Villa de Angostura – how the horsies helped us learn more about ourselves

We went horse riding the first day, and there’s no way words can actually do justice to describing the experience. Boca and I had done some horse riding before through the jungles of Malaysia, but this was going to be a completely different scenery. We were extremely excited when we got to the place and were assigned to our horses. Daniella made an interesting remark about how each of them resembled us, our characters. So in connecting with the horses we each had to ‘deal’ with… our own selves. And that was not only challenging, but also eye opening.

We had started our track late afternoon and some of the horses were already tired. So my horse, Temporal, was obviously not happy about going into the forest again, and this time with a crazy haired Romanian on his back too. He showed signs of restlessness and reluctance quite from the beginning, so getting him to move faster and keep up with the others soon became a challenge. I tried the nice way, then the firm way, then the frustrated way (which clearly did not work) until I finally understood that he was just me! He was tired and did not feel like doing what he was made to do, so he was not going to pretend he liked or wanted to do it. He was not going to be sociable and a pleasant company either, because all he wanted was rest, regroup, reflect (to the extent that horses can do that). And there was no way I could make him feel differently by poking him a bit harder, raising my voice a bit more, or getting frustrated with his disobeying and not following my instructions. Nope, none of that was going to work.

That made me think of the common ways of raising children, of parents who always use the same strategy over and over again: screaming, threatening, being frustrated and raising their own blood pressure just because their don’t understand their child or do not deem it necessary to explain why they should do/not do certain things. In other words, they choose not to treat the child as an adult but instead as a creature incapable of making judgements, only able to follow the precise instructions from ‘above’ because ‘I am the parent, and while you live under my roof you do as i say!’. They are then surprised when that misunderstood child becomes rebellious and they share their dissapointment with others: ‘I just can’t understand him/her, I don’t know what’s wrong with him/her’. Hmmm, might be because the parents have not even tried to understand the kids, but just wanted them to as told so they can declare how proud they are of their ‘good boy/girl’. But this subject is for another post. 🙂

Coming back to Temporal, instead of doing any of the above I changed my strategy a little and I just spoke to him in a mixture of English and Spanish (my Horsesh is not that developed yet) in a loving and gentle voice… I told him I understood he was tired and irritated and did not want to be doing this at the moment, but that was the situation and neither him nor me had any choice about it so we’d have to spend the next couple of hours together whether we liked it or not. I told him that after getting back he’d have the nicest food and rest. I told him what a fantastic horse I thought he was and how privileged I felt that I was riding him. That I thought we could do this together. I kept appreciating him every time he did something well and I just gave him love, all the way. I let him lag behind if he wanted to, and took that opportunity to admire the breathtaking scenery instead of trying to make him go faster. And interestingly enough, after a while the little bugger actually started to listen to me… By the time we got back I had understood not only how to deal with him when he was tired and irritated, but also how to deal with myself when I was in the same state.

The same thing happened to the other guys and their horses. Selis’s horse was leading and he was one of the most calm and chillaxed horses we had ever seen. He walked always at a steady pace and followed the trail perfectly. He was a good example for the other horses to follow… Not all of them did, though. Hah! Daniella’s horse, which started just behind Selis, was the youngest and also the most stubborn of all. He was not afraid to show when he was unhappy with certain instructions and many times he would just not want to move at all. Towards to end, to show his unhappiness, he started banging her against trees and by the time she got off the horse her knees were all bruised. Silviu did not have this particular problem, but his challenge was to get the horse to stop eating while on the trail hahaha. He was swinging between moments of high motivation, when he just wanted to take over the others and be the first, and moments of complete indifference when he could not be bothered by anything else besides the green patches of grass or leaves along the way. Boca’s horse had started as the 3rd in line but while still in the city he just did not want to move. It was written all over his face: “I’m bored and no matter how much you insist, I will not do as you say. Because I just don’t want to!’. The moment we hit the forest though, with the trees and hills and difficult paths, her horse seemed to catch on fire. He got highly motivated, happy even, and seemed to be getting lots of energy from what could otherwise be perceived as an energy consuming task. Such a learning experience for us all!:)

The track through the forest was quite challenging, as there were plenty of little hills the horses had to climb and then plenty of ones they had to descend. We could tell this was not at all easy for them and I could understand much better why Temporal was not happy about doing that for the second time in the day. We stopped by a waterfall and could not believe the gorgeousness surrounding us, the huge trees that seemed from another era and the thick energy all around. By the time we got to the top of the hill is was getting dark so we got to see the sunset over the lake from up the horses’ backs. Without a doubt an unforgettable sunset and experience!

We planned on making salmon a la pobre again that evening, as we had seen the kitchenware and thought we’d have better chances this time. We actually found salmon, although not the fillet but we made do. It was a perfect dinner that ended a perfect day! Who knew what the next day had in store for us… .

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