Thursday, September 2, 2010

To use and be used

Sad eyes
Copyright 2009

In the practice of Homeopathy when the substance of Mare’s Milk was proven (when healthy people volunteer to find out what mental, emotional and physical issues a substance will cure), those proving the remedy found that horses were very frustrated and unhappy beings – much to the dismay of those who love the horse. Confining a beast meant to roam has ramifications most of us are more comfortable ignoring.

Throughout history the horse was truly a beast of burden. Humans feast on the horses flesh, employed the horses’ strength in the madness of war and found the horse a valuable tool to feed our egos in shows and racing competitions.

For centuries we have been hard-wired to “use” the horse. So much so, that this is now our norm. For many people the thought of having a horse for any other reason than “riding” them makes no sense as they are pricey creatures to maintain. As humans we are indoctrinated with ideals of others as to what a horse is good for and how to “get what we want” out of them.

Our need to use is ingrained and imprinted on our way of being; humans often don’t know when they have crossed a sacred line. We speak of leadership or partnership, yet with endless drilling either by riding or in a round pen, the horse’s spirit becomes sullen and knows he has no real voice or choice. We want a partnership as long as we get our way.

Yet, horse training has made great strides the past few decades and many concerned horse folk strive to get their horses “back to nature”. There are exceptional teams of riders and horses that thrive on the rigors of competition. People like Charmayne James and her horse Scamper that year after year won barrel racing championships without having her horse buckle under the pressure of her whims are a living testimony to this ancient art of really listening to the horse.

Unfortunately for every talented rider, countless other beings fall into the category of what a rider finds “fun” can be terrifying for the horse. Folks can push the physical and mental limits of a creature that gives us more than we often give ourselves (we use them as we use each other – a topic for another newsletter). As a lyric from the band U2, humans can be very adept in claiming for ourselves what we deny others.

I have always been astounded at the amount of pain the horse can put up with and still perform to please its owner, the owner completely oblivious. If the rider indulges in a session of body work for themselves, they become aware of the amount of pain released in their bodies that they have just “learn to live with”. Morphing to the level of expectations of others keeps us locked in a sickly, inter-connected web, a sad assumption of existence dictated by the limits of our intentions.

We tend to look to all kinds of outside sources for dealing with our horse, but we don’t often look at ourselves and what a few simple changes deep inside can mean to our horse. If we calmed the voice of our ego and really listen to the horse, there we will find all we need to know about training any particular creature. Most of us don’t want to look that deep.

I believe the work of Alexander Nevzorov is very timely. He is one of the few folks to advocate no riding of the horse for a least one year to start off (no matter the horses’ age). The main reason is to get the human away from this ingrained pattern of “use” and partner on a whole new level with the horse with true respect. As both human and horse enjoy long walks, playing like a horse (and letting go of the fear that rises in most horse folk when a horse acts like a horse), both synchronize and feel deeply the joys and sorrow that life can be. As the horse realizes he has a choice and a voice, the human is freed from limited thinking patterns that allows ourselves to consenting to the level of pain this modern life induces in us, and those whose lives we touch. This is running clean energy and not buying into infirmed thought patterns that brought the human race to where we are today.

Much to my joy, a significant shift is occurring as of late that incorporates the horse as a way for mental and emotional well being. Hence the saying the outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man. If done in the true spirit of heart-felt sincerity the horse has voice and a choice.

It is so normal for us to coerce cooperation from an animal that size, that if there is complete freedom for the horse to choose – most people will wonder if they will ever get anything done their way. If one is true about pursuing this level in any relationship, a major change needs to occur within a being. This in-turn has no choice but to alter the hearts rhythm. As the domino effect continues, it sends to the horse a deep and ancient signal that it is safe to continue with the human and the horse may find it safe to abandon the need to doubt the humans’ trustworthiness.

We are after all a predator, our eyes placed on our skulls to send a hard, focused stare causing subtle shifts in posture that an animal that is preyed upon knows too well from their ancient hard-wiring. Horses have long sensed the undercurrent of emotion to stay alive in their game of life. Using peripheral vision or soft eyes as Sally Swift called it will immediately disarm our “predator stance” and put a horse at ease – the body never lies, a body workers rule.

When this deeper shift occurs, we can wait (however long it takes – unconditional love) for a horse to be fully healed before we ask of them to bear our weight. We find a whole new set of rules to live by, one by which we will even treat ourselves better as the need to gloat, show off, push and rush dissipates (often for the sake of the All Mighty Dollar) as we reconnect with the true rhythm of life and not the drone of the craziness humans have created.

As the layers peel off and we get closer to that clean slate, that place of knowing before all the other Bull was written on the slate of our soul, we will give the horse reason to trust and believe in us. The body heals and something much greater takes root and grows. The dissention lifts and a real relationship takes place, this spills over to family, workplace, communities, granting that which we dream of, beings capable of standing on their own two feet without using something else as a crutch.

We have no idea the power behind this.

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