Editor’s Note: We welcome Elaine Sanders as a new Cayuse Corona Community contributor. Elaine is an Equine Partnership Coach, Stress Consultant, and born horse enthusiast living in rural Manitoba, Canada. She has a degree in Nursing, a certification in Equine Partnered Psychotherapy and Coaching, and is a certified HeartMath Coach. She teaches others how to be calm, composed, and confident so that they can not only be successful with their horses, but also so that they can have meaningful relationships with their equine friends. Elaine combines sound science with horse sense to help you have the partnership of your dreams. Learn more here.
Elaine writes Part II:
Last week we spoke about the pandemic of fear that is gripping our world and our hearts. This fear, anxiety, frustration, and uncertainty you feel is affecting your horse. Let’s pick up where we left off with Steps 3 to 6.
Step 3. Use Logic
Once the horse’s heartbeat has slowed down, they’ll move their head up and down a bit and start analyzing the scary thing, comparing it to other things they’ve seen before, and determining the best course of action.
Now that your heartbeat rhythm is more calm and harmonious, in a state that researchers call coherence, your brain comes back online. You can start to use heart-informed logic. Ask yourself the following questions:
How is this feeling – anxiety, fear, frustration, disappointment, uncertainty, overwhelm, etc – helping me right now? It’s not. It’s only making it worse.
What am I in control of? You’ll find that you’re not in control of the situation, you’re not in control of others, you’re not in control of the future. But you are in control of your emotional reaction to the situation. Stop trying to control what you can’t control and start controlling the one thing that you can.
Step 4. Don’t Do It Alone
When a horse is scared, they look to others for help. Whether that is a buddy on the trail, a herd mate, or you, horses are social animals and they feel safer with others, especially with someone who can lead them calmly.
Reach out to others. Connect with others. Let your loved ones know how you’re doing and ask them how they are doing. Avoid groups that amplify fear, scarcity, uncertainty, frustration, and overwhelm, especially on social media. Instead, find calm with others and be a source of calm for others, especially for family, children and those who look to you for guidance.
Connect to yourself. Connect to God/Goddess/Source/Creator/Your Purpose to get you through this time. Lean on those who can lead you through this.
Step 5. An Opportunity for Growth
How a horse handles one scary situation – or more accurately, how a horse is handled through one scary situation – sets him up for either ongoing failure or ongoing success. If he is handled with impatience and intolerance, if he is pushed through without regard, if he is forced to ignore it, then the next scary situation will be just as bad and possibly worse. If he is handled with compassion and tact, grace and ease, with regard for his needs, then he will look to the one who helped him through with ever-increasing trust and willingness, and he will become more courageous. He will grow, not despite the challenge, but because of the challenge.
Simply put, the current challenges can build or break you. The choice is yours. Who is this situation calling you to be? Is this situation going to bring out the worst in you, or will it bring out the best? Will you dig deeper, reach higher, love harder? How is this situation asking you to grow?
Step 6. Repeat
The world is full of things that your horse finds scary. But as he grows, he becomes more confident and courageous. Things will still scare him, but he’ll repeat this process of dealing with fear over and over.
This is not a one-and-done approach. You might have to do this 30 times before breakfast as fear, or uncertainty, frustration, or overwhelm creep back on the scene. Follow these steps. Continue to ease yourself through fear every time it rears its head. Eventually you’ll get to the point where you only have to do it three times before breakfast.
This situation is not the last one that will trigger your fear, uncertainty, frustration, and anxiety. The world is full of challenges. But as you grow, you’ll become more confident and courageous. You’ll trust yourself. You’ll trust others. You’ll trust life itself as you see good things can always come from bad.
While half-halts, side passing, and shoulder outs are beautiful, the true beauty of our equine relationships lies not in what we can teach our horses, but what they can teach us along the way.
Here’s to You and Your Horse!