The Naming

The Naming

Not just anyone can name you. Often times our first name is given by our parents. It seems only right that our mother and father who have brought us into the world should have the first right to place their seal and connect their authority through the use of name. Often the second people to rename us are the peers within our group. There is often a hint of teasing and jostling for position connected to these renamings within our American youth culture. In many native cultures renaming is connected to a coming of age ceremony, through which one learns or acknowledges their personal role within the society. It is usually connected to their personal giftings by the Great Spirit or the recognized deity within that culture. In the Bible there are stories of renaming that are usually connected to a change of situation, personality or character. When women marry often there is a change in name associated with the change in position in life.

My renaming was attempted by many. There were the kids who tried to tack their labels on me. Some stuck with pricks sharp enough to motivate change. This led to a struggle that wounded the fragile sense of image that I clung to, until the day the Lord began my renaming. I say, began because my renaming was a process that continues on today. First He un-named me. He tore away at all the labels and mis-conceptions that the enemy of our souls had tried, through various means, to adhere to my soul, destroying who God had created me to be. As He stripped back the layers of lies, He began to expose the truth, who I was in Him.
There were a few mentors that the Lord has brought into my life, to speak truth into my soul. This truth speaking drove back the lies and began to break through the hard exterior I had wrapped around my soul, protecting it from the barbs. Strange, how the self-protective methods we use, often keep us from what we need or really desire. One such mentor was Curtis Wright. One day up in Yosemite, among the grandeur of the tower pines, sequoias and maples, Curtis called me by name. Funny, how you can recognize your name, though you had never been called out by it before. From that day on, I have aspired to live up to that name. It is how this blog got its name, Dances with Horses.

Yet, ultimately my most important name is simple. It is found in a possessive pronoun. It would be unidentifiable admist the others who could claim it. Yet, when He calls me by this name all else fads away. Nothing else matters when I truly allow the truth of who I am to settle in to the crevices of my heart. Who am I? Simply, "His."

Monday, April 25, 2011

Improve Your Awareness, Improve Your Riding

The biggest problem we all have as riders is that we are unaware.  Perhaps it is not that we are completely unaware, it is that we are unaware of ourselves.  We are very aware of the mistakes and rebellions of our horses, but often we are very unaware of what we did to "cause or encourage" those mistakes and rebellions.
So to improve our riding we must first improve our awareness.  Here are three simple exercises you can play with to help improve your awareness and by doing so improve your riding.
The Idea #1
In many native cultures awareness is developed through depravation of senses.  For instance to improve hearing, sense of smell and awareness of personal sensations a person would be blindfolded.  Tom Brown Jr. speaks in many of his books about spending whole weeks blindfolded.  My friend Mike James, in speaking about his own wilderness experiences told us that when they got to an area of especially dense underbrush, they would say, "the only way through here is with a blindfold."  Those seeking awareness must sometimes set aside the normal way they perceive things to allow new input to which opens up the ability to see old things in different ways.  Also by turning off one way of being aware, like our sight it allows us to become aware of what our sight was preventing us from seeing.  The amount of data that we are receiving can sometimes swamp our ability to perceive our bodies, our balance and our spirits.  This is why business and time constraints are so detrimental to our relationships and to our spiritual well being; it causes us to be too overwhelmed.  It prevents us from receiving the vital input we need from our other senses.

The Exercise #1
Take some time, on a safe horse you trust, with a ground person or a friend you trust and try riding with your eyes closed or even blindfolded.  This is a great exercise to do while being lounged or in a small enclosed space.  Make sure you stay within your relative comfort zone and know your own limits as you try this exercise.  Yet, with proper controls and safety measures in place, push yourself to feel rather than see.  What must it be like if this was your reality?

The Idea #2
Sometimes we make great break throughs when we choose to look at the same old problem through a different lens, through a different perspective.  When we keep doing the same things over and over again but don't expect the same results we border on insane (Albert Einstein, said it better), yet as riders we often do the same things over and over again and are confused at the results.  It is very helpful to cultivate the mindset of a learner, a student.  Often we go through life thinking we already have the answer.  When you have the answer(oftentimes in spite of not really being sure what the question is) you are less open to hear from others their answers.

The Exercise #2
For a simple change in perspective, put your trainer self on the fence and ask her or him to be quiet.  Don't try to fix the horse just become a silent, watchful observer of your time with your horse.  Enroll in a course and make your horse the instructor.  What is he or she saying?  Are you respectful enough in your relationship that you can hear your horse's critique of your riding?  Try not to judge yourself or your horse here, your only purpose is to observe, be open and learn.

The Idea #3
Transference is the ability to take something you have learned in one field and to be able to apply it somewhere else.  A good example of this is to take what you have learned in English class about good arguments and logic when writing a persuasive paper or preparing a persuasive speech and then use it to critique what you are reading in a news article.  What was the author's bias?  Were they using good logic, or building straw men and slaying them?  When it comes to our riding we are often very bad at transferring what we already know to be true from the rest of life to our riding particular.

The Exercise #3
Take some time off of the horse and do some in-depth observation.  Stand in front of a mirror.  Is one shoulder higher than the other?  If so which one?  When you carry things do you favor one arm over the other?  Do you toe out or toe in?  How is your posture?  Are you stiff?  If so where?  Where do you carry your tension?  Do you hold your breath or do you breathe properly from your diaphragm? By doing two simple things we can greatly improve our basic balance and posture on the horse.  Number one, by being aware of what our habit is whether on or off the horse.  Number two, work to fix these basic balance and tension areas not just while you are riding but in every day life.  Transfer your riding to the rest of life and the habits of your daily life to your riding.

As you try out these exercises stay objective.  Try not to be hard on your self as you discover more about who you are both on and off the horse.  Remember that before we can change something it helps to know what we are doing.

I know I am preaching to myself in these things.  I have found my posture truly lacking in my last couple of videos.  I will be implementing these in my riding and I hope you can find them of use in yours.  Keep chasing your dreams and pursue humility.  May we find ourselves to be students of the horse.