Week 3 of the Chair Challenge from Carolyn Resnick
April 28, 2016
Third week of Carolyn Resnick’s Chair Challenge! I’m taking an online class with Carolyn Resnick called the Chair Challenge. I have used her methods before a bit with the herd, and love learning more from her. She’s my favorite conscious horsemanship teacher. When the special offer showed up in my Inbox to do the Chair Challenge, I jumped at the opportunity. Carolyn talks more about the importance of sitting with horses here. I suggest reading about the weeks in order, starting with week 1.
Day 10 – Day 13 Rather than write each day separately, I’m recording overall impressions, results, and changes. Both in me and in the horse herd. Some particular quotes and insights particularly struck me this week.
From Carolyn herself “I found the formula into the horses’ world. It was simple; it was my job to wait for the horses to respond and acknowledge my presence. I had to be in a proper state of bliss…”
Bliss. How often have I felt bliss? And when/where/why? This thought really got me pondering. I realized that bliss for me is timeless. It is present time only. It has happened most often outdoors. Most often when there were no distractions, just an appreciation for the moment. And the bliss was ecstatic. Sometimes just peaceful. A knowing. If this is how horses live every moment, wow.
Life on the farm has gotten busy with spring repairs and kidding season. I have found it challenging to make time to just sit with all the things I want or need to do. Being versus doing. Life for us humans is really a balancing act of those two, flipping back and forth.
I have started pausing more during my corral and shed cleaning. I just put the tools down and lean on the fence, or sit on the hay bale, or stand quietly. I watch the horses. I tune into the farm. They are responding to this. I’m finding I can request that they move a bit or respect my space with a raised eyebrow, a look, a thought, perhaps a hand pointing. Even T, the strongest-willed and honestly most aggressive, he is softening.
Which brings me to another quote that really resonated with me this week.
“We do not have to handle any situation where he might bite us or kick us. We create the order, not by reprimanding the horse for a negative behavior, but by the distance that we allow him to have from us.”
As I move about cleaning, I am in an enclosure with 4 horses and sometimes a pony. The entire area is no bigger than a riding ring. Safety is a priority. And I find that the less I crowd them, the softer I make my requests, the bigger the escape opening I allow, the softer and safer they get.
Finally, in the midst of this chair challenge, I am also rehabbing one of the mares and getting 2 others fit again for some upcoming classes we are attending. This means working. And sometimes asking them to push a bit past what is comfortable. So every day I am seeking that balance of how much I can ask, how far I can push the healing, while at the same time honoring their “no”. I cannot say I have found one simple answer. Every interaction seems to take a slightly different approach. The best I can offer is that I am listening harder than I have ever listened in my life. I’m really having to swallow ego, and admit when I’m wrong, apologize, and find a different way. I feel like I am being molded as much as they are.
Which brings me to my last quote for the week.
“Until a horse will allow his character to be adjusted by us, he does not accept training from us.”
I’m realizing that this quote could really be turned about. Until a person will allow his character to be adjusted by a horse, he cannot learn from the horse.