Episode 275: The biggest relationship mistake I see riders make with their horses.

In this podcast, I’m going to share an audio clip from a recent free class that I thought about relationship mistakes I see riders make.

You’ll learn:

  • Two keywords that define relationship
  • My ‘declaration of my beliefs’, which is the foundation for my definition
  • How I define a good relationship with my horses
    – my ‘working’ version
    – my pretty version
  • 3 steps for writing your definition
  • The importance of including behaviors
  • The most common mistake I see when people write their version

Show Notes:

The biggest mistake I see people make is not choosing this view point consciously.

Podcasting from a little cabin on a hill. This is the Stacy Westfall podcast. Stacy’s goal is simple to teach you to understand why horses do what they do, as well as the action steps for creating clear, confident communication with your horses.

Hi, I’m Stacy Westfall and I’m here to help you understand, enjoy and successfully train your own horses. In this podcast, I’m going to share an audio clip from a recent free class that I taught about relationship myths and mistakes that riders often make when they believe those myths. A lot of the talk used visuals. I love teaching with visuals, so it didn’t make sense to share all of the audio here, because without the visuals, it wasn’t that clear. But this segment, although it had visuals to the audio, actually stands alone. And in this segment, I’m talking about the importance of writing your own definition of what a good relationship with your horse looks like. I give you three steps for writing it. I go kind of quick. You might need to rewind it. I also share what I discovered in doing this work for myself. One of those things was that I discovered in order to write my definition of a good relationship, I needed to first ask myself, what do I believe? So in this audio clip, you’re also going to hear what I call my declaration of beliefs that I had to write before I could write my definition, and I share those beliefs here. Then I also share two versions of how I define a good relationship with my horses. This is where I really would encourage you to listen to the difference. There’s the working version, and that’s the one that is full of measurable actions.

You’re going to know which one I’m talking about because it’s the one that I outline using. You’ll never guess the four square model. That version is what I’m calling the working version. Right after that, I read a five sentence version. Be careful of just writing a five sentence version. That’s what a lot of people have been sending into me, and they sound really pretty, but they don’t generally include enough measurable actions. So listen to the difference between the one that I have that has a lot of actions that you could measure and say, yes, I did. No, I didn’t, versus the prettier one that’s shorter. Okay, two last things before we go to the audio. I reference the definition of a relationship that I found on Google, and because I referenced it a couple times, but I’d already read it earlier and it was on the screen, I didn’t read it again. So let me read that to you now. It says the way in which two or more concepts, objects or people are connected, or the state of being connected. The second definition, the way in which two or more people or groups regard and behave towards each other. And a lot of this talk revolved around those two words connected and behave. I don’t think it’s an accident that when we say we want a better relationship with our horses, that we have to look at the behavior of both the horse and the human, because that’s what’s going to create that connected state or not create that connected state.

And the last thing is, the very first sentence that I say here doesn’t make any sense, because again, it’s referencing something earlier. So the very first sentence that you’re going to hear me say is actually talking about challenges. The way you address these challenges is going to be rooted in how you define a good relationship with your horse. And now on to the audio. The way that you address these things is going to really be rooted in how you define a good relationship with your horse. I said it at the beginning. The biggest mistake I see people make is not choosing this view point consciously. So remember at the beginning I showed you this definition, and it says that a relationship involves how we’re connected and how we behave towards each other. Now, I want you to think about relationships in general for a minute. You can have a relationship with a parent and just sink into your body for a moment and notice how that feels different than a relationship with your employer, or a coworker, or your spouse, or your child, or a coach. Different relationships are going to have some subtle variations. You can have relationships with more than that, you can have relationships with time.

You can have a relationship with money. You can have a relationship with aging or nature or your dog or your horse. When I think about my relationship with my horses, I realize I have many roles. I am the guide. When we go out on the trail. I am the manager when my horses emotions escalate. I am the fitness coach when I’m preparing my horse for something that’s going to require more fitness. I am the advocate when I take my horse to the vet. I am the dance partner when we go to a show. I am the trainer, when I am at home preparing my horse for whatever I plan to do, I run the health care department on a day to day basis. I am the guardian. There are many different roles that I take on with my horse. And what happens sometimes is that sometimes people hear a word like leader, and sometimes they mistake what that would be like. So if I say that I’m going to be the guide or the leader when I go out on the trail with Willow, sometimes people misinterpret that as meaning that the horse will have to behave like a robot, and that is definitely not what I’m saying. What it means to me is that it the horse will notice something. So if I’m out on the trail and Willow notices a deer, I love it when she notices a deer bed down over in the trees or a deer peeking out from behind bushes.

She notices things and she will indicate it. She will rotate her ears. She will signal with these really small signals. She will indicate what’s going on. But here’s the key. She doesn’t make her own decision on whether to leave town or not. She checks in with me. That’s what I mean by being the leader. I didn’t hope for this to happen. I trained for it to happen. And I showed up in the energy of being that. So this quote in the thought bubble came from an actual email. And so to answer your question, yes, I will use what you labeled a silly question. I will use it in the talk. You know who you are if I’m talking to you right now. Somebody wrote in and said, it would be so nice to know he’s happy all the time, and she was poking a little bit of fun at herself when she when she called it a silly question and put in her little winking here. It would be so nice to know he’s happy all the time. And I agree, but what I want you to think about is. A favorite teacher. I had some really great teachers going through, but if teacher doesn’t fit, you look for a different relationship that you really value that also involved challenges.

So when I think about teachers that challenged me, they didn’t make me happy all the time. They knew how to stretch my comfort zone. So as much as it would be nice to know he’s happy all the time, can you see where if you are the teacher, you may need to stretch that comfort zone. You may need to introduce some new ideas as a dance partner. Think about something like dancing with the stars and the behind the scenes. There’s work that goes into their health care fitness coach trainer guide. All of these roles that I mentioned, they are all tied together with empathy, compassion, and even friendship. And I almost included friendship in today’s talk, but I knew I was going to run out of time and I wanted to cover it well. So I’m going to cover in an email tomorrow that has a video that goes with it. But while all of these roles have that tie them together, is every one of these, I know clearly how I’m going to show up in the face of a challenge, a challenge as the trainer, I know how I’m going to address that, a challenge as the fitness coach, I know how I’m going to address that. A challenge when I’m the leader and the guide on the trail, I know how I’m going to address that. So when you’re looking at how you define a good relationship with your horse, there are three steps.

I want you to choose the viewpoint that resonates the most with you in a human relationship. Use a healthy dynamic that you already understand as a reference. I said I had some great teachers. Don’t get me wrong, I had some teachers that were not so great. So I’m that contrast helps me know which teachers I want to look at. I’m going to use that dynamic as I’m looking at my viewpoint. Step two write how that relationship is going to work on the easy days, the work days, and the challenging days. Don’t pretend there won’t be challenging days. Step number three go out and use it. And notice when you resist the role that you wrote for yourself and ask why. For me. When I was writing this, I found it helpful to write what I’m going to call a declaration of my beliefs, so you may find it helpful to write a declaration of your beliefs. Basically, take a sheet of paper and write down what do you believe? These are mine. Take them if they’re helpful to you. Take them and modify them if that would help you. But write out your beliefs. If I’m giving you the perfect way to do the assignment, in my view, would be to write your own first, and then come back and use mine to kind of flesh it out.

If you get stuck. My beliefs are. I believe clarity is kindness. I commit to being clear with my body and congruent with my emotions when I am around my horses. I believe it’s my responsibility to educate my horse. I choose to commit to small steps that set my horse up for success. I commit to practicing the basics until they become habit. I commit to seeing my horses viewpoint, but not always agreeing. I commit to stretching my horses emotional comfort zone and returning to baseline to ensure his safety and my future safety. I believe I can be the teacher, the trainer, the leader without intimidation. I commit to taking the lead and the responsibility to keep us both safe. I accept that I understand the human world and what creates physical safety better than my horse. I commit to recognizing my horse’s suggestions and observations, and I accept the responsibility of deciding when to agree and when to disagree. Notice what just happened when I read that. When you read your beliefs, it better bring up the energy of that strong, grounded, committed, determined some of those emotions where you could feel like you. I feel like when I read that, I feel like I’m extending my energy bubble out to where it could encompass anyone around me, and I could say, I am committed to this, and it extends that bubble. And that’s what my horse gets surrounded by.

How do you define a good relationship with your horse? Now, if you remember back, I’m not going to show you again, but I’ve shown you a couple times the definition talked about connected and behave. So I really want you. When you’re writing your definition, you really need to make sure you focus on behavior, because it’s really tempting to write them, like, I’m dedicated to the growth of me and my horse. You can do that. I’m going to show you that slide in just a second. That wasn’t an accident. I want you to make sure that you really write them out. Very actionable in actual behaviors. So you’ll notice that I did my four square model. I call the four square model. If you’d make like a plus sign and you think there’s four quadrants. And those quadrants are the rider’s mind, the rider’s body, the horse’s mind, the horse’s body. So for me, my definition of a good relationship and how I behave is broken out in those four quadrants. So I think in a good relationship I commit to having clean thoughts about them and me. That means I’ve got to work to get rid of that self-judgment, and I’ve got to get rid of the judgment I have about how they should be showing up. So clean thoughts about them and me. I also understand my own resistance to exercise.

So this is talking about my body. I understand my own resistance to exercise and practice, and I choose to do it anyway because it makes me physically stronger and more coordinated myself. I commit to naming and feeling all of my emotions because emotions show up in your body. I commit to naming them and feeling them while still choosing which ones to act from. I commit to seeing my horse’s perspective through a child like lens. That means I assign innocent reasons for what they’re doing, and then I figure out ways to engage them and guide them. I believe they find me interesting and I become interesting. I understand that my horse doesn’t see the long term benefits of things, and that’s okay. With my horse’s body. I remember that they benefit from going back to the basics. They learn to be balanced and coordinated through practice, just like me. And I also commit to determining if they are asking a question with their body, or if they’re reporting my habit pattern. Sometimes what reflects in their body is their view of your habit pattern. So if we want to make this a little cleaner, but notice that it loses some of the depth. So I definitely think you should do the depth part. I’m dedicated to growth, mine and my horses. I show up powerful and kind. I respect my horse and also challenge her when she challenges me.

I see it as growth for both of us. Work, play, rest, challenges. I welcome them all. And I couldn’t resist putting in my favorite quote of all time, which is about humans living life. And so it says, the master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information, his recreation, his love, and his religion. I love this line. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing to him. He’s always doing both. I want to live my life by that quote. So it makes perfect sense that my definition of a good relationship with my horse is going to sound a little bit like that. This audio that I just shared could be something that you listen to and you think, that sounds nice, but if you want to make it yours, just set a timer for 15 minutes, sit down, play a piece of what I said about beliefs or what I said about relationship, and then just write your own take pieces from mine. But it’s not until you actually put pen to paper or type it or put it into your own words, that’s when it will become yours. That’s what I have for you this week. I’ll talk to you again in the next episode.

If you enjoy listening to Stacy’s podcast, please visit Stacy Westfall.com for articles, videos and tips to help you and your horse succeed.

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