Standing in Your Truth
Hello Beautiful Ones,
If you love animals, or positive shifts in humans, you'll want to read this to the end. It's a bit long, but a true story of what is possible when we stand in our truths. Here we go:
I felt what we were doing to the horses was wrong. It’s not like we were being physically abusive, but somehow I still felt that we were (unnecessarily) trying to dominate them. We were trying to get them to do what we wanted them to do regardless of what they might seem to be feeling.
I had been invited to an equine assisted training (or something like that). I didn’t really know what we were going to be doing but it sounded great because we were going to be able to participate with horses. I don’t know about you, but that’s not something I’ve done much of, so I was excited!
This event was to go for about 3 hours on a particular Sunday afternoon. My drive time was an hour and a half each way. There were two facilitators, 2 participants, at least for a while and then the 3rd participant showed up, so 5 in all. At first there was a little ice breaker where four of us humans tried to get the horses, all 3 of them, from one end of the barn to the other. It took a while but eventually we accomplished our goal. The instructions were that we could not talk – not to each other, not to the horses, and we could not touch the horses. We flapped our arms, made a little noise by allowing our arms to flop down against our legs, and every once in a while someone would catch the eye of another and some pointing occurred, a sort of communication to indicate that one person wanted the other to go “that way”. Soon we were all, 4 humans and 3 horses, at the other end of the barn. Once there, talking resumed and we discussed 3 topics: challenges, strengths, and actions. It was pretty cool. I kind of liked what was going on. I was thinking that we humans sure were clever. We got the horses to do what we wanted. I don’t know about anyone else, but I was feeling a little puffed up. It felt good that through our encouragement and persistence they did what we wanted.
The next exercise was to choose one horse and get it to go down an aisle that we had created from objects in the barn. At first I could see four blue 55-gal plastic drums, some orange road cones, some white PVS pipes like 15-18ft long, a large round green ball, and of course some rules about talking and whether or not we could go in the aisle and what “consequence” if we did, and there was a statement made by the facilitators that we could use whatever resources we could find in the barn. I looked around and saw some plastic buckets, some colorful funoodles (the floaty things that go into swimming pools) and a few other objects. About the only rule was that we could not touch the horses. With not too much other instruction or information, we were encouraged to begin. I was all about mentally using my energy to invite the horse to follow me, or come with me, or go on her own, but I was not very successful. In the meantime, others were clicking their tongues, calling the horse’s name, patting their own leg, etc. Things didn’t seem to be working for them either. At some point, someone got two of the funoodles and began to wave them in the one horse’s face trying to make her turn as she was no longer headed in the direction that we had deemed “the end”. It felt very uncomfortable for me to watch this. It just felt wrong. I said, “Oh no!” but not very loud apparently because none of the other three heard me. My body was becoming uncomfortable. I saw the look in this beautiful horse’s eyes. Funoodles were being waved up and down right in her face, people were making noises, calling her, waving their arms, all this seems so upsetting to her, and also to me. “I don’t like this,” I said, again not quite loud enough for the others to hear me. They had a mission. Their mission was to get the horse to go through the alley we had created, including going around the “challenge” (the large ball), and to get her to “the end”. At some point I became so upset I could hardly stand it, and at that point the horse turned and came down the alley just to get away. These humans were cheering and congratulating each other. She, on the other hand, ended up at the other end of the barn as far away from us humans as possible. The other two horses followed her. I couldn’t blame any of them. I wanted to be away from these same humans, but I couldn’t let myself leave. I had to say something. I had to speak. I had to go against the crowd, regardless of the consequences. I had to speak my truth.
“Don’t ever do that again!” I said to one of the participants who had flailed the funoodles in the horse's face. “I don’t like this,” I said to the owner. “I don’t like what we did. I don’t like how we treated this horse!” I was met with a bit of chiding where others didn’t feel like my point was so valid. “We had a mission,” I said, “but to what end? Do you really feel that it was ok to shove items into the horse’s face just so that she would do what you wanted?” "I think we accomplished our goal,” said the therapist. “I think the only thing we accomplished here is to realize that humans can be assholes,” I responded. “Were you not aware of how uncomfortable the horse became as we continued to shove our desire to reach our goal into her face? Does how she feel have no meaning, as long as we reach our goal?” I no longer cared if these people liked me. I felt compelled to speak up even though all I wanted to do was to run far away. I wanted to “not” feel the feelings that I was feeling. But I knew I had to stay – not even like a thought, or a choice, but an energy stronger than my reasoning had me speaking and standing up to these humans. I had to try my best to get them to understand how uncomfortable all this was making me…. and more importantly, how uncomfortable this should be making all of them!
I was encouraged to stay and work through all of this by the owner. I agreed. We went to the board again. What were our challenges? Our strengths? Our actions? We had several things that we talked about regarding our challenges, but each time I challenged back. Why was participating with this beautiful horse in this negative manner ok with them? Who do we, as humans, think we are, that if someone, or something, doesn’t do what we think they should do according to "our mission” that we think we have the right to torment them until they relent? How big is our pride that forcing the horse down the alley is more important than being respectful to another, especially such a spiritual energy? Over and over, one facilitator, the therapist who was also a horse farm owner, seemed to be confused as to why I had any upset over this. Stories were shared about how others might “train a horse” or whether or not one should be consistently firm with a horse to make sure they know who’s boss. I felt so uncomfortable that again I just wanted to run away, but I couldn’t. I felt I needed to be, not that I realized it at the time, but I needed to be a voice for these horses. “Stop this” I said. “Find another way. If this is team building, I don’t want to ever participate in anything like this ever again!” I was adamant. My voice was strong, and sure. Surprisingly, although I was confronting others, I felt no discomfort in my body, just an absolute knowing that I was speaking a truth, and it was powerful. I was convicted, but clear….. a little angry, a little frustrated, but calm. I wasn’t confronting anyone for myself. I was speaking as a human from the horses’ perspective. I wanted these people to “hear” what I was saying. I didn’t like this exercise, and I knew that the horses didn’t like it either. Somehow I could just tell.
Our third participant, who had gotten lost, had finally arrived at the farm as we were all again at the board discussing our challenges, strengths, and possible actions that could be taken. Soon it was time for our third activity of which she participated. This time there were two makeshift pens. We were to get one horse to go in one pen for 5 seconds and another to go into the other pen, also for 5 seconds. No touching the horses, and of course, everyone was on eggshells because of what had just transpired about funoodles and how I felt we were treating the horses. There was an agreement that we needed to be aware of the horses, how things were affecting them, and definitely no funoodle waving in the horses’ faces. There was little else to go by other than to *make it happen*. I suggested that we mentally *invite* the first horse into the pen. With that not working, I tried dancing a little to see what would happen. Nothing. The horses wanted nothing to do with any of this. Then the 3 of us felt a little helpless, facilitators looked on. We don’t know anything about horses or how to try and get them to do what you want them to do. Finally, the funoodles were brought out again. This time they were to be used as guiding posts and things that could be used to block the horse if it started to go the opposite way. None of this worked. Why would it? The horses didn’t trust us. They wanted nothing to do with us and eventually I stepped away from the antics of the others and tried to go within myself to try and call the horse to me through my spiritual self. Eyes closed, eyes open. My body again uncomfortable watching this insanity, and I walked out of the barn. As I was leaving one of the other participants called out, “Are you not ok with this either, Debbie?” “Oh noooooooooo,” I said, not turning back but kept on walking out the arena. I just wanted to leave, to get away from this. I couldn’t stand it. It was horrible for me to watch humans trying to dominate, trying to get the horses to do what they wanted, regardless of what the horses were showing us. I saw the horses shut down, practically close their eyes. I saw their disinterest. I felt their reservation to participate with us. I don’t blame them at all.
I felt very disappointed in the owner of the horses, the other facilitator (the therapist) and the other participants. Finally the event was over and it was time for me to go. I said my good byes and left as quickly as I could.
Before I got to the end of the street I started crying. I cried for the next 30 miles. I cried because I couldn’t believe that, even though there was no physical discomfort to the horses, we had made them mentally, or emotionally, uncomfortable. I saw the way this one horse’s eyes looked and how her head jerked back when those waving funoodles were right there in her face. I saw how she looked left and right for a place to escape but she was sort of trapped between people, barrels, plastic poles, and cones. For me, I was acutely aware of her discomfort. The others, well, they were attempting to accomplish their mission, and therefore I believe that they were focused on themselves and their wants/needs/desires and were not really aware of what was going on around them (like how they were making the horses feel). I had not want to be a part of their plan. I wanted out. I said so, but I ended up staying, and then I found out why.
I don’t know anything about horses. I’ve only been around them a handful of times. But I know that I would not like for someone to do to me what was being done to them. I felt it was wrong. I knew I was right. I stood my ground. I spoke my truth. And you know what was truly wonderful? As I stood there in my truth, speaking the words with my feeling of absolute conviction, all three horses came over and stood amongst us. It was so amazing that everyone noticed. This happened each of the 3 separate times I spoke out. Not ever having been around horses, I had no idea what that meant.
Here’s the good part. The one owner/facilitator called me a couple of hours after the event. She said that what happened that day was an eye-opener for her. She said that she can clearly see that she needs to alter the program, and there will be no more funoodles included in any of the activies. There needs to be more respect for the horses. We humans will have to find another way. She talked about me standing in my truth and very genuinely she thanked me. She is the one who said that I was a voice for the horses. I had no idea. I wasn’t after a compliment, but I cannot imagine a more delicious compliment in all of the world than to think that I had been that voice, a voice that made a difference, a positive difference.
How important is it to stand in your truth? Can you see it…..can you see the importance? There is nothing greater than to speak what is true for you. I don’t care that it was me, but I can say, that I am beyond happy to know that one tiny part of life is better because someone spoke their truth.
My hope is that you find your truth and stand up for it; that you stand in your truth, and stand in your power; that you find your conviction, and regardless of the upset of others, be who you truly are!
Huge hugs and big love,