bolting, my instructor asked me what I felt was happening.

I said frustration.

He said claustrophobia. “He feels trapped in this movement.”

I wasn’t holding the lead tight, I wasn’t directing him where to go in a strong way, I was asking him to trot on the ground, and when he went to do a downward transition himself I encouraged him forward, and that inability to make that decision to self-regulate sent him into claustrophobia!!

WHAT!? Why have a never thought about a horse feeling “Trapped in a movement” in this way!

As soon as I acknowledged and understood his perspective, we connected again in a way that was fun for both of us.

I am an extremely claustrophobic person. If I walk into a hot room with a scarf and jackets on I immediately panic internally, so this message resonated so deeply with me.

How many of us have been encouraged to ignore what horses are spooking at and ride them through it, or to push them forward when they start to slow down… totally eliminating their self regulation. That never resonated with me as I learned those patterns of behavior.. now I know why.

As my instructor, Lockie Phillips, says: “Sometimes you’re too close to the tree to see the forrest.” Now I know.

The beauty of someone sharing their knowledge so openly, is that then you can share it with others. Everyone wins, especially the horse.


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