A spotlight has been on a particular word in my own personal life since the beginning of the New Year. The word is FOCUS. While developing a schedule for a couple of horses and my own personal goals, I read this quote from natural horsemanship expert Pat Parelli, “Focus gives you feel. Focus and feel give you timing. Focus, feel and timing give you balance.” As spring break is here and the official first day of spring on the 20th of March arrives, there are events to be scheduled on our calendars, tasks at hand, and goals to set. Getting the tack cleaned up, making certain the leathers are strong, replacing those that aren’t. You focus on building your own natural horsemanship and move forward to develop a plan that will take your horse’s confidence to another level. FOCUS is defined as: center, heart, focal point, center of attention, (get this) spotlight, and meeting point. So what is the center or the heart of focus? Where is the meeting point? The meeting point is awareness. It is awareness that brings a new focus to us in understanding our horse. Understanding creates and builds a partnership between you and your horse. This canter (3 beat rhythms) of awareness, focus and understanding initiates, strengthens, and builds amazing partnerships – whether it is with our horse or another person. Have you been in a relationship with someone and no longer are? We all have. At one point a misunderstanding became the center, and we became disconnected to some degree. Misunderstanding simply means a mistake, an error, a mix-up, a misinterpretation, a quarrel, or a misapprehension. When we have a misunderstanding with our horse usually we will avoid, punish, ignore, or replace the horse. Sad to say, we do the same with people. Natural horsemanship always begins by understanding any problem from the horse’s point of view. Dear God, wonder what our families and communities would be like if I/we chose natural horsemanship with people! I’m just thinking out loud, one of my many weaknesses. You see, horses are naturally fearful, claustrophobic animals whose main defense is to run away. Understanding this, I can address a problem or an issue with my horse, refraining from punishing him for his natural reaction/behavior. Next, I can take steps to change my approach and my behavior in order to gain or regain my horse’s confidence in me. Horses are wonderful partners, due to their intuitive nature and ability to evoke emotion in humans. Breakthrough after breakthrough is happening in people’s lives because of those who are devoted and committed to face mental health issues. EAP (Equine Assisted Psychotherapy) uses a horse as a form of therapy for an individual who is experiencing depression, anxiety, communication issues or suffering from low self-esteem. Horses accentuate our struggles while they accept us without judgment. Horses are amazingly adept at revealing pieces of trauma that our unconscious mind hides. The involvement with the horse in this setting is primarily ground-based, a non-riding experience. So, here we have a fearful, claustrophobic horse. A human comes into the horse’s life with awareness, focus and understanding; building a partnership. From this partnership something unexplainable, marinated in wonder, begins to take place. Healing; like a salve, a gentle breeze, a sip of refreshing water silently shifts and anchors feelings of strength and confidence in place of suffered abuse, low self-esteem, communication issues, depression or anxiety. As you move forward into spring and being with your horse, simply remember you are in the presence of an amazing teacher who teaches without judgment. We all tend to need refresher classes with leadership, love and language. Your horse is a ‘natural’ teacher of these three classes. Have Fun Be Objective (purpose) Grow Confidence Say Yes to Understanding #1 Priority Safety

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