A bit of a personal one for today.....
I have been sitting on blogging on here for a while. I have been keeping consistent with the wedding side of things and slowly but surely that is growing into something amazing. While here has been neglected and the business has reflected that right back at me.
But life has been busy.
I have had some huge changes come up the main one being relocating to somewhere else in the country and the work that goes into moving two businesses and that brought to light how Hoofbeats & Pawprints has suffered through lack of attention. Don't get me wrong I have had some amazing shoots over the past few months but I want more because I love doing this!
So what does this have to do with young horses?
When I bought Pearl and she came home at 6 months old although incredibly exciting in all honesty according to the rule book I wasn't ready for such a huge responsibility, which was true. I was I suppose still reeling and confidence damaged from what had happened with Dizzy and although I desperately love horses and Pearl gave me the correct gut feeling, I wasn't at the time right for a horse so young. I was still operating from a place of fear.
Don't get me wrong I wasn't jumping out of fright every time she moved or beating her over every innocently wrong thing she did because it frightened me. I was exceptionally lucky, she was a saint literally. Somehow this large ball of fluff came with the gentlest of natures and I had great support around me.
And so we bumbled along happily on various adventures working one another out. Everything as far as I was concerned was going well, I was pushing myself as far my fear boundary would let me and kept surrounding myself with good support.
Then Pearl hit 18 months old....
I was totally unprepared for this. It was like a light switch went off in her brain that it was time to challenge, time to push the boundaries. But only towards me. It was like she decided I wasn't suitable to lead any longer as she was bigger, stronger and more confident. It was overnight.
I went to get her from the field and we had ears flat back, bucking, rearing, charging at my back while leading her. Within the space of a couple of weeks I was terrified of her and avoiding her. Things had gone so wrong. I was wearing a hat, body protector and carrying a whip to handle her.
Thing was she was perfect for anyone else who handled her. This action was her reflecting my fear and lack of confidence right back at me. Of course this is hindsight back then I thought I just had a young horse who didn't like me.
It all came to head around early of winter 2015. She was tied up on the yard and I was trying to do her feet when she reared up in my face. I will always regret my reaction. I screamed, absolutely howled blue murder all the built up fear and frustration came out and I kicked her in the belly. Hard.
It didn't improve the situation one bit...
And the guilt I felt after was awful. At this point in my life as well there were other factors, my business wasn't doing so great and I wasn't where I had hoped to be. I had the stress of a tax bill I hadn't expected to be big and I was working my backside off every single day. So every thing inside of me was negative and I had just lashed out at the one thing, my horse who was supposed to be my escape from all of that.
And so I changed.
Everything I was doing, every action, every reaction and thought was coming from a negative and fearful place. I wasn't operating from a place of joy or happiness and that was manifesting right in front of me through my horses behaviour. Horses are highly emotionally intelligent its how they survive as a herd. They don't want to be near anything thats not aware or in control thats to big a risk to their safety.
I got help with Pearl with Mandi Claxton from Innate Horsemanship who showed me how to communicate to Pearl what it was I wanted in a calm, kind and firm way. The real work however came from my own mindset. Which I put everything I had into through a business mentor, reading and journaling I changed my outlook on the world. Consistently and with patience that it would take time. The same way with Pearl.
Lessons with Mandi weren't an overnight success...
I had to bring those tools into every aspect of my handling of my young intelligent horse. The challenging behaviour didn't just stop. Many many times Pearl challenged me as consistently as I was trying to prove my worth as her leader. The amount of near miss kicks to the head, turn out sometimes taking me half an hour longer than everyone else because she decided to have a tantrum, not standing nicely, aggression over food around me, a double barrel kick in the stable.... I could go on! It took months of me consistently and calmly showing her that I could lead.
It was the same in my business...
Everyday showing up and doing the work. Not just physical work, but addressing head on every single negative feeling or fearful thought. It was a long time of focused positive action (the same as with Pearl) before I started to see the results.
Its so easy to go into wanting to change something, to better something with all the initial motivation but when there isn't instant result we give up or get frustrated. The hard part comes from staying consistent and patient.
One of the best things I learned from Pearl...
Was stand and be still. Literally just that. After we achieved something or she gets something right her reward is the release of just being still and not having anything asked of her, which means you have to release all intention and be still. For me someone who is always go go go, I am in a rush, this needs to be done NOW this was bloody hard. But actually stopping and enjoying a small achievement and being grateful for it is where the success comes from. Otherwise whats the point? Same in business, being grateful and enjoying every single little goal achieved moved me further forward towards achieving the bigger goals and made me a happier person for it.
So where are we now?
The past two months both in business and Pearl have been incredible. Far beyond my wildest dreams for what my simple goals were at the beginning of the year. And it keeps getting better.
I moved Pearl to Devon last Tuesday and proud doesn't even sum up how I felt. I got her out of the field at 5am without a fuss, something not even considered without a near death experience a few months ago, we had a nice groom and some breakfast before the lorry came and then after a little sniff of the ramp when it arrived she walked straight on after nearly a year of not being on a lorry. She travelled to Devon from Kent without so much as squeal and when we got there came calmly off the box and walked around her new environment politely with me leading. EVEN with her soon to be new friends galloping around.
All of that was the pay off of months of consistent and patient work to get her to realise that I am trustworthy leader.
Same with my wedding photography business. Months of consistent, patient and positive work has seen it flourish. And now its time to include Hoofbeats & Pawprints on that action.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this :) Here is one recent photo of Pearl which really does sum up the magnificent horse she is becoming.