When I called Miraval a “summer camp for adults” I wasn’t kidding. It offers life lessons workshops via everything from zip-lining to primal drumming, plus more traditional activities like hiking and yoga. While I did make it to yoga, I also wanted to try some things way out of my comfort zone. I eased into that with a class called “It’s Not About the Horse,” by the world-renowned Wyatt Webb. Last fall, I overcame my fear of horses enough to ride a very tame one at the Grand Canyon Ranch. So I figured I could handle whatever they threw at me. Every single person I talked to about Miraval told me I had to take this class. So off I went.
I climbed into the white Miraval van bound for the stables. Upon arrival, we met Elvis, this beautiful horse. Wyatt gave the most uplifting speech about regaining control over how others treat you. He has a steady, down-home demeanor that makes you sit up and listen. And man, as he talks about society and how it’s taught us to internalize all of the wrong stuff and not take accountability for the right stuff, you know he’s right…
“Not everything has to be a damn crisis.”
“Never let someone else control your discomfort again.”
“Your heart doesn’t make up stories. It’s the brain that creates the problems.”
“We’re not trained in accountability. We make it about everything but us.”
“I teach people how to treat me.”
“We’re born human but trained not to be. Learn to ask for help.”
Then it became clear that this was not your average equine experience.
We were going to have to talk about feelings.
Watching everyone go up there one by one to complete the task (getting the horse to raise his hoof and clean it) was a truly eye-opening experience. As stirring as Wyatt’s monologue was, seeing our human fears acted out with the horse is something I’ll never forget.
One woman grew visibly frustrated when the horse wouldn’t immediately lift up his hoof. “How many kids do you have?” Wyatt asked without missing a beat. “Do you get annoyed the second they don’t do what you want? Are you sure you’re telling them exactly what you want?” The woman got more and more frustrated until Wyatt finally interjected, “Would you like some help?” Another woman’s entire body indicated that she was so sad, and she said up front she didn’t think she could do this minor task. Defeated by a bully of boss, she’d learned, down to her body language, to admit defeat before it began.
Don’t know what to do? Ask for help. Try again. Yes, you can do it. It was amazing how we all fight these basic concepts!
When it was my turn, I admitted that I’d been scared of horses for a long time. He told me to go stand next to the horse. I did. The horse didn’t move. I couldn’t have felt more ridiculous.
For me, fear of the unknown or of what is going to happen next has always been my biggest setback. (It’s why I’ve fought public speaking anxiety for years.) But learning — not by reading about it or having someone tell me, but by standing next to something I thought I was scared of — that the horse would not do something to hurt me unless I did something to scare it made me see how irrational that can be.
There’s something about physically walking through the motions of a personal fear or setback in front of an audience that makes you see how easy it could be to end it right then and there.
I was worried in the beginning that the class would be too hippy-dippy for me, but it was anything but. I’d learn life lessons from Wyatt any day.
Wyatt has appeared on Celebrity Rehab and has written a book, It’s Not About the Horse. Check it out!
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