Random thoughts from my journal…(Because confidence is needed to ride a horse, I’m been journalling a lot lately on what assertive looks like and how it differs from control. This is a just a random selection of those thoughts. I realize they aren’t complete yet and is here more as a reflection of where I need to grow as a person than as absolute conclusion.)
You need to use your assertive voice when telling the horse what to do.
My assertive voice? Really? Uhm.. I guess a squeaky “please trot” just isn’t going to cut it with Cowboy, huhn?
Nope. When you are assertive, the horse will trust you. If you are passive, the horse with jack with you. Your choice. Oh and visually focus on where you want cowboy to go, or he’ll pick his own path.
I thought I was just signing up for a fun escapist kind of hobby. I was wrong. She wasn’t kidding about Cowboy either. If I’m the least bit uncertain about what I want to do, he’ll totally jack with me. I love riding Cowboy.
This isn’t what I expected when I signed up for riding lessons. I really just wanted to escape the testosterone around me. Don’t get me wrong, I love my guys. Even so, being the only female in a house full of men gets overwhelming some days
Instead of just horseback riding, I’m learning about assertive vision. Which brings me to a bigger question really. What is the difference between being assertive and being controlling?
- I believe there is a world of difference between a woman fighting for control and a woman fighting to survive in a lactose intolerant (patriarchal) society. I see it a lot. Men talking over women and women either fighting harder to be heard, or retreating into silence. I’ve done both in my life. I can also get fuzzy over the line between setting boundaries and controlling an issue, which leaves me all over the map in this equation.
- When it comes to the dynamics of men and women it is usually said that men take and women give. It’s the age-old paradigm of relationships. The masculine archetype is assertive. Usually. But where does that leave the woman? Can she not be assertive also?
- If the obvious answer is yes, women can and should be assertive, why is it then that when women are assertive they are accused of being controlling? Is there a false dichotomy that male assertiveness is good and female assertion is bad?
- And in moments of found courage, where women do speak up why oh why do men say “Let your gentleness be evident to all?” For some strange reason that particular phrase spoken at the wrong moment brings out anything BUT a gentle response from me. My inner brat wants to shake her fist and run naked through a field just to spite them.
Not a gentle response to be sure.
Self destructive rebellion is not the answer.
Three months of riding lessons later, Cowboy and I get along really well. I prefer not to use stirrups when I ride and next week, I get to ride Prince bare back. I don’t have to go big when being assertive with the horses, just consistent. Consistency breeds confidence, confidence breeds a quiet assertiveness..
That or Cowboy is still jacking with me.
I’m not sure.
Added: June 22, 2011 — I’ve now ridden Prince (another horse at Jo’s barn) bareback twice. We even galloped yesterday, which I’ve decided rocks more than anything.
This post written by Deana O’Hara for Redemption’s Heart. All rights reserved, June 8, 2011