But what if this is just the way you are?
Energetic adjustability is a big conversation amongst riders, and an essential skill in being able to meet your horse’s needs and be a clear and effective partner. We can think of our usual mode of operation- whether than be quiet, loud or anything in between- as our energetic comfort zone, our most practiced vibrational frequency that we feel most at home acting within.
When we meet a horse whose needs match our most practiced frequency, the result is harmonious. We are essentially the puzzle piece that meets its oppositional half, the combination of the two together forming a unified whole. This feels good to us and feels good to the horse.
Often, however, we are required to move beyond the energetic range most familiar to us and it’s in this space that things become challenging. It’s important to remember that a vital body has many different energetic presentations which adjust to meet what is required in the moment. In this way, there is no one way of being, no one ‘mode’ that is the ‘best way’. There is only, ‘what needs to happen to best meet the reality of this situation?’
What we are seeking is contrast; the skill of being able to maintain enough energy to communicate effectively, whilst simultaneously doing as little as possible. When we see riding partnerships of beauty, there is most definitely a quietude and a peace, but there is also an infusion of energy and strength that is palpably obvious. We want heart with backbone, not of the forceful or violent kind, but of the kind that you want to hold onto when you are looking for a strong and steady hand to hold in the middle of a storm.
Energy that is reliable, trustworthy, fair, and compassionate. An embodied gentle strength.
Some of us are blessed with the ability to chop and change, to bring the energy up and lower it depending on what the situation requires. For many of us, however, we’ve been trained into a singular mode of operation, a narrow window of operating that we’ve come to identify as ‘our way’.
Just like anything else, energetic adaptability is a skill, and something that can be learned.
Here are some common reasons I see in my work that cause people to struggle with adjusting their energy.
- Your nervous system state
Our parasympathetic nervous system is a system of great adaptability; it adjusts to meet the needs of the moment. Once we hit fight flight, things begin to change.
In the active stages of fight flight (fight, flight, and freeze) we might be tetchy, reactive, unrelaxed. Come collapse or conservation of energy mode, and energetic body becomes flaccid; we lack motivation, feel like any degree of active output is a stretch or beyond our range.
Energetic capacity goes hand in hand with your nervous system state. It’s the brain directly communicating to the body how to behave, the Philosopher’s Stone of the energetic conversation.
- Lack of novel movement experiences
If I took a sample of 100 adults, bets on most of that group could tell me with a high degree of accuracy what their movement experiences look like over the course of a week. For some that may include going to the gym, or running; it may be riding, or very little movement at all.
The point I’m making is that come adulthood, the range of novel activity that we engage in becomes less and less, and for some of us, there isn’t a single thing we do outside of a surprise or an emergency that’s different from the norm in any way.
We don’t PRACTICE expanding our energetic range in the day to day, and then get surprised when these beautiful beings we are doing our best to partner with take us out of our energetic bubble.
I have a belief that on an unconscious level, this is part of what we are attracted to with our horses; the freedom, the expansiveness, the wild magic that horses possess. We crave that too, recognize ourselves within it, put ourselves in the path of it to remember it back to us.
But I digress. To increase energetic capacity, you have to practice turning the dial up and down in the everyday- not just around your horses.
Trust me when I say your horsing life is not the only area of your life where you are challenged in this way. But you already know that.
It’s just the horses that are the honest reflection of what’s what.
- Being more attached to the story, less observant of reality
This is in part expanding on what we’ve already discussed which is: If you self-identify as a particular ‘type’ type of person (quiet, loud, anything in between), then what you’ve identified is your comfort zone, and perhaps your dominant mode of functioning.
It’s very easy to argue against ourselves and our own effectiveness by using these labels to excuse ourselves from behaving or acting differently, which proves nothing beyond a more committed attachment to the story of who we want to be than the reality.
Every one of us is going to be challenged to operate outside of our most practiced zone. That’s just a given. But like anything, our zone expands the more we step out of it and commit to showing up in for our horses and the actual situation in front of us. Energetic adaptability is a skill and like any skill takes practice.
- Thinking there is one mode of presentation that is the ‘right way.’
There is no right or wrong way to be, just the way that is required to meet the needs of your horse (and of yourself).
This is a constant dance of subtle change and nuance that again requires practice, consistency and observation and adaptation.
Much like the flow of life really.
This photo is of me and my yearling Ada. Her energetic comfort zone is huge, requiring more energetic range from me than I typically choose to use. To meet her needs, I have to raise my life, not as a means to be forceful, but simply to be interesting enough for her to consider dancing together with me.
We’re all trotting through the same playground together.