#68 Reflections on the Sweet Spot

Nov 10, 2022

In September and October of this year (2022) I shook hands with opportunity and am changed because of it.

I spent 10 days learning with a humble horseman named Harry Whitney. The only reason I got to do this is because of a little fuzzy horse named Suede and another humble horseman named Charley Snell

It's been almost 2 years to the day that I had the wreck with Suede that changed the trajectory of my career. It led to me hanging up my hat as an instructor, then taking that hat and throwing it into the ring of learning and sharing that journey with all of you. A new career was born.

The wreck also led me to Charley who from day 1 credited Harry Whitney with much of what he was sharing with me. He told me repeatedly, if I ever got the chance to go check out this Harry fella- that he's a true master. 

In September and October the opportunity to travel to Copperopolis, California to learn with Harry presented itself.

I took it.

In September I flew down and audited for 4 days and then a couple of weeks later, Brett (my husband) and I drove down with Suede in the trailer. 

As you've experienced when you take a lesson or attend a clinic- SO much is shared and a smaller percentage is learned. 

My goal in this post is to share a bit about a concept Harry (and many other horsewomen and men) share about- but is a HUGE one to actually take in and put into practice: the Sweet Spot. This is what Harry calls it and what I'm going to share here are my reflections on it after watching Harry for 10 days- these aren't his words- but my thoughts on it. My goal is to share these thoughts with you in hopes it will trigger thoughts of your own. 

The pictures shared are thanks to the wonderful Amy Friend who has been studying with Harry for many years and shoots amazing photos (since videos aren't allowed) and then graciously shares them with the participants- I'm so grateful Amy!! 

The Sweet Spot offered.

When I first heard Harry refer to the Sweet Spot he demonstrated it by reaching out to touch the horse's forehead- the spot between their eyes. Similar to what he's doing with Suede in the picture above. It would be easy to think that the Sweet Spot only happens in this position. After asking him about it and watching him, I realize it's so much more. 

It's about us and what we're offering to our horses. Are we able to get to a place of caring, love and support. A place of gratitude and reverence for this creature that is so adaptable, curious, and forgiving.

What Harry offers- you can see it in every part of him in this photo.

Can we get there even when things aren't going our way? Can we get there after we need to firm up to be clear about a boundary? 

The Sweet Spot is a place we provide for our horse to find. A place they can find comfort- consistently. 

It's easy for us as humans to get caught up in what our horse is doing and if they're doing it correctly- but what are we offering? How are we offering it? Can we be even more focused on this?

A quick thank you from Harry after Suede allowed him on his right side.

I love what these pictures capture. To me they capture the Sweet Spot.

Suede is learning to trust that he can find a place with Harry that is clear and comfortable. This wasn't something he found with people in his early years.

Harry said that horses like Suede will forever find humans guilty until proven innocent.

Harry went out of his way over the time he spent with Suede to prove his innocence. He pushed him to search and stretch and sometimes Suede got scared and worried that Harry would be one of the guilty ones but over and over there were moments like this- so many of them that Suede started to trust him with more and more and started to look for where it was most comfortable. 

Suede starting to believe that Harry is one of the innocent ones.

If the Sweet Spot isn't established and strengthened throughout our relationship with our horse- they will forever be looking to get away to find it elsewhere since they can't find it with us. 

What can you do to provide this? Some things that come to my mind are to practice being present, say thank you and acknowledge when our horse gets the answer we're looking for, taking deep breaths to help us get to a place of calm, putting our heart in our hands and touching our horse with our heart (thank you to Pat Parelli), trying to see the world through our horse's eyes, practicing gratitude. What other things come to your mind? 

Last thought to share is that the Sweet Spot doesn't need to only happen at a stand still. It can be in motion. An acknowledgement that your horse found the answer and to spend a few moments enjoying the harmony together. 

The Sweet Spot in motion.

Thank you to Harry for sharing his knowledge with me and his heart with Suede. And to Charley for encouraging me to go. And to Suede- I'm becoming a better partner thanks to you. 

Harry and Suede with Charley observing.


Receive notifications when new blog posts are added

Join the Shine a Light Newsletter and you'll receive a weekly email with a new blog post or podcast interview, to help inspire and educate you, as you travel along on your horsemanship journey.

Sign Me Up!!