NW Rider Magazine - November 2019

Page 12

What Condition Your Transition Is In by Mary Corning

My greatest teachers spoke their wisdom in what I lovingly call “oneliners”. These one-liners have been shared like mythical teachings. Many are statements that ultimately become proverbs spanning every discipline. “It all happens in the transition.” is one message that taught me a powerful life lesson. Horses mirror life. The challenge of change experienced in life or in horsemanship, offers us valuable insights ─ if we will let it. Change is constant, whether we notice it or not. It shows itself in relationships, environment, in aging and even in knowledge and perceptions. The interesting paradox to change is that the one thing that doesn’t change, is also the thing we need to use in order to understand change. That thing is conscious awareness. Awareness is what an open mind experiences in the moment just before it labels what it sees. Consciousness is deep listening. Once someone asked me if horsemanship was like horse whispering? I replied, “From what I can tell, the horses are the ones doing the whispering. It’s my job to listen deeply.” Deep listening, awareness and observation are all within the gift of consciousness. Consciousness can be the best tool we have for living an effective life. Interestingly enough, it is often overlooked and under estimated. Whether it is in horsemanship or transitioning life experiences, the ability to observe and understand can create lasting positive change in everything we do. The minds of a horse and a human operate through memory, repetition and comprehension. Positive change requires attention. The difference between responsiveness and reactivity can also be the difference between an unforgettable ride and an unforgiving one. To have the full benefit of responsiveness requires the ability to consciously intercept the mind and the body prior to habit. This is a subtle change that makes a monumental difference in the quality of any transition. That difference can be traced back to the level of 12 | www.NWRiderMagazine.com

human awareness. In horsemanship this awareness must extend beyond the physical relationship with the horse. We must also take into account what I call the “third entity”. The third entity is the relationship. The blend of horse and human. Here is an example when awareness made an important difference in the outcome on a recent trail ride. I was riding in the coast range mountains with a friend. Her horse had never before been in the woods. This trail is a lovely loop with bridges to cross and hills to climb. It was a perfect summer day and the forest was a sanctuary from the summer sun. As we rode along, the trail narrowed. To our right was a steep draw dropping about a hundred feet with a creek at the bottom. To the left the bank shot straight up. As we traveled along the path we came to a spot where a ground squirrel had carved out a massive hole. It spanned across the trail from one side to the other. My horse stopped to survey and I sensed his concern as he drew back. Years ago, before I