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Tracy Courtney

The Rose

When a beautiful rose catches our attention, what is the first thing we notice? The flower. We don't see the whole rose for what it is, in all of its parts. We fail to notice the stem, the leaves, the thorns & the roots. It's not until we decide we want to pick the rose that we notice the thorns. We analyze their size, form & threat level. We make quick judgements & decisions based on how we perceive the thorns to the amount of threat they pose & if it's worth picking the rose afterall. We may decide we will remove the thorns without a second thought or pass this particular rose by & search for another with smaller thorns.


We often make quick judgements about horses based on their flowers & fail to notice the whole horse. We will pass horses by or make quick judgements based on our perceptions of their thorns. What we fail to realize is that every thorn has been placed there by a human. Although we may not be directly responsible for creating some of these thorns, it's still our responsibility to look past the allure of the flower & see the whole horse for what it is. Only then can we make informed decisions as to whether these thorns may be too big for us to handle safely, or without gloves.


When we see the thorns of a rose, do we perceive the thorns as a personal threat? Do we entertain ideas that these thorns were deliberately placed there to cause us harm? Do we begin to feel hurt or angry about the thorns being there? If the wind blows the rose toward us & it scratches our hand, would we feel this was a planned attack with an ulterior motive? Would we decide to retaliate against this rose? Sounds crazy right?


So why do we perceive the things our horses do as personal attacks & threats? Why does a particular motion or lack of motion cause so much frustration & anger in so many? Might the decisions we choose to make in the handling of the rose be a deciding factor in the outcome? If we decide to move in quickly & grab hold of the rose, would the rose be responsible for our injuries? What if instead of being in a hurry, we took the time to stand back & analyze the best way to approach the handling of this rose? If we moved slowly, placed our fingers around the thorns gently & moved with the direction of growth instead of against it, would there be a different outcome?


Is it possible to begin looking at horses in this way? Roses develop thorns as a defence mechanism & so do horses. Instead of making judgements about these thorns & placing the blame on horses, can we begin to analyze the root causes of the thorns & question our personal roles in their creation? Is it possible that we're moving in too quickly & forcefully to handle this rose? Is it possible that we're moving against the growth of the thorns instead of in alignment with them? Can we learn to recognize & accept these thorns as a tool for growth & deeper understanding, but not focus on them because there's so much more to this rose as a whole flower?


A rose is not about the thorns. The thorns are only a single aspect of the flower as a whole. When we focus on a single aspect, we naturally throw the whole system out of balance. We have to recognize & acknowledge that the thorns are there but accept them as only one part & focus on the wellbeing of the flower as a whole. When asked to visualize a rose, some will see different colours, different petal arrangements, etc. Personal perceptions & recall are not similar for a single observation, therefore we musn't hold fast to our perceptions as factually based because these perceptions will change if we allow them. Environment has a huge impact on the growth & sustainability of the rose. It cannot flourish in a dark, cold & dry environment. These dictate if the rose will be hardy, grow strong & straight or crooked & poorly. Even the most neglected rose can flourish into a healthy & vibrant flower in the right environment.


The majority of my time is spent with clients who label their horses as "problems" & needing to be "fixed" to varying degrees. In all situations, people describe all the problems they have with their horses & the things they've done to try to "correct" the problems. Most are only interested in quick fixes & aren't willing to put in the time necessary to solidify replacement behaviours. After all of these years, I have only ever had one single person say to me that they felt they were probably the problem & not the horse. This person has worked harder than anyone I've ever met at analyzing & developing their own balanced thoughts, motives & communication skills. It has been most important to this person to take things slow & steady instead of fast & chaotic, so they can deeply understand all aspects & points of view during interactions with their horse. Her dedication, understanding & skill with horses has placed her well above the curve in a very short period of time & I have told her repeatedly that I will find a way to clone her some day.

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