A couple of decades back when I was studying health science, my class group was told a story about peanuts. Peanuts are prone to a black growth called aflatoxin, which you can also see on occasion on the inside of a capsicum or bell pepper.
The government had a percentage that the peanuts had to pass- an aflatoxin test if you will- to deem the peanuts fit for human consumption. That year, most of the peanuts failed the test. Faced with the option (not to mention the opposition) of disposing of a huge number of peanuts (and the economic flow on effects), they instead lowered the percentage requirement and kept those peanuts sailing through.
You might be thinking, well, what has this story got to do with anything you might teach or share here? But I feel like it’s a metaphor for so many things, especially when it comes to our wellness and our health.
So many humans and horses are dealing with dysfunction that the dysfunction itself has become normalized. Like the effected peanuts passing the test, the bar has dropped on what we consider to be ok and then we come to consider that state of being as the norm.
But a normalized bar on a dysfunctional state of being does not equal wellness.
I could go on all day to the factors that contribute to this being the case, much of which you already know, and many of which are not necessarily our fault. But even if it’s not our individual fault that we landed here, it’s our individual responsibility to somehow find our way out. To look beyond the plight of ‘most’ and ‘many’, to refuse to accept it as the end goal.
And beyond that, we need to recognize that if we or our horse have spent any number of years in a state we recognize as un-ideal, then it’s going to take some time to ease our way out of them.
Most practices dedicated to well-being are not quick fixes, and don’t pretend to be such. At their essence, they are a way of life that do not prioritize temporary comfort over the reality of the work and time it takes to truly help a horse or human find vitality.
A moment of ‘feeling better’ is easy to create, and these moments have their place. But changing the way that a body is functioning at a deeper more foundational level is much longer and more intensive work. Work that is not necessarily instantly gratifying or fast rewarding, simply because we don’t get to consciously decide how long it takes. The body does, a process that is unconsciously and intuitively driven.
As a coach and someone dedicated to the latter, that’s a hard package to sell. It’s a process that only proves itself over time, which means time must be actively given.