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Tracy Courtney

Unrecognized Motivations

There is a common aspect of actions associated with how & why we do some of the things we do with our horses that seems comfortable & instinctual when attempting to solve problems. It's important that we begin to analyze these automatic responses, that seem so normal to us & understand the deeper motivations behind them.

Across the board, it is common for people to automatically stop & stand in the worst possible position in relation to their horse from an aspect of safety. I would like to bring to attention a common habit, which is where people automatically stand when they're experiencing problems & the deeper motivations behind these choices. When a horse is displaying avoidance behaviour in relation to a particular area, people automatically stand between the horse & the escape route but are often unaware that they are doing this. When I ask why they choose to repeatedly stand between their horse & the door, for example, they never have an answer & always exclaim they didn't realize they were doing this. It's important to understand the true motivations behind these automatic choices.

We are habitually disconnected from our body & immediate surroundings. We have contracted our awareness to the thoughts in our mind, which usually revolve around trying to find solutions to the problem at hand. "The Thought Curtain" video is available for review. The questions we often ponder are how to stop the perceived problem being presented, which has negative underlying connotations & will yield limited results. It requires a lot of focus & energy to figure out how to prevent something, which is rooted in force, dominance & control.

If we were to visualize awareness as a swirling white cloud, a horse in their natural state of expanded awareness in the company of humans, would be seen with this cloud swirling about 6 feet around the outside of their body at a slow & relaxed pace. This cloud represents a combination of all our senses & can be imagined as swirling slower at a larger size & faster at a smaller size. When we get lost or focused on our thoughts, we would see this cloud contract & swirl around only the top of our head quickly. If the thoughts are deep & combined with an elevated emotional component, the cloud would reduce to the size of a grape, inside our head & move with the speed of a tornado. This is why we are unaware of what our physical body is doing in these situations.

Another consideration to be noted in this visualization is the quality of the thoughts. When we're trying to find a way to stop or prevent a horse from doing something, we would see an interesting shift in the cloud. If we imagined this swirling cloud had hands, when we begin to focus the thoughts inward, the hands would be reaching toward us. But if we changed our perception of the situation from one of preventing something to one of asking why our horse is doing this, we would see the cloud expand & begin reaching out toward our horse & including our horse in finding an infinite number of solutions. In effect, what we've been doing is making the situation all about us & what we want instead of including the wants & needs of our horse in these situations. We need to begin to visualize & understand the conditioned habits & motivations behind our own behaviour & an easy way to do this is to visualize the cloud & see if we're extending a hug to our horse or only to ourselves.

The body doesn't lie & directly reflects our thoughts like a mirror. We aren't immediately aware of it but the reason we place our body between our horse & the door is because we are trying to micromanage the situation & stop our horse from leaving. The words we use to label our perception of events, whether spoken or not, will also immediately be revealed to our horse through our body language. Frustration, impatience & anger will reflect as an increase in speed & duration of what we're trying to "make" happen. This is habitual, sub-conscious behaviour & we must begin to analyze & understand where it comes from, so we can begin to replace these old unconscious habits with new conscious ones.

These automatic responses are a great tool to show us that we have not been prepared to listen to our horses or allow choices & opinions. We have not been prepared to accept that our horse is telling us they are afraid & we have not been prepared to help them work through their worries to balance these emotions. This body language directly reflects an attitude of "just do it!" It's time we begin to shift our focus from what our horse is doing & focus our attention on how we are communicating with our horse through our own body language & the real motivations behind these gestures. It's time to switch roles so we become the students & allow our horses to become the teachers we've all been searching for.