October 16, 2011

How My Horse Schooled Me In Yoga: Part One. ~ Sarah Jenkins

Photo: pmarkham

“She’s going to rodeo you, Sarah, wait for it!”,  My trainer chuckles as Claddagh shifts her weight, threatening to go down on one knee to prevent me picking up her front left hoof. I feel helpless. I feel as if my arm is stretched to the ground, like Inspector Gadget’s mechanical arm, lengthened by the mere weight of her pressure downwards. As my hands shake with anxiety, I’m humbly trying to remember how to pick up her front hoof. I used to be able to do this.

Stubborn. Willful. Intelligent. Claddagh, my horse, is a little like me. I swear she is sticking her tongue out. “You can’t make me do it, Mom,” she says. And she’s laughing. I can feel my frustration building, but not with her; with myself. “I just can’t get it right.”

You see, I have always been good at most things that I had a passion for. But not right now, and it freaks me out. Most things, except for math and sports, came pretty easily to me. What I enjoyed, I was able to manifest successes in.  Similarly, what I wasn’t good at, I just wouldn’t do or even try: “You can’t make me.” Hence, how my horse is just like me. As a side note, don’t think that my mother hasn’t reminded me of this fact, chuckling at the parallels between her raising me, and me being a partner with my horse.

Logically, I know that I can’t help Claddagh help us by focusing on being good at this. I also know that I am committed and won’t quit on my horse. Instead, I realize that I am stuck in a world of “direct line thinking”, as Natural Horsemanship Trainer Pat Parelli would say, and just focusing on the goal rather than the process.

Claddagh knows it too, because she is also a yogi.

In a parallel process, I know about attachment because of my yoga practice. On and off the mat, being attached to something, like an outcome, has never helped me. In fact, it has taken me further away from whatever goal I thought I was supposed to have at the time. If I had an expectation, the abyss of wishing my poses looked a certain way, that I was different, or that I could be good at it, would swallow me whole. Yoga laughed at me when I tried to shape it to be what I thought it should be. I would hurt myself, get more anxious, or be disappointed because I didn’t just allow the experience unfold; rather I tried to control it.

Apparently, picking up a horse’s hoof was part of the eight-limbed path of yoga and letting go of my attachment to things; letting go of my attachment to how she should act, how I should act, what should happen and how I would learn.

It also seems that Claddagh, and all of the horses before her, read the Yoga Sutras way before I did. They had my attention.


Sarah Jenkins MC, LPC is the founder of Dragonfly International Therapy, a therapy practice designed to help those in recovery from trauma. As a coach and mentor, Sarah also helps healers discover their healing practices, asking them to step into their personal power and greatness. Above all, Sarah’s greatest bliss is connecting horses and trauma survivors, helping those in recovery to heal their hearts and find their light within through equine inspired therapy.  More information about Sarah can be found on her website or by visiting www.eaemdr.com.

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