When the horses shift their behaviors it gives us hope that we too can change. Nothing seems to hurt more than believing we are not okay as we are and feeling hope-less to move out of old habits. So when we are able to suggest a new way to our horses, especially the older ones who have more entrenched habits, give them guidance, and witness subtle or obvious behavior change, it sure is encouraging. Being in the latter stages of my lifespan, I am particularly pleased to see an old horse soften and get more comfortable in their life.
“Animals long for our ability to change” Rumi
Working with horses in a mindful way on a regular basis we are able to facilitate and witness their growing trust in us, in things. They let go of some of their fearfulness, preserving just enough of their innate horse-ness, their beautifully evolved survival mechanisms. We also try to undo some of the tensions that humans have put in there. If we have done them disservice, we do our best to make amends for that. In 12 step programs they say the best way to make amends is to lead an amended life. What would that look like? Wouldn't the way we live our daily lives be of benefit to the horses? Part of the beauty of these reclamation projects is that it benefits both horse and human. For us to see a change in our partner and in our relationship with them, we may need to do something a little different, or a lot, and make a commitment to that over time – to become as consistent as possible. Ala human behavior change, sometimes so elusive.
We have scratched our heads quite a bit over our beautiful buckskin mare Willow. She has so much potential. How can we help her to regain her physical prowess, her trust in her body? When I wonder if I should have ever bought her, I just think how much she has helped my also beautiful talented daughter to regain her sense of self. As she likes to say, they have rehabilitated each other in the past year. She took Caitlin to meet Wendy Murdoch, now her career role model. I will never forget the session in which Caitlin had Feldenkreis body work "on the table" then rode Willow. Wendy prompted her to remember the feeling of her hips in tablework, to subtly shift her weight in the saddle - what happened next put Caitlin on a her life's path! She's a kinesoilogist, bodyworker, and horsewoman in training. Thank you Willow (& Wendy)!!