We are never so far off as when we are doing what we think we should be doing, or listening to what we have been taught as opposed to how it makes us feel.
There is a quote that hangs on our bathroom wall, "In the end we will conserve only what we love, love only what we understand and understand only what we have been taught."
For years I cherished this quote. I still do, but with an amendment ~ that we are able to fully understand only when we learn to follow a feel. The term "follow a feel" in the horsemanship world was coined (to my knowledge) by the Dorrance brothers. Essentially, and quite literally, it means we are following one or many sensations that we feel.
The learning comes when we equate that feeling with an experience. All experiences that are stored as memories are related to how we felt, or rather, what we were sensing as emotions that were triggered within that experience. When we learn by following a feel, we are engaged because we are relaxed enough to feel in the first place, trusting enough to be vulnerable and open enough to be willing.
Following a feel requires the freedom of choice. From a felt sense of that freedom, without any attachments. Easy to say, easy to write about...less easy to put into practice.
Watching my oldest daughter, Rayann, the other day work with our 2017 foals, both fillies following her like they had this act rehearsed. And my heart swelled with pride, like any parent's would, watching my daughter's soft, open hands and smiling, inviting face confidently ask them to follow her. To which they both were willingly interested in.
This experience, for the fillies, was a building block in how they not only relate to humans, but also how they relate to others and themselves. No different than it is for us.
This experience, for Rayann, was a confirmation within her that she had all the potential and abilities to create this kind of outcome with the foals. Having been not quite so successful with her own horse Summer, what Rayann gained in those few moments leading the foals had been imprinted, become intrinsic, within her. A learned experience to take back and offer to Summer.
This experience, for myself, was a gained understanding of my whole concept of learning to follow a feel. Trying to help and teach my daughter about following a feel with Summer, meant that Summer led and Rayann followed...much to her frustration and me feeling like I was letting her down, in that the outcome was rarely relaxed, trusting or willing. The experiences with Summer thus far had ended with more disappointment than smiles.
All Rayann wanted was to ride Summer. All I wanted was Rayann to understand that Summer will learn when she is not trying to protect herself by having someone jump on her back when she is not fully willing. All Summer wanted was to show us that neither one of us was following a feel - both were wrapped up their own thoughts: Rayann of having the wind blow through her hair as she galloped across the field on Summer's back. Me of wanting to save Rayann and Summer from going through struggle, frustration, anger and hurt.
While I can't speak for Rayann, I can share that I now have a greater understanding that we can't protect or save anyone from their experiences. All of the times we follow a feel and don't follow a feel, that's what gives us our experiences, and our learning.
Summer's wisdom, from the #horsewisdomRevelations ~
"to Align - when one holds dear something to them that is born from an outer world, the definition by which they live is but a sham. Walk with your head held high and denounce that which has led you to believe in false truths that do no compliment the nature and way of your being. Honour those who have come before you, preparing your way... but impart the graciousness of what you feel and recognize within you as a bold new way of upending a level of dedication to an extrinsic state of being."
Learning to follow a feel means sensing that which offers you a natural, relaxed, inspiring and open sense of your environment. Learning to follow a feel also means learning what you don't want to follow, what doesn't resonate, what doesn't feel right.
Getting bucked off a horse means, hopefully, you might feel into what your horse is wanting you to follow next time. Giving someone a compliment because it feels right, and having them well up with tears because they thought no one ever noticed means, hopefully, you might listen to that feeling inside you a little more often. Saying yes to an opportunity that scares the hell out of you but because you have been building your feel, even though you don't know where it will lead you, but you decide to follow it...