Blog 19 “Vulnerability… Welcome to Our Training Journal and Journey”

“Weaving The Story of Horse and Human”

Blog 19  Aug 25 2018

“Vulnerability… Welcome to Our Training Journal and Journey”

Since discovering being aligned with ‘what’ is inside of me, let me see if I can explain why this part of the story has been so hard to write.  I had no idea it would lead to feeling vulnerable.

Below the thoughts, lessons and writings of this chapter are a just a few of the videos and photos from the beginning of our training journey, about Jan 2014 -May 2015.  I felt this was the time Rhett needed to learn how to live like a horse in a herd, learn boundaries (or teach them as I found out), learn to trust one or two humans, and most importantly,  learn to relax and have some fun.

I was steadily building credit in our “trust bank account” and experimenting with  the meaning of pressure on all levels, to Rhett (and to me!)   I’m very happy some of those  ‘green on green’ teaching and learning moments were captured in photos and videos.  They weren’t digital camera captured,  they were cell phone captured.   It was BPRC – Before Pixio Remote Cameraman, June 2016 !!




Now, however, in this present moment, remembering the past and writing of it,  re-watching the videos and going through photos from four years ago, has left me feeling a barrage of emotional angst.

I am feeling vulnerable, overwhelmed, embarrassed, and powerless, just to name a few.   I had to stop and search why I was feeling this way.   At first, I thought it was because you would watch the videos, look at the photos and judge me inwardly or public-ally and attack my lack of any semblance of skills.”

WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?  It’s what I was doing to MYSELF as I rewatched the videos and looked at the photos.   Why would you, the reader, be any different than me?  No one can judge me more harshly and viciously than I have judged myself.

Judging and labeling are part of our human culture.  It’s  human nature to judge people, places and things.  As I readied the materials for this chapter, the first thing I knew I had to do was stop judging myself and begin accepting that this blog, in addition to all of Rhett’s lessons,  are part of my learning, sharing and teaching progress.  Going backwards to go forwards!!!!!!   (Reference to Blog 15)

I think the other reason I was feeling vulnerable and anxious was,  as I  re-watched the videos, seeing my own learning stages of ‘unconscious incompetence’ and ‘conscious incompetence’  on video was embarrassing.  I knew what I didn’t know but I didn’t know what to do or didn’t know how to do it well.  And now you know too if you watch the videos !!!

It was embarrassing because I was used to operating in the ‘unconscious competence’ learning stage as a teacher of horses and humans.


I searched the reasons for feeling vulnerable and possibly judged and realized that no one could judge me as harshly as I judge myself.  Anything you might say could never be as harsh as I had already said about myself !


Rhett was not really ‘judging’ me as I watched the videos, but  judging the communication from teacher to student.  He had every right.  His language and opinion mattered and was one of the most valuable pieces in our communication and learning.  His judging me would be done purely from his stature as the teacher within a state of trust and respect.  His ‘judging’ me would be one of my biggest learning lessons.  (Learning and Life Lesson)


Rhett had created the ‘big picture’ and had all the information to make the judgment.  I didn’t understand this for years!

Now, as I thought about our learning , the defensiveness of vulnerability and the ineffective feeling of powerless  was replaced with thinking, effective, capable, competent thoughts most of the time.  These thoughts became our communication (our language) and was the driving force of his teaching and my learning actions, positive and negative.

The grandest ‘experience’ and experiment of learning from feeling vulnerable and judged would be revisiting our journey and writing this blog.   It allows me to now create my experience in words that weren’t there previously, as I hadn’t had the experiences yet.  (Language Lesson)


With my new ‘eyes’ of awareness and acceptance, re-viewing the videos and photos of the beginning ‘teaching process’ from Rhett, to the ‘learning process’ for me, is extraordinary for me to observe.

For over two years, even with my ‘new eyes’,  I continued to think (and say I’m sure) that I was the one teaching the lessons and after watch.  He knew better.  He was better.


Rhett popped in my head as I was writing and said  ‘You can’t become yourself by yourself !’  


“When we release the need to be the teacher, the trainer or the coach, the horse can show us their magical wisdom.” ~  Crystal Avera

Now, as I watch the videos, I realize Rhett was constantly showing me each individual ‘lesson’ and piece of’ wisdom’ I needed to experience in that moment of our journey.  Nearly every lesson for several years had a piece to slow me down and show me how to temper my ego and pride.


“We are honest. We are genuine.  We are true.  We are authentic.  We are energy.  We are spirit.  We are your reflection” Rhett said.


Rhett’s words echoed to me as I came across this passage “Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage” affirmed research professor and author Brené Brown said in Rising Strong.

Showing up and being seen is what we do!!  Rhett and I have grown strong together, as teacher and student, and will continue to discover, experiment, experience, teach, share and learn.


Soooooo,  as I hit ‘publish’,  the vulnerable and powerless feeling I had when I began writing this chapter, has shifted from feeling anxious and nervous about what you might think or say about our training…

to allowing you to learn, as I learned, the lesson of standing in ‘non-judgment’.  If you feel the need to judge, at least ask yourself…”Do I have all the information needed to make this judgment?”


Well……do you???    Language, Learning and Life Lessons are everywhere on your journey.

Do you see your personal lesson(s) in this chapter of our story?


As an interesting aside, and even today, as Rhett and I were having a play session, the dragonflies were all around us. They seem to have been a part of our journey for the last several years.  They are almost ALWAYS a part of our training sessions, even in the off season!

The dragonfly, in almost every part of the world symbolizes change and change in the perspective of self realization; and the kind of change that has its source in mental and emotional maturity and the understanding of the deeper meaning of life.

I already knew this was no ordinary horse.  Rhett is a Master Teacher of Life.  The dragonfly is our indicator of our renewal and changes!  (Language, Learning and Life Lesson)  <3


Enjoy this mishmash of photos and videos Rhett encouraged me to save when he told me we would be writing a book.  I told him we needed to start on a much smaller scale and here we are !

Some of the photos you have seen, others will be new to you!  Most of the videos will be new. This was the beginning of buiding that very important “trust account’ and our ‘green on green’ learning about positive reinforcement and clicker training, liberty and the other things that Rhett was willing to explore.




I love the ‘gems’ of learning, teaching, sharing and growth that were captured on these videos and photos which allows others to experience how learning cycles flow….ebb…flow…. !   2 steps forward, 5 steps back.  (Reference to Blog 15)


Photos and videos in no particular order of sessions or year.  I will caption the ones I can remember or take descriptions from what I wrote on Youtube.  I was doing my best to do as much at liberty as possible, to give him the choice and so I wouldn’t revert to my usual high pressure/release habits.  The round pen already brought up a memory not associated with me, as did the arena, so I couldn’t turn him loose in either as the pressure from just me in the space would cause him to try and jump out.

The more we communicated and learned new skills, the more trauma I realized he had around many general husbandry tasks as well as anything around groundwork, saddling or riding.


March 2014


Jan  2014 

Video of ‘The Herd’ in the arena in the rain –  Feb 2015   In hindsight, I see a frustrated Rhett.  Enclosures, even as large as an arena, still brought about fear and panic for Rhett.



March 2014                               Sept 2014


Short video of Rhett after energywork  Oct  2014

Short video after Energy work session in round pen with Rhett  Nov 2014 

Short video of energy work session haltered in round pen with Rhett  Nov 2014 




Oct 2014            Things under feet and next to body!




Three minute video of Rhett and the ‘long stick’ in round pen.  Looking with new eyes, I see a horse that is barely tolerating this touch and pressure.   And who talks in that kind of voice with those kind of words to a horse??    Obviously ME!  I think it’s because I am also trying to calm myself as I have no idea where any of this is leading!   Oct 2014

Five min video of first time with tarp in round pen.  Remember, the round pen was an environment that causes him great concern.  It was not the optimal learning place.  We live, we learn!!   Aug 2014







Getting used to things on back and butt to prepare for rain sheet.  And saddling I realized later.    Dec 2014 through July 2015!  Yes, it took 8+ months to get just the bareback pad on and girthed at liberty  and another 12+ more months to get him JUST OK with being saddled!










Short video of Rhett walking in red cooler.  Dec 2014  

Short video of Rhett walking in the bareback pad.  I see now he was shut down.   Dec 2014






Short video of  Rhett and toybox play with Koda in round pen.  Sept 2014

Four minute video of Rhett coming into round pen on his own to explore.  My first narration as to what I think I am seeing and doing !  🙂        Oct 2014

Two minute video of brave Rhett in round pen playing with hanging noodles!  I know now that I had created a great ‘enrichment’ area for Rhett to learn how to puzzle solve on his own.   Sept 2014

Two minute video of Rhett playing with his dog toy!   UGGHH, my timing and my jabbering!!    Oct 2014

Short video of Rhett playing with bottle.   Course, now I look at this and see a horse that was self soothing.  Nov 2014

Short video of more Noodle Bravery!   So interesting to watch this now with new eyes and more information!   Nov 2014


March 2015.  Clicked our way to standing on the SureFoot pads.  HUGE!  Little did I know I’d be building proprioception from instability for Rhett’s FUNcmovement training  beginning in late 2016.








Short video of Rhett on the SureFoot Stability pads.   March 2015      I have since replaced these with an entire gymnastics mat to challenge proprioception and balance.

Short video of liberty fly spray with Rhett.   This is probably where I learned the most about positive reinforcement, the clicker and my timing.   Nine months of breaking this task down into tiny pieces.  One day I grew a brain, and said…hey, why don’t I do it while he’s eating so it’s a positive learning experience!   Jan 2015

Short video of Rhett allowing me to sweep his mat.   The mat had become a ‘safe’ place for him, and 4 weeks before this, I couldn’t sweep the mat without him moving away.  Again, WTH?  Who talks like that to their horse??   Again, ME!!   Feb 2015

Short video of Rhett at liberty hind feet trim on stand!    Brown has been incredibly patient with Rhett learning to tolerate his hind feet being handled and trying to use the stand.   May 2015


Let’s stop here and pick up our next chapter in June 2015-ish with new communication about trailer play, mounting block, saddling, online and liberty play, all with positive reinforcement and the clicker.  GO US !!

Next:   “The Art of Motivational Horsemanship…The ‘Space Between The Notes’…”

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