Horsey Therapist

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Creativity, clarity, trust

The more I think clearly and creatively,
the more I ride with clarity and creativity.


I said that.

I was conversing with someone about why I spend time writing. Writing brings clarity to my internal world. Writing about horse stuff brings clarity and definition (think: high definition TV) to my horse time. I am creative when I think, seeking to find patterns and associations between ideas and experiences, seeking to find an opening between the thoughts so a ray of light will illuminate something I've been pondering.

When I am clear but not creative, I can be dull. Exact, but dull.

I watched a DVD today called The Path of the Horse by Stormy May. Buy it, borrow it, go watch with a friend who owns it if you are someone who seeks to discover and enjoy the finer, more subtle aspects of relating with horses. I cried watching it. It stimulated some clarity about my work roles, especially regarding where my heart lies when I'm teaching people and teaching horses.

What a joke! Me teaching horses. I am the student.

Yes, I am expected to teach, and do teach, and bring the best of my patience and my support to human students so they can develop their confidence, creative problem solving, presence... I want independent thinking, sometimes much to the horror of parents who perceive impudence where I see assertiveness and individuality. I like to remind parents that when their child is an adult, the very qualities they dislike now will be the ones that bring them success. Think of the outspoken child who questions authority.

How about the horse who questions authority? Can we welcome that, too? Can we trust that a horse who expresses a strong opinion will also be a horse who wants to jump over a fence, stand still for mounting, accept hugs from a grieving owner?

I have many adventures waiting, assuming I can offer a degree of trust and willingness that might one day approach the trust and willingness our horses offer us.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Changes for Soli

These are times of changes. Certainly eruptions and shifts deep within, and some milder changes without.

Yesterday I took our Haflinger, Soli, to live for a year or so in Maine with some friends who voiced the desire to learn to drive. RNB is not doing anything with Soli, I am not doing anything with Soli, and these folks would love to learn from him and with him. It was clear and simple and quick from the start of our conversations to my delivering him.

It was a mini-vacation for me as well. I slept about 10 hours last night in their guest room! I had little idea how tired I was.

Soli -- well, he'll be fine there. I gave my friends the puzzle of his buggy harness and they sorted it out and harnessed him up with few directions from me. I demonstrated ground driving him after he was hitched to the cart, then each of them took over the reins and one by one got into the cart and practiced in their ring. They were great. He is not a horseman, she is. Soli took them both in stride. I've never before seen this man wear a smile as wide as when he had the reins and was steering Soli through some cones.

This morning, we went out in twos (she and I, then she and he) for a drive up the road and back.

Soli is such a social horse. I never noticed as much as those hours there in Maine. I show up and he comes to be close. He offered almost as much eagerness to them as well.

They have two mares who were not very interested in Soli. I suspect that will change but pointed out how for now that can help Soli think well of what the humans have to offer -- not just hay and water and grooming, but companionship.

I'm grateful Soli did not whinny as I drove off. That would have tipped the tears out of my eyes...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Whose grief?

Maybe it was not my grief that surrounded me. I just learned that the husband of a friend died suddenly this weekend. Regardless of whose loss, the feelings were strong and colored my waking hours. Poor dear friend.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Softness and tears

Many months ago, I set my intention to be soft.

It seems lately, with softness come tears. Often. With little or no sense of 'why'. Some days my eyes are blurry with extra wetness all day long. Some days a bit of flooding with a sense of sorrow occurs. Some days I'm so busy I miss softness while focused on accomplishing something -- nothing wet those days.

Today is a wet day in my eyes, a soft day in my heart. Maybe more tears and softness come after a period of defensiveness. That would make sense. And in the presence of my horses, I let go of defenses, wanting to simply connect in a place where my mind is quiet, my heart is open.

Little upsets here and there in my life. Some major stresses as well, but nothing I can control so really, what can one do but focus on one foot stepping after the next. Or feeling the breeze enliven my skin when the feet (and the mind) stop. Or listening to the bells clanging as the sheep move about the closer field I've opened to them.

Grief keeps surprising me.

I am mortal. I am reminded through recent contact with a cancer survivor of this. Reviewing my own experience with diagnosis and treatment allows bubbles of memories to surface from the past. So many changes, inside and out, since that experience.

I miss my mother. The anniversary of her death was last week. More bubbles float outward from the depths of me.

My role is changing with the horse herd at the therapeutic riding program where I work. I suspect some of my sorrow and uncertainty is connected with that. We hired a horse herd coordinator who is skilled and thoughtful and doing a superb job managing all aspects of the herd's needs. This is all good, however my role as the fill-in trainer is over. I liked that role. But of all the responsibilities of the herd coordinator, that was really the only one I wanted, which kept me from applying for the job myself.

It is curious that I've been wandering around though my life for weeks now with these teary eyes. And feeling OK about not knowing what was behind all this. I still can't say with confidence "I know", but today I have hints.

A spiritual teacher once said, "Not knowing is most intimate." I puzzled for years about this, but I think I'm starting to understand his meaning.

I renew my commitment to softness. I trust one day softness will bring laughter and joy. Today it brings tears. I can accept what I do not understand. I can allow what I do not understand. Can I celebrate what I do not understand?