An Unexpected Shift:
Although I will be a Student of Horse the rest of my days, I feel something in my novice horsemanship changing. It is somewhat intangible. Writing about it will be very challenging because much of this shift is in the realm of the unseen, the realm of intuition and spirit. However, the manifestations in the physical world that I will describe may help illustrate the strong yet gossamer thread of complete confidence in the world of the spirit that is becoming a constant in my life with horses and in general.
On a practical level, having had the “crash course in horse” experience the past few years, I am now in a place of understanding; I’ve been exposed to so many elements of horse handling, horse health, horse training, horse care and many different horses, themselves. This has enabled me to make informed decisions on my own, without needing to believe and trust that every opinion, or what folks claim is horse gospel truth, is actually true.
What is true is that there is no complete “right” when being with horses. They are all so different; with such different backgrounds, personalities and temperaments that it would be akin to thinking “one size fits all” when it comes to humans. There are, however, many “wrongs” in the world of horse. And, then there are simply the grey areas…
Interestingly, however, in this time of “the sleeping bear”, this time of peace, this time of having time in my life, I am finding a new level, a “something else” as I am with, not only my horses, but any horse.
A big part of this this “new level” is occurring because I am spending so much time just being with my horses.
I am resisting the ever-present temptation to bathe them (their favorite thing being to get damp in a bit of drizzling rain, then pick the dirtiest dirt in the paddock and have a marvelous, groaning-with-pleasure roll in it), obsessively fly spray them (organic, of course!) in the Florida bug-ridden tropical weather, love on them, give out way too many treats…all the fun but busy things we humans enjoy with our horses…and instead… just sit there under a tree in the paddock. They might come over and sniff me a bit or ignore me totally but there we are…together. I don’t “do” anything. I don’t even pray, do energy work or send mental or verbal messages to them.
I just… sit.
Don’t get me wrong, I DO groom them, pick hooves, brush out manes and tails and observe their training and care, as any horse caretaker must do, but not as the heretofore primary agenda when I am with them. 🙂
I AM doing as many of these things as possible “at liberty”…no halter, no lead rope. Admittedly, with my beloved gelding, the irrepressible Spirit, halter and rope are still necessary for grooming, at least … still, the kind trainer is slowly accomplishing many things with him at liberty!
The other thing I’m starting to observe is that my communication with my three is becoming more of a two-way street. I use more body language and respond more in the moment without considering the horse-world-approved right and wrong ways to communicate with a horse. And my sweet horses are clearer, whether with body language or actual mental pictures/words, in what they are trying to tell me.
In past blogs, I related the two times I heard actual sentences from my horses, upon which I acted and achieved the desired results. The first time was when Serenity instructed me how to disguise her antibiotic medication so that she would actually take it easily instead of the ongoing struggle we had been having. The second time was when Baby Doe whispered to me that she did NOT want to be a show horse. This led to my actively pursuing having her become mine, aided by the un-showhorse-worthy hitch in her gait (which later turned out to be navicular disease). Had I not “heard” her say this, I don’t know, at that time, if I would have had the courage and wherewithal to fight for her the way I did, and she could easily have ended up in cruel hands or put down.
I do still hear certain phrases, instructions and even their individual private names for me (too precious and sacred to share) but, at this writing, I have not yet been able to put these into categories that can be comprehended. These communications are coming, albeit somewhat disjointedly, due to my own “head-deafness” (this is how I describe my human-ness to them while asking them to be really persistent and clear with me 🙂
They patiently spell certain things out as though teaching me “A: an Apple, B: a Boy, C: a Cat”.
One example of this would be the time I was hand grazing Serenity just outside Baby Doe’s paddock. Baby Doe allowed this to go on for a bit and then began plucking at the halter hanging on the nearby gatepost. I continued to blissfully graze Serenity. Baby Doe then picked up the halter in her teeth and flung it to the ground outside the gate. Me: still blissfully grazing Serenity. Finally, Baby Doe grabbed the gate chain in her teeth and violently shook it. Me: “Oh gee, did you want to be grazed now, Baby Doe?”
I put Serenity back in her paddock, picked up the flung-to-the-ground halter and approached Baby Doe. Normally a bit hard to catch, Baby Doe thrust her head in the halter, gave me about 1 second to clip on the lead rope, another second to open the gate, and with a flounce of her golden mane, stepped out to where the “grass is greener” (naturally OUTSIDE the grassy paddock she is in) and began chomping grass as though she had been starved for 6 months! Yeah, it was elementary, and I eventually “got it” :).
That is a very basic example of the “conversations” we’re having these days…there are now multitudes of these “conversations” on escalating levels.
But recently a more advanced communication happened, one that I am just now beginning to process.
My three have become quite the tiny herd and upon coming here, their beautiful herd-ish-ness though still exquisite, is, sometimes, impractical for our more “civilized surroundings”. I LOVE their bond and would protect it with my very being, BUT we do need to calm some of the anxiety that is occurring when one of them is out of sight of the others. When I say out of sight, I mean perhaps a hundred feet away, around a corner.
The wonderful, kind trainer is working to calm their anxiety. It is a slow, patient work-in-progress.
Thus, when the farrier had Spirit under the overhang of the main barn while doing his hooves and Baby Doe was in her back paddock, all training of the easing of the separation anxiety went completely out the window and Baby Doe began hysterically running and whinnying for him.
His front legs were somewhat visible, but his whole body wasn’t. I went to her and the proffered hay-as-a-distraction did absolutely nothing to calm her.
I grabbed her halter, into which she again shoved her head, then clipped her lead rope on and intended to take her into the neighboring paddock which, at the outside boundary, was only about 25 feet from where Spirit was standing. She was so overly excited, I was concerned about leading her directly to him outside of the fencing, knowing she could potentially bolt. I couldn’t let her continue to scream in anxiety because this can lead to ulcers and she had just come through a colic the night before (a VERY long night…).
As we entered the neighboring paddock, it became clear that her anxiety was not lessening in the slightest. Still, I led her to the fence nearest to where he was standing. She was still screaming and pulling.
I knew I had to release the lead rope and just let her go, or I could be dragged and perhaps stomped upon. She was totally hysterical.
I also knew that when I released the lead rope, I had to find safety in seconds and strategized the spot. Then came the moment. I reached up to unclip the rope. Time stopped.
Although frantic in her anxious hysteria, she actually looked down at me. I looked up at her. In that nano-second, we communicated non-verbally. She conveyed, in that nano-second, that she was not going to hurt me, no matter what.
I trusted that.
I let go.
She ran in a frenzy. I hopped up on the fence. She ran close to me but not at me. I felt calm, made “shhh-ing” sounds to her and didn’t fear her in the least. I just hoped to calm her.
While this was going on, the farrier, in his amazing wisdom, brought his tools and the much-missed gelding, Spirit, down to the fence where she was. Baby Doe immediately calmed. I hopped down off the fence on the other side and then saw the pale faces of the onlookers.
I guess they thought I was crazy, in danger of being trampled and probably was doing a dunder-headed thing when I handled her the way I did.
But I KNEW. And Baby Doe knew.
In that split second, all the time we’ve spent bonding, having our disagreements, learning from each other, angering each other and loving each other, came together… in that vital split second of communication…as time stood still.
As I move into this new phase, as is common in life, all sorts of people, books and videos are suddenly making themselves known to me that support, explain and teach the new level that I am experiencing. It is as though a completely new universe of possibility is opening up to me in my relationship with horses.
I had been dismissed, ignored and contradicted so often in the past when I would express my intuitions and knowing-nesses, that I can hardly believe that I am going down a path now that many have traveled before me!
But, mainly, it’s the horses. They are the ones patiently teaching. They are the ones who remain steadfast until humans “wake up” to the oneness of all things in the universe. They are the ones who don’t need us…but know that we need them. We need them very much to help us evolve into our better selves.
Liz Mitten Ryan states this so beautifully in her book, The Truth According To Horses (Prima Publishing, 2008):
(The following is a communication of thought information given to her by her herd…)
“Dogs, cats and horses have been your closest companions through the ages. Think of the attributes that are ours.
Dogs are loyal. They love unconditionally….They surround you with care, with adoration, and they guard you against your greatest fears.
Then there are cats. They show you how to be free. They reward you with their approval when you make the right decision and they will call you on your shortcomings….Life is an adventure for a cat and they will show you how to participate.
Horses are for a … few who have committed to a complete immersion in the life experience. They are the big commitment most people are afraid to make and will test and try your resolve to grow in spirit more than any other species….
We can give you the peak experience. Wisdom, Truth, Joy, Freedom, Abundance and Love.
Is there anything else you are looking for? We will challenge you to become the most you can possibly be. We are at your disposal. Come when you want to spend time with us and commit to the level you want to grow. We have no parameters. You are the ones who set the limits, the time, space and dimension…
We are limitless beings in a limitless Universe. Come and commune with us and let us show you how to be the best you can be.”
Yes, yes and yes!