Head Butt and Muzzle Hug: The Language of Horses

Bury Your Head In This. ..And Smell His Horsey Body

My heart was aching as I was feeding the horses one night. I sought out the comfort and the wisdom of Shaman Tal, my teddy bear horse. When I found his big, woolly body, I started to cry about a repetitive and gnawing problem in my life which I couldn’t seem to get a handle on. I was searching for what I was doing wrong. Shaman who is drawn compassionately to people who are grieving, startled me by pushing me away roughly with his head. Wooh! What was this head butt about?! Feeling sorry for myself and the ache getting worse with this unexpected and out of character reaction, I didn’t understand his uncaring response to me.

Deeply offended since I was coming to him for comfort, I opened my mouth to scold him for such rude behavior that was completely unnecessary. Instead, what came out of my mouth changed and reinvented my original message. Instead of scolding it became, “Oh this is because I am railing on myself again, beating myself up!”

For the longest time I have known I am not to look for what is broken or wrong with me. Not that it isn’t there, but I’m a bit of an addict about it. Those things drop off effortlessly when I see the hidden gifts. Now that I’ve had enough years to practice this, the horses are impatient with me when I default to that familiar and addictive inner rant that has carved deep ruts in my habit patterns. Shaman had no tolerance even though I was in agony…but it was an agony that was coming from a false belief.

I continued interpreting Shaman’s head butt, “…so, this is about being on the roll in a positive way and this is resistance flushing out?!” Shaman licked and chewed, and licked and chewed his affirmation. First, I was busted because of my self-flagellation! Then, when I got it, he was now affirming my recognition that often times when we are in fact on track in our lives even though with some ragged edges, we flush out some violent storms as the inner barometer changes. With the acceptance that it wasn’t me messing up, but rather a good thing in disguise, I cried harder with mixed and conflicting emotions all vying for attention.

Shaman, who towered over me like a large burly father, pressed his muzzle into my shoulder and hard against my neck, holding it there patiently and compassionately for the longest time as I sobbed both relief and self-compassion. It was a cleansing. With this hug from his huge head and muzzle pressing in firmly, no human gesture could have equaled the feeling of security it evoked in me. I later learned it was not just his amazing physical compassion he was offering, but he was sending healing that manifested on my way home, removing a blockage I have been feeling every since I embarked on my journey to my inner home place.

Horses and other animals or manifestations of nature not only bring messages or revelations to our conscious minds, but they actually are radiating healing without our realizing it because it can’t always be felt in the magnitude that it is offered. Perhaps it needs time to absorb and for the mind to gradually catch up.

Driving home, I had an epiphany. I knew that the issue that has been playing out in my life is actually a reversal of my gift. Where my life has been dysfunctional is where my gift is embedded, hidden and not operating because it has been submerged. My life has manifested the opposite of what is true.

It is both frightening and empowering when a new super gift is uncovered. So how can I move into experiencing the power of my gift? A step at a time with this new awareness. I’ve been experiencing the distortion of my gift for a large part of my life. I now see it surfacing, like an interesting rock emerging from the sands of the wear and tear of history. A new way of thinking and feeling, and the perception of myself as no longer a victim is already shifting.

I know the steps I am to take today.

Shaman’s head butt became a muzzle hug. It not only comforted but shifted my perception. I love those muzzle hugs!

[After sharing this story recently at one of my presentations, someone mentoned the location on my body where Shaman placed his muzzle. I hadn’t yet put together that his muzzle hug was placed where I “shoulder” the most stress in my body as a pain in the neck.]

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.

 

 

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

Introducing Four Pages: Healing Portraitures; Sketching Horses; Problem Horses; Equine Guided Personal/Spiritual Growth Sessions


The Art Of Healing Through Portraiture:
https://themystichorsechronicle.wordpress.com/the-art-of-healing-through-portraiture/

 

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Sketching Horses: Equine Guided, An Introductory Class https://themystichorsechronicle.wordpress.com/sketching-horses-equine-guided-an-introductory-class/

 

 

“You Talkin’ About Me?

Problems With Your Horse?
https://themystichorsechronicle.wordpress.com/problems-with-your-horse/

 

 

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*Kaheka and Amoura”

Equine Guided Personal /Spiritual Growth And Healing Sessions:
https://themystichorsechronicle.wordpress.com/equine-guided-personal-spiritual-growth-and-healing-sessions/

Walking Away

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Amoura. “Walking Away”

Amoura was the third to open her classroom door to me. I had learned non-resistance from Shaman, and sensitivity rather than anger from Kaheka. Since non-resistance was so amazing, I was prepared to experience that with Amoura, but I wasn’t quite sure how to apply it to her, and did not want to do it as a technique, and especially if not appropriate.

I wanted to check her hooves and to clean them from impacted debris. I don’t usually put a halter on to pick up hooves. When I leaned over to lift her front hoof, she walked away.  For some reason that makes me feel a little awkward and silly when that happens, as if someone is watching and I feel embarrassed that the horse had her way with me.  I must admit that I become more determined and forceful. Today I had an overflow of peaceful energy from Shaman so I stepped back and relaxed into the process. I let her walk away (as if I had a choice!). I was feeling a kind of non-resistance but we weren’t making any progress toward solving the hoof issue, though I could have let that go.

Of course I continued to try again, and again unsuccessfully. Each time I peacefully watched her walk away. I noticed, though, that she actually wanted me to clean her hooves and would circle around, and come up to me, but then walk away just as I reached out for her hoof. This is something Amoura has done since she first joined the herd. She wants to cooperate but because of her abusive background, she has difficulty trusting.

“Fear,” she whispered. Aah. Professor Amoura gave me a “classroom” tip. It was fear! As I had learned with Kaheka, I started to reassure her in a soft, gentle, voice. She immediately stopped in perfect synchronicity with my energy shift, and lifted her hoof. Four hooves later, she had clean feet!

Such a subtle shift in recognizing her fear, and a simple reassurance was all that was needed. I could have haltered her and forced the issue, but we would have both missed out on the deeper connection, and on the lesson she wanted me to learn. Does it take time and patience? Sometimes, yes! But the deeper connection with the horse is worth the wait, and sets the stage for going even deeper next time. It is also preparing me personally for working with ordinary problems with other horses in non aggressive ways, and with humans as well.

 

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Amoura. “For the Joy of It”

Non Resistance

Bury Your Head In This. ..And Smell His Horsey Breath

Shaman is a teddy bear disguised as a large horse. People love to bury their heads in his neck, smell his sweet horsey breath, and sink their lips into his soft muzzle.

He recently presented me with a new problem to solve, after Kaheka Boy and I finally resolved a halter issue with him (prior post). It all started when I recently made a commitment to get more serious about working with equine problems other than my own. Since then the horses in my care have lined up to present new lessons to get me ready. As the “professors” in their equine university, they never miss a chance to groom and school me for what is next. Thankfully they always show me where I have already changed but didn’t realize it. One of those times is demonstrated in this story.

Apparently I had to first be shown a technique that I didn’t like. An acquaintance wanted to show me a 1-2-3 step to get Shaman to step forward on “demand.” (her word, not mine) Multiple times he failed steps 1 and 2 and ended with the 3rd step which was jerking on Shaman’s head and using the abrasiveness of the rope halter to get him to step forward. No. That is not to be my relationship with horses! That was clear. So, I was now ready for my own step forward with my equine instructors.

A friend, who is honing her skill of listening carefully to her horse, said to me recently that her desire is to work with her horse in a way that allows her to choose to cooperate without threatening consequences. We both value an authentic, cooperative, and deepening spiritual relationship with our horses. A horse may change its behavior because of uncomfortable or negative consequences, but that change is based on discomfort or fear, and hierarchy, not trust and cooperation which is my goal here at the ranch. While there may be the desired outward change, their connection with their human is not the same.

Daily I move Shaman back and forth between paddock and pasture at supplement time. He tries to sneak away under the rope I use as a corridor to guide him. After multiple attempts, I hoped he would settle into a routine. He didn’t. Finally, I put a lead rope gently over his neck like a bolo tie with my hands as a clasp beneath so I could guide him to our destination. He immediately did an awesome musical figure 8 with his huge neck and head and almost dislodged the rope, pulling his head under and away from any confinement. Clever. And a bit mischievous. I, instead of bracing and holding the rope taut like I normally do, was extremely surprised by my spontaneous and effortless response which was a new experience for me. Without thought, I simultaneously released any tension on the rope. Still holding it, I let it drape loosely in place beneath his neck, and felt that inner place of peacefulness and harmony. He stopped immediately. There was no resistance for him to push against. I waited. At last he took a step to move forward with me.

For 5 days we did this. Each day he whirled his head around to free himself from the rope. Each day I relaxed and released any tension. The 6th day, after putting the rope softly over his neck yet again, there was quiet. There was no figure 8 with his head. None. Instead he immediately stepped softly forward on his own initiative toward our destination. It was a gracefully choreographed movement which I am sure was designed by the gods with me as his dance partner. We then walked side by side with his bulky body light as a feather!!

There was no human jerking his head, and no figure 8 maneuver on his part. Instead he chose to step forward quietly without any waiting…and without any threat. We floated back to the pasture. He gave me these moments of feeling what two Olympic ice skaters must experience during a gold medal performance. Complete synchronicity and pure harmony. We’ve been experiencing that daily since then. The joy of non resistance. Not a technique, nor a rule for all times, but a pure moment when what was right for that time emerged spontaneously.

 

What My Horse Taught Me Today

Kaheka Boy

Tonight I tangled with Kaheka Boy. Again. Every evening I put the halter on him before turning him out into the interim pasture to eat his supplement. Every night he throws his head at the very last minute just as I am buckling the halter, jerking it right out of my hands and propelling it to the ground. Each night I yell at him, “Every goddamn night you do this!” all the while I’m cringing inside with poisonous shame and guilt. I knew I was being a bitch and not solving the problem even a little bit. Even though I knew there was a better way, taking the easier road, I persisted in my reactionary response.

My goal for the past 20 years has been to work cooperatively with horses. But I still forget. Tonight, I not only yelled but I picked up his halter from the ground and threw it back down. Hard! I don’t think I could ever hit this horse but throwing the halter on the ground like I did felt like the same harsh energy. Even though he is in his 20’s, an older guy by now, he has a youthful innocence. Like a teenager, he can be challenging but endearing at the same time, and extremely sensitive. In this instance, he simply rolled his eyes, turned his head and looked around as if embarrassed, to see if anyone was watching my foolishness, then patronized me with a “guru” type superior nod as he patiently observed my childish tantrum.

When the halter hit the ground in a puff of dust, I wondered at how I had regressed. It seems the closer I get to responding to ordinary behavioral issues in nontraditional ways, I backslide more ruthlessly into the very tradition I am hoping to abandon. But all was not lost.

In my efforts to work cooperatively with horses, Kaheka communicated to me now that I was listening with intent to learn from him. He had been throwing his head nightly when I haltered him because he was nervous about the other horses nearby. When I started buckling the halter, he felt constricted and more confined. Instinct for flight overtook him and he threw his head ready to flee. As he explained what was going on with him, I began to feel compassion and understanding. I instinctively lowered my voice, reassuring him that he was safe. “You’re okay, Kaheka, you are okay,” I was reminding him that all was well. And it was! We breezed through haltering him that night.

The next time, he threw his head again! My heart sank after thinking we had found a solution. “Wait,” he said, “This is a process. Don’t give up on me.” He meant don’t give up on yourself! I took a deep breath, let it out slowly, then, spoke softly again and reminded him to try to keep his head down, and that he was safe. After more coaching from him, I gave him space to stand in a position that helped him feel more confidant, where he could see the other horses. I whispered reminders to keep his head down, and to reassure him. All has gone smoothly since.

We are now both getting what we want. I get to buckle him without hassle, and he gets to feel confident and safe. I can feel him still on the alert, but putting every effort into keeping his head from flinging upward. He gets buckled more quickly, and then gets to his food sooner. There is a new camaraderie between us instead of antagonism.

In addition Kaheka also has shown me how I do the same thing in my own life. Throwing my head when I’m starting to feel constricted and unsafe, and slowing the process of forward movement by giving into my fears. That is his “guru” lesson for me.

Gratefully, the connection and the cooperation between Kaheka and me has grown deeper and at the same time more transcendent. It is another step forward on our horse and human journey, to work together in cooperation.