Yesterday I finally had some time to play with both girls. Between being busy with the farm and the weather, our sessions have been sporadic the past few weeks. We all enjoyed getting back to the arena and had a lovely time.
Afterwards, we set up the trailer to practice some for the first time in over a week. When we left off, Bella was making progress to being comfortable with her whole body in the trailer, but was most comfortable with just her front feet with the divider slanted. Yesterday I was curious to see what she now thought of the divider being in place, and she confidently walked all the way on with me! I was so shocked and thrilled, I thanked her with plenty of treats! I backed her off and let her eat some of the good grass around the trailer as a special thank you for my gift. We then walked back on and again, she confidently walked all the way in. I was so pleased, I ended the session there and backed her off to eat a little more grass.
As she ate, I sat on the trailer and thought about how much I have changed and how clearly Bella is showing me that. I have loaded so many “problem” horses, but never learned remotely what I have learned from Bella. She was adamant from day one that she had something to teach me. She was adamant that this wouldn’t be just like the other experiences I had. So I did my best to listen and let her lead the way. And that’s all it took. All I needed to do was to surrender my need to “control” the situation with my ideas of how it “should” be done and let go of my fears that she wouldn’t load.
Sometimes I feel things that make me think I haven’t changed at all. I go back to getting caught up in these thoughts and emotions in my head rather than being truly present and in reality. I soon become aware of it, but then am so disappointed that I allowed myself to go there again that I can’t let it go. With Bella walking on the trailer yesterday, I realized that I have changed. And even though I sometimes get caught up in old habits, the awareness that initiated the change is always there, I just sometimes cover it up with thoughts and emotions. It doesn’t mean I am not growing, I just occasionally need to “declutter” and come back to that simple awareness and allow myself to grow in a new direction from there.
As I was thinking this yesterday, sitting on the edge of the trailer, Bella stopped eating and walked over to put her head in my lap. We sat there for a while, me rubbing her sweet face, as I was overcome with gratitude for her guidance. We are just getting to know each other, but her obvious dedication to my growth is humbling. What a beautiful soul she is.
When it was time to go back to the pasture, I stood up and started walking towards the gate. Bella took a few steps with me, but stopped. I thought, “Okay, a few more bites of well-deserved grass.” To my surprise, she turned around, and went and put her front feet back in the trailer. Prior to this, she hadn’t even stepped on the ramp without me being with her, so the fact that she walked up the ramp and into the trailer on her own was a total shock! I backed her back out and thanked her for another wonderful gift! And to my surprise she walked all the way back on the trailer and waited for me to walk around to the other side to join her in the front! I thanked her profusely from the bottom of my heart. She was then ready to be lead back to the pasture as I was shocked to my core with what she had shown me.
I am so thankful to Anna, her horses, Estella, and now Bella, for showing me, time after time, that the “right” way is just something of our imaginations. That there are endless ways to accomplish things, we just have to be open to all the possbilities. When you have an open mind and an open heart, what you seek will come to you, and you don’t even need to go looking for it. I am thankful for these lessons of letting go of ideas of how things “should” be done. I am thankful for these lessons of being open to things outside of my awareness. For these lessons of being innocent and curious and humble. But most of all, I am thankful for my horses who have endless patience with me, and trust that even though I might not grasp the full power of what they are teaching me right away, even though I sometimes get distracted by thoughts and emotions, they trust that I am worthy of their lessons, even when they sometimes have to repeat themselves.