The only words of instruction that he offered were, “A lot of people fall off that one.  Most people.  Actually, I’m not sure anyone that’s sat on him can say they haven’t come off of him.”  I laughed out loud thinking to myself, “Great … just what I want to ride.”  The small, solid bay colored, unassuming gelding stood in the isle dozing as I walked toward him to finish tacking him up.  “Hey, what’s his name?” I asked as I lead him toward the mounting block.  “Bullet.” The ranch manager said with a slight smirk.  I shook my head as I quietly threw a leg over him and pointed my mount toward the road that lead to the north side where we would trot the perimeter of 800 acres.  “Of course that’s his name.”  I mumbled to myself.

I quickly determined, as we made our way through the hay pastures, wooded mountainside and scrub oak dense trails, that this horse was as close as I’d get to what it must be like to ride a cat!  He could go sideways, backwards, shoot forward and spin around all on a dime!  I learned quickly that I’d best stay over the center of him at alltimes and take a deep seat for the entire ride or I would be a tally mark next to all the riders he’d ever goosed out from under!  “Bullet”, was aptly named and I later learned that the doctor who owned him was said to have an electric ass!  As in, every time he sat down in the saddle it was as if he was shocking, “Bullet”, with an electric current!

As the women gathered in the arena, I could feel the anticipation, tension, uncertainty, and guardedness in the air!  I took a deep breath and a deep seat over the center of this three day “ride”, recognizing that these girls were going to be much like “Bullet”, capable of moving any direction within the training with catlike athleticism, sideways, bolting forwards, scooching backwards, stopping on a dime, spinning 180 degrees the opposite direction, dropping out from under the saddle and at times, all at once.  If I wasn’t fully aware, fully present in each moment and committed to staying over the center of my saddle, I would find myself in the dirt, banged up, bruised and gasping for air!

These women, much like many other strong, intelligent, beautiful women I’ve interacted with, seemed to be holding each other at arms length, as if there was some sort of underlying and unspoken competition amongst them.  On the surface they appeared amicable, friendly enough, even “open” with one another however, underneath, there were rivers raging.  Strong currents running with the force of spring runoff that, when met with other strong currents, clashed and crashed like rivers forcibly merging downstream.

Each of these women share a commonality in that the work they do is for the betterment of the kids they interact with each day.  They may be the first female that has cared, listened and taken notice of the most minute details.  They may be the first ones to look a kid dead in the eye and say, “You’re right, you were dealt a crappy hand!  I see you.  Are you willing to move forward with me?”  They may be the first to step alongside a kid and support them as they press into the challenge and pain of changing their lives for the betterment of their future.  Why were these powerful souls at odds with each other?

As we progressed through the different exercises and pieces of work, things felt off to me.  In my mind, I imagined myself stepping hard in my off stirrup feeling like my saddle had shifted.  I wanted to be sure I was still where I needed to be, over the center of this ride.  In this work and honestly, every day, my prayer is a simple one.  I ask for His help!  Before my feet hit the floor, I pray, “HELP!”  Lol!  I recognize that without Him, I can do nothing.  The lack of courage and vulnerability within this group of women was stifling what I knew in my heart could be so beautifully powerful for them.  I was aware that one woman in particular was setting the tone and for the others, it required they remain protective of their hearts, much like “Bullet”, recognizing that his owner was “electric” when he sat in the saddle.

As my co-facilitator and I stepped back for a portion of the training to shift, I watched as He artfully worked in and through the CEO to bring down the “bully” in the group.  We had been lacking the vulnerability that we needed to accomplish the shifts we’d hoped for, due to the energy and protective defenses of a deeply wounded soul.  That process in and of itself is it’s own blog.  Suffice to say, that once the unruly filly, who’d had the others intimidated and shut down, found herself snubbed up (called out), I could feel the rest of the herd breath a sigh of relief and ever so slowly, walls began to come down.  It was quick, fierce, passionate, humbling and over in a flash!  I was so grateful to find I was still deeply seated in the center of my saddle as the dust settled.

I watched as the women began to get very candid with one another and test the waters of vulnerability, feeling into the safety of the “new” dynamic of the group.  In my mind, I was back in the saddle, “Bullet’s” blood bay colored neck in front of me, black mane and cute little teddy bear ears focused on our direction of travel.  He let out the breath he’d been holding for most of our ride.  His head dropped, his neck softened and his body relaxed.  As we walked back in toward the barn, across the highway and down the little hill by the old dilapidated house, I knew he didn’t fully trust my leadership however he was willing to step into that space where there was soft contemplation and consideration.  As if, much like this group of women, he was willing to feel into the new “dynamic” of partnering with a person in a very different and unexpected way.

“You are powerful, beautiful, brilliant & brave”  ❤