In The Soul of a Horse: Life Lessons from the Herd, author Joe Camp describes taking his horse Cash to a clinic to do a demonstration. Joe was uncomfortable putting his abilities on display, but he felt he must comply with the request made by his mentor Monty Roberts. In the end, he learned that what was most important to the audience was not his abilities in the demonstration but his relationship with Cash, which of course is what Roberts knew all along.
Camp wrote, ‘I thought to myself how easy it is to get so wrapped up in the task at hand, the bit of training, the trick, the discipline, that we forget about the most important part of the relationship with our horse, or anyone for that matter. The relationship itself. When you get that right, the rest is easy. I turned to Cash and rubbed him on the forehead. “What a good teacher you are,” I said.’ (1)
I recently had a similar ‘aha’ moment. I had filmed a number of feeding sessions with my senior stallion Guards Apollo. I put them all together into a short video, the intent of which was to show Apollo’s manners at feeding time. When I watched the video through the first time, though, I saw something different than what I expected. Yes, all the good manners were there; his moving off and backing up and waiting to be invited to dinner. But what I saw that surprised me was the depth of our relationship. It nearly brought me to tears. This seems crazy since I’m in the video and I shot the video and I edited the video. But there it is. Seeing what this pony, this stallion, offered me not once but over and over again, was deeply touching. I had just never stopped to appreciate it before; I had been wrapped up in the task at hand, as Camp described. Apollo, what a good teacher you are!
(1) Camp, Joe. The Soul of a Horse: Life Lessons from the Herd. New York, Harmony Books, 2008, p. 202
© Jenifer Morrissey 2011