• Janet Phinney

SPRING, THE TIME TO SOW

Updated: Jul 10, 2019

As a teacher and a student, sowing, particularly how to sow better, is always on my radar. Horsemanship is both learning more about the horse and learning more about yourself, the sower. When I began teaching horsemanship I focused more on learning about the horse and better ways to communicate with each horse, and to each student.


Over time, I realized I wasn’t becoming the teacher and rider I thought I could be. I had hit a plateau and couldn't seem to get past myself to improve my teaching and horsemanship abilities. I was limiting myself and blocking myself from achieving better experiences. At the same time, I was keeping myself from failing, but overall, I felt frustrated as time went by. When I couldn’t find an obvious source of the problem, I began to look at myself as the possible obstacle.


What was it about me that was keeping me from getting better? I had a dream and that dream was not being fulfilled. I had learned a lot about horses,

teaching, students, even computers...but not about me. I learned that it was my perception of myself and the world that needed to change. I hadn't learned how to sow the most important seed in my life - me. So I spent a better part of last year studying myself to see how I could not only teach and ride better, but also remove my personal limitations. Through this process, things started to make sense.


Change requires me to fail a lot. Yet I am learning how to learn and grow from these failures instead of feeling bad about them. I am becoming an alchemist and honestly, this is really fun.


I began to see that I had not learned how to grow myself outside my own comfort zone. Without that willingness and trust, I couldn’t grow in leaps and bounds the way I wanted to. To me this is analogous to a horse's willingness and trust to go forward. I want to share what I’ve learned with you because I believe what’s helped me can help you too.


I have been developing a thought process that helps me move past my fears, out of my comfort zone and grow. This process is vital for my success, and I believe, anyone’s. Here is what I’ve learned that I think is important to becoming a better horseman and a better me:

  • I can change and fear is just a misunderstanding from my past.

  • Freedom and strength to do what I desire is more about focus and discipline than being carefree and doing what “I want to do.” I spent a lot of time rebelling. Finally, I realized I was rebelling against myself. The “I want to do” was my fearful, limiting self, not the fearless self. I was playing it safe, which meant I was sowing fear instead of trust and confidence.

  • Change requires me to fail a lot. Yet I am learning how to learn and grow from these failures instead of feeling bad about them. I am becoming an alchemist and honestly, this is really fun.

  • I am the master of my ship, and I am the ship. This requires me to control only my own feelings, thoughts and actions, no one else’s. This is very freeing. It gives me extra energy to focus on the dreams I want to achieve.

  • I have an awesome husband.


Lastly, I’d like to share a few things I do daily as part of my process to help myself grow (sow better).

  • Write down my dream, one overarching dream, and give it more detail.

  • Study myself and the things I want to get better at. Numerous books and programs for self-study are available. At first, I was a master at pretending I had changed so if you have a lot of fear and doubt, be prepared to discover you could be pulling the wool over your own eyes. The best advice I can give here is keep studying and stay humble.

  • Practice. I read a great line in one of my horsemanship books that said there is a world of difference between talking about horsemanship and doing it. For example, I have struggled at getting a better stop on my horse, and ironically a better go. I can easily talk about the importance of them both with others, but until I actually improved myself my understanding is only intellectual and doesn't produce a better partnership with my horse.

  • Be intentional. Approach your practice sessions with the intention of learning. This is key for me. Sometimes when I practice, I get discouraged. But all of our mistakes are perfect little guide posts on our journey. We all have them, but only some people learn how to read them.

  • Always ask bigger questions. This will keep you motivated and excited. For example, I will ask myself how can I get a beautifully square stop while sitting quietly, and having my horse so responsive that I am sure he responded to my thought.

  • Journal regularly. This helps you be honest with yourself and to learn from your rides.

  • Write down your perfect attitude and remind yourself of it throughout the day. Attitude is everything.

Understanding yourself better – your fears, what motivates you and what gets in your way – is key to working with horses. The horse’s sensitivity is already in tune to so much of what’s going on inside of us. We can make so much more progress working with them if we strive for that same internal honesty every day.



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