Does my horse enjoy being ridden?

This is such a human question.

I think to come some way to answering this question we need to go someway to thinking like a horse.

I am assuming with these thoughts that the horse in question is well, healthy, has not been badly mistreated and the environment in which he is kept is as close to his natural state as is possible to achieve.

My conclusion to the question is that some horses do not, some horses accept and some horses do enjoy been ridden.

Horses are an accepting animal; a horse accepts it’s place in the herd, it is neither a happy nor unhappy state of mind whether the horse is high, low or in the middle.  The horse is happy however once it’s place is established and it is safe in the knowledge of where that space is.

The question of riding then is not to the horse about being ridden, the state of mind of the horse is about everything else and the riding is or is not included within this.

A horse is a teacher and a reflection. She shows us where we are on the path and the path that leads us to balance within ourselves. To the horse what they show us is perfectly obvious and I am sure that they look upon us patiently at how slow we are on the uptake.We are blind to the paths they show us when it is right in front of our noses and often fail to recognize what they show us in the moment.

By us showing dominance, they show us fear and if enough threat is given, submission. This is of course the obvious mirror of the bully.

In the other extreme we can say no horse likes to be ridden, it enslaves them and I would not like it done to me so I know they do not like it. But is that not also imposing our (human) will upon the horse, assuming that we know and speaking yet again for them?

The horse concerns himself with the journey, and the journey is about finding your connection to the heart and to your true self. The horse generally is happy to help us with this journey and is particularly good at this being a patient and attentive teacher.

Showing the way is their gift to us and if it is done through riding they are happy to do so. Provided it is done in with the heart connection and an allowing mind of the (human) pupil. Allowing to be shown, open to feedback and to different opinions and ideas from their teacher.

Consider the pupil and a teacher, would that teacher enjoy teaching if the pupil was domineering or frightening? How would that teacher feel if the pupil said “I know you like teaching but do not teach me to read/spelling/maths whatever, as I know you do not like to teach me that.”

Best to ask the (individual) horse before we make assumptions either way.

If you listen and take the time to be in their company they will let you know. The signs are there we just need to tune into them and be open and aware. Look to yourself; how do you feel when you are riding? do you feel light, connected, relaxed, happiness, calm, love? Or do you feel helpless, tense, frustrated, angry, feel sorry for yourself, frightened or cross? Chances are it’s a mixture, some days are better than others. But let your feelings be your guide they are the flags that tell you how your horse is feeling and whether your horse is enjoying your company and if she wants to be ridden at that moment. They are showing you, you. Listen.

Take note of the answer, sometimes it can be a difficult answer for us to take, no or no not now can be hard and sometimes the answer can bring some disappointment, but do not fall into the trap of feeling sorry for yourself, self pity is a selfish, small state and your horse will not be feeling light and will not respond positively to that. I believe that horses do not ,unlike humans feel empathy for that emotion, it can worry them and makes them feel unsafe.

My conclusion is: Some horses enjoy showing us the way, if we are diligent and attentive pupils. Some horses want to show us the way but do not find it much fun for them.( pay more attention to what they are saying). Some horse do not want to show us the the path at all because we need to see ourselves as we are right now.

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Swallows return.

IMG_3112I am thrilled to see the first pair of swallows are back today and I am sure they are happy to see the barn is ransackeld as ever and last years nests undisturbed. We have had some lovely dry days and cold nights and the spring flowers are spectacular.

I went out on Lady yesterday specifically to see the banks of primroses growing along the sides of the lanes, white wood anemones make a show in the semi shade of the trees and the blue bells are just starting to make an appearance. This is my favourite time of the year. There  are no flies about and the sunny days have an air of freshness about them which is lively on the senses whilst the sun warms your face.

My communication with Lady has reached such that I am now able to let her go our rides and we walk independently in the direction that we are going. I am very select on where I have chosen to do this – it’s along a bridle path that goes through a field of sheep and is gated, then the  following field has no stock and is also gated – it also on the way home so there is a good incentive for her to go the way we are going. However it’s a lovely feeling of trust to know that she wants to be with me and asks to play in the field. She does circles around me of trot and collected canter. It makes me feel light in the heart and so lucky that I have her trust.

Ella is blooming now with her foal, she is 7 months pregnant and is now starting to show with a change of shape and I see movement and can feel hard spots which move about on her flanks. I hope she will be a good mother, she hasn’t decided on her role as yet, she is still young (around 8 I think) and hasn’t yet formed a definite path. She tends to go along with others without any definite ideas of her own, her foal will give her a purpose and an importance.

The sheep are very well as I write this they are gathered around my deck chair whilst I sit in the field. They are all lying down in front of me, Spot as always the closest to me. There is something angelic and ancient about them, when their heads are close together I see visions of angels clustered. I don’t know if it’s the way that they look but they seem so old and wise like they have been around for 2000 years or more. They all seem really happy and respond so well to attention and kindness. Sheep really are one of the most under rated animals. Their group mentality being a deterrent to how humans understand and perceive them. I have asked Julie to communicate for me to Spot as we seem to have a particular connection, with him being very affectionate and protective of me. I wonder what he has to say?

The sheep still have their very thick wooly coats which I am looking forward to them having shorn, they are very hot during the day but I have been told end of May is the time. I wish I could give them a ‘blanket clip’ (like the horses have in winter) to alleviate the heat during the day.

The two lambs Marie and Goldie are growing fast although still drinking 2 bottles a day, they have started eating grass, grazing with the boys and eating from the bucket. They are very vocal when it comes to their bottle time!

I sit here admiring this beautiful spring morning, sheep at my feet, horses by my side and aeroplane trails across the sky. I can see across the hills of green where white dots of sheep occupy the fields.  I can hear chewing sheep, chickens, birds and horses blowing. Perfect.

 

 

 

 

 

Lady

IMG_3251.JPGI believe that Lady chose me and she has taken me on a journey far beyond what I could have imagined or dreamed was possible.

Through her teachings she has shown me how to be a master and leader of myself. I have lacked confidence from a child and learnt to keep quiet as a form of protection, however now that I am an adult this no longer served me and made me feel small.

I knew Lady wanted me to lead and direct her as she mirrored my anxieties out hacking and she would try to take the role of the lookout and leader to keep us safe, however it caused her stress – this showed up in her body language, her tight neck and constant lookout and cautious step. She mirrored the tiny child inside me, the frightened one which needed looking after – she was me and she was showing me me.

I wanted to be assertive. I wanted to make her feel safe, take care of her and for her to relax her leader role so that she could enjoy our rides out. But how?

Firstly I needed to relax my body, I used hypnotherapy and continued my riding lessons with a better teacher who concentrated on relaxation and mindfulness. This helped but I still needed to take away my childish barriers which I clung to like something old, useless but familiar. I clung to them because the familiar feels safe but they made me feel so small and scared I need to grow.

I had some (human) help in finding my assertive, big space and Lady gave me feedback on how I was doing. I learnt that assertiveness comes from the heart, it does not come from anger, despair or self pity – all of these emotions I would experience and swing from. Assertive comes from strength, but a quiet strength, like a mountain not like a hurricane. I am now that mountain.

Lady showed me how to find that true self that was waiting inside of me, the real me. She wants me to be the best human being I can possibly be, that core, which is from love and only from love. This is my core and this is what will remain when my body has gone – this is where she was calling to and this is what she needed to make her feel safe.

This love then made me feel large, bigger than I felt before, bigger than my heart, like it was swelling out beyond the physical boundaries that contained it.

Now she can relax, now I notice her feedback and she teaches me to be aware and one with the environment that which we ride; this is important. I must love myself and then this flows outwards and envelops her and the world around which are passing. Notice the little bird, notice the tiny flower, the warm sun and the trees coming into bud – she loves it when I notice and am caught up in the joy of our world. This is because she knows that we are one and she is my gateway to the nature. She opens the door and shows me – here it is, be one with it and I will follow and be with you as one also.

She takes me to ‘flow’ and in that flow which is joy is moments, horses are good with moments, they know how do them very well and they teach us to be still and quiet in that moment. When flow comes, communication is open and she light and easy, I just need to sit and be still and she takes me, even just for a few seconds at a time to a place where I would not believe there could be on earth, but yet it is earth which makes for all the more joy. The place is addictive and I want to be with her there again and again, try too hard and I cannot find the way, which is against everything as a human that I have been taught. She shows me how the direction of my energies affect what happens to me and the opposite to what I have been taught is the right way in many many ways.

Only when I am in ‘the spot’ can the flow be found and we are as one together, seemingly effortless, there are not even words to describe but once you have been there you will know.

This Lady teaches and continues to teach me, every day we build and she shows me new things. Some days I don’t make the connection and it can take a while for the penny to drop or I make connections when other things come up and they join together. Like a big jigsaw and then one day you stand back and see a picture. A picture of my life which with Lady’s guidance is the best picture I could have made.

That is what my horse does for me.

Thank you Ladyx

Autumn walk.

Today was our best hack ever.

I need to set myself up before we left to that relaxed, happy and carefree state that I had experienced with Rico before we started. I realised also that it wasn’t just about me concentrating solely upon Lady and myself but I also needed appreciate and notice the environment which we were in. I needed to relax and enjoy myself, look around at the birds, see the flowers, notice the clouds and the trees. The surroundings are everything to a prey animal and if I am in a state of enjoyment from them that helps Lady feel safe.

The meditative state comes from all. (because we are all)

Lady was different today, much more inquisitive and interested, head position much lower, going forward at a good pace and not asking to turn. I rode on the buckle and I felt so happy and proud of her I thought I might burst! The day helped, a beautiful autumnal day, sunny, dry, no wind and not much traffic. Again  I had thought about this and decided to use the day to help us set everything up right.

Happiness comes from the simplest things, a walk down the road and back again but how long has it taken us to take that walk in that state and with that connection, understanding and trust? Or perhaps I should say what a fantastic journey it has been just to take that walk..

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Rico

I have been lucky enough to be having riding lessons on the lovely Rico. He is experienced enough to do his job and let me get on with the business of finding my ‘happy spot’.

Once  I have found the spot everything flows and is effortless, joyful and easy. He glides to the left, glides to the right, has the smoothest most rhythmic paces, the feeling is softness and light. My joy infects him and it seems everything around us becomes touched by the circles that ripple outwards starting from my heart.

This then effects my whole day, the joy spreads and a peace and calmness goes onwards. The ripples not only affect the place but time also. I sleep well that night and the next morning I awake full of optimism and plans. Riding Rico is better than taking any sort of ‘happy pill’. It cannot be taken, it cannot easily be described, it cannot be made to happen, it’s invisible, immense, long lasting, real, bliss.

It feels similar to the lions, except with them there is also a sense of (true) power. However as I talked about it with Anne, my riding teacher, I wondered if once you go on to the more advanced paces (piaffe, passage) then the power might then come into place. There you have much power both physical and mental, in a controlled but light and joyful way.

Such an amazing gift – I am going to let this one grow.

Summer’s full bloom

The farm is teaming with life, the grass is long and full of insects and the swallows are making the most of the flying ones, swooping and diving in the evenings; then as dusk comes the bats come out flitting and darting.

I have been strimming the thistles and the nettles. There are still abundant caterpillars on the nettles so I have been cutting the edges and leaving the middle for them, they seem to be making good work of eating them and having butterflies must be good. I left an area of thistles too after much thought, there was so many bees and butterflies on them I didn’t want to cut them all but at the same time I didn’t want them to take over the whole field, so I did a compromise and left the biggest blooms in one patch and cut the rest. I go into a sort of trance with the strimming, back and fore back and fore watching for insects and going slowly and carefully – it must be the rhythm and the concentration, once I get into the stride I find it quite addictive, being close to the earth and nature and being able to observe whilst doing the job. I am glad I haven’t got the money for a tractor yet as I would have missed a lot not being so close to the ground. This year is going to be all about watching and learning as closely as I can.

I am missing the two girls as they are still away with the stallion until the end of August, Ella could possibly be in foal already, however Lady is keeping very quiet and is not showing any interest at all, I trust though that she has the timing all sorted and everything will work out divinely and how it is supposed to. So often in these cases there are reasons why things are not happening when I expect and they work out better than I had planned.

Summer is coming to the end of its bloom, the evenings are cooler and the mornings fresher I will watch for the swallows leaving – this will be a good sign that Autumn is most definitely here. I plan to plant fruit trees and start up an orchard, we have two apple trees but I want to add and build it up – something to leave for others when I am gone.

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Silence.

Your grace it melts my copper heart,

Softly moulton in your gaze,

My limbs grow weak as with colour I do fill,

Rose overflows and spills as tears form – clear upon my eye,

There is no sound I can express,

Only silence speaks it’s name.