A very strange thing happened last Sunday. My husband, John, was driving to Tennessee and he saw a bunch of trash on the road. He was upset and pulled over to pick it up, and realized it was a bag of clothes complete with undergarments, stuffed animals and books. He got a strange feeling (too many murder mystery shows) and decided just to pick up 2 notebooks and leave the rest and pick it all up later. On Tuesday, he called me from home while I was in Nashville working and said, “I feel terrible. I read through the notebooks I picked up on the road and they are more like journals. This is very, very personal stuff in here”. He piqued my curiosity so I told him I wanted to take a look at them when I got home. I read through them that evening and sure enough, the pages were filled with really personal information and they seemed to be someone’s journal. I had never met this person before, but from what she wrote I really got a sense of who she was as a person and what a good soul she genuinely had. The sad part of it all was, it was very obvious she experienced horrific abuse in her life and she was damaged. If I had met her somewhere, I probably would have passed judgment on her for having a really messed up life. It was obvious she had had some drug problems in the past, maybe drinking problems and she suffered continually from low self-esteem and depression. It was apparent all of this stemmed from some unthinkable tragedies that happened to her as a child and young teen combined with the fact that no one she trusted believed in her or helped her when she needed it most. I felt so much compassion for this person I didn’t even know and felt even more compassion knowing she lost a bag of personal belongings on the road and people were driving all over her things that were the mementos of her life. I imagine she probably had no idea where that bag could have gone to.
Reading her journals made me think about working with horses. As I have said in other posts, I have had a few bad falls the past 4 years. I have been working with a lot more horses with trouble in their past and frankly they are, well, more trouble. They resort to what they know- they don’t trust so they take over. They don’t give softly and fill-in where they need to give and fill-in. They get defensive where they should get relaxed. I am learning that sometimes, they really do need a tougher lesson to get through to them. I sometimes have to ask myself if I am able to stick it out with them so we come through the other side in harmony.
This abused woman who said she loved horses made me think of horses that get abused and are misunderstood. Some horses, when scared or not given the chance to understand something a person is asking of them, will make the decision to take over. They seem to figure in their mind, taking over is safer than putting trust in this person. They then start taking over little by little until they become incredibly pushy and dangerous, sometimes self-destructive. Some horses even get to where they attack people. These same horses most times get whaled on and jerked on by people, stronger bits get put in their mouth or worse, and all of this started with one small misunderstanding that crumbled the entire foundation of the horse.
This woman, like these horses, had circumstances in the foundation of her life where her trust was stolen and now her life has been her fighting battles that can’t be won and one person and one situation after the next beating her down and each time getting more and more harsh. She continually looks for people to trust but she has no trust to give to others. She creates battles for herself to fight but inwardly wants nothing more than to get along. Can you imagine how different her life would have been if that trust had never been stolen? What about the horse? Can you imagine how different a horse’s life could be when they are given the time to understand, to trust? It is not hard to see, the time spent to build trust in one another can be slow work, but it really does lead to a faster, easier road of travel for the person and the horse. This is not to say that a tough lesson is not needed here or there, they are, but often it seems the person raised with love in the right places is synonymous to the horse raised with trust in the right places and a strong, confident life most likely will ensue for both. Horses display through their physical beings what humans experience in their psyche. If people really took the time to understand that, I believe the horse and human relationship would really change. I have really come to understand that misunderstandings in the beginning, if a response by either horse or person doesn’t change, will still be misunderstandings in the end, only bigger.