Hi, I’m MaryKay (not associated with MaryKay makeup!).
I’ve been a professional dressage instructor, competitor, and trainer for over 30 years and a horse lover from birth. I personally know what it’s like to cry after a lesson, to have instructors yell at me to do something I didn’t understand, to be chafed in unmentionable places and still trot down centerline, to try and try and try as hard as I can and not “get it.” I know the embarrassment of a clinician telling me on the loudspeaker, “you have no feel.” I know the letdown and heartbreak that you can feel after allowing a trainer to force your horse to do something he’s not ready for or doesn’t understand. I know the excitement of winning a championship and the sinking feeling afterwards that it really wasn’t good enough. I kept thinking “if only” I could do one thing or another, everything would be wonderful with my horse. I know mistakes.
I thought my answers lay with Feldenkrais and Alexander Technique lessons, but they weren’t enough. I tried Tai Chi, exercise programs designed for riders, international level clinicians, meditation and mindfulness, clicker training, a tad of natural horsemanship, TagTeach, animal communication, a little Pilates, mind body work. I worked so hard that I graduated with distinction from Karen Pryor Academy and became a Certified Training Partner, a specialist in clicker training, animal behavior, and learning theory. None of these were enough even if I put them all together.
Somewhere along the line, I found my salvation. I discovered a unique way to live and work with my horses that I had never imagined. It is called Loving Presence. I learned about Loving Presence by studying and practicing a unique form of mindfulness with a very special Zen Priest for more than 10 years. I continue to do so. Once I found Loving Presence, things started to change. The endless struggle to achieve shifted more and more to profound joys in each present moment.