Your horse is the most beautiful, talented horse in the world.
That’s what you think on the way to the barn, while you’re at the barn scooping poop, doctoring a wound, sitting with him, sitting on him. He is as he is in the present moment, with you, a more powerful presence than what he has been and has been through in his life.
While I’m working with a horse, often the owner will tell me the horse’s history, or tell me about her own life where things are really difficult. Some of the horse’s history is important to help me know where the horse comes from, and helps form a bigger picture for me.
The other day I was with a horse that clearly got upset hearing about certain things in conversation. He tuned into the disturbance in his owner as she told it, rather than the work being done with his body. The energy had gotten soupy and we were not connecting clearly. I should have changed the subject awhile before. Once we changed the subject (and fortunately we all recognized our responsibility to the horse at about the same time), he became attentive to the work and the session went smoothly, with him delighting in finding places for me to work on.
When we are with our horse, we must be conscious of what we talk about and how we feel about it. We also want to monitor our emotions. We want to be aware of how we are affecting our horse and how they absorb the information. They can have amazing empathy for us, but not if we are treating them as though they are oblivious.
Horses are not deaf and they’re more tuned in energetically than we are. Humans get really wrapped up in THE STORY of what happened – we are outraged by injustice – and rightly so. There is an emotional charge in the telling, we relive it. Horses don’t relive it unless we bring it up. They live in the present moment. They may have residual trauma from bad experiences with humans, which the story also might trigger.
Imagine that you are in conversation with someone and they tell you an old story that you’ve heard a lot before, and it brings up painful or uncomfortable feelings for you. You feel yourself energetically trying to extricate yourself from the conversation or change the subject. That’s how it is for the horse, except they aren’t polite about it. They may get tense, turn away and sniff the ground or go eat hay.
The way people often treat horses is as though they are deaf or invisible. It reminds me of how people act when they take a cab in a big city. They are sitting in the back seat yakking away, as if the cab driver is deaf! That cab driver has more intimate knowledge of more people he doesn’t know than he probably cares to. More information than he needs. So he probably zones out.
If we do this with horses – talk about our divorce, lawsuits, mistreatment of any kind, they will treat us the same way. Shut us out, not listen. We are not being respectful to horses when we do this.
Someone might say, “what?” This is an animal. He doesn’t understand a word of it.
A horse is a flight animal with high sensitivity, who knows by the tone of your voice, the tension in your body and in the entire energy field around you, what you are feeling. He may not understand the details of the lawsuit you’re engaged in, the newspaper article you just read, the fight with your boyfriend, but he understands and feels in his body the weight of emotions, the energetic force of them…
When the discussion is about the horse and is not positive or involves in some way the horse not measuring up, the horse may zone out. To function well, he needs to maintain good self-esteem. Issues around riding or injury can create great tension in the horse. The disappointment his owner holds is palpable; the horse knows his role in the owner’s life. “Riding a horse is not a gentle hobby, to be picked up and laid down like a game of Solitaire. It is a grand passion,” said Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Instead of bemoaning the fact that you can’t ride, sit together, as you might with a friend who has an injury.
The ritual of sitting with your horse doing nothing, like yoga or meditation, can do a lot to increase awareness. We are in a relationship with a horse. Sitting with a horse may seem too simple, and make us anxious at first, because we always feel we have to be doing something. I can hear the voices, “but I just want to ride!” Sitting establishes relationship. It creates a deeper bond. Even if the horse doesn’t come near you, a bond is being strengthened as you sit, reading a book, drawing, thinking, watching. If you are talking on the cell phone while doing this, be careful what you talk about in front of your horse. Leave the space if it involves complicated, unpleasant issues that are going to change your energy or, learn to manage your energy!
Behavioral and relationship problems can be solved just by the sitting. And what I find is it’s not something you do a few times and think, there, that’s it. I’ve done it. Whew. Now on to the important stuff. I do it every chance I get because my horses are better when I am with them in this way. Without expectations.
Here’s a new, amended quote: “Owning a horse is not a gentle hobby, to be picked up and laid down like a game of Solitaire. It is a grand passion.”
Just remember, your horse is the most beautiful horse in the world.
(copyright) Susan Smith