With a Whisper
I’ve created a more harmonious relationship with my horse, simply by being more aware of myself, and how my own thoughts, tensions and awareness (or lack thereof) creates the mirror images of those things in my horse, rather, any horse. Actually, it creates those images in every living being. I’ve known this for years, in fact, I’d go out on a limb to say that I’ve known this, inherently, my whole life.
At some point in my life, and I’m not sure quite when it was, I allowed the material side of life to take over. This is probably true for just about every adult living in the world today, with the exception of a few, already enlightened people. The fact that I’ve allowed the material side of life to take over hasn’t changed the fact that I would love, absolutely, to be able to leave all that behind and just exist in harmony with my world. I doubt I’m alone.
I’ve talked about how the horse is able to show me, and you too, how it is you’re feeling, and where you need to focus on letting go. With any luck, if you’ve tried it, you’ll have found that it really does help. Once I’ve been through that process, and am free of all the strings life held over me, I can start to really work on creating that relationship with my horse that I’ve dreamed of since childhood.
I’m not sure about you, but as a child, my “dream” horse was a pale bodied horse with dark points (legs, mane, tail)… well, I have her. The trouble is, she’s not nearly as ‘co operative’ as the horse in my childhood dreams, at least not on the surface. How disappointing is that? At first, very, but then it occurred to me, that, in my dreams I can do anything I want, because if I need to understand a simple concept I simply do.
How do we go about making those dreams a reality? I’m not entirely sure, but, I’ll hazard a guess that the first step is believing you can make them a reality. So I’m going to start there.
After taking the time to let go of all the stuff my day has thrown at me, leaving behind the frustrations, the tensions, the problems that need solving, just relaxing and letting my whole being just be, in doing so, bringing my horse with me to that state we are now prepared to go ahead and form a working relationship.
I’ll start on the ground, I don’t know about you, but I was taught that in order to lunge a horse you need some simple equipment. A halter and/or bridle, a lunge line, a lunge whip, and some gloves. Today I choose to question that. Today, all I want to use is myself and possibly a line to help me guide the horse on the circle. This isn’t unique, nor is it really uncommon for me, what’s different about today is that I plan to simply allow myself to be balanced in energy so that all I need to do is move my thoughts to move my horse.
I’m not looking to teach the horse anything by this, she knows it all, and she’s going to take every lead from me, all that’s left for me to do is allow her to do so, and keep my thoughts clear. The goal is we’re going to do it on a slack line, and we’re going to do it together. My horse is young, and in the past lunging has been something she took with some stress, being a real pleaser she’s always tried hard to “Jump” when a cue is given. What I’d like is for her to feel comfortable enough to just go with me, rather than feel she has to react to me.
I send her out on the line, and she stops. If I were to go by what I was taught, I’d “chase” her a little with the whip (or, in this case, because I’ve left the whip at home, probably the end of my line). Today is a new day though, and today I’m going to take a look at why she stopped instead of just feeling that usual frustration that she did. I figure out that I’m standing in a way that is more or less blocking her, without actually being physical.
We covered, earlier, just how sensitive the horse is. We’re talking about a 1000lb animal which can feel a fly land on it. So it stands to reason that when I let my shoulders roll in, and my hand close tightly on the line that she can “feel” that too. That’s what I’m going to correct, I’m going to open my shoulders, and, in my mind, I’m going to begin walking. Physically I’m going to lift my hand, and open it a little, I’m going to open my body and turn my hips, I’m not actually going to move my feet, that’s for the horse to do.
Suddenly she does it. Just to play with it a little I close up again… she stops. Cool. I continue the whole session like this, with myself doing the thinking, and her doing the actual moving part. A realization hits me, I’m not even pushing the horse with my thoughts, I’m actually working together with her on this - as I think something she’s following through. If she’s not, something about me is preventing her, so I need to fix it.
What I can conclude is that I spend a lot more time trying to make my horse do what I want, and not enough time actually paying attention to what it is I’m saying to her. I’ve been working with horses for the better part of my life now, I still do this. Why?
Is it that we’ve been so conditioned that if we want something to happen we have to make it happen, physically? The more I think about life, in general, the more I realize this probably plays a pretty big role. We’ve gotten used to using a lot of energy to get what we want that we’ve sort of forgotten that, sometimes, all that achieves is us working a lot harder than we have to.
When I watch my young children, neither of whom actually speak yet, I realize something else. We all start off with an ability to make ourselves understood. Just take a look at a young child, they seem to get their point across, very effectively, without really having the ability to communicate verbally. Actually, like the horse, very young children go through a series of motions to let us know how they feel or what they want from us long before they actually make any “noise“ or feel the need to bring our awareness to them.
This poses something else to think about. If we all started off this way, where on earth did we go wrong? Why is it, if as children, we know how to communicate softly, and quietly we are so sure that, as adults, we are smarter and have a need to teach children how to get through life, seems a little backwards to me. To me, it’s beginning to look a lot like, as children we know it all, and we then spend a lifetime unlearning everything we were born knowing. We’ve created this material world where we have to follow certain rules, and yet, this world we’ve created actually goes against what nature would have us do.
I watch my not-quite-two year old daughter with her pony. She knows, instinctively how to get that pony to do whatever it is she wants. She does it without the use of equipment for the most part, and she does it effortlessly. Without even trying she lives in the moment, and takes her pony for walks around the yard. I could obviously stand to take a few lessons from her.
Where does all this leave those of us adults who would like to change then? In a very sticky position. If we go ahead and allow ourselves to let go of all we’ve spent a lifetime conditioning ourselves to do, it will put us in a position where we no longer fit into our world as “normal” anymore. If we allow our intuitive side to take over we take a very high risk of realizing we don’t like who we are at all, so we continue as we are, making our relationships a lot more work than they really need to be.
As my journey with horses started I wanted to be that all knowing rider and trainer, the person others would come to for wisdom and solutions to their problems. As the journey progressed I learned a hard lesson, after nearly 20 years, I know less now than I did in the beginning. I think about the “stupid” things I did when I was a kid around the horses (the stuff that, had my parents known, would‘ve ended with me in BIG trouble), and yet, I also can remember the sheer joy I felt in doing those things. At the end of the day, that’s what I really want, that completely unadulterated joy.
I thought I wanted to teach people “How to do”, but in doing so, I’ve realized that while I’ve probably helped a few people master a few things, I’ve also taught them to work within the confines of the material world we’ve created. Some of the advice and methods I’ve taught may have helped the “problem” become workable instead of a stalemate, but much of it has also deviated from what we’d consider “natural”.