Thursday, September 23, 2010

Tucson, Part Three (September 21 – 22)

“I need freedom now, and I need to know how to live my life as it’s meant to be.” – Mumford & Sons
I’m starting to have anxiety dreams about my plans. I know everything that I want to will happen, and I know it’ll all come together soon, but right now things are so tentative. I probably won’t feel better until I have plane tickets booked and everything. For someone who hates following rules, I suck at not having a solid plan. We booked tickets for tour today at least though! Yay.
I’ve now had two full days of barn work with Laura. Mostly just getting the cleaning, feeding routine down, but she also took the time to work with me and a couple of the horses. One of the exercises she does with her patients is unstructured round pen work with a patient and a horse one on one. The round pen methods are really interesting because the guy that developed them based them off of actual horse herd behavior. Which only makes sense, but it’s still cool to put it in to action. If a baby horse is misbehaving the mother will actually scare him or her away from the herd and stand facing baby to keep them away. Being separated from the herd is extremely anxiety producing for a horse, and generally they will correct their behavior when invited back, as to not be sent away again. When the mother thinks the baby has learned their lesson, she will turn her shoulder towards the baby and not look them in the eye, which invites them back. In this round pen exercise you act the mother horse, facing the horse you’re working with full on. By putting “pressure” on the horse’s hindquarters (by swinging a rope wand or a lead rope), they will trot around in a circle. You keep yourself fully facing the horse, level with their back legs. This is a predator position so the horse will continue to do what you’re asking as long as you keep applying the “pressure.” When you’re ready, you put down the rope, and turn your shoulder to the horse and avert your eyes, as the mother would do. The horse should come and stand at your shoulder, walking with you when you walk. This exercise can open a lot of emotions. For someone dealing with emotional baggage a fraction of the size of most of the patients my sister works with, it still made me think about a lot of things.
First I worked with Bridget, who is 22 and I’ve known her as long as my sister has had her. She’s a huge sweetheart but extremely submissive. She’s the bottom of the totem pole in Laura’s herd. Chocolate Heart loves bossing her around and generally just being as mean to her as possible. In the round pen this really shows. She gets more worked up the longer you keep her running, and will come back to you immediately when you take off the pressure.
After working with her a while, I realized how much I enjoyed the feeling of pushing her even when she was getting worked up. Then when she came back in, and we were walking around the circle, she was crowding me because that’s how she felt comfortable, but it drove me crazy. It made me thinking about how stressed and irritable I can get when I’m not fully in control of a situation or my relationship with someone. I have been working on letting go of that need to control situations, but I can tell that I’ve been burying a lot of that stress. Had the same experience with Rusty, who I definitely have the most connection to of all Laura’s horses. His energy just really clicks with me, but he is stubborn as all hell. Maybe that’s why I like him so much (har har). He is a horse, that if he doesn’t want to move, he will not move no matter what you try. I got him to go around the pen a couple of times, but every time he would come back to the same spot, stop and face me. Not in a challenging way, but just enough to hide his back legs from me. Smart horse. Then when I tried to get him to change directions, he just wouldn’t have it. So I kept him going in the same direction. The compromise felt awkward and wrong. Shouldn’t he be doing what I’m telling him to? I finally had him come back in, but I was frustrated with him. After realizing there is no right or wrong in that exercise, I started to feel like that had been a good compromise. Rusty is old and stubborn and maybe that is just something I have to accept. I’m getting better at compromising and letting situations go when they don’t go my way, but Rusty definitely helped me realize how deep-seated that need for control is in me.
Today I took him in to the round pen again, and he wouldn’t even budge. I got him to move maybe 5 steps at one point. When I told Laura, she just laughed and said that’s pretty good for Rusty. Definitely made me think about the importance of understanding every part of someone and their motivations before assuming anything about your relationship to them. That second time though, I didn’t take it personally, which I think is a step.
This is going to sound super emo, but I’ve been thinking about loneliness a lot. Or at least the feeling of being alone for a long time. I don’t know if I’m lonely right now. I went from college dorm life, to work and a relationship all summer, to being alone. A lot. I know I’m freakishly extroverted, but I think I was using my social life to get away from thinking about my feelings and myself. So it’s kind of depressing being alone all the time in a relatively unfamiliar place. But not because I feel really lonely; it’s because I’m basically being forced into all this self-reflection that I’ve been hiding from since some time in my senior year of high school. I’m certain that it’s good for me though, so I’m trying not to push it away. This disconnection from the internet, college life, constantly calling people to hang out is definitively necessary for me right now. So cheers! Here’s to accepting being alone even when all I want is to be surrounded by my friends right now.
Current song: Re: Stacks – Bon Iver
Last meal: CHIPOTLE
Currently reading: The Daily Coyote by Shreve Stockton

1 comment:

  1. I definitely understand what you mean about not really knowing if you're lonely or just adjusting to being alone. It's easy to mistake new/sudden needed alone time for loneliness.. it just depends on how you spend that time.