The normal daily human existence is dependent on time. A common reference of this in relation to horses is how many hours has been “put on” a horse for training time. We hear these types of statements everywhere & accept them as an unchallengeable fact because we are so conditioned through hearing these things repeatedly. We create strict schedules & time limits. Our lives revolve around calendars & itineraries. Other popular expressions are, “time is money, time well spent, & time is precious”. We revolve around a time-based existence & never give it a second thought.
Time is a concept, a construct of measurement, devised to dissect our perceived reality into smaller bits that can be more easily digested. Time is of the mind, therefore of the past & is rooted in human based intellectual processes & not equine based experiential existence. Horses don’t live in time, so this creates an enormous cavern to cross in trying to understand horses at a deeper level.
The evidence of these types of thinking are everywhere, like the monks throughout the world who have trained themselves to not see the beauty of the earth, the trees or the beauty of a woman. It’s become all about strict adherence to the book, their ideas of a saint, or salvation & truth, or whatever it is.
When do we truly grasp a subject? Only after we’ve moved on past it into something else, not during the learning phase of it. Even when a good foundational understanding is made, there will always be opportunities presented to add additional bricks to that wall of knowledge & further deepen our understandings. Learning is a never-ending process in any given subject. If we accept this as fact, then why do we drill our horses in repetitive routines & expect perfection before moving on to something else?
Can we observe without the need to control or resist or without time? When we understand the process of analysis, we also understand the process of time, therefore we can eliminate time. The observation must be free from time. Time implies an interval & during that interval many things can happen which will change the original course. So time is a distraction, a distortion, a diversion. What is observation without time? Full attention without labels, judgement, impatience, anger, control, resistance, motive or achievement.
We are conditioned to always be watching through guided “verbal” awareness as opposed to unguided “non-verbal” awareness, either through words or thoughts. This kind of seemingly normal observation focuses on the physical aspects of behaviour & analysis. We believe we must be vigilant about training, practicing, how this & that moves in relation to our desire for action. We’re told we must watch, watch, watch, taking time, taking years & what have we accomplished at the end of all this time?
To inquire actually, not theoretically, we must test it as we go along.
How do we observe without censorship?
While working with a particular person over a period of time, I had made several references to this person’s conditioned perceptions on their views and demeanour while working with their horse. The information could not pass through the barrier of their thought curtain. Although this person felt they were a blank slate, ready to absorb the new information being received because they were new to the horse world & hadn’t been influenced through past experiences, they simply couldn’t grasp what was being conveyed. This was not a deliberate dissociation but a highly conditioned response that they were completely unaware of.
At one point, this person began to use a forceful technique, not learned from me. This led to a discussion about watching other people’s videos & how they work with horses. When we’re gathering intellectual information from other sources that we feel will help our knowledge, what we don’t realize is that these sources are conditioning habits in us at a much deeper level that we’re unaware of. Many are teaching us how to create narcissistic relationships with our horse & are based on human concepts of dominance & control. This is why I advocate for listening to our horses only & eliminating external sources. At a deeper level, we don’t realize that we are also learning that working with horses is a serious business & there is no room for fun or laughter. Watching those that we consider to be peers gives our power and self-confidence away to someone else. We watch these others because we don’t feel we are worthy or capable of doing these things ourselves. We’ve been conditioned through society to believe that learning & understanding must come from someone else, another institution, another human or we will be dismissed because we don’t have an alphabet of letters to add behind our signature.
The point is that the information couldn’t pass the barrier to be accepted and expanded upon. I often use a term called “cracking the shell”. It refers to the realized or unrealized closed mind as a walnut and if I can just effect a single crack in the shell, it will lead to more cracks over time & can lead to total disintegration of the shell. This discussion finally led to the elusive crack in the shell, but further cracks weren’t being expanded upon. So, what did it take to finally create an expanding crack in the shell?
In a word – experience. Where passivity is the root of action, personal experience is the root of deeper understanding, not accumulated intellectual knowledge. After a lengthy time spent working with this person & their horse, at the end of the session, this person’s puppy came bounding over to greet & visit with us. During our ending discussions, this person couldn’t focus on our conversation because they were so focused on the antics of the puppy. When it was time to leave, I asked this person if they realized how many times they had laughed with delight in the past 15 minutes? The answer was no. We then discussed how focused this person had been on the puppy & dissected that focus as compared to the focus on the horse. We dissected the amount & level of amusement displayed toward the puppy & toward the horse. I further explained how horses want to be treated exactly like this puppy. They want to accompany us on long walks & be involved with everything we do in a day. This crack blew through the barrier in an instant, where I wasn’t able to create a single crack through knowledge for a lengthy period of time.
This person realized in that moment that there had been absolutely no joy, fun or laughter during their session with their horse. There was no curiosity or spontaneity at any time. Where the focus on the puppy had been open & inquisitive because the puppy could do no wrong, the focus on the horse was only about control, micromanagement & compliance. They were always waiting for the horse to do something wrong so it could be corrected. There was no allowance for deviation of what was being “dictated”. In essence, time spent with the puppy produced thoughts & emotions indicative of a grandmotherly personality & time with the horse produced thoughts & emotions indicative of a drill sergeant type personality, without the slightest realization of the personal changes taking place.
In short, what was displayed toward the puppy was censor-less observation. There was no agenda, no goals & no desire to reach a particular destination. There was no feeling of needing to interfere or introduce resistance to the expressions of the puppy. There was no sense of time or time limits with the puppy because there were no thoughts to cloud or create a curtain of resistance, just a completely open mind. There were no thoughts of past or future events or behaviour, just an enjoyment of the moment as it was. Horses are not responsible for the problems we perceive, we are responsible for the problems we create through our perceptions.