There is a precious moment that exists when a girl feels a horse with her, really with her, with that horse’s magnificent trust and curiosity flooding her body. It may last a few seconds or it may last a whole morning practicing together, but it is the magic of that connection that nurtures not only a love of horses, but a love of ourselves.
What is it that fuels the powerful effect that horses have had on the lives and characters of so many girls throughout the ages? Is it that horses are kind-hearted and willing to trust, thereby becoming a dependable ally in a tumultuous life? Or is it that horses are strong-willed, powerful and free-spirited, thereby presenting a challenge for us to learn and grow from as we make our way in the world?
Part of the magic and marvel of learning from horses is realizing that both are true: horses are naturally curious and open, cautious but willing to trust and wanting to connect, and they are natural leaders of themselves, consistently doing whatever they need to find comfort and safety, which can sometimes be at odds with what we humans want or expect.
Where we really begin to learn is in the effort to change our own behavior in order to gain more time in connection with horses. That heart-swelling feeling that arises when we walk, run, or even rest truly together is well within our grasp when we, too are open and curious. The mistake we humans make sometimes is to react to the powerful, free-spirited nature of the horse by becoming frustrated and trying to force or dominate it.
Force and domination may appear to garner results, but what is missing, with a horse or with other human beings, is true connection. We crave that closeness, that intimacy, that sense of being valued that comes with connection. Horses are the ultimate confidantes, allowing us to reveal all our thoughts and feelings without judgment. We are never “not enough” in their view.
In order to continue to experience the serenity and the exhilaration of such connection, we learn to practice being patient. We learn to listen more. We learn to be creative in our responses. We learn the skills we need to relate to and connect with anyone and everyone in this world. We learn the feeling of confidence. Horses are much better able to forgive our missteps and to be the “bigger person.”
Inside so many women still lives a girl who wonders whether she is good enough, strong enough, smart enough, brave enough to keep moving forward towards what she wants in life. It is in those moments, with the heart and mind of a horse trained on her, that she is living the courage, the strength and the excellence that is uniquely her own.