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.]

Get Rid of the Horses!

Get rid of the horses! The voices were screaming at me both heard and felt.
You’re doing this to yourself! Get rid of the horses! The conventional directives battered my confidence when some of my most trusted friends began to doubt, and joined the death verdict. My life was shriveling at a time I was being set free. It wasn’t suppose to happen this way. My finances crawled to a halt. I was homeless moving from house to house with friends, some who welcomed me as a privilege, some as obligation, others with judgment. I could feel the difference. My own doubts began to sprout as the weedy seedlings rooted in my soil of fear.

In the midst of the chaotic rants, one day I heard the quiet place deep inside. Somehow I heard. There was a miracle in that. The words snaked and curled their way to my mind like a genie released from a bottle. The horses aren’t the problem came the message. The horses only appear to be the problem. Money seems to be the problem. You cut expenses, but then income reduces. You cut again. Income reduces again. The flow stopped cold. Reduce expenses again and again, further constriction. What was going on?

I was looking for the wrong solution. Simple as that. Instead of constricting, which is something I know well how to do, I was to expand. To take steps toward the vision I had carried for years. It made no sense when money was the issue…or was it.

Every time I’ve taken a step forward toward my vision or my personal forward movement, money flows. When money shrivels I know to look for forward movement, not pulling back. It’s not about the horses! The horses are the vision! Move forward!

“Our calling is important. The heart is good at reminding us, the mind is good at stopping us with a myriad of logical reasons we must wait. The reasons may be valid, but each of us has our own unique way to trail blaze around or through the roadblocks. The mind tries to push us back into the familiar pool to tread water until someday. Someday is now. Our gifts are needed.”

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

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

 

 

Something Bigger Lies Beyond: The Language of Horses

The pasture is quiet, not a sound, just long stretches of swampy grasses, clumps of trees in the distance, rolling hills beyond a pasture gate. The herd is no where to be seen. On overcast days it is eery. On days filled with coastal sunshine, there is promise.

One horse lingers. Alone. Day after day. Alone. The herd has gone to the hills, or a ravine, or beyond behind a grove of trees. Yet she stays nearby but not visible from the barn. My wonderings tell me it is her lameness though I’ve seen otherwise. When I call, she comes to greet me. My thoughts tell me it is because she wants food. And of course she does. But these reasons are not why she lingers near. They are not why she comes when she is called. There is a cosmic reason. I can feel it. Sense it. There is a bigger plan still hidden from me.

Splashes of Serendipity

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Tonight was one of those nights! I share it with you because you will no doubt relate to those brief and almost insignificant ordinary moments when there is a burst of joy and connection. It was Kaheka and Amoura meeting me, not only meeting me but sandwiching me. They were coming just for me, not for themselves. Amoura wanted a head rub, but tonight that was for me. She is stand-offish, and it was her way of inviting me to touch and connect; and also her way of letting me know I was in good favor. I was more than that. I was her partner!

What happened before that was remarkable. When I arrived at the barn, there was no horse in sight. They must have been so hungry that they were out in pasture, I thought. Wrong. When I opened the barn door all of them were standing there in the barn as a big surprise because the August storm was sailing through with all of its rumblings, boomings, and fancy but scary fireworks. Seeing them all together in the barn was a first and I was stirred by joy even though it was somewhat bittersweet. They were all allowed in the barn because of the new head guy. Dollar, the former, died a couple of weeks ago, and he was not so kind about sharing the barn shelter. That was burdensome for me. He would not allow the herd in the barn even during the worst storms. What do you do with a horse that does that? Lock him in his room? Ground him with deprivation of privileges for a number of days? I was actually addressing the issue spiritually but it was not resolved before he died. No matter that flaw, we all miss him, a lot! But to find the remaining 4 horses huddled together sheltered from the rain was heartwarming. This was a sweetness that Dollar left for us, probably one of his many instructions he left behind to take care of me and his herd.

The evening was abundant with more surprises, the ordinary becoming extraordinary, or the other way around, the extraordinary becoming ordinary as it just kept happening even up until minutes before I left when Amoura came to the gate just to say goodbye. Mariah who rarely makes a point to come up to me, came with her big eyes glowing in the partial moonlight. She taught me something new that I think has been presented to me all along but I hadn’t yet been aware. She walked up to me and just stood close facing me. My instinct was to reach out and touch her, but something stopped me. Often in similar situations, reaching out turns them away. Many years ago my first horse and guide taught me to stand side by side one of the mares without touching her, just standing near in silence. Last night was the first time I realized that is what the horses do with each other and also with me. They come to stand near, not to touch or interact beyond just the connection of standing beside each other. When Amoura came to say goodbye, I knew not to reach out but just to simply say, goodnight. It was so quietly powerful and deep.

Amoura was a strong player in the splashes of serendipity. I had opened the gate for one horse to walk out of a small corral where he eats. Amoura went in to scavenge. I use halters rarely and mostly find that my body gestures help move them if necessary and lately invitation is working at times which is quite fun! I also look for synchronicity, that moment when they are ready to move when I am ready for them to move and vice versa. This time I invited her to come out. She ignored. Finally I explained to her I was letting another horse in that is more dominant than she and that she probably didn’t want to be trapped in there with him. Much to my surprise, she turned and walked out. I love that wave of happiness that rolls gently through my heart when these easy synchronicities take place. Mariah did that for me as well when I forgot to take the lid off of her supplement bucket. In the past she would get frantic and turn the whole bucket over spilling her soft food all over the ground. Tonight she walked over to me to remind me. I acquiesced immediately.

There were three horses that needed to change positions in order for me to close up gates before leaving. I invited them but nothing happened. I stood still not as a technique but just to enjoy the warm evening and the after smells from the rain, and to simply hang with the horses. All of a sudden, responding to some hidden signal, they moved away in sync as if choreographed, each to new locations. Gates were locked up and that same wave gave me the delightful feeling I would get as a child while riding the horses on the merry-go-round at the carnival. But this ride tonight was better than any carnival ride.

Shortly before my departure, I headed out to pasture around the corner from the grove of bushy trees to look wishfully for Dollar to come back to life and come trotting to me through the foggy night even for a brief moment. I just wanted to see him again even in the distance, even only his dark form through the mist. He didn’t appear but he was there and I had another cleansing session as my grief poured out on the trampled dry grasses and my sobs dissipated into the droplets of water in the air that surrounded me.

As I quieted, I heard a munching sound behind me. The herd was a distance away at that point, but I knew who had followed me. It was Amoura allowing me my space but being close by. She often quietly appears tiptoeing like a special fairy when I am sad and crying and will softly let me know she is there. This time it was her grazing sounds, sometimes it is a simple soft twirl of my hair, a nudge on the back of my head, my shoulder, my arm. She does not seem to want interaction when doing this so I assumed that this time also.

I walked by her and continued. She then came past and intercepted me, stopping in front of me broadside. I stood still as she maneuvered her body very close like a car backing up then moving forward a little closer to the curb. I did not reach out to touch. She then wrapped her neck around me in a most incredible and unique hug. She did not touch me, she only gestured the hug, honoring both of our issues of trust when it comes to touching each other. She’s been slugged by another and I’ve been bitten and kicked by her. That was a hug that will live with me forever. After all, she and I are on a love journey together. She, a most challenging horse when it comes to physical interaction, but she gave me an evening rich with connection and safe touch.

It was that same Amoura that minutes later said goodnight at the gate, and then disappeared. It was another splash of serendipity, but it was a whole evening swim in the gentle mystical waters!

Beverly

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

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/