I often remind students “not to buy into the drama of their horse.” As the leader, we must mentor the same quality of calm, self-assured focus that we expect from our horses.
In EAPD, equine assisted personal development, the message is “anything we can do for our horses we can do for ourselves”.
And so I begin this newsletter with EAPD because I’ve realized that I have too often become reactive with the challenges of my business in much the same way that people get stressed out by a difficult horse. How ironic! Talk about Healer Heal Thyself!
So I can’t help but laugh at myself as I finally learn the difference between reacting and responding. I now see that to “re-act” means to be an actor in a repetitive drama. Better late then never, I’m learning how to respond instead of react. To respond is to be responsible. And so my next great lesson in life is to consciously practice responsibility instead of unconsciously repeating drama!
I have within me a wild horse that has been fighting, fleeing and shutting down about all the “boundaries” of administrative responsibilities that come with owning a complex business.
For instance, the Train the Trainer program has grown into an international movement for change in the horse industry. And I have morphed over many years from clinician into a War Horse determined to fight the good fight for the humane training of horses.
I wanted to build an Army of Empathy for the horses. But war is not pretty. War is not fun. War leaves casualties.
I must expand awareness for how we work with horses while also spending more time at home with my family and responsibilities at Riversong. I must now rein in my time spent travelling to clinics and instead stay home more to write my next book and produce a television show from Riversong. It is time for my warhorse to evolve into a SHOW horse.
The timing is perfect and all indicators are promising. For instance, I have been selected as the keynote speaker for the upcoming conference for the Alberta Equestrian Federation. And while so many of our Certified Trainers are doing great work with their students we have successfully launched our community EAPD initiatives for local at-risk youth at Riversong. I’m finally inspired to write my next book and we are now in the beginning stages of planning an EAPD themed television show to be broadcast in the United States.
But first, I need to hold my anxious horses for the future as I bow and apologize for the recent gaps and lapse in professionalism in my business administration these last few years.
There is not enough space in this newsletter to explain why a few of the Founding Members still have not received your jackets. And I will not list all the reasons why emails and phone calls are too often not returned in a timely manner, why the EAPD dvd is still not finished, or why frustrations continue with the website. Suffice to say that while I have found my way with horses I’m just now realizing what it takes for me to find my way with managing the complexities of my business.
Horses Don’t Lie and here’s the simple truth. We got kicked incredibly hard by the recession in America during 2009/2010. The issue has been that I can now see that my reactions to our financial challenges (as opposed to responsible responses) have been more like that of a high-strung horse instead of a competent horse trainer.
As the economic crisis continued to haunt us I have too often responded to our vulnerability like a horse in fight or flight and sometimes even just “shutting down” and refusing to go forward.
While the future indicators look great, the fact is that we are now hunting for the financing we need to stay in business. I feel like a horse galloping to the biggest, most daunting fence it has ever approached! There is no guarantee that we can make this huge jump and it is such a very long way to fall!
So my friends, I will still travel to events such as horse industry expo’s and speaking engagements, but soon I will hand over the reins of my clinics into the good hands of a select few of the top certified trainers I am confident to endorse. And these trainers will have lots of work ahead of them as requests for clinics are coming not only from my established markets in North America and Europe but now also from as far and wide as France, Germany, Hungary, The Czech Republic, Australia and South America.
I will restructure and evolve the Train the Trainer program once again in 2013 and this will likely involve fewer events instead of more. I say this because while my goal for the television show is to exponentially expand our movement for change in the horse industry, and more effectively promote my certified trainers, when it comes to my personal time in the arena with students I will continue to focus on quality instead of quantity.
Meanwhile, to assure the quality of the Train the Trainer Program my first responsibility is to start upholding my own boundaries regarding certification qualifications.
It has long been policy that I must work with certified trainers at least once per year (in a clinic or private session) to maintain or upgrade their certification. But I have been too forgiving and am past due for culling out the trainers who have not maintained their certification.
So, the time has finally come and those certified trainers who have not felt it necessary to participate in a workshop in 2012 will soon be removed from the trainer directory.
EAPD is much more then a metaphor. EAPD is working with Horse Sense as Natural Law. And I know that as soon as I start managing my business like I do the horses then I will be the change I have needed to be.
And so I bow deeply and ask for your support. Please buy the videos you have yet to add to your collection or purchase a few books or dvd’s to give away as gifts. Please come as a spectator, and bring a few friends with you the next time I am in your area for an event.
Perhaps you can treat yourself to a visit with us at Riversong, stay in our cozy guest cabin and take a clinic or a private lesson with Kathryn or myself. Please do whatever you can to help us make it over this incredibly difficult jump. The show MUST and WILL go on.
There are 3 new Train the Trainer and private clinic events now posted on the website. These events will take place at Blue Heron Stables in Ontario, Riversong Ranch in Alberta and Stal Mansour in the Netherlands.
Each of these Train the Trainer workshops will include a special evening celebration of food, drink and good cheer, and everyone is welcome to attend. You do not need to be a certified trainer nor be enrolled as a participant at the event to join us in these celebrations. For more information please visit my website at www.chrisirwin.com
In closing, it warms my heart to honestly say that I am not ashamed to bow and bend to loyal students that I can truly call friends.
Thank you for your continued support, keep the faith alive and May the Horse be with you.