Gino’s Gift
                                                                        
Many of you may remember Gino; he is the new equine addition to my family.
He came to me at a time when I was loosing the battle with my mare, Sky. Rondo, my gelding and I were very sad
knowing that soon she would be gone. I was called out to perform a communication session with Gino. My
assignment was to find out what he wanted to do with his life. He had been put to pasture after a riding accident
and for three years had essentially no human contact.

When I went to work with him, I was met by a horse that seemed pretty shagging looking; you know, one that had
been free on the range for a long time. He was distrusting of me and any other human for that matter. I spent
some time just hanging out with him; trying to show him I meant no harm. We bonded through something in our
hearts. It’s not something I can put into words. It was a heart connection. Eventually, I brought him home to meet
Sky and Rondo. They accepted him immediately and actually Sky was quite smitten with him.

Well, Gino has been with me now for eight months and he has grown very comfortable in his new surroundings.
He is getting more confident all the time. However, he is still easily frightened and does not trust me, like I hoped
he would. The flight/fight instinct is strongly ingrained within him. I realize, eight months is not really very much
time for a horse that has had no human contact for three years. But I just want him to trust me, NOW!

So one day when I was outside doing my horse chores and I started to walk behind him. I noticed his ears were
pinned back and he was ready to react to whatever it was I might try to do to him. I paused for a moment to
check in with what I was feeling at that time. To my surprise, I was waiting to react to whatever it was that he
might try to do to me. HMMM, so which is coming first? His distrust in me based on his past experiences or my
distrust in him based on his and my past experiences? This I could not answer but I felt it worthy of some pretty
serious contemplation.

What I began to realize was that both of us were trapped in fear. We both were reacting from fear based on both
our individual pasts. I started to see how I was keeping him in his state of fear; unable to move forward, even into
the present moment. This was because much of the time I spent with him there was always a part of me that was
on heightened alert; knowing that he was capable of getting frightened and running over the top of me, kicking
me or who knows? I mean, you hear all these tragic stories of people being injured by horses! I didn’t trust him.
Why?  Had he ever shown me any kind of aggression or attempts to hurt me; intentionally or not?  NO!  I realized
I was projecting onto him and he would project onto me the fear from our past. So every time one of us would
reach out to the other with an attempt to trust, there was a good chance it could be met with fear. In return this
would put the other one right back into whatever our individual experiences of fear in the past might have been.

I began to understand that before I could help Gino move forward beyond his past, I would first need to move
beyond my past. How often do we continue to bring things that had a negative impact in our lives forward into our
present experiences, simply because we haven’t been able to let them go? Rather than leaving the past behind,
where it truly belongs. The past can only be repeated in our lives again and again if we allow it to. For example;
Gino and I, were reacting to each other through fear based memories triggered by some current stimuli.

I started to wonder what would happen if I could begin to view Gino through eyes of trust. Having first the
confidence in me, I realized, I could help him let go of the fear he carried around with him, locking him in his
memory of the past.  When I comprehended this, I knew I could help both of us to build the trust we desired in
our relationship by our letting go of the past we both knew. My intention, in helping him, was to everyday see him
for the fun loving, curious and charismatic horse he truly is. I now begin our days with a big horse hug and some
funny boy stuff. He loves to go into the tack room and find something to hold in his mouth. He loves to play with
barley. He loves to smell my entire head, beginning at the top of my knit cap (sometimes stealing it) and ending
on my chin with a horse lick. He is so different now and so am I.

It makes me wonder, how many other relationships in my life have not been permitted to be all that they can be
due to fear and the past? How many others do I look at and see some person that I had a negative experience
with? Thereby, allowing that previous negative incident(s) to block any opportunity to genuinely experience a
person for who they really are. How many times have I held back from someone who I really am, due to my fears
from the past?

Gino has brought into my life the gifts of letting go of the past, its fears and the filters that I have viewed him and
so many others, through. Gino has given me the gift of trust and I intend to give it back to him. By becoming the
human he needs me to be; to show up and see him for the amazing horse he is, one with a heart of gold. He is a
horse who is longing to be accepted for who he is and not who he might have been in the past.

HeartSoul Media© February 2008
                                                                         Leadership

I have found myself recently exploring this word and what it means to me. It is a very powerful word. I find myself
reflecting back through my life and examining the times that I felt very strong and confident as a leader. On
other occasions I seemed to be lacking the qualities that are often found in someone who possesses leadership
skills.

The reason for my exploring the above concepts begins in my being the horse crazy soul that I am. I’m always
striving to be a better horseman for my horses. You see horses are herd animals and herds always have an
alpha horse. A herd consists of two or more horses. When a human decides to join a herd it is wise that you be
prepared to be the alpha animal. This is where it takes a strong sense of horsemanship to assume that alpha
position. If you are lacking in this ability you will soon find yourself struggling to achieve your place in the
pecking order.

It was brought to my attention a few years ago, by a very gifted horseman, as well as my current equine
teacher, Rondo (my 20 year old horse who has been in my life since he was 9 months old) that I was lacking in
my leadership skills. So I went straight into using the leadership skills that I had been taught by my human
teachers over the years and experienced many confrontational battles with Rondo. Which often ended up in his
misbehaving to the point where I gave up and he ran away? If this was not the end result then frequently it
would be one of my acting like a drill sergeant and he behaving nervously in order to survive the day.

I have to say that my first introduction to one who is acting as a leader would be my father. The example that
was shown to me through my dad was one of strict authority. We were taught to be seen and not heard unless
spoken to. If we tried to test our own skills at leadership we were overpowered with shame and physical power.
My father was unmistakably the family leader but there was also no willingness to honor or respect this person
as our leader. My next introduction was the school system. This was very different from my home; we were not
intimidated into following this form of leadership, however we were not given free choice either. If we chose not
to follow one who lacked strong leadership, we would than be sent to another who possessed a more
persuasive technique. I was always a good kid for fear of being reprimanded. However, I knew in my heart that
this was not the way to earn another’s trust and respect. Something seemed to be missing. Consequently,
resistance was one of my creations.

My next introduction to leadership came to me at the age of 12. My instructor was a 10 year old Welch pony,
fresh off a 100 acre pasture grazing for over a year. I was a brand new horseman. Well, for those of you who
have not had a lot of experience with horses, this had all the makings for a disaster. You see, horses will
interact with humans and really, actually enjoy human company. However, it doesn’t take long for a horse to
sometimes adopt an attitude of “feed me and forget me”. Needless to say my pony, Skajit, was a very wise
teacher. It didn’t take me long to learn how to not only stay on, hang on and learn how to steer. But I also
learned that in order to switch the roles of alpha animal I needed to learn how to stay focused, have a plan and
know in advance what my next move was going to be. This was only the beginning of my lessons. Next, I had to
learn to be compassionate and to trust first myself enough to follow through with my goal. Equally important I
needed to trust my horse would be there and follow my lead. Through these series of trials and errors we soon
had a bond like no other I had ever known. I had a partner who trusted and respected me as well as my trust in
him.

As I matured and became an employee, a wife and a mother, something happened to the leadership skills that I
had so naturally developed through the guidance in my working with my horses. I somehow stopped trusting
myself as a leader and started listening to outside influences, mostly in the form of criticizing and judging from
those that felt the need to control me. I, without even knowing it, became a really good follower certain others
could do it better. I stopped listening to my inner guide, the best example of leadership I can hope to find.

My conclusions are; if one possesses a strong sense of leadership it is not only due to embracing self-respect,
self-trust and self-confidence but it is also the ability to extend these same virtues to those whom they have
been entrusted to lead. A strong leader is one who is always aware of not only who and how they are behaving
at any given time but how they are being received by others. Are they leading from a place of love and
compassion and for the highest good of their herd? Or are they commanding from a place of ego driven self-
gratifying behavior? Stop, look and listen to those around you and they will tell you if you are worthy of being
followed. You see, a good leader is one who is humble enough to accept the honor from others and always love
and respect those who look to them for leadership.

This is what I have learned from my wisest teachers, the Horse. Would you like to explore and strengthen your
leadership skills?  

Horses Helping Humans can provide you with the environment and the teachers to help strengthen these skills.

Copyright © 2008 Heartsoul Media. All rights reserved
HORSES HELPING HUMANS & CINDY HARTZELL