Chazot Thoughts 39

The Russian roulette

“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou.

Arpege picked my thought and commented, “Maya Angelou was so right. In my life, I had very little training. I run around a race track as fast as I could and then I make babies, foals after foals, after fillies, after foals. Basically, only two guys introduced me to some training. One was a natural horsemanship trainer and the other was he. The first one makes me fell incompetent and stupid. He instead, gave me the time to process. He did not dismiss my thoughts, he listen to them reformulating his question based on my reactions. We had a conversation and I felt like a queen. He treated me as a respectable lady. At the end of the session he told me, ‘You are a very smart lady but you are physically tired. You have given birth to too many foals and fillies and while your mind is very bright, your body is tired. If you like, you can be retired. Helyn and I have observed you and we think that you are too intelligent for a full retirement in a field. We would like you to baby sit the big boys who need company during their turn out and the rest of the time, you will be free to go wherever you want on the farm. We will keep the door of your stall open. We are confident that you will stay out of trouble. Watching you processing is a pleasure. You stop, you observe, you assess the situation and decide your move.

Until he, trainers categorized me as low in the packing order. I was intelligent enough to stay out of trouble but they were not educated enough to understand the difference between being intelligent and being a follower. These types of trainers see leadership in muscle power and control over others. I guess, hormones or testosterone are the limit of their own IQ and they don’t think that we can be more intelligent than that. The horsemanship guy leads me in a round pen.  This is a mental torture. Our survival is escaping, running away and out of reach of the predator.  It is interesting that they practice what they call natural horsemanship into an environment that is not natural at all. Nature always offers a tree for shade or for hiding, a corner, a hill, or a bush. In a round pen we are defenseless. As they chase us into this circular trap, they make us realize that we are in a trap. There is no way out’ whatever direction or how fast we run, the predator is there in the middle. I learned in life that if I can’t run away from the enemy, I should face it. I faced the man and as he did not make aggressive gesture I approached him. Then, the pretender told to the audience, ‘See, she joins.’ What a scam. I did not join, I did not surrender. I just tried to survive. I was trapped into a totally unnatural situation and either I was able to think my way through or I shut off my mind.

 I realized then that this was supposed to be the warm up. Next was the ‘rope halter training’.  He placed a rope halter around my head and I disliked it immediately. It was two knots putting pressure on my facial nerves. The discomfort was mild as long as he did not act on the rope but as he pulled on the lunge, I felt the pressure of the knots. The worse was the trainer’s incoherence.  At first, he agitated the rope slightly expecting that I will move a specific way. Obviously, he expected a specific reaction, but the swing of the rope did not stimulate any reflex that would indicate which move I was supposed to do. I did not react as he expected and he agitated the rope more intensively. I did not like it and I freeze watching the guy in his eyes. Either he felt threantend or his ego was challenged and he started shaking the rope right into my face. My reaction was of course moving backward lifting the head closing my eyes as I wondered that this rope could hit my eyes. I guess, this was not what I was supposed to do. He created an action expecting a reaction that might be logical from his point of view, but totally unrelated to the reflex that his gestures created. It was like a Russian roulette. If was lucky, I execute the right move and the bullet is not in the chamber. If I am not lucky, I try the wrong move and the bullet is in the chamber. I heard about horrible tortures where during the Vietnam War, guards forced prisoners to play the Russian roulette as an entertainment. They enjoyed watching the terror of the prisoners. We don’t die if we try the wrong reaction but we are punished. This quickly leads to mental panic. The stimuli are senseless and we are punished if we don’t try anything and we are punished if we try the wrong move.

 I was on the edge of panic and I decide that the only way for me to do not lose my mind was to freeze, closed my eyes and refused to move no matter how hard the rope hit my neck or my face. The pretender decided that I was stupid and I was sent back into my stall. As I was recovering from the event, the horse next door told me, “smart move; this idiot did not know what to do. I have to say that I agree with your Russian roulette comparison. At times, I have wished that it was a bullet instead of a rope; at the least, it would have been over.”    

Caesar commented, “The concept of the Russian roulette applies to the equestrian education in general. They use what they call ‘the correct aids’ and we are supposed to execute the move correctly.  If we try the right response, we are lucky; the bullet is not in the chamber. If we try the wrong response, the bullet is in the chamber and we are punished. In fact for us, it is even worse as the same bullet can kill us twice. We might execute the move that our rider expect but became lame by repeating the performance with a dysfunctional physique. He noticed the crookedness of my thoracolumbar spine and explored the thought that the abnormal loading of my right front leg was likely the outcome of my back muscles imbalance. He gradually restored straightening of my thoracolumbar spine and while it was totally different, I remembered having been previously introduced to the concept of straightness. My rider straightened my body between his inside leg and outside rein. He was pleased with my reaction as I placed my front legs in front of my rear legs but my thoracolumbar column remained crooked. I know today that inducing abnormal load on my right front leg, the crookedness of my thoracolumbar spine was the root cause of the arthritis that is now altering the joint between my second phalange and my coffin bone.

Now that he has guided my brain toward the sophisticated coordination of my thoracolumbar spine creating straightness, I think back about what my previous rider did between his inside leg and outside rein and realize that based on such primitive insights, I could never have figured how to straighten effectively my thoracic and lumbar vertebrae. The bullet did not kill me when I submitted to the rider’s aids. It killed me because my submission to the rider’s aids does not prepare efficiently my physique for the athletic demand of the performance. The dialogue guiding my brain toward the coordination of my physique precisely adapted to the athletic demand of the performances is not about gestures. Instead, it is about nuances in muscles tone and consequently energy. I can feel his legs, hands and back but I never feel one part of his body acting alone. Sometimes I feel more contact of his right thigh or the right side of his back, but it is never a gesture. It is a nuance that is part of an overall coordination of his physique. I feel his entire body moving at my frequency and amplitude with some time more nuance on one calf or glut or his core muscles or back. His dialogue is not a single word or two that are supposed to trigger in my brain the complex orchestration of my body optimally adapted to the athletic demand of the performance. The dialogue is a constant discussion involving his entire body and guiding my physique toward the optimal orchestration. He does not punish my errors. He nuances the same question based on the information that he learned from my errors. There is no bullet in the chamber as there is no chamber as there is no gun. Truly, humans playing the Russian roulette have no brain. This the difference, his brain and my brain are working together. I process the information and he analyzes my ‘errors’ in order to reformulate his question. I don’t have his capacity of analysis but he cannot process the information for me. His brain and my brain are working together at their respective level.