Spring is one of my favourite seasons of horse life. With each long hair that sheds, with each happy ride completed, the world comes into slow and steady balance and my heart fills a little more. Hand grazing as the sun sets, jotting down the small, but steady accomplishments in my journal, fun photos of healthy shiny horses – all these things sustain me through the sticky summer heat and cold labour of winter.
It’s a time of reflection and goal setting, looking forward and backward, and assessing how I am doing at being the best me possible. I focus on the possible, not the impossible, what I can do, not what I cannot. I appreciate that I am the one who controls the way I feel; that my feelings shouldn’t control me.
I balance externally driven goals and those that are just for me. I work out outcome goals (riding on a beach anyone?) and determine the process goals that will allow me to achieve what I want (finding a beach, or trailering manners, for example).
To do that, I use a framework based loosely on Don Miguel Ruiz’s ‘Four Agreements.’ That is, first, I am impeccable with my word. At the farm, that means I am honest with myself and my horses. If it’s a hot day and we hack or even maybe play with a hose, that’s okay. I focus on truth and presence and honouring the relationship I have with the equines. I work to not blame them for my errors and lack of motivation. I accept that life gets in the way of plans some days and that sometimes external pressure is real and valid.
Sometimes remembering not to take things personally (the second agreement) is tough in the spring. Fresh horses, horses that aren’t thrilled to be back in work aren’t upset with me. They are, to quote my husband Tom, “being their horsey selves.” It’s an important piece of treasuring spring though. Each challenge is exactly that – no more, no less – simply one more thing to puzzle through and sort out.
The third agreement, don’t make assumptions, intersects with this concept of facing challenges too. By not leaping to presumptions and giving the horses time, it’s easier to stay on top of issues that can derail our plans for the season. Noticing a funny step, or a new reaction to something will provide important information to use when moving forward and staying safe.
The last agreement seems easiest to me at this time of year. Do your best. When motivation is high, footing is good and horses are grateful for grass and attention, it’s an easy time of year to choose your own goals. Those goals can sustain you through the year. This agreement is very much internally driven. I do my best for me and for the horses, and that helps me feel accomplished and successful.
I have lots of goals this spring – many of which focus on the horses in a wide variety of ways. Make some time if you can to reflect on what matters to you with your equines and decide how you can make it happen.
Spring holds such promise. May all your dreams and goals come true this season!
Andrea Harrison, aka The Inadvertent Rescuer, has provided a safe haven for a variety of animals at her De Vareharri Farm in Prince Edward County, Ontario, and uses her skills as an educator and trainer to improve their lives.