Petting the Horse

The world is not responsive to my social manipulations. It does not respond to my language, but to my energy.
11/21/2012 02:43 pm ET Updated Jan 21, 2013

I recently attended an event during which I experienced one of the most mind-blowing moments of my life. It was a monumental shift of awareness for me. Here is what happened.

One of the presenters at our event was a cowboy named Wyatt Webb. Wyatt strikes you at first as a down-home, Will Rogers-y kind of guy. Grizzled, white hair and folksy with a big dusty hat and boots. He is both salt of the earth and larger than life, all at once. You get it?

Our group waited in the empty corral, shuffling nervously like school kids. Wyatt led out one of his horses. He held out a small metal pick, and his gaze landed on me, "You are going to step up to my horse, Barnet. You'll clean the muck out from her shoe. Step up to the horse and grab her firmly on the tendon right here above the hoof. She will lift her foot."

I trotted out gamely. I bent down and grabbed a hoof. It wasn't budging. It might as well have been planted in cement. My mind raced.

I started petting the horse.

"In the whole rest of the fabric of your life," said Wyatt, "do you always reward failure?"

I thought about that for a split second. My hand flew off the horse's leg as if she was on fire.

"What was going on right there?" pressed Wyatt.

"I was trying to make a friend of the horse," I confessed. "I'm just trying to be known by it."

Wyatt nodded patiently. "This animal does not respond to your manipulations. She responds only to energy. She intuits only that she is a part of the natural world. When you come to her with a particular energy, she will respond. If you come with an intention to clean her foot, but are muddied up by other objectives, such as 'I am going to manipulate you into liking me so that you will lift your foot,' then you are sending her an unclear signal. Come clearly with one intention. She will immediately respond."

I was completely flustered.

"How often do you play your life like this?" said Wyatt. "In what other areas do you get so flustered? How much do you try to control things?"

That one landed really hard. Then I got crystal clear.

I do this all over the place!

It hit me with such perfect clarity that I just dropped it. I dropped all my ulterior motives. I went over to that horse with only the intent to lift her leg and the leg flew up before I could even touch it.

Paying attention to the motivations behind our actions leads to the understanding that the strategies that worked for us as little children -- "Well, I'll be really nice and mommy will buy me a toy" -- have morphed into current tactics: "I will be really nice and maybe the real estate agent will knock a quarter percentage point off my closing costs."

It was an amazing moment of "show and tell." The world is not responsive to my social manipulations. It does not respond to my language, but to my energy. When I approached the horse with clarified intention, the leg shot up.

Wyatt Webb almost smiled. "Happy trails, Barnet."

For more by Barnet Bain, click here.

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