This is one of my favorite things to remind myself of every now and again. I was pondering it earlier in the week, along with another favorite, “If what you’re doing isn’t working, do something else.” I have come to think a lot of things about Spartacus that have led me to act in certain ways. But if I surrender the belief in those thoughts, I’m free to act differently. If you read my last post, you might have come away thinking that I have no idea what I’m doing. If you did, you were following right along with my belief. And what do you know? Another opportunity to surrender a belief.

I didn’t have a lesson last week, but was able to bring Sparty into the arena for a little while with Erin. She observed some changes he’s made over these few months and said he seemed more connected, and like his head was in the game. More specifically, she said, “What you’re doing is working.” That gave me a massive boost.

Tuesday my plan was to do something different and be open to learning new things about the gladiator. I walked into the paddock filled with the joy of reunion, spartyhaving not seen him for a few days over the holiday. He moseyed over and gave me his standard greeting of a big wet lick. We had some brief playtime and then I saddled him up and took a lesson with Erin. I got on and he didn’t bolt away from the mounting block. He spooked at a cart wheeling by the arena, but I stayed on and the incident passed almost without notice (except I heard a little cheer of encouragement from Donnell and Jennifer on the sidelines – thanks guys). We had one other moment of outright defiance and that was it. He settled in to navigating cones and rode out the rest of the hour just like a regular old horse and a girl taking a lesson. For a few moments, I didn’t even think of him as Spartacus! We were just a pair doing a task, not a hypervigilant rider waiting for the next high headed high speed sidestepping trip across the arena.

Al-SpartyErin gave me a new way to think about him. I have such reverence for horses that I sometimes treat them like fabrage eggs, or beings I should serve. Her suggestion was to treat him like a little brother. He’s actually quite playful and likes to be a little annoying. It was a much easier way for me to interact with him in terms of leading and setting boundaries. Thanks Erin. I’m sure we have more mystical new agey moments ahead of us, and I do love that $^&*, but I think adding this point of view will be enormously helpful day to day.

We’ll see… I’m going to be careful not to believe everything I think…