Becoming Home: The Language of Horses

When I arrived last night, I could see 3 horses on the hill, and 2 in the flat marshy area. Immediately, those in the upper pasture disappeared behind trees on their way down the hill to join the others as they headed for the barn! I stood watching them with some nervous anticipation, still learning to trust. What would I find? Dollar’s weight, Mariah’s weight, Kaheka’s weight, Amoura’s weight and lameness issues, and Shaman’s hooves.

Here is what I experienced. Shaman with hoof issues over the years, was happily prancing around as the herd edged closer to me across the marshy pasture. He was expressing a happy enthusiasm as the herd merged together. Amoura with a lameness challenge, from afar looked like a photo I had of her in midair that had come to life. She was dancing across the pasture with her head turned toward the barn and a huge smile on her face, her countenance sparkling with anticipation of all of us being together again as the movement headed homeward.

What a bright homecoming for all of us. Shaman so comfortable in his feet, Amoura with decent weight and comfortable in her body. Kaheka’s weight was in the middle, a little on the thin side which tends to be his thoroughbred status quo. Dollar and Mariah are both too thin, and we will fix that, but our inner connection was deep.

Shaman all the while back at the barn was extremely affectionate. He was thanking me for posting the stories. In years gone by, Shaman’s hooves would heal when I posted the horses’ stories for the public. It was amazing! I am their advocate; it is their stories I tell.

Today he is thanking me for preventing his discomfort this time around by my new commitment to living our lives together in a way that I have postponed for the last 10 years, hanging out with them, writing and sharing their stories, and moving forward with new life as in the Mary Oliver poem. We are becoming home.

The Journey
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice–
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!
each voice cried
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left the voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do–
determined to save
the only life you could save.
-by Mary Oliver

A Sprinkling of Magical Moments: The Language of Horses

There was still a little light left in the sky when feeding and clean up were done, unusual for my time schedule. I had spent the day with the horses for hoof trims, untangling Kaheka’s mane, grooming and de-ticking the 5, and wanted to have some conversation and quiet time with them before going home. I called it a conference. Some were already standing in the community “hall,” but one was missing. Amoura. Not surprising for this stand-offish mare.

After turning the water off at the faucet, and locking up the pasture gate, I headed for the horses in the barn. As I walked past Amoura, I sent her a casual invitation in my mind to join us. In concert with my thought, she nickered. I responded, “Ah ho! That was fun!”

By the time I arrived at the stall with the horses that were waiting for me, Amoura had already arrived to complete the count at 5 horses! She came! Nice! I was surprised!

Here I was in the presence of the wisdom of all 5 horses. I could feel it. I bared my soul with them as I downloaded some perplexing and unresolved issues. Better than paying a therapist! I also talked about their teeth since they are an eldering herd, and mentioned my secret wish for a miracle! Why not?!!

While I was talking, Mariah started opening her mouth wide and contorting her jaw in different directions while stretching her head up, down, and to the side. Definitely a distraction at this serious moment! At first, I just assumed she was zoned out with some issue in her mouth. A few minutes later I realized I had been talking about their teeth, and Mariah started doing her theatrics with her mouth.

It took me back to being a teacher in the classroom when a wise cracking student would do something funny during a serious lesson to make everyone laugh. Mariah is our equine comedienne,and there was significant comedy in what she was doing but her confirming action of the topic infused with her humor passed me by until later. Slow to get it sometimes, but when I do, laughter rolls out from deep inside.

Mariah reminds me of a teenage dancer. She is in command of her body and is given to being impulsive. Sometimes she responds to some irresistible urge to move quickly away from a pile of hay with food still hanging out of her mouth as she heads for the herd like a vivacious teenager out the door to meet her friends still chewing the remainder of a peanut butter and jam sandwich. Both are onto the social business at hand!

True to her whimsical nature, Mariah threw hay one time on a 4 year old child causing him and the rest of us to laugh heartily as the hay slowly dripped off his beaming face. Another time, she sauntered up to me when I was doing a charcoal sketch of Shaman and acted interested in what I was doing. I was intrigued. Suddenly she proceeded to erase the sketch away with her very nimble muzzle. We laughed and Shaman got better.

I nicknamed her flower child because of the time I was sketching her, and she dropped a mouthful of green grass on the sketch, then threw her head as in “mission accomplished” and walked away. On closer look she had left me a miniature bouquet of flowering grasses!

Thanks to Amoura and Mariah for contributing to these sprinklings of magic and whimsy which are sometimes too easy to slip by us. When I catch it, I love the surprise along with the surge of joy these moments evoke. Lingering in it sets the stage for more to come!

Playful healing:
Four-legged Flower Child:
https://themystichorsechronicle.wordpress.com/2012/05/08/4-legged-flower-child/ short Or short link: https://wp.me/p5KgD-nG

Goofy Mariah, Divine Comedienne:
https://themystichorsechronicle.wordpress.com/2012/04/28/goofy-mariah-divine-comedienne/

Deeper Work:
There Is A Reason: https://themystichorsechronicle.wordpress.com/2016/09/19/there-is-a-reason/

Mary Magdalene’s Blessing For Easter Day

photo by bev

 

by Rev. Jan Richardson

You hardly imagined standing here,
everything you ever loved suddenly returned to you,
looking you in the eye and calling your name.

And now you do not know how to abide this hole
in the center of your chest,
where a door slams shut and swings open
at the same time, turning on the hinge
of your aching and hopeful heart.

I tell you, this is not a banishment from the garden.
This is an invitation,
a choice, a threshold, a gate.

This is your life calling to you from a place you could never
have dreamed, but now that you have glimpsed its edge,
you cannot imagine choosing any other way.

So let the tears come as anointing,
as consecration and then let them go.

Let this blessing
gather itself around you.
Let it give you what you will need
for this journey.

You will not remember
the words…
they do not matter.

All you need to remember
is how it sounded
when you stood
in the place of death
and heard the living call your name.

 

 

Gently Teaching A Human to Trust: the language of horses

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[Since horses can’t text, they communicate with us in their own language. Besides messaging us with their body language; they, as sentient beings, also speak to us in many other ways. The true story below with my own herd on the Mendocino Coast shares the sweetness of everyday interactions rich with opportunity for personal growth.]

The horses were munching new Spring grasses on a hill a long way from the barn when I arrived. Shaman is easy to see because he is a paint with a white coat. To see the others, I squinted my eyes to determine whether I was seeing a horse or a bush in the distance, counting to make sure all 5 were together and safe. All was well. I had been gone for a few days to recover from the unending back to back storm systems we’d been having in California. Seeing the horses quietly grazing in the distance soothed me with peacefulness.

Donning my new well-insulated coat that had recently been given to me and my new Christmas boots (that leaked!), I set out on a long hike through the swampy lower pasture to join the horses. When I finally arrived up the hill where the grasses were thick and plentiful, the mood was tranquil as the horses continued to eat. I stood motionless feeling the quiet of a library setting where we whisper and almost feel the need to tip toe. I didn’t make a sound for fear of breaking the spell as my eyes caressed each horse, enjoying the lines of their beautiful bodies, noting how good they looked. At last one by one, they silently walked over to me, stretched out their necks, and reached their heads toward me for interaction and kisses, then retreated back to the grasses.

These moments were reassuring. I had worried during my absence. Even though the horses had been under the watchful eyes of both the ranch owner and the caretaker, I had worried. Even though the herd had sent me imageries that they were okay, I had worried.

One image they painted for me was of the 5 of them, heads together grinning from ear to ear, holding signs and waving banners of celebration. At first puzzled, I quickly realized they were applauding me as their spokesperson for finally posting their stories on our blog, a serious assignment given to me years ago as their advocate. During my recuperating time away I was in fact posting their stories. They were happy. It helped me chuckle and relax. For awhile.

Soon after, another picture came that was more literal and less comic. They were all standing in their favorite grove of trees with heads drooped in that goofy way, and all were sound asleep, meaning tummies were full, and it was time to rest. They were content.

During my time away I was learning a lesson in trust taught by the horses with their pictorial tutorials! Now that we were all together again, my somewhat crusty attempt at trust had been validated. None of them panted in my ear, “Where the hell ya been?” Nor had they come gushing over me like I was the wayward one that at last had returned, rolling their eyes behind my back! Perhaps they hadn’t really noticed I’d been gone. They were happily entranced in their own world. I’m thinkin’ a break from the human element was a good thing!

But, there was one more concern

tal

Over the years, Shaman Tal, the “paint” horse that’s so visible in the distance, has been prone to hoof issues. In the past he has given me signs when his hooves are becoming uncomfortable. One of signs among others is isolating, staying away from the herd.

On this particular day, Shaman Tal was not isolating. He was in the center of the herd and had come a long distance to this spot in the pasture, and the few steps he had just taken in my presence were smooth and without trepidation. His countenance exuded contentment, but I wanted to be sure. This, by the way, drives my horses a little crazy. They do not want me to continue looking for something wrong after I have been reassured everything is okay! Time and time again they emphatically walk away from me, a blundering human in training.

Lately, I’ve been re-learning a lesson I had been taught by Shaman years ago. That is to expect the best which actually helps create it; and to trust more deeply my inner messages. But….but…today was different. Well. No it wasn’t. I had already noticed Shaman was okay. Why did I habitually need to prove that maybe my observations were wrong by checking again and again?! Wow. I took a deep breath and walked away choosing to trust instead of insisting he lift his hooves for me to prove or disprove what I already knew to be true in my heart.

As I started back toward the barn, the words came as a reminder, “He will show you if he is not okay,” meaning, of course, I didn’t have to keep looking for it. That resonated with my spirit, and with my experience. I relaxed and was free to enjoy the herd as we walked together back to the barn. I did a quick glance over my shoulder at Shaman to see if he were coming, and simultaneously he took steps showing me again a beautiful stride. Oh ho! Yes! I turned back and kept walking with a better stride myself, and whispered a “thank you” that I had actually been given another confirmation, unsolicited I might add, that he was okay. But there was more.

Half way back to the barn as we were moseying along together, Shaman Tal, this very horse I had been concerned about, suddenly, in a spurt of racehorse energy, took off running across the pasture flinging his head up and about and then dipping it into a figure eight. Running! What can I say?! The joy of it all! This is not the horse I would have expected to take off like that! How much clearer could it be that his hooves were in fact okay. He had gone out of his way to show me! I could only whisper “thank you” again, as my heart joined him in the frolic all the way back to the barn.

A new trust was born.

[As of the writing of this experience, I had not idea that this was only the tip of the iceberg. The horses had plans for teaching me more about trust than I could have imagined at the time. Some day that will be another story. They are digging deeper and I’m still in process!]

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Trust, the most intimate thing in life, is the hardest to gain, and the hardest to hold. – John Holt

 

Clown

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“Clown” 

I found him this way; the lead rope had been on the fence!

 

Other playful stories:
Four-legged Flower Child:
https://themystichorsechronicle.wordpress.com/2012/05/08/4-legged-flower-child/ short Or short link: https://wp.me/p5KgD-nG

Goofy Mariah, Divine Comedienne:
https://themystichorsechronicle.wordpress.com/2012/04/28/goofy-mariah-divine-comedienne/

You Are Patronizing Me: The Language of Horses

(oil painting by beverly smith, click here for full painting)

The horse on the corner lot down the road from us lives alone. I tried to befriend her but found no response so passed her by on my daily walk with my dog. Weeks later, I found out that her name was Cinnamon and would then call to her as we continued walking. She still gave me little response beyond lifting her head and briefly looking my direction, then turned away to continue whatever she was doing, eating. This went on for a few months.

The other day when I yelled, “Hi, Cinnamon,” as usual, I was surprised by words that flew back to me so fast I almost ducked. “You are patronizing me,” were the words that came. I did a double take thinking I had misheard. A bit shocked by this accusation assuming I would never do something like that, I stopped in the middle of the road and did some remote viewing of my relationship with this horse to prove it wasn’t true. But, sure enough, it was. There was definitely a cocky attitude. I’d come on the scene months before, thinking I was to fix this horse who was most likely lonely (but actually, in truth, appears very content), and then develop a deep and secret connection with her because of my skills.

Picking up on my attitude from the start that she needed fixing, Cinnamon would have nothing to do with me. From then on, when I called to her with a phony lilt in my voice, I realized in retrospect that I was being superior and goading her with my high pitched musical voice as if to say, “Even if you won’t talk to me-e, I’m talking to you-ou,” followed by a sweet chuckle that I now saw as belittling. It all seemed to indicate that I am evolved and you aren’t yet. OMG. I didn’t realize. It was such a subtle poison, and this horse had picked up on it!

One of the first things I learned from the horses when embarking on my journey with them years ago was to focus on receiving with gratitude their special nuggets of wisdom, rather than trying to fix them because something was wrong or inferior. By the way, this can also be applied to our relationships with one another.

I was always frustrated when visitors especially horse people would find something wrong with a horse’s physical body and totally miss the presence of the magnificent being and the personal spiritual gift that had just been offered. With Cinnamon, I had entered her life with a similar intention of fixing her supposed loneliness, and her supposed inability to relate to me, judging her as tuned out and unaware. In retrospect, as I spurt out a quick embarrassed laugh, the exact opposite was actually true of this horse. With this new awareness and view of myself and what I had caused, I felt a sudden bittersweet humility wash over me, and was reassured that Cinnamon had finally given me another chance by offering her forthright message.

I walked on down the road with my dog, and when I came back by the small pasture, there was Cinnamon munching grass in the corner closest to where we walk. My heart responded knowingly that she was welcoming me. Enjoying her gentle invitation to connect, I whispered a thank you from the burgeoning gratitude filling my chest, then feeling that was enough for this time, walked on home.

The next day on my routine dog walk, I stopped and chatted with a neighbor nearby. When I finally got to Cinnamon, she was at the fence with her body pressed against it. I could not resist, and humbly walked over to her. She presented her soft nostrils to me and let me touch them for the first time! The next day, the same response. We stood together briefly then she would walk away.

Yesterday, when she saw us, she left her stall and walked quickly to greet us. What I had wanted with this horse in the beginning has finally happened, connection. Isn’t that what we all want, even with each other? She brought me out of my ego and reminded me to receive rather than to be her saviour or hero which can often times be condescending. Being humbled by this beautiful being who spoke the truth to me, “you are patronizing me,” I am tasting the sweet nectar of life in connection with her. We are “home.” Together.

For further discussion about this experience, click here: subliminal messages or https://themystichorsechronicle.wordpress.com/subliminal-messages

To Touch or Not To Touch: The Language of Horses

Apolinaire, patriarch of the herd

Who wouldn’t want to touch this body?! I was so ready; I set my basket full of grooming brushes and tools on the ground beside my gentlemanly horse. He stood quietly while I prepared to groom him. He made no movement, not even a flinch for a fly; but underlying the stillness was a subtle and invisible resistance that permeated the air around him. I felt it in my body. He did not want to be touched.

I knew what he was telling me, but everything in me wanted first to ignore it, then to simply override his message. I could do that. I could override his desire with my human agenda. We humans do that all the time, even Supreme Court Justices. We ignore and override not only with our animals but with each other and our children.

This horse would have let me, but it was clearly not what he wanted. He would not have hurt me. I could simply toss away my commitment to listening and honoring the sentient beings under my guardianship. Who would know; who would even care? I could do it. But very clearly he didn’t want to be touched. I vacillated back and forth like a human fighting an addiction. Then, I tried another tact. I slyly told myself that this time I could do it, just this one time, but from then on I would honor the horse. Right.

The reality at that moment was that I was in an internal war zone holding mental and emotional grenades in my hands ready to throw at all beliefs and intentions that honored working cooperatively or even just sensitively with horses, specifically this well-mannered horse. It was seemingly such an insignificant thing, yet one of the most important moments in my life. I was putting myself on the line. Was I serious about my commitment or not? Finally, with all my might and with teeth clenched, I stepped back away from him and took a very deep breath and as I released it, I dropped the grooming brush.

He knew immediately of my surrender, even before the grooming brush hit the ground. He felt it. Simultaneously, he turned his head as if in a well rehearsed dance movement, and reached toward me inviting me to stroke his face in one of the more intimate moments that I had ever experienced with this horse. This mutual touch brought deep connection. We were home.

More about touch…https://themystichorsechronicle.wordpress.com/more-on-to-touch-or-not-to-touch-the-language-of-horses/