I’d like to put bells and whistles and have drum rolls and maybe even church bells for this lesson.
It’s funny the things that stick out in our minds. I vividly remember where I was and what I was feeling when I got the insight that an early warning signal existed. I was getting pretty good at following my Feel when I was working and it was an incredibly effective way to teach as well as live – but a New Zealand clinic full of difficult horses and people in trouble had the emotional side of my inner guidance system swinging wildly all over the place for 4 days. It was exhausting! My mental temper tantrum that I had about the emotional roller coaster, manifested the next layer of insights – that instead of big emotions swinging wildly up and down – there was an early warning signal that something was Not Quite Right that I could take action on.
Ahhh the relief in that.
Paying attention to the MUCH subtler feeling that something was Not Quite Right, instead of waiting for the big feelings to whoosh all over the place, has led to a MUCH more peaceful life. And that folks, is one of my classic Aussie understatements. The impact on my life (and other people’s) has been huge. It’s even created it’s own language. Stick around here and you’ll hear people talking about Not Quite Rights as if it was an actual feeling all by itself.
And that’s because for YOU – the way you uniquely feel YOUR early warning signal that something is Not Quite Right – it IS a feeling all by itself. Don’t worry we’ve got an exercise to help you get this and your Quiet Mind work will make it MUCH easier and if you don’t get it now, I’ll help you get it in a live event.
Everybody experiences their unique version of Not Quite Right. I’ve come across many, many different ways that people experience this feeling. I felt it first as a horrible feeling in my solar plexus, but now that I am used to paying attention, it has become more likely to be an absence of feeling good.
As I practiced listening to my Not Quite Rights, I got really good at reading the more subtle feelings – all of them, not just emotions – and these days I teach that subtlety and the ease of it, right from the beginning and that’s what we’re going to be doing with this lesson.
Remember Dawn couldn’t get in the paddock?
Remember in the Key to the Kingdom of Horses video where I talked about how Dawn had to approach and retreat using her Feel for Joe, before she could even get in the paddock without Joe already feeling fear? And how one lady in a clinic had to go all the way out a long driveway and down the road, before her horse found his Comfort Zone?
Well that’s what we’re going to do today – use a very simple task to start getting used to taking action on your Feel.
It’s not the task that’s important here, so don’t let the simplicity of it fool you. It needs to be something really simple for there to be enough Comfort Zone to hear / feel most easily.
Today’s exercise is an ongoing gift to your horse
Today’s exercise is both a lesson in the subtleties of the early warning signal that something is Not Quite Right (in other words a lesson in the subtleties of Feel AND a gift to your horse to help them develop confidence that you are WILLING and ABLE to listen to / feel them. From your horse’s point of view, the goal is to have your horse feeling more and more comfortable and for them to have a deeper Comfort Zone.
From that deeper Comfort Zone, they will have more confidence in all kinds of things when they know we are listening / feeling. Every layer of tension we take off them by listening and taking action, makes the next layer easier – because fear is cumulative. So every layer of stress and tension that we help them with, reduces the overall burden of stress and tension. See? What a gift…
We’ve been talking about turning off the vacuum cleaner so that we could hear the telephone ringing for US – this exercise will be turning noise of the vacuum cleaner down for horses as well as people.
NOT a backwards step!
Your horse may well take the opportunity in this and other exercises, to tell you that things that you THOUGHT were fine, are not really fine at all. THIS IS NOT A BACKWARD STEP! Stress and tension is just a fact of life – our horses have all felt it, we’ve all felt it, I expect we’ve all caused at least some of it. I know I certainly have. This is just an opportunity to solve old emotional stresses and physical tensions that have been adversely affecting your horse, mentally, emotionally and physically – WHILE you at the same time, are developing your Feel.
Your horse may also take this opportunity to step up as your teacher and start communicating a lot more deliberately.
You can print this and take it out to your horse if you need to.
Next time you are going out to your horse take the time to really sink into each step of this exercise:
Step 1 As you leave the house to go to your horse or before you leave the car if you drive to them, pause and do the focus on the outward breath that you’ve been learning in the meditations, until you’ve got the relaxation thing happening. Keep in mind you’re only up to day 9 of 21 days, so there’s a lot more fine tuning of relaxation to going to happen!
Step 2 You can either scan your body to notice all of how you yourself feel inside of you like we did in the Conscious Connection exercise OR you can simply allow your awareness to gently expand and notice how the inside of your body feels.
As you’ve been learning in the Quiet Mind work, one of these ways of feeling will probably be easier for you than the others. Notice how deep and easy your breath is, feel for the speed and rhythm of your heart beat if that’s easy for you, notice any physical feelings – any aches and pains, notice any tension, notice any emotions, notice the way energy is moving through your body, notice any pattern of thoughts and allow them to drift across your mind.
All of it a beautiful, perfect, soft eyed noticing.
Step 3 With soft smiling ahhh eyes, keep your attention on the inside of yourself as you pick up the halter and notice if anything changes.
Step 4 With soft smiling ahhh eyes and still with your attention on the inside of yourself, hold the halter openly in your arms and notice what changes as you start to walk towards your horse. I don’t want you to halter them, that is a whole other and very big deal for most horses. I just want you to walk towards them and feel what they feel about it.
Step 5 When you feel that first tiny feeling that something is Not Quite Right, the first early warning signal that I call Not Quite Right, you TAKE ACTION ON IT. You DO something about it. You CHANGE something. In this case – you take the pressure off your horse by backing away as far away as you have to for them to feel OK again – at least a few big steps – some of you might even have to go all the way out of the paddock or field or barn to feel good again and that is completely OK.
Remember in the Key to the Kingdom video, the story of the lady who had to walk all the way out a long driveway and down the road before her horse relaxed? It doesn’t matter if you don’t understand what they’re afraid of. It just matters that you help them develop a deeper Comfort Zone with a human, where they can actively contribute to the relationship. This is a wonderful thing!
Step 6 Stop there where you’re feeling relaxed again, keep up your quiet mind breathing and inner body awareness if that feels comfortable. And wait for your horse to finish processing what just happened and licks and chews, yawns or stretches. I talk more about the processing stage in keys to success below.
Step 7 And you wait there until your horse licks and chews AND finishes licking and chewing, before you walk towards your horse again. Some horses will use snatching at grass as a stress relief. If your horse eats grass while you’re waiting and you can’t tell whether they’ve relaxed or not, whether they’re licking and chewing or not, then you may need to walk further away. Keep breathing and keep feeling inside yourself with soft smiling ahhh eyes until there’s a good feeling before you walk towards them again.
Step 8 Relax, you can’t stuff this up. Once your horse knows you’re trying – and they will know you’re trying – then it’s impossible to stuff it up. There’ll be things that DON’T work, things that do work and things that could work better – but it’s impossible to actually stuff it up.
Step 9 And you keep doing that – walking towards your horse – backing off when you get a Not Quite Right and waiting for The Chew – getting closer and closer each time – until you can walk up to your horse – openly and happily – until your horse is feels happy inside and is happy to have you stand beside them and stroke them. Again, no halter today please. Haltering is coming up in the next meditation series.
Incredibly important note: There’ll be the occasional horse that you won’t be able to approach and retreat from on this first day, or maybe not even the next. The idea of walking forwards again could even make you feel sick. I feel like I’m talking to someone particularly here. What an opportunity for you to give an incredible gift to this horse. If something like that was to happen, that IS YOUR GLORIOUS FEEL AT WORK telling you that this horse has no Comfort Zone at all. Tuck this lesson away, maybe after the Quiet Mind meditations have finished it will feel right to revisit it. And contact me if you’re feeling confused or worried or unsure when to try it again.
Haltering is such a big deal – it was often a horse’s first traumatic experience – so maybe you don’t even want to put the halter on yet.
Step 10 Every single feel good moment – pause and smile and enjoy and soak it up. I can’t put enough emphasis on this. You want feeling good to be normal for you and your horse? So you have to make it normal, by spending time there and appreciating it – NOT by rushing through those special moments and creating the next lot of tension. Does that make sense? You want those feel good special moments to become ROUTINE and stopping and soaking them up and appreciating the heck out of them is how that happens. There’s more to it than that even, but that’s another subject for another day.
Keys to Success:
1. Deliberately soften and smile with your eyes. Decide to notice when you’re getting squinty eyed or frowny faced. Remember from your Quiet Mind work that frowning or what I call squinty eyed, is pretty much an indication that you’re trying too hard and trying too hard is one thing that seriously gets in the way of this work.
2. In the early stages these Not Quite Right signals might be quite big signals compared to the subtleties that you’ll end up with as you practice. That’s normal.
3. Once you are clear on your Not Quite Rights AND on taking action them – eventually, when you’re ready, anything LESS THAN feeling good can be that early warning signal. That’s another very big deal inserted in one simple sentence, so you might want to read that again.
4. Taking action on your Not Quite Rights is the absolute key. There’s no point in standing there going “what should I do?” What you should do in this early stage of this process is take steps away from your horse and KEEP TAKING STEPS AWAY from your horse until you find that your breathing has relaxed, your heart beat slowed if that’s your thing to feel, the energy is flowing easily, the fear has gone, and you feel good again. THAT is the key – the ACTION that you take – the physical backing off.
As it becomes second nature to take action on any and every Not Quite Right, you won’t always be taking steps away, you’ll just flow into changing something – but at this point in time, physically taking steps backwards will be the key to success. That’s also a big deal in a small sentence.
5. We do not want to be interrupting processing. Interrupting processing usually means that there’ll need to be another opportunity to finish those thoughts and understandings and learnings and I don’t know about you, but I don’t like doing things twice or ten times, that can be done once. I’m over that struggling crap!
Nothings ever wasted though, so if circumstances make it impossible to allow processing to happen properly then maybe it needs to be done more than once? Or maybe you need the practice lol!
Processing – they’ll usually look sleepy, eyes half closed, every now and again they might twitch or jerk a little. I’ll ask my horses to give me a video of someone doing it…
6. We already made a big deal out of why we should be soaking up and appreciating any and all the feel good feelings that come up – specially after the horse has licked and chewed! Maybe you’d like to read that again since it’s such a big deal?
Our brains often work on repetition so here it is. Every single feel good moment – pause and smile and enjoy and soak it up. I can’t put enough emphasis on this. You want feeling good to be normal for you and your horse? So you have to make it normal, by spending time there and appreciating it – NOT by rushing through those special moments and creating the next lot of tension. Does that make sense? You want those feel good special moments to become ROUTINE and stopping and soaking them up and appreciating the heck out of them is how that happens.
7. When you act on that feeling that something is Not Quite Right, you help your horse find a comfort zone again BEFORE your horse moves away – so even if catching has been difficult in the past, it becomes easy because they WANT to be with you because you help them feel good. That folks is a MUCH better reason for your horse to want to be with you, than the cupboard love of treats and the feed bucket.
If there were no Not Quite Rights at all as you walked up to your horse, then as you move through your routine care with your horse, notice where there ARE some and take action on that early warning signal in the same way that we do here, by backing off, by changing something, by taking the pressure off, by stopping doing what you’re doing and backing away as far as possible if your horse is on a lead already – by doing whatever it takes until you feel OK again and then waiting for your horse to finish processing and lick and chew, stretch and yawn as they release the tension that’s been stored in their body. We’ll be talking a lot more about the releasing tension thing another day!
If you’re unsure of what you’re feeling, or if you think you’re not getting anything at all, then come into a Live Event and put your hand up to work with me. That’s MY talent, being able to help people notice and feel their Feel. I’ve never met anyone who didn’t experience Feel for their horse and I doubt that you’ll be the first…