Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Relationships and Horses

I've been toying around with the idea of making this blog a little more lifestyle, and a little more personal. So, you know.. instead of talking about furtniture choices with you guys, why not dive right in to the nitty-gritty?

A couple weeks ago, Jingle and I were struggling. We were having some serious communication issues, and I found myself frusterated and annoyed. Usually, if we're having a bad day I think to myself, "work harder", on this particular day I thought, "give up and crawl in a hole." Of course, my time with horses has taught me a lot about myself... usually when I'm really struggling, something is going on in my personal life.

& of course, something was.

I had been seeing someone, when we met he knew I was planning on moving. I was content exsisting in a fairy land of happiness until I left. He, however, grew more stressed, bitter, angry and sad about it. Just as quickly as he came into my life, he walked right on out.

Don't worry, I'm okay. Like many of you are probably thinking, "it was for the best", and it was. However, in the moment, that line of rational thinking doesn't take away from the hurt or sadness of the situation. I have always marvelled at how easy someone can come into your life, and how easy it is for them to, all of a sudden, just be gone. I have been dealt much dirtier, more emotional breakups than this one, but it's still interesting to me how all of a sudden someone's presence can go from being there, to being missed, to grower into a tinier little hole, until all of a sudden one day you wake up and your content, your okay with them being gone.

The next morning, after a particularly emotionally draining goodbye, I headed out to see Jingle, on my mind was relationships, and communication issues. I mulled over these topics while I groomed, and rode, and then gave him a bath. All the while, he was the gentleman I needed him to be.

When it comes to relationships, the truth of the matter is, I shy away from conflict, and instead tip-toe around it. I'm a wimp, I'd just rather... not. In everyday life i'm so independent and self-assured, but when it comes to "fighting" with someone... i'd really rather just say i'm sorry (even if i'm not) and then run away from the conflict (even if I cant). This is something that just recently dawned on me as an issue in how I handle conflict, and what's even more interesting is that I don't think people who know me would describe my personality as one that "shys away from discourse", much the opposite really.

So where did all this self-realization come from? Horses, naturally.

I got to thinking about Jingle, and the many ups and downs we have had. For most of us, especially those of you who read my blog, and blog about your own trials and tribulations with your horses, our horses are semi-permanant fixtures in our lives. Most of us are not trainers, and the horses we have are the horses we will continue to work with. Not many of us have the luxury of "buying up", so to speak, bigger, better, showier etc. When we are faced with a problem, we are also faced with how we're going to fix it.

Horses don't have human emotions, no matter how much I like to "talk" for Jingle. If they are being "mean", "pissy", "rude" or "ornary", something is going on, and it's the riders job to figure it out. Horses can communicate clear as day sometimes, and other times, you have to dig to find out what's going on. Maybe your mare is cycling, your gelding has a mild case of colic, your horse doesn't appreciate your spurs banging into it's sides, your saddle isn't fitting right, your pad is bunched up, there is a horse in the arena more dominant than your own and your horses mind is there, not with you, etc. etc. etc. the list goes on. More often than not, our own actions and physical responses are illicitating responses from our horses. I do think horses can have "moods" so to speak, but I think they are more intuned with the world around them, and the emotions of their riders, than our own human emotions can be.

Let's take for example something Jingle and I have been working on steadily for a year - slowing down his gaits (and in turn, his mind). His mind is such a flurry, so fast-paced, that slowing him physically down has been an uphill battle. A lot of times, his response is to swing his head up and away, to bolt, to scatter sideways - generally, messy. It has taken a lot of time, and slow, consistent work to get him to do a nice, even-beated jog. Even more so, somedays he's perfect, and other days it's just not there. It's an ongoing work-in-progress. Some days, usually when i'm distracted or unfocused, I despise that work in progress, but most days I am happy to pick and plod away at something we are working on. I love the little triumphs, I relish in the even bigger successes. Hard work pays off.

This led me to thinking, how many times have I exhibited the same amount of try and work ethic  in a human-human relationship? Obviously, some relationships come and go, but in other instances, did him or I just give up because it seemed easier than working... and working hard... on something? I'm sure I have. I've ducked away from conflict and I've ducked out of relationships. Even more so, have I hidden from the real issues in a relationship, and hidden behind fake decoy issues? Yep, I've done that too.

With Jingle, I'm not allowed to do that. You can't end a ride on a bad note, (okay, you can, everyone has but I strive not too everytime I ride - no matter the mood I am in, or how helpless I feel about my riding ability, or my horse) You can't just give up and walk away either... Jingle's board is a little too expensive to never ride him again, and he's the only horse I got. Of course, I could sell him, but that would shatter both of us - so we keep working, we put serious time and effort into our relationship. He takes a step, I take a step. He falters, I go back to the drawing board and re-evaluate.

With horses, it's about try, will and dedication. It's a true partnership, in every sense of the word, if something isn't working... you just have to take a big deep breathe, and work even harder.

So that's where I am right now, something to think about, something to think over, and something to continue to elaborate on. Something I hope to bring to the table in my next relationship.

But, for the here-and-now, in the present, single-Louisa is going to go out to the barn tonight and work on transitions... because, what else can I do?


  1. Horses are wonderful teachers! The reverse is true too; a good relationship that you work at can help you to work better with your horse. I've been married for 17 years, and knowing that it is a lifetime commitment has helped both of us to work on our relationship and to be loving and forgiving with each other- which in turn has helped me to be more thoughtful and compassionate with the quirks my horses have. Win/win!

    1. this was a really nice comment Shirley :) congrats on 17 years - I can only imagine what the two of you have been through in that time - good, bad and inbetween. I like the fact that your relationship has in-turn taught you about horses, cool spin on my idea.

  2. Someday a person will come into your life and the relationship will "fit" like your relationship with Jingle, and not working on it when it gets tough will never even be an option for you.

    Trust me, I understand where you are coming from more than you will ever know. I was the Queen of "cut and run" when it came to relationships for a long time. Not now though.

    1. Glad you've found some happiness, and some "stay", in your life :)

  3. Wow so much insight in here! It is hard in a relationship to "fight" and deal with stuff. i used to be like that too but have learned its easier now in my marriage to say what needs saying and we are both happier afterwards. I too have learned many things from my horse and they are great teachers (when we listen)

    1. so true Crystal, and sometimes it can be hard to listen haha. it's an ever-growing process.

  4. I think you are right in many respects, but I do have to say I had a lot of mediocre relationships before I met my husband. Some of them I ducked out of, some of them I worked on but ultimately failed to save.

    But when I started dating Brian seven years ago, it was a totally different equation. We've never had to 'work' at our relationship. We've literally never fought. Committing to him was no problem because we just get along.

    Now that we're married though, and I know we've got a good thing, I would fight tooth and nail to keep what we have.

    But I wouldn't commit to the wrong person. No way.

    Some things are worth fighting for. Some aren't. And knowing the difference can be harder than one might think. :)

    Anyway, sorry about the breakup. As my husband said earlier today, "At least just touching your horse always make you feel better."

    I don't know how girls without horses get through breakups.

    1. That's so nice that you guys have found that, I must say all of the comments on this post about now-happy relationships make me smile! It's also refreshing to hear you guys don't find, or need to really "work" on anything - I thought that was just a myth in relationships! ;)

      I totally agree with you, and tried to convey that in the message... I knew it wasn't going to last forever... especially under the circumstances.

      Brian is so, so right, and so are you - I love that statement haha, how, indeed, do they get through breakups? ... eating tubs of icecream, atleast horses allow you to burn some of that off ;)