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A Journey to Softness

I've been reading A Journey to Softness by Mark Rashid and this was something that really spoke to me.

Let us practice kindness today.

Mark shared, when he went to the horses with this as his main thought things went so much better. Because the entire book was about softness in all areas of our life, not just when working with horses, this was the underlying message.

At the end of the book there was a small lesson, a chance for us to choose softness, without us even knowing that was the lesson. I was very dismayed to find that I did not choose softness. This really made me think... for the rest of the afternoon... that much of the negativity that finds its way into my life and thereby into my horsemanship is something that I choose to let in. I am quick to find fault in myself and in Zorro. Because I am so hard on myself it only makes sense that others pick up on that vibe and beat me over the head with it.

The way to change? That is inside myself. And it will all start with my self talk, my internal thoughts and how I choose to see the world around me.

Though I do believe that being hard on myself has brought me to where I am now, negative self talk will ultimately bring me down. So it's time to change that!

This morning I was talking to my oldest son who is 19 and preparing to step out into the world and start making his own way. I have been thinking about this book every single day since I started reading and since I finished reading it. And in all the mulling around of the idea of softness I started wondering, Are some people born with this softness? If you aren't born with it is it something you can foster and grow? I thought I would ask Ben his thoughts on this. As usual, they were quite profound coming from a 19 year old.

He said he does think softness can be fostered and grown just as much as some people are born with it. When I asked how he thought one would go about fostering softness he said, "I think first you have to look at who you are now. Short tempered, prone to frustration, quick to be angry with yourself, accept who you are now and then make a conscious choice to change those things."

I was struck a bit dumb with those words, not because he described me so perfectly... after all he has grown up with me as his mom, but at the depth of his thoughts about this, at 7:00 in the morning as we were driving to town. I literally sprung this topic on him and he came up with this!! Amazing! And as usual a simple thought but not an easy one to accomplish - as so many things that have to do with horsemanship seem to be.

He went on to say, "If you approach the horse with conflicting emotions, frustration at yourself for not being able to show them what you want but the desire to be soft, they will know you are conflicted. Therefor they won't respond as you wish, which will lead to further frustration and less softness." I know this is so because anytime I have gone to my horses (or ponies!) while feeling a deep sadness or tiredness or frustration all while pretending to be fine for my horse's sake, they know. And when they know they do one of two things; they either get very soft and sweet and want to stand quietly, snuggling, or they push every single one of your buttons to see how far things can spin out of control. I'm sure these two things are really all about how the human is reacting and dissecting the horse's behaviors, but this is how it feels to me. And I've noticed that people who are naturally soft, more often than not, get the horse that wants to be sweet and snuggle. That is not the horse that shows up for me.

What a mind blowing conversation to have so early in the morning! But what a great thing for me to walk away with and to think about and mull over today.

It is my desire to be the softness my ponies need to find a balance and contentment in their life and work. I do believe that by fostering this in myself not only will it change my ponies lives but it will change my relationships on so many other levels. It will change me as a mother (and a grandmother some day!) as a wife, as a friend, as a teacher. There are so many places in my life that will be positively changed by me becoming a softer person that it seems an easy choice to work hard to foster that in myself.

If you haven't read this book I highly recommend it! I do believe it is life changing!

And now I'm off to read Whole Heart, Whole Horse by Mark Rashid. More ideas to mull over on this journey of self discovery!

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Dec 20, 2019

Just wanted to say thanks for sharing this. One of my horses can't handle any kind of non-softness, he just blows up and gets defensive-aggressive (he has PTSD or the like) so I've had to really work on softness for him, letting him set the agenda but still persuading him (softly!) to let me do what needs doing. As a result he's coming to understand that when I ask, he has the option to say no quietly and I will respect it, he doesn't have to lash out in self-defence, so now he says yes more and no more politely! At the same time I have a yearling who's experimenting to find out.what boundaries are and I need to get…

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