During an equestrian lesson to learn how to communicate with my horse, my trainer pointed out how willing my horse is. My horse is very forward moving with so much eagerness that he will anticipate what I’m about to ask him to do. “Wait,” I say, “Wait for me to ask. We can do this together. To do that, you have to wait for my ask.”

In a previous post, I shared a commitment to a change within myself that perpetuates poor social perceptions through toxic masculinity. As a result, I began to question my assignment of identifying three healthy commitments that I could work on as a new direction for psychological safety. Does a healthy commitment to myself mean that it has to be solely for myself?

While the subject of toxic masculinity could be argued as an effort more focused on others, how can we challenge our perception of toxic othering if we do not work on an effort to understand our own lessons that can compliment the changes we desire to see in the world?

Much like I ask my horse to listen with a willingness to understand what I’m asking of him, am I willing? Have I been really willing to change myself so he has clarity of what I am asking? I have been wondering about my toxic perceptions of gender binary narratives. How much of my bias is flowing into my communication with my male horse? I have come to the conclusion that, not only may this view of male versus female be creating a gap in my communication with him, there is a tremendous possibility that it is generating a conflict with my attempted dialogue with humans. The question becomes, what am I willing to park to help change the way we work?

I will continue forward with the healthy commitments I have published because I do believe that new commitments with further specificity will come as I travel the path of feeling emotions that are automatic reactions to something that may need further attention. Isn’t that the point of self-improvement? Much like I am asking my horse to be willing to change, I will need to listen to my feelings to recognize challenges that are a learning opportunity that may otherwise lay hidden.

As my horse stood before me with his head lowered in a relaxed state, I asked, “I’m learning how to be willing to change so you and I can have a better partnership. Are you still willing to do this with me?” I signaled for him to move with energy to my right. As though he understood my question, he eagerly moved to my right with so much energy it almost scared me. He collected himself in a movement so beautiful it was shocking. I didn’t teach him that. I am nowhere near the skillset to be able to teach him that. I signaled him to stop and gave him a release because that was a gift from him. As though he was responding, “Yes. I hear you. I’m with you.”

Horsemanship is about leadership. We have had too many poor examples of leadership. My horse, however, is teaching me all I need to feel about what real leadership can and should be.

If we are impatient it is because we are concerned with ourselves. When it becomes about the horse, we’ll have all the time in the world.” – Mark Rashid