The fear of acting 

The fear of acting 

I always preach that we should become better at being rather than doing (or acting) when we are with our horses. I still believe that to the fullest, but practicing only being for as long as I have now, I feel that I have become better at being IN doing too. What does that mean you might wonder? What I mean when I say being in doing is that I am starting to feel that I can be present and attentive while I am in the act of doing. Sometimes I still get caught up in the act of doing, but more and more often it seems that things are starting to balance themselves… Often what happens is that we are either being or doing, meaning that when we are actively engaging in an activity we can easily forget about breathing, sensing and feeling and thereby stop BEING. I believe the most ideal is to be able to engage in any activity, but while maintaining the approach and the presence that we practice when we are only being with our horses without doing anything in particular except from enjoying each other. I am sure however that most people I know will agree with me when I say that it is way harder than it sounds.

The past couple of months have for my part been spent with present moments, sensing and flowing with whatever occurred. I have taken my time to feel deep inside myself and to experiment with new ways of being with my horses. Most of this time too has been spent with only doing what they offered. The downside of my long period of ONLY being has meant that I in some respects have become afraid of doing or acting. I have found myself fearing that my horses would feel pushed or forced if I asked them for something with a more determined mind or tried to convince them. Balance can be a terribly difficult thing and most often we end up overcompensating on either one or the other end of the spectrum. Maybe you can recognise yourself in this? In many cases I am still fully satisfied and glad with the way I have and still does handle things, but I have also found a few cases of realising that I am still not done working my way towards a more harmonic balance. I know of course that I still have a long journey ahead of me, but sometimes it just seems to become more obvious than other times. The moment when things suddenly doesn’t work as you thought they would, are usually a sign that it is time for new ideas, thoughts or approaches. I know from personal experience that it can be terribly hard to be confronted with a need to grow and evolve as you start to see our comfort zone disappear in the horizon.

In my striving to build a respectful partnership where my horse has a huge say and is the one to invite me into different things, I have seemed to momentarily forget that sometimes the absence of action is not being present, but being passive. Being present and being passive are extremely different things, but when you have dived in too deep it can be difficult to distinguish between the two. In my opinion being present is defined by being open to anything that might arise, but still being in the position of taking action from a place of harmony, love and intuition. Being passive on the other hand is a what it seen when you have taken one step back and unless something occurs on its own, nothing will happen. Passivity marks a state of being unable to take action and instead just lay aside all responsibility.

I had for a little while felt that things had stopped moving forward and that we had settled in a place that did not want to move any further. Just a few days ago I really managed to take one step back and watch the situation from another perspective as I felt we had settled on sinking land. What quickly caught my attention was that I was right in wishing for my horses to participate with their own ideas, but also that sometimes in order to evolve or develop we need a firm push out of our comfort zone. I had grown so far into thinking that pushing my horses would be harmful or damaging to their minds and feeling of self-control, but I had completely overseen the fact that being pushed can be a gift and a much needed kind of stress once in a while. That it can be a helping hand on our way to become the best versions of ourselves.

This realisation made me walk into my next training session with another perspective and another mindset and to my great surprise it was received in the best possible way by my own horses. I saw a completely different power and awareness that was awakened by just a little push from me. Another thing I realised on this day is that a push can have paramount effects depending on the intention behind it. A push can be harmful and damaging if it is not done with the intention of love or if it is done with a goal to only accomplish something for you own amusement or success. If a push is given for selfish reasons I do still not believe that it will be desirable for the horse in any way. Yet if a push is needed in order to support and help your horse grow mentally and to help him dare to express himself, then I now truly believe that it can be a huge gift to help him take this next step on the journey. It is all about the intention behind the action!



5 thoughts on “The fear of acting ”

  • Wow a very interesting topic! Thank you for your openness, your way of questioning and reflecting your actions is admirable and I think it will definitely help you to grow and get further in the right direction. I especially like the part where you describe the difference between being active, present and passive as I think it’s important to understand it. How exactly do you practice being present? Do you have some tips for me where I can read more about that topic? Sounds really interesting and I’m curious to learn more about it!
    What I consider as very important but not easy is to maintain a balance. As you said it’s hard to find a way between being too passive or active and therefore it’s necessary to deliberate on your way of acting but also the success it brought. And you can find this struggle many times in your everyday life with horses. I think it’s not one single step but a path to achieve a good balance in what you are doing.

    • Thank you so much for your lovely words and feedback, Nina. Such a pleasure to read… The way I practice being present is by letting go of thoughts, speculations and plans. Simply breathing, observing and flowing with the river of life and time. I think I will write a blog post about the act of being someday. Yet for now a good way to practice being present is just by hanging out with your horse. No plans or expectations – only love and good intentions. Sleep with him, eat with him or give a good scratch. If you start thinking a lot about other things just breathe and let go of those thoughts. Let me know if you have any thoughts or questions!

  • Sophie I SO GET what you’re talking about here! For me the language I use is ‘right action’ and it feels so complicated some times!! If the horse is guiding the session then often certain horse types especially (deeper, slower thinkers, slow bodies) will prefer NOT to be pushed at all and initially will seem resentful of even being asked for more energy. But when they are asked with the intention of ‘let me help you feel better and freer in your body’ and they demonstrate this by releasing tension and becoming ‘let loose’ then we know we’ve gotten it right… right? 😉 And sometimes just being or moving slowly with them, walking etc., slower days are also perfect. I do find it very hard to know the right thing on that day sometimes. It’s the beauty, and the madness that can come with horsemanship. Thank you for writing about this.

    • Yes! Well said, Jai. This is exactly the point of the story. A very big part of the difference lies not in the action, but in the INTENTION behind the action. It can be terribly hard to know what will be the best match on the particular day, but we are only humans after all. We can only do the best that we know off 😉

  • This gives me hope and strength to push my youngster out of his comfort zone. He learned to follow my lead but when we encounter a higher ranked horse he stops following. But to conquer the outside world we need to leave the paddock even if it’s guarded by another horse . He show’s much interest in the other side of the fence but he’s somehow insecure in these situations.

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