Sometimes it takes getting out of your comfort zone to remind you who you really are. Arizona is out of my comfort zone in general – it’s desert and mountains and terrain the likes of which you don’t see often if you’re from the Caribbean. It’s dry and hot and the air is thin.
Hi, I’m in the boonies. All black everything may not have been a great choice.
And besides the climate, as part of the Clarins Miraval Resort experience, we were invited to not just try the spa treatments, but to embark on one of their legendary activities. Some of my blog buddies chose to participate in Swing And a Prayer (which I noticed Gayle did, but not Oprah. I don’t blame you, Oprah). I skipped that and opted just for the Equine Experience with Wyatt Webb, and a special activity called It’s Not About The Horse, it’s About You. And let me tell you, I was EXCITED.
I love horses. I love donkeys. I love mules. When you live in a big city, your exposure to these kinds of majestic animals is limited to sadly gazing at them as they draw carriages for indulgent families and couples in well to do tourist areas and parks. Every now and then I try to convince my husband to help me execute my childhood fantasy of someday having a rescue farm for retired donkeys and horses – kind of like The Gentle Barn. “Won’t it be nice to retire on our farm?” I say. “No way,” he says. We may never have the farm of my childhood dreams, but someday when I am grown enough to afford the lifestyle, I want to be able to spend more time around horses and donkeys and mules. So when I knew this moment was coming, I was already EXCITED.
And here’s the thing – horses can sense fear. Seriously. Horses can figure out your emotional intent and maturity level long before they even flick a tail in your direction. Hence the title of the exercise, It’s Not About The Horse, it’s About You. Your mission is to walk up to this horse and get him to lift his leg and give you his foot so you can clean his shoe off with this little metal thing. Sounds easy, right? Wrong.
First of all, this isn’t a petting zoo with horses conditioned to nuzzle with you. These horses are all wearing fly masks, so you can’t even look into their beautiful eyes. These horses will not make you feel like you’re going to be best of friends. They’ve got stunna shades on.
Second of all, Wyatt Webb is all about psyching you up and figuring you out. He’s a grizzled older horseman who has seen a LOT of the world (and written several books on horses and conquering fear). He will look at your appearance and behavior and break you all the way down without batting an eyelid. And that’s what he proceeded to do to the bloggers I was with. Julia breaks down her whole experience on Bloginity right here. Wyatt Webb will look at you and tell you that fear is keeping you back, put that damn phone down and live in the moment, he will ask you questions about your childhood, and if you’re not prepared or gangsta, he will probably make you cry. It’s like group therapy with a cowboy. People bare their souls out there in the desert. It gets kinda heavy.
I did not volunteer to go first. I was fourth into the ring. By the time I came in, tears had been shed and many of us were feeling vulnerable and Elvis the horse had barely lifted his leg. Wyatt looks at me and asks if I’m ready. I say yes. I walk over to the horse, bend, grab his leg in the little crevice where we’re supposed to, and BOOM. Elvis the horse lifts his leg and gives me his foot, exactly as he’s supposed to. YES!!! And finally I’m allowed to pet Elvis (which is all I really wanted to do anyway). I’m like YAY, horses!
Then Wyatt Webb turns to me and says, “Has anyone ever told you you’re an intense woman?”
No sir, they haven’t. Not exactly that.
“You’re an intense woman. You know who doesn’t like being around a powerful, intense woman?”
No sir, I don’t.
“A weak man.”
And then he’s done with me. I was like…wait. What? What just happened? Am I done now? Do I get more horse time? Can we talk about my problems? I promise I’ve got some to talk about! My whole experience might have taken 5 minutes. 7, tops.
But I learned that my problem du jour apparently isn’t fear (at least, not the kind that a horse can help with). And even though my equine experience was shorter than my friends, I still feel like I got a lot out of it. I still keep turning that moment over in my head and trying to think of what exactly it all means. When I called my husband to tell him about it he was like “yup! Powerful woman. We’re still not getting a horse farm.”
So what did I learn from the equine experience?
I learned that so much of the internalized fear and hesitation we all feel comes from childhood. You’re born fearless and then taught to be afraid and to doubt yourself. When you’re a little kid you think you can do ANYTHING. And it’s your interactions with the world that teaches you that you can’t. Thinking back to those first moments when you were told “you can’t” or “you’re not **insert adjective here*** enough” by your parents, teachers, or classmates can be a clue as to why you react the way you do to things that happen now in your adult years. By age 7 or 8, you’re already full of self doubt. And that sucks. And it can hold you back if you let it.
I learned it’s important to approach (horses and life in general) with determination and intent to get the results you want.
If you approach horses (and life) with fear, hesitation and trepidation, you won’t achieve your desires.
We live in a cycle of constantly being busy, and often it’s our choice. You should do your best to live in the moment. Stay in the moment. Enjoy the moment. Stop existing through your phone. You don’t need to respond to everything right away. And by keeping your phone in your hand at the ready to always share what’s happening, often you can miss what’s really happening.
If you’ve worked hard to make something happen, celebrate your victories – you deserve that!
And that’s what I learned at Miraval, from a man named Wyatt and a horse named Elvis. Thanks again to Clarins for making the whole experience possible!
Have you spent time around horses? What’s your experience been?