May 20, 2012

Are You the Rider or the Ridden? ~ Alexandra Grace

Catching the Wild Horse - George Catlin

I always have my best relationship epiphanies when I’m riding a horse.

I went riding through the desert this morning on a lovely horse named Chester. Every time I visit this stable, no matter which horse I have, I have the exact same relationship epiphany. Then I forget it when I come back out of the desert. This time I’m writing it down so I remember.

For some reason, I always get paired with the most rebellious and stubborn horse on the ride. (Who says God doesn’t have a sense of humor?) Of course, Chester was no different. At one point there was a eye-shaped split in the path, where both sides would lead us to the same point, but one side was more difficult than the other. I saw it coming and tried to lead Chester to the easy side of the path, but you know which side he picked.

After Chester and I made it to the end of the split safely, something occurred to me: Chester knows I’m up here, but he’s got to walk the path too and his self-preservation will probably keep us both safe most of the time. What if I hadn’t tensed up, and just trusted Chester to pick the right path?

Then, I remembered that one of the most critical parts of the ride is having the right balance of slack and tension in the reins. You don’t want to pull back the whole time because it’s pretty difficult to move forward with someone yanking your bit into the corners of your mouth for no reason. But you don’t want to leave the reins so loose that the horse thinks he’s running the show alone and you’re just along for the ride.

Don’t we all do this in our relationships sometimes? Are you the rider or the ridden? (And I don’t mean anything freaky by that, perverts). As the rider, do you tighten the reins or whip your partner to go faster when you should trust that your partner knows how to get you down this path safely? As the ridden, do you ever scrape dangerously close to hazards that don’t concern you but that terrify your partner?

How can we get to the same place, together, without driving each other over the edge of the cliff?

The truth is, neither of us wants to get stuck out in this desert. We both want to get back to the stable at the end of the ride. If we were navigating this trail alone, we’d probably both do it differently, but we’re together. And I love you more than a horse! And you’re a much better co-pilot than a horse because you smell good. The best we can do is that you can promise to try not to scrape me off on the cactus. I’ll promise to trust you even when I’m scared. And to give you more carrot than stick.


Alexandra Grace is figuring it out. By day, she is an employment lawyer; by night, she is a yoga teacher trainee. And all the time, she brings a child-like curiosity (but an adult-like commentary) to everything she encounters. Having fallen in love with yoga over the past three years, Alex hopes that her sense of humor, honesty, and open-heart will encourage new students to find the joy she has found in yoga.


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Editor: Kate Bartolotta

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