When God wants you to grow, He allows you to become uncomfortable.
Sometimes God uses horses to teach us what humans can't.
We all have those moments in life that change us. After experiencing them we know we will never be the same. What I learned on this day is the driving force behind what I do now. It is my restitution for horses and people of my past who had to deal with who I used to be, praise God I am no longer anymore.
My first one with horses was in February of 2004.
I was working on a home study program with my horse for just over a year. So I decided to commit to a one week in depth study at the International Study Center for this program. It was a level 1-2 course. I had completed level 1 of the program and was already deep into level 2. I had worked really hard. To say I was extremely passionate about my progress is really an understatement. My pride was through the roof.
On the first day, I learned that the level of success my horse and I would have was directly related to her level of willingness; it would affect everything we chose to do.
On the second day, our first assignment was to test the willingness of our horse to partner with us.
The rules were that we were to open the door and wait for our horse to approach us.
We could not go into the stall.
We could not use treats.
We could not call the horse to us.
We could not use any training techniques for getting them to come.
All we could do was stand there and wait for the horse to come.
Ok, this was going to be a piece of cake! I knew that I had this. My mare and I had a wonderful relationship. We were excelling in everything we were doing and setting an example for what was possible using this program. She loved being with me! Her previous owner could not believe the progress we had made in such a short amount of time.
I walked very confidently to her stall and opened the door. I smiled at her admiring her beauty because I really adored her. She was everything I ever wanted in a horse. Then I waited.
Her nose was in the corner of her stall. She looked over her shoulder at me, sighed, then politely put her nose back in the corner. I figured I had just woke her up and maybe she needed a few minutes to come around. When she didn't come I turned my back to her hoping to create some curiosity. She still didn't come.
I watched as people were filling the barn aisle with their horses to head out to the next lesson of the day. And I was still waiting. So I sat down in the doorway to be less intimidating. Nothing.
After 45 minutes I was the last one in the barn waiting for my horse. I sat in her doorway and became hysterical in tears. I was trying to be quiet so no one would hear me, but I was devastated. The realization that our relationship was one sided this whole time was too much. She was such a good girl and never questioned what I asked of her all that time. She was not "mare-ish" at all and never had been. I knew without a doubt that this was something I did. It was all me.
My friends and family had been telling me for years how controlling I was. The dishwasher had to be loaded a certain way. The towels had to be folded right. Anything and everything had to be done the way I wanted it done. If it wasn't done exactly how I thought it should be - and it usually wasn't - I would get upset. Later I would complain how no one wanted to help me and I had to do everything. I honestly thought that they were just unwilling to do anything I needed them to do.
My friends joked that there was a wrong way and then there was Jen's way.
My family didn't think it was funny.
I came to realize that what my horse had just told me was exactly what I needed to hear. I wouldn't listen to or believe it from anyone else. In her silence she spoke louder than anyone else in my life. She did not have the option to tell me I wasn't respecting her, because she couldn't talk. I believed her, because that day I understood what she was saying. Although it felt like we were making progress before, I didn't realize how much further we would be able to go. And we did.
This experience started a chain of events that would lead me to become a better person overall. My life and the life of my family became easier because of a horse. She taught me the importance of living with the question in my mind that was asking
"What have my loved ones been trying to tell me, that I haven't been willing to hear?"
More importantly, "What have I resisted learning that God was trying to teach me?"