Wednesday, February 25, 2009


There are some negatives associated with being a writer. Here are few:

1. It can be hard to maintain relationships when one is compelled to write about them constantly.

2. "Payment upon publication."

3. Lack of fashion sense (Its not okay to go grocery shopping bra-less, wearing ratty old sweats and garden clogs?).

4. Loner tendencies (emailing cyber friends doesn't count).

5. A natural, ingrained, even compulsive tendency to dwell on life, relationships, and other unsolvable mysteries--to an exhausting level. My husband calls this, "Paralysis of Analysis." Thanks Honey.

Writing may be a pursuit that rewards the deep thinker but dissecting life isn't always a useful venture, particularly when I arbitrarily assign value or motive to circumstances and people. Sometimes the clearest view of life is the one taken from a distance and evaluated at face value. Yes, it was a horse that reminded me of this.

Horses have excellent vision from a distance. An animal created to roam the countryside, constantly foraging, horses can see and sense things clearly from afar off. This dramatically changes when you get up close and personal. Like other prey animals, horses have eyes situated on the sides of their heads, rather than in front. They are nearly blind to objects right under their nose and must rely instead on sensitive whiskers and a discerning sense of smell rather than eyesight.

As recently shared, Chance regressed this winter after a prolonged "vacation." Totally normal for a green horse but frustrating non-the-less. At the arena one day my daughter struggled to get him settled. He seemed spookier than usual, shying at the most ridiculous things over and over. Even circling a barrel he's seen a hundred times was "scary." I watched him shy at some invisible inconsistency in the dirt floor, over and over.

"Ignore that Haley," I called to my daughter. "Keep after him until he stops that nonsense."

After about twenty minutes I'd had enough. "Let me ride him."

This accomplished next to nothing. The harder I tried to get him over his insecurities about the corners, the marks in the dirt, the barrels, the more upset Chance became. We quit with him in a lather and me at the end of my rope. As I cooled him down my mind probed the scenario. Chance was unpredictable. Also potentially unstable. Those were the "deeper" issues. I was foolish for thinking he would ever work out for Haley. We'd probably never be able to trust him. Maybe he was doing it on purpose to get out of work, plotting ways to frustrate me while he lounged in his paddock at night. I thought about selling him and constructed a possible Dreamhorse ad in my mind: Small, mentally unsound pinto for sale. Shies with precision at barrels, white rails, clumps of dirt, spiders. Experienced rider with good balance recommended. Get more exercise in the saddle!

A few days later we took Chance to a lesson. He was a complete gentleman, level-headed with a good work ethic. Not a spooky bone showed. Suddenly I had a thought. He can't see in the other arena.

The more I considered it, the more convinced I became. The other arena was naturally dark--no open sides or windows. Not only that, I never turned the lights on (I can save two bucks on arena fees that way). Chance only spooked in that arena, when the lights were off. Duh! A simple, honest effect of a simple and honest cause--lack of clear vision. Chance isn't unstable mentally or trying to frustrate me on purpose. He couldn't see!

To confirm my suspician I trailered Chance to a third arena. It was airy and well-lit but potentially scary in that it was new to him. I turned on the lights for good measure. Despite horses galloping outside within view and semi trucks driving by engaging their Jake Brakes, Chance remained level-headed and steady. I felt foolish (did I mention I keep horses for humility?). Also disappointed in myself. I never once gave Chance the benefit of the doubt but imagined motives and thoughts he most certainly did not have (and, as a horse, isn't even capable of having).

Of course, human beings are capable of motive and manipulation. However, I shudder to think of the hours I have wasted, the unfair character "profiles" I have created for others based on behavior I didn't understand at the time and over evaluated. While discussing a troublesome relationship, a good friend and fellow horsewoman said, "I cannot think of one time where dwelling on a persons perceived motive in a situation proved helpful." I thought about that statement for a long time afterward. She's right. There is wisdom in taking things at face value, looking at them from a distance, as it were, rather than examining it at close range where things are out of focus and I am easily offended. Allow a person's behavior to be what it is, without embellishment, until further information. That's my new goal for clearer vision in life.


Julie Garmon said...

Beautiful, Cath. Needed it today.

Catherine said...

Hi Julie-Babe. Thanks for checking in; I'm glad you got something out of this post. Sometimes I think, "Am I nuts for finding this connection?" Certainly, I am nuts at times--lol! At any rate, that one comment from my friend has been of so much help in my dealings with others. Sometimes we can be too deep, huh?:)