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

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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

 

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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/

 

The Shaman’s Breath

Chief Shaman Tal

My fingers were fumbling as I tried to tie a slip knot with hay bale twine to keep the corral gate open. They were too cold and numb to function. Shaman Tal, my large Tennessee Walker, was standing 3 feet away in deep mud, but even so, stepped forward toward me. He then lowered his head and put his nostrils near my fingers and breathed his warm, slow breath on them.

The Embrace of Equine Love and Compassion

Amoura and Kaheka

Before leaving the horses in the evenings, I often check in with each one. Kaheka and I have hit a few bumps in the road lately, and he was not acknowledging me when I asked playfully if he wanted to give me a kiss which I’m not prone to force. He continued to obviously ignore me as I tried to engage him in other ways asking about possible hurt feelings. He is a very sensitive and emotional horse, and that was likely the problem.

In the meantime, I sensed another horse behind me. It was Amoura. I shifted my conversation to her noticing she looked very sad. As I mentioned her sadness (which could have been mine she was reflecting), Kaheka, who had continued to act as if I didn’t exist, stepped forward briskly and started massaging her withers at the base of her mane. Amoura was reluctant at first, a bit hesitant as I am when not quite ready to release my discomfort. But her shift came faster than mine and she in turn started responding to Kaheka, both of them standing side by side looking in opposite directions as they embraced one another with their massaging hugs. I stepped back and absorbed the joy of Kaheka’s quick response to Amoura’s sadness, and the intimacy of their hugs.

This beautiful interaction made me shake my head a little and chuckle quietly in enjoyment of the mischievous trickster side of Kaheka who was listening all along and responded quickly to Amoura with love and compassion. It was consistent with his character quality of being drawn to the other horses when they are ailing for any reason.

Amoura and Kaheka not only danced with each other, they also danced with me!

Tuning In to the Whisperings

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Kaheka was running frantically around the pasture. He is a graceful, long-legged thoroughbred with great energy, but this time I knew something was wrong. I started to panic (often my first response) but stopped myself from going there. Mentally I ran through my supportive script that I’d collected over time reminding myself of truths that had been brought to me: Nothing will be given that we can’t handle. Check. We’ve been through this with Kaheka before and experienced a dramatic healing. Check. If this is colic I know what to do. Check. Face it head on, breathe and tune in. Check. Sigh.

A quieting confidence blanketed me. I stood still and observed Kaheka as I tuned in. There is such a comforting surrender in stepping courageously into a situation rather than running away into fear.

I invited him to come near me so we could interact. He went the opposite direction. Having learned that sometimes my horses prefer to take care of an issue on their own, as Kaheka had done a couple of years ago, I accepted it. Furthermore, in his agitated state, my chasing him all over 40 acres of pasture, his youthful 4 legs to my eldering 2, would have been an act of a crazed woman. I prepared to go back to my cabin across the road and decided I’d check on him in awhile.

Before I could leave, Kaheka appeared at the gate close by. He was still hypervigilant. I walked over to him and put my hands out and did 60 seconds or less of energy work. He seemed restless and unreceptive but tried hard to accommodate me when everything in him wanted to run again.

At last, words were brought to my lips. “What energies are you intercepting and for whom?” I heard myself speaking. With that acknowledgement, identifying what was going on with Kaheka, he turned and walked straightaway to a spot some distance away where he stopped on some kind of invisible cue. There he stood as if before the throne of God as the heavens descended and cloaked him with a divine calm. He lowered his head to receive the crown for his work as a divine surrogate messenger ** He then fell into a trance-like sleep while the angels sang a lullaby softly around him. Well done, good and faithful servant. Yes. Well done.

He continued to sleep and awakened later. He peacefully grazed on pasture grasses with the good company of his herd around him as if nothing out of the ordinary had transpired. Such is the mystical life of a horse.

The next day, I learned that my friend had indeed gone through a troubled time the day before. She was not alone. Kaheka had intercepted for her once again. Well done.

**Surrogate Messenger Parts 1- 5: https://themystichorsechronicle.wordpress.com/category/surrogate-messenger-parts-1-5/