It was a crisp and clear Fall afternoon.
The kind where you’d remove your jacket and bask in the warm sun only to put it on moments later as a cloud floats by. The kind where you’re grateful for the gray knitted fingerless gloves that you got for Christmas a few years ago, the ones your girlfriend’s mother knitted just for you.
The air is like the cold Pacific ocean – when breathing deeply adds a spring to your step, a lifting of the spirit – tickling a little irreverence, a desire to be bolder, to reach, to say no to responsibility, to embrace the bold you that has felt, until now, tucked away under the covers.
We are at the round pen. My client, Angie, me and Zinfandel.
Zinfandel, the mare of Wisdom Ridge. The mare with a deep red coat the color of a fine wine, or of the maple trees in November, a black flowing tail that lightly brushes the ground. A long-legged mare who tosses her head about, in circular motions with a spin at the end to convey her feelings. Like, “Hey, pay attention. Hey, wake up. Hey, don’t you see, don’t you see how beautiful you are?”
My client says, “she’s like me, tossing her hair, she’s like me when I’m sassy.”
The round pen is at the highest point of Wisdom Ridge. Nestled under ancient oaks and cedar. Views that span miles. It’s a private place. A place where nature begs to be listened to, a place where your heart cracks open, like the pine cones hitting the ground and spreading their seeds.
I give Angie very little instruction.
I tell her to go be with Zinfandel and explore whatever comes to mind.
My client moves to the center of the round pen.
Zinfandel is feeling energetic today. I’m sure that the cool air and damp ground and being away from her pasture mate are making her playful.
She trots and shakes her head moving quickly around the round pen. She puts her head between her legs and snorts. She moves to the edge of the pen, looks out and whinnies.
Angie appears nervous, maybe a little anxious as Zinny moves about.
She stands for a bit. Almost frozen.
I ask her, what do you love to do? What do you want?
Angie drops down into her belly and describes these things for me.
Being creative. Writing. Exploring. Adventure. Food. Cooking.
Zinny’s attention shifts, she lowers her head, comes to my client in center of the round pen.
They connect. Pats and private conversation. Angie whispering in Zinny’s ear.
And then, I can see it so clear, Angie gets back into her head. She starts thinking about all the reasons why she can’t have what she wants.
How will I make money, she thinks. How can I be this? So many other people can’t do it, what makes me different?
Angie loses the connection between her head and her heart.
And, Zinny moves away. She goes to the outside of the pen. She shakes her head. Spins. Shakes.
Angie dropping into her desires, fully felt in her body. Breathing deepening. Being vulnerable. Confidence arising. Heart-centered.
Zinny moves in. She rewards the connection. She rewards the vulnerability. She is present. Calm.
She is interested in what Angie has to say, what she wants. Curious. Intrigued.
“Tell me more” I imagine Zinny saying.
And then the thinking brain takes over, as it does, as we know it to do, and the incongruence is perceived as unsafe for the mare, and she moves away. Trotting and throwing a little buck. Even running.
Angie, because of trauma in her past, does not trust the joy that comes when her head and heart are connected. She feels she must always prepare for the how, for the thing, she must figure it out, get it done, she must be prepared. She dissociates from her desires through doing. Through thinking. Through being responsible. Through performing. Through being perfect.
What Zinfandel is doing here is helping Angie to see this clearly.
Zinny is making split-second adjustments to both positive and negative changes in Angie’s behavior and physical state. Basically providing her with both reward (coming to Angie, dropping her head, sighing) and consequences (moving away, shaking her head, bucking) not only for her actions but her ability to access her true feelings and adjust to them.
The more my client stepped out of congruence, the more Zinny amped up her antics.
And, after a while of this, we hit on the deeply held beliefs my client was carrying.
Beliefs around being good enough. Around being loved only if she’s perfect. Around being supported. Around not having what she needed as a child. Around life being a struggle.
And she broke these beliefs wide open, put them out in the light of the sun, and looked at them square on.
It is in the light that these defeating behaviors can change.
The light came through the eyes of a fiery red horse.
What may have taken years of talk therapy to learn, took only an hour or so.
Force or restraint would never have worked to calm Zinny. It would only have made her more afraid.
In becoming congruent, in breathing deeply into her truth, in realizing that “doing” is dissociating and a form of not being honest with herself, my client calmed the anxious horse.
And she came forth as the powerful leader in her life.
Learning, through no words, to drop the story of perfection. To stop the“doing” in order to be safe. To catch the thoughts that don’t match what’s in her heart.
This state is what allows Angie’s genius to come through.
Congruence creates space for your full potential.
To look at congruence, we must be willing to look at our energy. The energy that our thoughts deliver. Unspoken energy.
And, once we do that, once we understand that everything is energetically connected, we can fall into flow.
We can fall into creation.
We tune into parts of ourselves that we had shut down in order to conform.
To survive. To be accepted. Because we believe that the rational brain is the almighty power.
But these parts, the left brain, is our genius. These parts are the reason we are here on this earth.
These parts we access through horses set us on our own unique, individual path to our calling. To our soul. To our genius.
Buck the stuck and sign up for Virago Days for women. Access your Warrior. These are bi-monthly workshops with horses that’ll connect you to your genius. Only 7 spots left…buy the annual pass and get one workshop free. They start January 12th…just in time to begin the new year fully in your Power.
*Client’s Name Changed to protect confidentiality.
Amy Buck, Founder, Wisdom Ridge Ranch