It is my privilege to have “Parker” in my life. He is a 12-year-old appaloosa paint cross who is my own horse.
Parker has taught me a lot about trust.
He inadvertently scared himself when he came into contact with an electric fence. Not knowing where that shock came from, he became extremely frightened and when it came time to bring him into the barn for turn-in, he would not allow anyone to come near him. His regular handlers had zero luck catching him. He was truly frightened.
They called me out to see if I might be able to approach him. When I walked into his paddock, he looked much larger than his 16 hands. His head was up, his eyes were huge and his stance was showing he was ready to bolt. I walked toward him speaking his name quietly and I told him I would keep him safe. He fixed his eyes on me put his head down and let me approach him. I easily affixed his lead shank to his halter and we walked out of the paddock together. In that moment, Parker made me feel pretty special. As a prey animal of about 1,500 lbs Parker put his trust in me and I felt very privileged.
I have learned that this trust works both ways. When Parker came into my life two years ago, he had never gone over a jump. This was something very new to him and the first time I asked him to he trusted me and he willingly jumped over! Again, this made me feel very privileged. He trusted me! Since that day we’ve gone over several more jumps. There have been times when fear creeps into my mind when approaching a jump, and it is those times when Parker avoids the jump and runs out. If my attitude is confident and positive, he goes over every single time. He reads me so well and if he senses I’m not in the game, he isn’t either and that’s fair. If I trust myself, he trusts me, but I have to show up with the right attitude and believe in both of us.
Clients who come to see the horses for equine-assisted learning often step out of their comfort zone; being in the company of a horse is awesome and they are large. After they complete an activity with the horse, I ask them who they had to trust in the activity? It is then they realize they had to trust themselves. This is a great way to start a conversation on trust. I have witnessed many times how horses facilitate clients to believe in and trust themselves and that is indeed a privilege, too.
I invite people to consider instilling that same trust in themselves as they navigate some of life’s challenges. Sometimes they have an “ah ha” moment and realize that they can accomplish their goals if they believe in themselves. Sometimes they realize they need supports to build that trust and then we strategize on what that might look like.
Workshops are being offered in Bracebridge and Coldwater on “Facing Your Fears”. If you are interested please reach out! Contact Partnering Horses with Humans by clicking HERE. You can also check out their website at www.equinetherapymuskoka.com
Sue Dixon, owner of Partnering Horses with Humans, is a Certified Equine Assisted Learning Facilitator through Horse Spirit Connections and Cartier Farms (Dreamwinds), and a Registered Coach through Equestrian Canada. Sue and her beloved horse Egalie were the 2014 champions of the beginner division of the North East Trillium Hunter Jumper Association. Sue has a degree in Sociology from the University of Waterloo.
Sue has 33 years of experience working at a local corporation with leadership in quality and health and safety. Sue’s role with Partnering Horses with Humans is that of facilitator; helping clients find their own wisdom by tapping into the horse’s wisdom. Sue operates her business out of two locations and offers services and workshops to individuals, couples, families, and workplaces.