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Tracy Courtney

Deeper Listening

When we talk about listening, does it refer to the sounds we hear through our ears or is it possible there is so much more to it? Can we formulate a much larger picture through listening in other ways?


People are often hesitant when I tell them I don't come with a plan of action during sessions & many will cancel appointments because of this. They are further disappointed when I tell them I don't need to know anything about what's been happening. Why do people choose to work with someone else & where do the root of these decisions lie? These decisions are based on being so invested in the beliefs they have adopted & what everyone else is doing to be absolutely correct & necessary, that they aren't open to learning something new & possibly better.


They believe that the only way to learn & solve problems is through a multi-step program designed to make the horse perform a sequence of actions & this will solve their problems. They believe there is only a small component they are missing as to why these steps don't work by themselves & are always searching for that one little nugget of information that will change everything for them. They go from trainer to trainer & video to video searching for that elusive nugget, but never finding complete satisfaction or solutions.


How do I know how you think, how you feel & what you're searching for? Because I was you for far too long. I spent every spare moment reading, watching videos & practicing with horses until I thought I knew everything there was to know & in a sense, I did learn everything there was to know from these sources. After reaching this pinnacle of knowledge & having nowhere else to turn from my own research, I took the leap of faith & paid an exorbitant price that I couldn't afford, to learn from a certified, top of the heap, household name professional.


This experience was cut short after only one week because I quickly came to realize that this person knew less than I did. I had brought two horses with me. One had extensive groundwork & the other was completely green other than basic necessities like grooming, farrier, stalling & leading, because I wanted to learn everything there was to know about bringing these horses along properly. Following this persons instructions, it only took two days for both of these horses who had always come when called & followed me everywhere, to become impossible to catch. I left their facility disheartened, broken & financially ruined. I loaded up my horses & headed back home with my tail between my legs, feeling very lost. I had no way of knowing in that moment what a tremendous gift this was & where it was going to lead.


This experience knocked the confidence I had in what I knew right out of me, to allow the necessity to slow down, step back & reconsider everything from scratch. This opened many new doors of wisdom & beginning to listen to myself & horses in a whole new way that wouldn't have been possible in my previously ridged & closed mindset.


Why do I no longer follow the status quo like everyone else? Because I have come to understand its many limitations & that it simply doesn't work in its current applications. This is only a small piece in a much larger picture. Where common methods focus on the physical aspects of horses only, I use this as only a tool, a stepping stone, to create a much larger picture that includes the mental & emotional aspects of not only horses but for you as well. I don't need to hear what's happening verbally because this information is always a byproduct of conditioning & is never what's really happening. I see a much different & much larger picture when I arrive.


How do we listen more deeply to allow us to see a larger picture? My listening begins from the moment I meet you without your horse. The words you choose tell me a lot about how your mind works & how you will respond in given situations, so I already know how you handle your horse. Your body language, without your horse being present also has a lot to say about your thought processes. How & where you choose to conduct your sessions also helps reveal the depth of your conditioning & how you approach & interact with your horse reveals so much more.


When you're with your horse, I can see if there's any type of connection or if you're lost in your thoughts before we even begin. As we enter into conversation, the words you use to describe your horse now say more about your thoughts & if you're aware of your horse or have any connection to your own body. How you ask & respond to your horse reveals more. How your horse responds reveals even more because horses never lie. They are easily programmed like robots to repeat learned behaviour, so every little tail swish, ear flick, head turn & movement that you're oblivious to reveals so much more. I observe & listen to every little emotional elevation & resulting physical ticks from you & your horse, whether expressed verbally or physically & listening to all of these little details combined, creates a whole big picture.


This is how I get to the much deeper & real root causes of the problems being experienced & can formulate the best plan moving forward for both of you, as a true partnership. I decide, based on this much larger picture, where to start & how to help both of you begin to connect & understand each other in a way that makes sense. This is also the reason no two sessions will ever be the same. I feel it's much more important to understand where you are, how you got there & what is needed in this now moment to move forward successfully.


How much of this have you learned from your books, videos or other people? How much of this can you explain to me during our initial consultation? These things cannot be found in any sequential, mechanical, cookie cutter step program. I don't profess to have all the answers like I once thought I did & this has opened up enough space for a little more understanding every day.

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