Book Report: Whole Heart, Whole Horse

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Here’s a short book report, since I talked about this book in a recent post already. Whole Heart, Whole Horse: Building Trust Between Horse and Rider, by Mark Rashid (2009, 2014) is another book that helps you put a finger on what’s going right and what’s going wrong with your relationship to your horse. And there’s some human-human wisdom in there as well.

As usual, Rashid tells a lot of stories about his younger days with his mentor, as well as stories about people and horses he met during his clinics. One of the things that struck me with this book is how well he combines intuition with knowledge of how both people and horses work. His clinic attendees must really get a lot out of their interactions.

From this book, I learned how important balancing your reactions to things, so that horses can mirror your reactions and minimize their own reactions. His discussion of using energy to cue horses as much or more than physical cues makes a lot of sense to me. I can see where I’ve done my own horses a real disservice, but at least I have a plan for what I can work on moving forward.

We will keep working on it.

I just hope I haven’t ruined poor Apache’s life with all my emotions, fear, and inability to remain calm no matter what. I’m getting better, though, and hope I can be more consistent. That’s the other thing Rashid talks about, how horses learn to trust people through consistency. That has always been hard for me, since most of the time I’ve been with Apache I’ve not lived with him, and have been gone a lot. But you know, I also have to live my own life, so I’ll just do the best I can. I’m sure that’s what he’s doing too.

And I will try my best to forge a good relationship with Drew, now that I am getting more training and have learned more. I guess the oldest “child” is always the one that has to deal with inexperienced caregivers.

Just feed me.

I recommend any of his books to people who want to learn more about how the relationship between horses and people works. The more you learn, the more nuggets you can take and apply to your own life with equines. Plus, you’ll grow to love the horses he has worked with as much as Rashid did.

Book Report: Oh, William!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Another Elizabeth Strout book is now under my belt. I started it a while ago, then a few other things pushed their way into the queue. I was also savoring it. I do love to read the words of the fictional Lucy Barton, and that’s what all of Oh, William! is.

I love the white tulips on the cover (which are a part of the book)

Elizabeth Strout could make Lucy Barton walk across the room to go to the toilet and I’d find it poetic and striking. That’s just how Lucy’s thought processes come across to me. Even though Lucy doesn’t stray from her theme that you can really never know what’s going on in anyone else’s mind, it’s great to see her come to that conclusion over and over again, especially when it comes to her first husband, William.

Lucy has always felt like an outsider from the rest of the world, thanks to have been brought up in an isolated setting with no media or other outside influences besides school. William was, in her view, a safe haven. The plot, such as it is, revolves around Lucy slowly realizing he actually never was that.

The contrast between William and Lucy’s second husband, David, could not be stronger. David was warm, loving, and comfortable, while William was one big, scary (but fascinating) mystery to Lucy. I had so smile as I realized that Lucy just could never shake William out of her system.

William had a glamorous mother who it turned out, was not from glamorous roots at all…much like Lucy. The other subplot had to do with this woman, Catherine, who abandoned her first child…much like Lucy felt she had abandoned her daughters (but really hadn’t).

Enough about the plot. You read these books more for the way the plot presents itself and the language Strout uses to express the ideas in Lucy’s head. It’s just so, so wonderful.

Now. After I finished the book, I began wondering why I feel a kinship with Lucy and how she relates to the men in her life. It then dawned on me. I’ve had my own William and David. I literally worshipped my high school boyfriend, but in the end I had to get away to be myself. And he was much like William. And his mother was exactly like Catherine (from poverty in Mississippi to a glamorous adulthood).

But it was how Lucy felt about men that struck me. She viewed love like I did much of my life, and I never realized anyone else was like that. I always thought I was very odd. But, certain circumstances where love is sort of withheld from you can lead you to not trust yourself to really love people, so you sabotage relationships. Huh. I’ve done that. Repeatedly.

Stopped now.

Gosh, I’m glad Lucy is seeing things clearly, now that she’s my age. I hope I am, too. And if this review doesn’t make sense, well, it’s because I don’t make sense, either. Do any of us? I’ll ask Lucy in the next book.

Maturity: The Older You Are the Less You Knew

Yesterday’s walk down memory lane got me to thinking about how I felt about myself at different points in my life. I can remember standing in the middle of a pine woods in Gainesville Florida, where freshmen could park their cars, and crying my head off because I felt like there was too much knowledge in my head and that all that awesome knowledge was such a burden. It’s a wonder that High School Boyfriend didn’t just leave this overblown ego to ponder her magnificence alone right then and there. Nope, I didn’t know much at all.

Lucky for me the twilight of life is also the most beautiful part, because I’m paying attention.

In my twenties, I kept thinking to myself, every time I hit a milestone (but mostly after each of my flaming love interests exploded into black holes of nothingness), “Ah, I’ve got it figured out NOW, and I’m not going to make THAT mistake again. I’m finally wise.” Nonetheless, every time my hormones kicked in, I wallowed in their glory and glommed on to some poor unsuspecting guy. If only I’d read the fine article in this month’s Psychology Today about people who are in love with being in love! (Not online yet, pooh!)

I went directly from the love of my life to the guy who lived here (Hyde Park, Illinois), who was one of those scary possessive people…I did escape THAT. Then, it was on to the bisexual guy who claimed to be a sex addict. My twenties were active (I have omitted some people for brevity).

At least I figured out that my hormones were not necessarily my friends, and managed to stick with the NEXT one until he left me many years later. I thought I had figured all that love, hormones, relationships, friendships, and people skills stuff out. I was so wise by the time I hit 30.

This beautiful stink bug symbolizes my hormones. Lovely at first, but they leave a smelly mess if you trample them.

Guess what? I wasn’t! Life kept whacking me on top of the head, showing me where I was way off base, and sending me off to learn more. Repeatedly. I learned things like don’t go looking for the exact opposite of your ex as your next relationship. Though, I must say that those two really ARE exact opposites physically and mentally! Yes, sure, don’t repeat the same mistakes and expect different outcomes, as some of my friends are painfully figuring out right now), but don’t over-correct. I also learned that you can remain friends with people you used to be hormonally attracted to and that that can be better than the hormone frenzy.

Then in the next decade or so, I thought I’d figured life out, that giving love to kids was a much better plan. Of course they will love you if you do your best to nurture them, listen to them, be there for them, and let them fly when they need to fly. Nope, that’s not guaranteed either. You might want to check and see if the person you’re mentoring is a sociopath or suffers from borderline tendencies that they aren’t willing to or interested in working on. And again, don’t befriend the same type of person repeatedly and expect different results. I do think I’ve got that down now, and I added on to it not to link your emotional well being to that of someone else, blame yourself for their issues, etc. Hmm, I did apparently learn something…just not everything.

However you get through your metamorphosis, it’s beautiful and unique, like this clouded skipper.

Yeah, so, by the time I got to the age I am now, it became really clear that all those times I thought I had my emotional life all figured out, I hadn’t. I can laugh at it now, even if reading the old journals, just brimming with confidence that I’d got it all figured out, is painful.

Now I have a stable marriage and some stability in other areas, but I no longer have any inclination that I understand how other people (or animals, as I’m learning with horses and dogs) feel, how I feel, or how relationships work. It’s trial and error, with some help from past experiences, at best. At least for me. I no longer think I have awesome understanding of the world, its inhabitants, and how everything works. Instead, I’m in awe of how there’s no way to understand it and am enjoying my daily discoveries.

Relationships are mysterious, but they can be wonderful with mutual trust.

My message to anyone who reads this is to realize right now that you aren’t finished figuring things out, you will continue to make mistakes, but you can also continue to learn from them and face every day with new wisdom. Who cares if you didn’t know what you thought you knew way back when? Maturity is the ability to be just fine with that.

I do have the cutest lawn mowers, fertilizer spreaders, and weed eaters of anyone I know.
Crissi McDonald

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