A few months ago I posted a poll, “You and Horses.”
My thanks to everyone who responded. Over the next few posts I’ll endeavour to address each of the statements mentioned in the poll.
Fifty per cent of respondents indicated that horses are as necessary to their lives as the air they breathe.
Evidently I am not the only one under the spell of Equus.
The air I breathe is infused with the essence of horse. It has been since I was a little girl. For a while, only God knew why, but as the years have unfolded the reason has become increasingly clear … the horse is one of my most important life teachers.
As with many horse people I was not raised on a farm. I was city-born with a country heart and, as I’ve described in my bio, horses have coloured nearly every aspect of my life. I might add that they’ve saved me from myself more than once and been therapy when I had no idea what the word meant or even how it might apply to me.
When I was in my late 20s/early 30s I stopped breathing “horse.” For reasons I won’t get into here I surmised that horses were a childish pursuit and it was time to “grow up.” So I stopped my weekly visits to the barn, stored my equipment and commenced a more adult pastime — wandering in a desert called Misery.
Only I wasn’t aware of this at the time.
It wasn’t until after four years of this nonsense and a death in the family that I recognized the alarm bells that had been ringing in my head and the heaviness in my heart.
I recall the moment distinctly. I was sitting, one gorgeous summer’s day, in the grandstand at the Calgary Stampede with my brother and (now ex) husband. It was a week after the funeral. My gaze wandered enviously about the competition ring where cowgirls on beautiful sorrel quarter horses and thoroughbreds were parading. The horses’ coats glistened in the sun and I found myself catching my breath.
It was a surreal moment — the metaphorical chains around my heart loosened their constrictive grip and unleashed a flood of emotion (no doubt fuelled by my grandmother’s death the previous week). Tears streamed freely down my cheeks as I realized, in that moment, that more than anything else in the world I wanted, needed, a life with horses again.
My brother looked at me and smiled — he understood. My husband was bemused.
In my heart I knew this was the perfect opportunity to turn a bad situation into something better. Somehow I knew that allowing myself to breathe horse again would change me. And I felt that by doing this I could honour my grandmother’s memory too. She’d want me to be happy. I didn’t want her death to have been in vain.
Within six months, and much to my husband’s chagrin, I’d quit my corporate gig and signed on with a local equestrian centre to do an internship working toward my national coaching certification. I was fulfilling a life-long dream to work with horses.
The internship became my refiner’s fire (the first of many), and started me down the long and rutted road to self-awareness. I describe my experience as “going in a marshmallow and coming out toasted.”
Among the many lessons my equine friends have taught me, and continue to instil in me, (in no particular order):
- the importance of being in the moment
- the value of patience
- the importance of body language as a means of communication
- the importance of letting go
- the importance of setting and maintaining boundaries
- how to work constructively through a problem
- the importance of living with intention
- the fact that I’m stronger in mind, body and spirit than I give myself credit
- to be flexible, adaptable and open to change
Suffice to say horses have been an important catalyst for personal growth on many levels. With this in mind, it’s interesting to note that in recent years there has been a growing trend toward equine-assisted therapies — the Canadian Association for the Riding Disabled (CARD) being an example — and equine-assisted psychotherapy. Linda Kohanov and Chris Irwin, among others, are pioneers in this area.
I know many people who have been touched by the spirit of Equus who could speak to its positive effect in their own lives.
So, far from being just a pastime and passion, Bear earns his keep in more ways than the mind can imagine or the heart can fathom. Caring for and riding him is a fun, albeit intense, physical and mental activity, but it’s more than that — it’s a metaphor for living.
I love this quote:
“God forbid that I should go to any Heaven in which there are no horses.”
~R.B. Cunninghame Graham, letter to Theodore Roosevelt, 1917
I believe we create our Heaven (or Hell) here on Earth based on our choices. While I would like to say I have chosen to be a steward of the horse I feel the truer statement is horses chose me. When I gave them up all those years ago I’d broken a sacred connection. Imagine if I hadn’t come to my senses that summer day in Calgary? I wouldn’t be on my healing path and I wouldn’t have Bear.
As necessary to my life as the air I breathe? … You better believe it!
Nurture what you love … that includes you 😉
Copyright Aimwell CreativeWorks 2012