Sitting by the creek + listening to the water rush by on what feels like my only day off all week. We’ve had some great rain over the past two days. The creek is flowing, the tanks are half full, the grass is green + everything feels fresh + renewed.

I’ve been sitting here with pen + paper reflecting on my first week back working with Talisman {Emmit}, + there’s alot that has come to the surface already. Our relationship seems somewhat fresher + more clear…kind of like how the earth feels now after all the rain.

So, we spent most of our 5am’s together this week in round yard. Re-connecting + going back over ‘the basics’ so to speak. Grooming, direction, go, stop, speed, balance, rhythm. I use a combination of Positive Reinforcement (the addition of a motivator/reward following a desired behaviour – i.e.: pats, treats etc) + Negative Reinforcement (removal of a particular stimulus after desired behaviour is exhibited. i.e.: pressure – release) in my training. I also establish a verbal bridge (connects the moment the reward is given to the behaviour he was doing) + very clear verbal cues + body/hand signals in the early stages of the training/re-training process. For example: different sounds/words/ and/or body cues for walk, trot, canter, stop, back up etc. I find this technique to be the most positive experience for the horse + reduces the need for excessive pressure or other ‘gadgets’ when progressing with training down the track.

Now, what seems to have come up for us a lot during the week is this concept of TRUST. Self trust (for me) but also trust between myself + this other ‘massive’ being – Emmit. Emmit is a BIG horse. Not only in size but in stature too. He has an ENORMOUS personality + loads of presence + can actually be quite intimidating at times, even to someone like myself who has been around horses most of my life.

As a young horse he could be very reactive. He’s a very alert + responsive horse so little things could set him off, though I’m happy to report that his older age seems to have come with a new level of maturity + level headedness. He’s thinking more before reacting now, + seems to have a more consistent control of his ’emotions’ (a lot like myself as I mature I guess! HA!). There’s something to be said for not ‘over training’ a horse at such young age I think. He has retained a ‘spirit’ that hasn’t been broken or subdued. He is inquisitive + tuned into his environment more than any other horse I’ve known so far (I am very conscious during this process with him to not train this out of him). He has in fact, retained his desire to be around people + is actually a very people oriented horse. He will walk from one side of the paddock to the other to say hello if he spots you wandering through, which, although is very lovely, he also exhibits a definite disregard for personal space at times.

So, back to trust…trusting has always been one of my short falls. I don’t trust anybody easily. Sharing to much personal information?…maybe?…but my aim in this space + through this process is to be as totally raw + open with you all as possible. Even if it means my showing you my short falls.

The universe tends to send you exactly what you need right when you need it most + this week was no exception. My sister sent me an amazing speech on trust given by Brene Brown. Serendipity right!? Anyway, Brenes words got me thinking about the anatomy of trust…what is trust + how can we break it down to understand it on a deeper level + put it into play with our horses (my horses + my life).

Well, it all starts with boundaries right! I’m not great at boundaries, especially with love interests, close friends + family. Unlike with clients horses, I have never been very firm with boundaries with Emmit…+ of coarse he takes full advantage of this (ie: the occasional disregard for personal space thing). So with the help of Brene here’s what I have come up with…

EQUINE RELATIONSHIPS + THE ANATOMY TRUST

#1 Boundaries – Establish your boundaries, hold them + be clear + consistent about them. Your horse NEEDS to respect your boundaries, + you need to understand that your horse also has his very own set of boundaries that you need to respect also.

#2 Reliability + Consistency – You need to do what you say your going to do. Every time. Consistently. And he needs to show you that his responses + reactions can be something that you can also rely upon.

#3 Accountability + Blame – Take responsibility for your own shit. Your own emotions, reactions, lack of technique or understanding + short falls. If he’s not understanding you then you need to stop + take a good hard look at yourself first. Allow it, own it + make amends.

#4 Integrity – Act from a place of integrity + encourage them to do the same. Choose what’s right over what’s fun, fast or easy. Practise your values, don’t just profess them. Put the work in. Take as long as it needs take.

If you can’t listen to them (i.e.: read their reactions, body language etc) + act/re-act accordingly, then they won’t listen to you + that is not a trusting relationship.

Trust with our horses is built on the small things we do consistently every day. How we present our cues + with how much pressure. Even the level of response we expect from our horse when applying that particular stimulus.

Being a Trick Rider for so many years you would think I’d be all over this concept of fear + trust but…the truth of the matter…the reason I had been putting off this work with Emmit for so long…fear…I had been procrastinating due to fear + lack of trust (mainly in myself). And so I found myself re-reading an article I had written for Local Horse Magazine back in February 2013 – HORSES AS TEACHERS | Of Fear + Trust.

“How does this relate back to us humans you ask?…..Well, fear for us is a very sneaky emotion as it disguises itself in many forms. It manifests as repression, depression, denial, laziness, apathy, lack of motivation, lack of excitement, low self-esteem or no confidence, and then there’s the “I can’t do it because” complex”…

I can be really great at giving advice sometimes but not so good at taking my own. When it came to getting started back working with Emmit, my denial, laziness, apathy, lack of motivation, lack of excitement, low self-esteem, lack of confidence (whatever label I put on it) all had to do with fear. Fear in the respect of how he intimidates me. Not so much in how he acts around me, but more-so in how I perceive him (perception is a powerful thing!). Very powerful, stunningly beautiful, masculine, but even pushy + arrogant at times. There’s big lessons in boundaries here for me with Emmit + also some personal lessons in how I relate to those that intimidate me in my life.

Our journey together is just beginning again + I am so excited for the future + what else will come up for me during the process.

If any of this stuff resonates with you I’d love to hear your stories! Leave some comments, lets connect!

Big loves! Catch you guys next time!

Where to start? …I’ll try my hardest to be brief.

Well, you see this very handsome gentleman right here. He is ‘Talisman’ {Emmit}. He is an 8 year old Friesian x Thoroughbred that I was lucky enough to be gifted as a yearling.

Emmit is not only a gorgeous horse. He also oozes presence + is remarkably intelligent. The problem though…is…well…me. Let’s just say that It has been a very ‘relaxed’ life for Emmit this past 8 years. I had started him as a 3 year old whilst living + working in Tamworth, NSW, + riding for us since then has been in somewhat short bursts…very inconsistent to say the least.

Somewhere along the way I’ve lost sight of why I have horses + why I am doing what I’m doing with them in the first place. Life got in the way, family, business, new jobs, self doubt, love, negative experiences with other industry people…just a multitude of excuses really.

So I’ve had to ask myself recently…Why do I ride?

I ride to be present + in the moment. I ride because it is one of my greatest loves. I love the connection…the feeling of union you get when you can effectively + positively communicate with another being with it’s own mind, heart, responses + reactions. The horses I have acquired over the years have become part of my heart. They are part of my family + they have all taught me a multitude of lessons…practical, emotional, spiritual, + can’t imagine ever not having them around me.

This horse – Talisman, has something more to offer me, + whilst I haven’t quite put my finger on what that is just yet, I can feel it + I know that it is only through working with him consistently + for a sustained amount of time that I will find out.

So here we go…This is me, making a decision + creating a situation where I’m making a commitment to someone outside of myself {namely the 2000 odd lovely humans on my Facebook page} + of coarse to Sir Emmit. Full time work, 5am wake ups + all.

I’m making a commitment to report back to you guys with our progress at least once a week. I’m setting an intention + hopefully developing the consistency of action that allows the follow through.

Click on the ‘MY TALISMAN‘ category on my blog to follow our progress.

Wish us luck!