A funny thing happened on the way to the surgery.

Power is nebulous, def: (of a concept or idea) unclear, vague, or ill-defined. As a species, we frequently assume power abilities that aren’t really so. Can this be?

There is a logic to assessing power and then there is a knowing. Logic says we can control horses by putting bits – in various levels of torture – in their mouths and kicking or wearing spurs or using a whip, draw reins (which I believe should be outlawed and those that use them flogged with them) and various other means of ‘control’. Yet, it is at the horse’s submission or lack thereof that we actually can choose what we want to do with our horse.

Frequently when I’m out riding in the mountain preserve I run into people who are shocked that I don’t have a bridle on my horse. Somewhat more startling is when it’s another horse person, they feel compelled to tell me that what I’m doing is dangerous. This while their bridled horse is jigging around on six inches of rein as my horse with just a string around her neck is standing completely still. Really?

Back to the surgery. Mine.

I needed to have a button removed from my leg. Yes, a button, as in a shirt button. It was put there in ’08 when I had a complete knee break (all 4 ligaments snapped off and curled back in the muscle, bone broken, knee cap displaced, tendons and such torn). Well, the surgeon chose not to repair my ACL (a bone of contention between us) and he tied it to my PCL with string and strung that string with those two ligaments tied to it thru a 4 inch hole he drilled in my shin bone and then tied the string to a button on the top of the hole on my shin. Well, four and a half years later, the button broke loose and started traveling around in my leg.

I’m meeting with a new surgeon as my previous wasn’t available and during the course of our meeting he says I’ll have a whiff and we’ll get it done. I don’t want to be gassed. Two previous gassings did not go well, as in trouble waking up. “I’d rather not” said I. “It’s below my knee a local should be fine.”

Without getting too carried away with the details, I got to the surgery center to lay around for a few hours before my surgery, I found out I was on the ‘whiff’ list. I put up a fuss. Everyone got annoyed and eventually they told me I could just go home then.


It dawned on me that I thought I had some power in the situation since it was my leg. I’d already been there for 3 1/2 hours and… I held absolutely no power at all. Yes, I could choose between two choices, neither of which I wanted. But, choosing and having power are significantly different.

We think we have the power with horses. But, they misbehave, run off, buck, rear, balk, refuse, back-up, kick, bite, strike and more even though we’re in power! How can this be? Because we really aren’t. We only think we are.

Mind you all those examples of horse power I mentioned up there are the top or rather bottom of the worst. But, on a daily basis, even really nice and/or well trained horses pin their ears, swish their tails, stomp, brace against the bit, do a fast trot when we’d really prefer a slow jog, throw their head up, bulge out the left shoulder when we ask them to turn to the right, step on our feet and so much more that many riders either don’t know they’re doing due to a lack of skills and training, or ignore, or try to MAKE the horse do what they say with mechanical force and brute strength.

So, since we really don’t have the power, we might as well stop acting like we do and work on our influencing skills as if we were communicating with a friend. Let the chips fall where they may. Then, analyze what happened and figure out how you can learn more skills to change the outcomes.