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Chapter One - Follow Your True Nature
October 20, 2014
What is the true nature of the horse? Authenticity, Wild spirit, running free, sense of family, leadership, freedom, strength, balance, journeys, spiritual freedom and understanding, love for Mother Earth, connection, and oneness with all creation.
The physical aspects of the horse: Eyes, feet, hearing, food, environment – what do they really need to be happy?
Let’s begin at the beginning – why did you pick up this book? The horses spoke to you in a silent whisper, and told you to look deeper into your soul for a much more gratifying answer. You know there is more, and that’s why you are here, on the quest for more. Good for you! For to find the true nature of the horse, you must first find and understand the true nature of yourself, we are not so very different to them you know, we are all one. Have you asked yourself these questions recently? Who am I really? What do I really, really want in life? What does it take to be truly happy? What does that mean for me? Am I living in a reality that is connected to my soul, or am I seeing the world through the filters of abuse, violence, lack of confidence or fear? How do I change that?
To know a horse you must see yourself with complete honesty, and this doesn’t mean beating yourself up about your seeming lack of achievement. This means being able to answer the questions like – what 3 words would I use to describe who I really am? What 3 words would I like other people to use to describe me? Therein lies a great answer, a deep truth only you can know. Spend some time and ponder this, for it will bring you to a deeper reality and knowingness of yourself than you ever thought possible.
What is Your True Nature? This begs the question to be answered. Humans are above all Tribal. In the indigenous peoples of the world who still live as a tribe, or a village, crime is nonexistent. Every person has a role, and identity, a purpose for being. This leads to a community, a oneness and confidence. You know who you are and what you are here to do. The elders lead the tribe and are respected and revered, not stuck away in some old age home. The rest of the tribe gathers to learn from them, and pass the wisdom down to the next generation. There is no fragmentation of society, this depersonalizes people and creates criminals, drug addicts and predators, because they have no connection to each other and no support system. Ceremonies are performed in accordance with the rhythms of Nature, the Summer Solstice, the waxing and waning of the moon. The changes in earth energy are used to assist in the movement of our energy as human beings, and these simple ceremonies bring much peace and harmony to our soul. They keep us connected to the Divine Mother Earth, and to the Universe, for we are really a small part of a greater whole. When we lose this connection, we are headed for depression, drug abuse and the Lord only knows what. Our children suffer because we don’t have the inner strength to guide them; they become fragmented, living in a false reality of video games and Facebook. Children lose all perspective of who they are, and how they fit in. They should be at home baking cookies with grandma and listening to the Wisdom of the Ages. This is how we stay connected to each other, and learn to live with compassion, through an open giving heart. This is our true nature, and we have in many cases, wandered far away from the path of who we really are. Now is the time to reconnect, find your soul again, and really “live your best life”.
Horses are truly authentic and always walking in their own power. They always know who they are, that is why they infuriate us so much, is because they have that unapologetic way of just being who they are, in spite of our efforts to convert them to a human version of what we think the should be or act. They make no pretence, and they serve us a daily dose of humility which we sometimes find hard to accept. Social structure and order in the herd is a trait, they cannot get rid of it, and it’s in their nature. For as in any tribe, there are the elders who run the show, there are the young adults who have children and raise the families, and there are the very young who are boisterous and needs guidance. The herd respects the elders, the alpha mare and the stallion. They are trusted with the survival of the herd, and by so doing, share a collective consciousness, a unity that binds them together. If one horse is unhappy, sick, stressed or afraid, the rest of the herd feels that emotion. There is no distinction or separateness in their emotion. They will bring comfort to the sick and dying, they will nurture the young and feel the fear of their friends. Horses form lifelong bonds and they have a lifelong memory. They suffer terrible separation anxiety when removed from their social family, so you can see how this affects them in the way we keep our horses today, all separate. It is the underlying reason for so much colic and other disorders – all caused by stress. You must also realize that the horse picks up on the emotion of the humans around them, not just their owners. Many times the horse and the owner have the same illness, the same lameness – this is because there is an energy connection between you. It cannot be escaped, animals take on our issues, and many of them die so we can live. I personally have experienced that, first hand. Two of my animals took on the cancer so that I could live and do what I came here to do, one of which was to write this book. They knew I had a mission, and I was not going to be allowed to not complete it. For it is for them I write, so they can have better lives with owners who understand, and in so doing, we can change the world. When the day comes that you cannot see a horse endure something that you could not have done to you, we will have made great progress. It is for that cause that this book is written.
Horses are masters of true leadership, for the one who governs the herd is not the biggest, or the fastest, or the strongest, but the one with the most confidence and bravery. The one who can in an instant, make a decision that saves the herd from disaster, attacking predators or knowing just where to go for food and water. It’s the one who knows which plants are safe to eat, and which water is safe to drink, a lifetime of observation learned from the elders in the herd, and passed on generation to generation. A trustworthy leader is always looking for the greatest good for the greatest number, there is no hidden agenda, they lead without fear or intimidation, it is not needed. The ego does not play a role here, as horses are without ego. The strongest of leaders is one who leads with a compassionate heart, and is brave and unwavering in the face of danger – the stallion who leads the pack of wolves away from the herd, while the alpha mare takes the herd in the opposite direction.
To be one with horses one must always work on achieving balance in all things, for without balance, when you try to ride, you will fall off. The first thing to work on is emotional balance, for the mind and body are connected, and an unbalanced horse is dangerous to ride, and an unbalanced human is a danger to themselves. Finding balance in our lives is part of the journey that horses take us on, for they are here to challenge us to take a spiritual, emotional and physical journey with them, and see where that road leads. For some this can be a daunting task, as we are not always ready to move forward in our lives, and if we are not, then our horses as well as ourselves, frequently suffer from lameness issues, and back problems. Fear creates ways of manifesting itself so movement becomes restricted on many levels.
Horses are about a journey back to freedom, so if we can learn to give them back their freedom, we can experience it ourselves. Freedom of self expression, freedom to move, freedom to be who we are with no apology, freedom to create. To dance with a horse in that freedom, when we can give them validation for their emotions and just accept without judgement, we will have learned one of life’s greatest lessons. For by letting go, we gain the greatest control through harmony. So if you have fear of losing control in your life, you tend to ride your horses with restrictive nosebands that are too tight, harsh bits, Spanish Martingales, draw reins, sidereins, chambons – you get the idea. Devices that are inhibiting to the horse’s movement and over time they create lamenesses, both of body and spirit. A broken spirit will soon result in a broken body, and learning to relinquish that need to control the horses’ every move is a great life lesson. It’s not about letting the horse do what they want, there is always discipline, and you must be safe at all times, but it is about honing your skills so you can cope with whatever the horse throws at you. Staying calm, connected and self assured, is the best way to shut down negative or chaotic behavior. Don’t feed their emotion, don’t react, and calm your breathing and heart rate, and the horse will calm down too and thank you for your emotional control. This builds trust and the explosions will diminish and probably eventually disappear.
So learn from your horse the important things in life: family, bonding, trust, connection, collective consciousness, freedom, compassion, fearlessness, balance, being authentic, and walking with humility in your own power, being who you are in all your glory, and allowing the horse the same right. Once the light of awareness has been switched on, you can never walk in darkness again. It will change your life diabolically and propel you into a whole other plane of existence, and you will love it! For the discovery of who you really are, living your true nature, will give you power without ego, a life without fear, and a strength inside that you never thought possible. The journey to get there is more than worth it. Be fearless, be you.
What is a Horse?
Many people, entering into an inward journey, will have that question. Some would ask “why would anyone choose to work with a horse in an emotional context?” There are many answers to that question, and understanding the nature of the horse will help us understand ourselves.
Prey not Predator
The most important thing to remember or learn about horses is that, they are the ones who get chased and eaten. The instinct for survival has created several interesting characteristics that enable them to survive by depending on one another.
The Collective Consciousness: this is an emotional bond between horses. If one horse bolts because of a perceived danger, the whole herd runs too – not even stopping to question why. They just pick up on the distress and elevated heart rate of the scared horse, and nature tells them to get the hell out of there!! If they stopped to question “why are we all running?” they might already be dead or in a life or death situation. This is only one of the phenomena that keep them alive.
Physical Adaptation: Over the millennia of evolution, the horse has developed certain physical characteristics that have a strong bearing on survival. The first is eyesight. They have very limited bifocal vision – where both eyes focus on the same object – and it only works for long-distance objects. They can see things a half mile away.
The wide forehead and wide space between the eyes, means that they can see almost 360 degrees around them, with the blind spots being directly in front and directly behind them. Horses can be watching Channel 2 and Channel 7 at the same time, as their brains are organized to process the information separately. They can scan the horizon while grazing, and they are constantly in the mode of being very aware of their environment. If something – or someone – creeps up on a horse from behind, and surprises them, they will likely strike out with the hind feet for protection. After all, it could be a cougar or a wolf.
Hoof-beats in the Earth: Horses’ feet act like amplifiers of the vibrations in the ground. Their feet are made of material like our fingernails, with a concave sole that picks up ground vibrations. A person running will set them running, as that signifies to them that there is something they should be running from. They can sense geopathic pathways in the ground, changes in air pressure, and magnetic fields. That’s how they know when a storm is coming, or how cold a winter will be, when they start growing extra hair in August you can know the winter will be a harsh one!!! They can sense where to dig under the snow for grass and clean water to drink.
Digestion: Horses have genetically adapted to foraging almost 24 hours a day. Their sometimes 100 foot long gut needs to be working constantly, and movement helps that. This is why – one of the major reasons, anyway – domesticated horses suffer so much from digestive disorders: Confinement. They walk an average of 10 miles a day in the wild, and the swaying helps the guts to pass all that grass through. Interruption of the normal grazing patterns creates stress for the horse, so does not spending enough time outside in the company of other horses.
Touch: Horses are very tactile, with very well-developed lips for feeling and touching each other, as well as sensing plants. A mare will lick her foal all over to stimulate blood flow and get him moving, as in the wild, they need to be able to keep up with the herd in a very short time. Horses also like to lick and groom each other, and when prevented from doing so in domestication, can experience stress. This is a natural function for them, as they are very sensual beings.
Emotions: Horses rely totally on how they are feeling to judge a situation. “If it don’t feel right, it ain’t right”. This “gut feeling” is what, very often, saves their lives and the lives of their riders, too. Horses read your emotions the moment you walk into the barn – sometimes before. They will always react to what you are feeling, and the thing that drives them crazy about humans is when we are not honest about our emotions. Don’t think you can fool a horse with body language that is portraying one thing, while your emotions are saying the opposite. They are a living mirror of who you are, and what you have going on. Each individual horse will choose to handle your emotions differently, depending on their history too. Abused horses can relate to abused people, as they too, have felt the pain – or something similar. They also feel grief, happiness, sadness and the full range of emotion, just as we do. Never underestimate the power of these animals to help you, as their emotion is powerful and unbridled. They don’t have to be politically correct, or avoid hurting your feelings. They will give you the straight goods, right here, right now and you simply have to deal with that. This is why their presence is so awe inspiring and life changing – they give you no choice!!
Living in the NOW: Horses live in the NOW. They don’t worry about tomorrow, or regret the past. There is no “coulda, woulda, shoulda” in their lives. Their survival depends on the NOW – is there enough grazing and water? Or do we need to move to new land? What’s that in the bushes – is there something stalking me? They can smell and hear pretty well, though not as well as a dog. They know the smells of all the animals, and what plants are good to eat and which are poisonous. They memorize every little detail of their environment, crushed leaves, downed trees, the feel of the ground – slippery, muddy, icy, hard, as it affects their ability to get away from danger. Theirs is a lifelong memory.
The Herd Instinct – a sense of belonging: The horse is a very social animal, with a highly evolved hierarchy. The order of things within the herd enables them to trust each other implicitly, knowing that each horse will remain true to its personality and place in the herd. There are always leaders and followers, and this position is gained, not by force – bullies are excommunicated from the herd – but by a quiet inner strength and pure self assurance. The most trustworthy and wise horse gains the position of leader – and apart from the stallion, the leader is often the alpha mare. Hers is the job of maintaining social order in the herd. She will sound the alarm to flee, separate bullies from the herd and literally knock them over on the ground if need be. She is a champion of the old and the young, protecting them from the other horses. The mare will quite often lead the herd to safety while the stallion distracts predators so they chase him, instead of his family.
What do they need to be happy? – Horses need each other, bonding, lots of time outside, not locked indoors in stalls. They need a ready supply of food, as they are meant to eat all the time, and good clean water. Most of all they need love, affection and owners who understand their true nature, and try to keep them as close to who they are as possible. Keep the diet simple but nutritious, don’t try to high tech a low tech animal, they haven’t read the manual and they are still a simple creature. Their emotional well being has a lot to do with their physical well being, as with us, it’s one and the same. If a horse is stressed, they will become sick and lame, happy horses rarely experience either, for their needs are being met. One of my greatest aspirations in writing this and other books, is to change forever the way competition horses are kept, ridden and treated. Many good horses die because of bad and cruel training practices, over work and lack of attention to their needs. Most of them need more time off, less pressure and an acceptance that a good effort is worth as much as a ribbon, the horse sees no sense in much of what we do with them. There are some horses that love to jump high, or run fast, but they do it because it is their passion, not because they want to win a lot of money or a car. We need to keep that in mind.