Meet them where they are

Could I truly change who he was? Nope. But maybe I could meet him where he was. Where he was, was a young and very smart horse. Was he also lazy with an attitude? Perhaps, but labels are for jars.


Here’s a photo of my handsome horse.


Last spring we officially set out on our journey together. I quickly realized that he much prefers life on his own terms and most importantly, being in charge. Under saddle, he gave what he had to and not a gear more.

Some sweltering summer days + his laid back personality lead to some pretty big arguments. Arguments which he won every time given that he was bigger and stronger and probably, smarter.  Not really the fun filled summer I had imagined.

Dealing with his misbeahvior brought back unsettled self-pity at the loss of my previous horse. It uncovered old confidence issues in my riding abilities. And it only escalated with every ride.

Could I truly change who he was? Nope. But maybe I could meet him where he was and where he was, was a young and very smart horse. Was he also lazy with an attitude? Perhaps, but labels are for jars.

I had a couple choices: I could sell him or I could accept who he was and find the middle ground to live together amicably. As they say in the business world, you have to be flexible to be effective. So, I surrendered. I asked for guidance and it came fast, as it always does. I saw a quote by Clinton Anderson on my precious Pinterest, ‘Frustration begins when your knowledge ends’.

Clinton Anderson = Natural horsemanship (Google it if you don’t know) = something I had dabbled in years ago. It fell away as I got more involved in dressage and carriage driving but here I was out of tricks and it was back on the table.

I tore it up on YouTube, researched many trainers and pulled out old books and put it into action. He took to it immediately and combined with weekly lessons with my wonderful riding coach, we made amazing gains over the last months of the riding season.

Meeting people and things where they are is about giving others what they need, when they need it.  My horse needed a leader which I couldn’t be without more knowledge and experience.

Once I asked for help and stepped up to be the teacher and the rider he needed, I learned that he actually loved to be working – mentally and physically. The more fun we had together, the more we trusted each other and the more he tried to succeed at the boring and difficult things I asked of him like circles, roundness and thoroughness and impulsion.

And as they often do, my animals teach me about people as well.

As I was riding one night, I had a light bulb moment as I thought about friends and my frustrations – people, too, are where they are, and this is despite our desire for them to be different. Despite our wanting them to be further along, more evolved, more fun, more intelligent, more compassionate, less intimidating, and more reliable and on and on.

Believe me when I say, I learned this lesson through experience: pretty much, I am a ride or die friend. If I say I will do something, if I say I will be somewhere, if I commit to you somehow, I will show up 110%. BUT….not everyone is like this and quite simply, that is what makes the world go ‘round. I cannot tell you how many YEARS of frustrations my wishing people to be different has added up to. It’s a great feeling to let that go.

A moving quote by Iyanla Vanzant: “You have to meet people where they are, and sometimes you have to leave them there”.


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