Beyond Aggression

In my favorite book, “Shambala, sacred path of the warrior”, Trungpa Rinpoche talks about the true warrior attaining a  state of gentleness. About the Dralas, energy beyond aggression and how our true natures are fearless.

“It is not just an arbitrary idea that the world is good. but it is good because we can experience its goodness.” He says, “Shambala vision is tuning in to our ability to wake ourselves up and recognize that goodness can happen to us. In fact, it is happening already.”

In her book, “Excuse me, your life is waiting”, Lynn Grabhorn says about Joy and Fear:
“When we’re experiencing anything that Joy isn’t, such as fear, worry, guilt or even mild concern, those emotions are sending out low frequency vibrations. Since low frequencies are every bit as magnetic as high frequencies, they’re going to attract only cruddy stuff back to us, meaning anything of that same low frequency that will cause us to feel (and vibrate) as lousy as what we’re sending out”.
While some fears can keep us from driving fast on icy roads or walking down dark alleys at night (and I tend to call those wise discretion…), attaching to any fear by giving it more than a fleeting consideration is to allow its invasion and influence within your very soul.
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Many years ago a teacher told me that horses are only afraid of two things, “Things that
move and things that don’t move”. I was speechless, having not heard it before.
Tonight, I’m thinking about how very clearly we hold ourselves hostage if we connect to fear…
Some fears come from a “what if” dialog about the health and well being of our horses – often generated by drug companies and a medical system that sees through eyes of aggression:
“Attack” dis-ease, Vaccinate to make immunity (the body does have an immune system), use chemistry to rid a body of what’s not wanted, synthesize properties from nature for supplements and medicines without regard for all the other subtle properties that prevent side effects – it is an aggressive system that, on specific instances, can be useful temporarily. But, as a philosophy, the fear based protocols can be devastating.
Energy Beyond Aggression
That’s how I want to be.
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Categories: Horse Training, joy, Life | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Simple horses

There is this strange “sophistication”, a consistent “polished” look and way about the horses these days. I was looking through old photographs and papers, smiling at the memories of old competition days and the work we did preparing. Old boots shined up and well-worn… bridles that were both “at home school tack” and “show tack”… saddles polished well the night before and that one fancy saddle pad kept clean and spiffy just for the shows.

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I know riders these days whose Spanish top, zippered, posh black boots cost more than the horses I rode in my youth. And that’s okay. Times change. People have different priorities. People have more money (or so it seems).

Now, I grew up in wealth, actually! Yet, my absolute adoration of all things equine left the rest of my family cold. It wasn’t until I fell through a window (beside the entry door at my grandfather’s estate here), severed most of my hand from my arm and died in surgery, then was resuscitated that my parents decided they might ought to get a horse for me… it was worth it 😉

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My father chose a shiny, fancy young gelding over the older, plain, “bomb-proof” gelding I really should have had and the adventure began. Even with my new horse, in 1968, his presence was nowhere near the impression made by the modern mount these days!

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I look at old photos and feel that deep pang of loss… a loss of the simplicity of just loving and bonding and struggling with horses. While I left the competitive world years ago, I watch the “horse world” around me now and wonder about what satisfaction there could be in the purchase of a made show horse, the repetition of drilled coaching, the need for extravagant clothing and equipment just to able to ride into the ring in the first place.

Do the current horse persons find that same tingle of butterflies in the tummy at midnight before leaving for the horse show while they clean tack on the living room floor? Do they laugh out loud with friends at the in gate, nervous laughter to make it easier to face the strangely complex course of fences painted in colors their horses have never seen before?

Do parents sit in the bleachers, as mine did, beaming smiles and offering words of encouragement? Or was it just that my parents were so very glad that I was even alive?

horse van at show

I feel particularly blessed to have known the “old days” of simple horsemanship; of wanting a horse so badly that I “cantered” all over the place on my two legs with such abandon that I slid across the slate entryway and through a plate glass wall… hand first, thank goodness, not head first!

I love that my Mum and Dad came on board with the whole horse thing and got us a horse van, built a barn (with their own hands) and helped me establish my own stable yard.

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Horses. They healed me (and there was so very much to be healed). They made a life for me. And now I make their lives better, hopefully, as best I can. Since that dynamic childhood, I’ve been homeless. I have lived as a caretaker for a friend’s farm as she died of cancer. I have found a way to buy my own place in 2010, after driving home to New Mexico with everything I owned stuffed into my Jeep. And that home has now become a Sanctuary for horses in need and the people who who love them.

My favorite definition of love is:

“Love is the active promotion of the well-being of the love object” ~ E. Fromm

I love horses.

 

Categories: healing, joy, Saving Horses, vision | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Without Pain…

“The whole idea of struggle brings you to a point of conflict, the antithesis of horsemanship.”  If things seem to be going wrong in your training, first look to the possibility of confusion.  The horse wants to please.  It is his nature to yield and to avoid conflict.  If he seems unwilling to comply with your wishes/requests/demands, consider the possibility that he is confused and does not understand your aids.  First look to fixing yourself.  Make your language clearer, your communication more basic.  Go to a simpler task, a slower gait, a smaller jump, use a milder bit, remove force, and concentrate upon influence.  If your hose is acting out of character, consider that he feels poorly or that something is hurting him.  Check your equipment, his body, his hooves.  Give your horse a chance to tell you why he is not cooperating before you decide to attack him.

My beautiful picture

Consider how often he is ridden.  If you work him hard every day, be sure to vary your routine.  Drilling him over and over with the same patterns of schooling will either bore him into quiet, dull submission or drive him to rebellion.  Neither is appealing.  If you can only get to him once a week, the excitement and newness of your contact with him many be overly stimulating.  He may have trouble concentrating for the first hour you are together, so do not make any demands upon him in the beginning of your time together beyond simple safety.  After the freshness has worn off, begin a schooling session that takes into account the time that has passed since your last contact.  Much improvement can be had with a review of old skills, a lesson on new, logical movements, finishing with a session of easy, well-honed skills that allows the horse to feel successful.

 

This building of successes for both of you can eliminate the use of pain as a training tool.  Equipment that inflicts pain is unnecessary if you take the time to school every small detail consistently from the most basic to the most complex.  It is important that your horse feels successful and be rewarded for his cooperation.  His desire to repeat the experience will be increased.  If he feels that he can never please you or that he is never quite food enough, he will lose all desire to participate with you either under saddle or in the stable.

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Find Yourself

Every morning when we wake up, we face ourselves. While our thoughts may be of work to be done, plans to be made or people to please; our first awareness each day is of our own embodiment. I have found that if I wake up to chaos – a jumbled bedroom, a messy bathroom, a kitchen in disarray – my awareness is naturally negative. If we begin each morning defeated by circumstances and our own thoughts, how can we expect to grow and accomplish things?

Simplicity can free you. I had a riding student whose business was teaching people to un-clutter their lives. When offered a brochure, she would read it and hand it back, making a note if necessary in her own little book. She did not even take on, momentarily, the objects that would become clutter in her life. Her car was clean, neat, simple inside and out. I can only imagine how her home would be! Her life, truly, must have been (and is, she is just no longer my student) filled with clarity.
After knowing her, I took a long look at my own “feng shui”, the energy of our home and stable. I found that I had, once again, accumulated tons of things I did not need, but felt compelled to hang onto… just in case. Now, I must quickly say that you have always been able to walk freely throughout my home and see every wall, window, piece of furniture, etc. But, the clutter was there on the surface and, with the picture of my former student’s probable abode in my head, I decided to find myself under the accumulation.

A roll of trash bags in hand, I started at one end of the house and worked my way through… I only partially filled one large trash can, but I had opened up my world and the morning after, I faced a lovely bit of simple neatness. With wonderful dogs sharing our home, I know it will never be spotless – but organized it must remain so I do not lose myself again under the insulation of clutter.

And insulation it can be. If you want to disappear and be “comfortably numb”, nothing works quite as well as just not caring, not cleaning and being a victim. Slipping quietly into the cocoon of the “setting sun world” where you do not have to shower, shave, dress or be productive. It can happen. Then, when your senses return, you see the sadness of it and look to the “great eastern sun”, the sun rising on your world and shining light into all the corners.

You take a deep breath, then another, clearing the “mind” and “soul” clutter with each exhalation. You begin to see everything around you, the trees, the earth, the horses and dogs and the world you create as sacred. Then you see yourself as a genuine, good human being and you find the joy of a day spent in meditation with a pot of tea and a cheese sandwich and it hits you – life is its own answer.

As I walked about the stable yard this evening, I felt a deeper connection to my past. I was remembering past stables, past horses – but not in a regretful or comparing way – I felt a keen sense of it all being linked. As if the energy of all the things I have done, seen and been were just as real and immediate as what I was doing tonight. I felt more real. more valid, more present than I have felt in years. It reminded of my childhood when I would spin head over heels under water in my grandfather’s pool with a swim mask on; churning thousands of bubbles, then release and let myself float to the surface with those bubbles… watching them… being them. In those moments, I felt connected to all the water on the planet. It was as if all water everywhere was dancing with me.

Tonight, I want you to feel deep connections to the important things in your life. I found the clarity and inspiration of my meditation to be my catalyst. It never hurts to relax. It never hurts to just breathe. It is powerful to take a penetrating look directly at yourself and allow that vision to become something awesome.

Categories: Life, Relax, vision | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Forward

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In my home of New Mexico, we have had a lot of winds blowing… really blowing! I have talked too much about this with friends and on social sites and I have realized how powerfully we experience what we focus upon and obsess over! I read a friend’s comment about how she rides her horse in all types of weather so that when they get to a competition (where she has spent a lot of money to participate), he won’t be put off guard by wind or rain or snow or what have you. She is wise.

It all made me think about challenges. We all face them. Something that is overwhelming for one person can be a “piece of cake” for someone else. It is like my friend’s philosophy about riding in all sorts of weather – we are like the horses. The horses that go out in the wind are not bothered by the wind. When I have to cook for a lot of people, I don’t feel stressed because I have cooked for over 150 people…. breakfast, lunch and dinner! (at the organic herb farm commune where I lived years ago). But, if I had to fly a plane, I’d be in trouble…

Challenges strengthen us. I have had to face days of cancelled lessons – therefore no income – and had to make myself see the big picture of lessons to come. To know that there will be more cash flow is an act of faith in the horse business; Faith in the foundation one has built that cannot be broken apart by some bad weather days and students going on holiday; Faith in the hard work that has pressed one forward to a family of horses and humans working together. Trust that the people who also love these Sanctuary horses are aware of what it takes to support them and therefor always help when needed!

There are business people who believe we should not speak of our hardships or concerns – we should keep our clients bathed in the glorious light of our perfection… personally, I am much more inclined to trust someone with some humility than a person who always tells everyone how wonderful she/he is! I believe we are all wonderful. Animals and people – we are all doing the best we can and all come from our “wells of experiences” to act and react in what are totally appropriate ways, considering what we experience.

Want to change something in your own life or your horse’s / dog’s life; something about how you react in situations? Then change those experiences entering the “Well” – like drops of water in the well, each experience gathers and determines what is expected in a new situation. If most of the experiences are negative, you will expect something negative in each new situation. Same thing if they are positives!

I am facing this spring with a new attitude. I am looking for every positive thing to reinforce in my experiences. I can train myself to be happy, unconcerned and strong just as my friend trains her horse to be dependable in every type of weather. She and her horse face these things together. I can face my life with my body, mind and spirit. Even when we feel alone, we never really are. We have our animals and each other and each day that comes to appreciate this fact. We can cherish what is, revel in what was and dream what will be. And, when we least expect it, miracles occur!

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Spring forward! Into life and spring forward with your dreams. Mine are simple because I like simple. I will “train” myself to expect the positives.

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Wind Horse (Lung Ta) Appreciation and Gratitude

They are not quite the same thing: Appreciation and Gratitude. I appreciate someone or something by seeing the goodness in them. I am grateful, generally, for a quality or act or gift that is offered or expressed by someone.

I appreciate horses. I am grateful to horses.

There are so many ways that horses have served humans and so many ways in which we can now repay them, on all levels.

The concept of “Wind Horse” is ancient and Tibetan. This being carries our dreams to the stars and connects “Earth and Sky”.

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Wind Horses are on prayer flags; dancing in the wind, releasing prayers of Peace and becoming threadbare then merely threads atop the highest mountains of our Earth. It is not simply by chance that horses are chosen to represent our dreams and the best parts of us. Horses have made our dreams possible.

The little horses of Mongolia, Tibet, China – past and present – were the “technology” and transport that built civilizations and cultures. Even choosing to stay as herds in the company of their humans without fences or ropes, they shared and share a rich and difficult way of life. Mares’ milk sustained the nomads and remains their only source of Vitamin C! And respect, appreciation and gratitude require that the mares’ foals get the milk first.

The horses of Europe fought great battles. The horse in the Americas built roads, hauled logs, tilled fields and also fought bloody battles. Miniature horses and ponies went into mines to pull carts of coal or minerals and lived their lives in the dark depths for our benefit.

Donkeys remain “beasts of burden” throughout the planet and mules pack, ride and pull for humanity.

I appreciate equines. I am grateful to equines.
All of humanity is indebted to the horse and his cousins.

My beautiful picture

So, I have some specific horses that I am honored to love and, just like having a human soul mate, having these equine soul mates gives me focus, purpose and contentment. The very act of allowing me (and my students) to ride and direct them is a testimonial to the generous equine nature.

There can be days when nothing seems to go right – hooves are tender, ears are itching, backs are sore or mares are in season… these are the times of the greatest lessons!

It is never the horse that lets us down (although we can let our horses down by not honoring their needs or by forgetting that they are just as vulnerable as we are); we only fail in our horsemanship if we fail to learn. Every situation within an encounter with horses is an opportunity for growth and healing… for the human and for the horse. If it is a lesson situation and things are not going according to my plan – I quickly open to the lesson the horse has to teach!

Children who are scattered, squealing and oblivious to the horse will be taught to be focused, quiet and aware by the wise equine who will ignore them until some sense of composure is achieved. I, as the instructor, am simply the “translator” of facts and dialog between the rider and the horse, hopefully helping each attain rapport with the other.

Adults who are pushy or aggressive quickly learn that they frighten horses and become better able to exercise self mastery and calmness to find communication skills that honor the relationship. This can extrapolate to other relationships in their lives.

My beautiful picture

All this points simply to the need that exists for human beings to value the past gifts bestowed upon our species by horses and celebrate the new relationships we are forming with them based upon mutual respect, Appreciation and Gratitude!

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Chiron

Chiron is a centaur… “the Wounded Healer”. When I did my first Vision Quest, a centaur came to me. Usually, one communes with a more “normal” animal or nature spirit.

The Vision Quest is simply being alone in Nature for a period of time to “cry” for your vision. I sat on a mountain after the death of several animals I cherished. I was feeling as if I needed to join them. I wanted to leave this life. I needed my vision. When, at night with a bright but not full moon, a being of human and equine merging appeared to me, I knew. I saw my vision as a calling to merge our worlds and our spirits – horses and humans. And to heal. To be healed and assist the healing of others.

To talk about it is difficult because it is a supremely personal experience. Yet, what I gleaned from that experience was something to share.

I had always taught gentle horsemanship and classical Dressage (NOT the kind of “Dressage” being practiced these days), but to become the centaur was a new way to see the relationships. First, I felt a need to abandon all the “let him know who’s boss”; “be the leader”; “you have to win” (and the horse loses?) rhetoric. Yet, we could not have horses walking over and through us and galloping off at will… so, I practiced my connection with my horses and taught a more integrated handling system of compassion and gentleness with enough assertive behavior to maintain safety. It worked. While I was aware that the wild Mustang needed to be approached with a kind of “morphed” horse/herd language expressed by the human – the horse who had grown up with us strange beings had a pretty good handle on what human language was all about.

And the healing, well I had been taught by the best. Herbalists and Reiki Masters and Travelers had honored me with their methods and knowledge. Horses would show me what they needed. As I studied modalities from Ayurveda to using Zeolites, I found that no one system applies in every situation. Simple was always best. Flexibility was imperative.

Chiron… I think all healers are wounded. We are wounded by loss. We are wounded by life, even wounded by love. What makes a healer rise from the devastation a wound can inflict is an awareness of things much larger than ourselves. Voices calling us to task from our own heart, singing us across the pain to see through new eyes. We become the merging of life and death, recognizing the bound relationship between the two and the truth that neither need be feared.

I am grateful for the times I was (and will be) guided by forces of Light and Love. It is truly the only way to live a life full of reason and, ultimately, joy.

Onward.

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The Special Needs Horse

The horse who is blind or losing his sight feels so very vulnerable. He must never be startled by a silent approach followed by a touch. We must talk to him in soothing tones and touch him on the neck or shoulder in a direct and comforting manner.

He should be led wearing a halter with lead shank and you keep your hand touching the cheek piece of the halter and his cheek. In this way, holding the lead in your other hand, you can direct him with a light, steady pull toward you or gentle push away to have him know to go left or right. If the ground rises, raise his head with halter and slow him while speaking to him. If the ground drops, stop him and take one slow step at a time so he can keep his footing. You may need to keep your other hand on his neck also to support him.

When grooming or massaging him, always keep a hand on his body so he knows where you are (starting at his shoulder). Leave his whiskers and feeler hairs on his face long so he can feel before he bumps his face on fences or trees and the like (we do this for ALL horses!). Remove objects he could stumble over, bump into or fall onto. Wrap pipe fences with spongy insulating foam to cushion a bump.

LOOK where you are leading him! Think ahead and prevent trouble.

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The horse who has foundered starts out with a lot of pain and even when healing well will be tender in his hooves for a long time. It is imperative that the coffin bone is supported and there are many pads available for use inside of boots or to be taped on the bottom of the hooves. In a sudden hoof crisis, I will cut a thick styrofoam cooler into a frog shaped piece that goes right on the frog and a circle that covers the bottom of the hoof (placed over the frog cover) that I duct tape in place to support the internal structures.

The foundered or Laminitic horse should be led on straight lines with huge curves to turn around – any stepping sideways can be extremely painful as the stretched laminae tear even more as the hoof rocks sideways! Therapy includes diet details, supplementation to maintain good circulation and many methods to restore the energy flow in the legs; restructuring of the hoof capsule. Hard ground, rough and uneven footing and going downhill can all be torturous for the foundered horse. Protect him.

The horse with back or hip trouble needs a large stall or pen that allows lots of room for lying down and getting up. Deep bedding helps prevent injury for the horse that must “plop” down or throw himself sideways to get up. Unless using it for therapy in healing, backing the horse up is to be avoided since it can stress the haunches and the spine.

Tendon problems need support wraps and spongy, firm ground rather than deep footing.

Bone problems need cushioned footing, no concussion, and a balanced diet (especially minerals).
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Reduce Scarring…

I saw that on a jar of ointment yesterday. It is a blend of Chinese herbs in beeswax and oils to use on burns and wounds. It got me thinking about scars. I have a few! So have most of my horses.

The funny thing about scars, they are made of tissue that is stronger (after they are set) than the original skin, muscle or bone. Physical scars make the body stronger if allowed to “do their thing”. Emotional scars can be strengthening if we see them through the eyes of a student. A student of Life.

My beautiful picture

There is no way we get through this unscathed. Life is a full spectrum. It is gentle and rough. It is great fun and it is scary. It holds us up and it knocks us down… but we have to get up again. Each time. The wound to our bum or our ego or our soul will form a scar. That scar will make us stronger if we see that spectrum of experiences through eyes of compassion. We become empathetic and compassionate when we experience this life fully. If you have never stubbed your toe, you do not wince in awareness when a friend tells you that she ran her little toe into the corner of a cabinet in the dark last night. Without experiences, we have no empathy. And paper cuts… well, just thinking about them and I can hear the sizzle of sheets through skin (I used to run printing presses!!).

If we look deeply into our pain as it is on us, we can sense the way through it. Scars will be physical and emotional and mental, but they will always make us stronger if we accept them, even honor them. Dear friends, be compassionate with yourselves!
Love is what matters.

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Deep Breath… thinking in simple solutions first, holding the form!

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Years ago, I took my Lipizzaner mare, my friend Judy and my little Iberian bay mare to a Maj. Gen. Jonathan R Burton Dressage Clinic at Ft. Bliss in El Paso, Texas. We were joined by a student of mine, Pam, driving her own truck and trailer while I took us over in my big horse van.

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As I pulled off the highway and made my way to the base, the van suddenly began groaning and making scraping sounds that were every bit as scary as the startling sound of a blow-out! I still had control, so I pushed onward to the stables and leaped out of the cab as soon as I could park.

We pulled down the ramp and sides and got our mares out quickly. They both had strange expressions across their faces.

I walked around the van, smelling a hot but not smokey odor… I looked under the box, but didn’t really know what I was looking at. So, I went over to Pam’s pick up and looked under it. I saw that her drive shaft was held up by a little cushioned bracket (I came to know as a “pillow block”). I observed that my van’s drive shaft was tilted downward and there was no similar object supporting it.

We all rode in the Clinic and worked with our horses. Then I started searching through my boxes and bags in the cab of the truck. I found a hugely thick leather strap with a clunky buckle, a can of hoof dressing and a big piece of wire that I figured might serve me.

I pulled the drive shaft up with the wire and secured it to another shaft running along the length of the van’s box. Then I covered the inside of the strap with hoof dressing and fastened it also to lift and hold the turning drive shaft. Then I started the engine, pulled forward and back a few times… it all held, seemed to be balanced… so Judy and I loaded the mares and set off for Las Cruces!

We made it!!

A few years later I was backing my old (very old!) Suburban out of my driveway when it made a hideous sound reminiscent of that horse van – drive shaft episode. I figured I was in real trouble (financially). I called my friend Judy (same Judy). Her husband immediately came out to try and fix my Suburban. Judy and I went in the cottage for tea and biscuits while he crawled under…
He walked in with a tiny stone in his hand, smiling. That stone had gotten itself into my brake pad or shoe or whatever and had made the sound that stopped my breathing for that awful moment.

My car was fixed. No big repairs. No bills. No problems. I taped the stone to the metal glove box as a reminder to think of the simple things first!

And to take a Deep Breath!

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