During my stay in England I had a chance to tell Juliano's story to a lot of different people including Linda. This got me thinking about how we can change the lives of our horses and how important it is to share our stories with others in order to see the difference we've made. So for those who don't know us yet here are few words of introduction.
I met Juliano 5 years ago, he was 9 at that time. He was aggressive and had a very negative attitude towards people. He was spooky and unconfident and he seemed introverted to me at that time. This is what I came to every day at first:
Not a pretty picture!
I don't know his whole history but I know he raced when he was 2/3 years old, finished his racing carrier at the age of 4. After that he went from one owner to next, he was ridden in draw reins and was basically a "difficult horse".
I always looked at Juliano through the perspective of his past experiences but the further in programme we've got (level 1 than 2 and 3) the more changes started to happen in both of us. In the last year things were going so good I almost forgot what problems and nightmares from his past life we have faced on daily basis 3-4 years ago.
Over the years we’ve hit some serious bumps in the road and there were times I thought I should quit riding and just have Juliano as a "pet". At the beginning it was quite hard for me to believe that we are on the right path. I had problems with doing one lap of canter without spinning out of control while others were riding their "obedient" horses past us looking at me pitifully . I than found myself in a place where I wouldn't ride in front of anyone except my Parelli friends. During one of his demo's at RFOH Pat said to the British crowds "Death before embarrassment" and this is exactly how I felt. Not only did I choose a different path with my horse but people didn't understand it and they wanted to see results straight away.
Soon after that we've started having breakthrough after breakthrough. Sometimes progress manifested itself in tiny, baby steps and if I had problems with seeing it I always had Joanna and Magda to fall back on. I often said to my friends "I don't need an instructor when I'm riding, I need a shrink". And that's who we were for each other, a shoulder to cry on if we varied off course. Even now when things don't go according to plan or we have a bad day with J, I can talk to them and in the matter of seconds I'm back on my feet, motivated and positive. I think everyone needs to share their stories. Having true, like-minded friends is a blessing but even if you don't have such people around you there is plenty of us in the World. That is why I want to encourage you to share your stories with other Parelli people. Via blog, Share Parelli, Facebook, forums, you name it. This is what we people need in order to stay positive and positive leaders is something our horses need us to be.
Yesterday I opened J's box and allowed him to wonder around the stable. I stood there for at least an hour observing him as he went form horse to horse saying "Hello", playing with hanging head collars and trying to dismantle stable doors. I was amazed how curious he was and believe me he was everything but curious when I got him. How can a horse change like this? The answer is simple - I allowed him to take from me what was taken from him before. Even thought I've made tons of mistakes, he was able to get his dignity, curiosity and playfulness back because I allowed him to do so and encouraged him through play. I could be there for Juliano because I had my friends there for me!