Divine inspiration can show up any time, anywhere. Sometimes it appears when you’re least expecting it. For instance, when you’re studying natural horsemanship.

It took me 48 years to get my first horse. She’s a beauty: a bay Arab cross named Loretta with character and attitude! We began our natural horsemanship journey together last summer. I chose Pat Parelli’s program, although there are other great natural horse people out there too, like Stacy Westfall, John Lyons, and Clinton Anderson. See http://www.parellinaturalhorsetraining.com/horse-training/.


As a control freak and Type A personality, I applied myself to mastering Levels 1 and 2 as quickly as I could. My natural reaction to obstacles (physical, mental, emotional or spiritual) is to barrel over or through them. It doesn’t matter if I get hurt in the process. The goal is worth the trauma. This kind of thinking is called “direct line.”

It works even less with horses than it does with cats.

Loretta, to boot, turns out to have one of the 4 “Horsenalities”* that is traditionally labeled “stubborn.” She is willing–but only when it’s her idea. If she doesn’t like what I’m asking or doesn’t see the point, she digs in her heels and won’t move.

One is ill advised to try and barrell through this obstacle.

Along comes the Parelli Program (PNH). Instead of direct-line thinking, horses employ “lateral thinking”. For example, if they see a hay bale way across the pasture, they won’t head straight for it. They will instead weave a zig-zag pattern, or a series of stops and starts, towards it. They are checking for predators along the way, making sure all’s right. Not for them the Type A behavior of a predator (e.g., me, the human) which would go straight at it.

It turns out they also require this of us, the human partner. Look at the picture above again. This is seen as predatory behavior by the horse. In the horse’s mind, the person is acting like a wolf or a mountain lion. The horse’s answer to that is “no f’ing way”!

I learned through natural horsemanship to begin employing lateral thinking with my horse. To give her treats as rewards for good behavior. Not to require perfection today but to enjoy the interaction for its own sake. To stop before it gets boring. To think of it as play instead of work. And to laugh a whole lot! Loretta has gone from mule to jewel in a few short months, and the benefits started almost as soon as I started doing PNH with her.

Lateral thinking turns out to work very well in the human world as well. It has changed how I work with people, my cat, house-cleaning, work, and everything else in my life. My stress factor has taken a nose-dive. Things are beginning to take on their right sense of importance instead of too much or too little. For a Type A control freak such as myself, this is nothing short of divine inspiration: a new way of thinking was introduced to me in an area where I just wasn’t looking for it.

Have an immovable obstacle in your life? Try going at it from a completely different direction. Instead of head-on, try sideways. Instead of attack, try persuasion. Let’s face it. None of us likes to be coerced into doing anything. Maybe it’s time to change your perspective and employ some lateral thinking.

*Horsenalities is a term pioneered by Pat & Linda Parelli. There are 4 distinct horse personalities and 4 cusps, making 8 general horsenalities in all. Loretta is a left-brained introvert or “LBI”. http://files.parelli.com/HorsenalityChart.pdf?pa-token=0C8130BD-F3F2-4010-A0F1-AAF7235963CC.