It has been a gift stumbling upon the world of therapeutic boarding schools and beginning to build a therapy program involving animals. One of these days, things will be nailed down enough that I’ll introduce some of the new language I am using and the direction I am heading. But not quite yet. In the mean time, I am surprised daily by my capacity to fall in love with these amazing young women I’m working with. My gratitude is too big for words!
These young women are so wise and bring up the most incredible questions. Recently, a girl (who is particularly talented with horses) told me she was struggling because while she really likes what I’m teaching and is learning so much, she has noticed that I am like a big peacock, and all the girls are little peacocks, following behind me. And she just isn’t sure she wants to be a peacock.
There is no way I could have been prouder and more excited by a statement if she tried to impress me on purpose! We had a nice long conversation about this phenomenon of people wanting a leader and being willing to follow, and I won’t go into all the details. But, the end struck me as something worse sharing. We noted that it was often the more horse experienced young women who were the most dedicated to being little peacocks. I think that this is because we become so entrenched in our way of being that when something disrupts it, like I have for many of these girls, it becomes really uncomfortable. The choices become: stay where I am, jump ship and adopt this new identity (little peacock). or live in the world of discomfort.
This student wisely pointed out that living in the discomfort just sucks. She is so right. That’s why most people resist, and stay where they are and where they know, or they jump ship, and follow the newcomer as a lovely little peacock. Neither of these indicate you are good at what you are doing, just that you are committed and things have become black and white.
I’m certainly very sure of many things that I believe. However, these things are not static. I hope that what comes across in my writing and in my teaching is that I am fully conflicted and uncomfortable in my relationships with animals. I don’t take any of it for granted and while I am doing things in the most responsible way I know how, I am unsure if this is in fact the most responsible way there is. There are moments with horses that the good way of doing something might not be best, and moments where the best might not be good. It’s complicated. It’s messy. It’s always changing. It’s relationship.
I know first hand how scary and isolating it is to live in the discomfort. How much easier it is to pick a side…any side. I started down a rabbit hole many years ago and it culminated into Three Rivers Horse Training, a rabbit hole that has only gotten bigger and harder to get out of. The more I learn about horses and people, the more I have to live in the discomfort in order to feel I’m living responsibly.
And yah, that sucks.
But it’s also really exciting, interesting and inspiring. So far, the rabbit hole is where all the innovative stuff has happened for me, and where all the best moments with my horses have come from. So I hope this student never becomes a peacock and I hope now that she is looking, she can see that I’m always trying not to be one, too.