Thursday, March 18, 2010

Widening our circle

I tried and tried to come up with a clever story to convey what I'm feeling and to respond more directly to the great comments to the last post but I need once more to stick with the "keep it simple" mantra and maybe tomorrow something different will come through.

The simple version of what I'm feeling is this:

We humans need to remember that we need each other. We are not separate. We are part of a larger "human organism" and will only feel truly fulfilled and at peace when we remember this and our lives reflect this value. Until we do, we will keep trying to fix and improve our physical situations. We will admire some and look down on others. We will feel righteous about this and disdainful about that. This is not where the solution lies.

Albert Einstein said,
"We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them."
Most of us have lost the ability to connect in a close and meaningful way to more than a few people. I'm talking about face to face, working together, sweating together, being together in good times and bad, not Facebook friends or long lost classmates. Not coming together for a weekend retreat where we sing songs and hold hands and smile at each other. If we are open to horses, then let horses be the vehicles that bring us together. It is us humans who need the healing, the horses know very well how to be horses.

Again, from Einstein,
"A human being is a part of a whole, called by us 'universe', a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest... a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty."
I understand...believe me I understand the difficulty of walking this path. Where in this world do we find even one person living today who has become free of this prison? Where is one person who isn't asking for money to learn their method? Where is one person that we can know, one person that we can meet face to face who can look through our lies and see the light beneath it all? Where is the person who has been given the task of leading us back to ourselves? Would you know this person if you met him? Would you know this person if you met her?


Under a slightly less purple sky than the picture makes it look, I sat on the hill with the sun warming my back. Patrik and the others saw me and sent that feeling I know so well. It feels to me like they have their eyes on me and are saying something like, "Hmm, there you are on the hill, and here is this nice grass down here. Maybe you have something fun for us to do, maybe you even brought some grain, but I'm happy where I am right now and don't feel any pressing need to be where you are there."

Of course I can't be sure of what they're thinking but more often than not...if I keep waiting...

...Patrik will nonchalantly make his way towards me. His curiosity of what I might be bringing getting the better of him...until...

before I can get my camera ready to take a picture of his approach, he's there by my side, nickering his low nicker, trying to sweet talk the grain out of my pocket. I fall for it every time.

We romped for a while today. I'm learning the value of challenging the horses. I think I needed to take time to let my former demanding ways melt away...and now I'm re-discovering the value of discipline in working with horses. Of course I'm not talking about disciplining in the punishing sense. It's helpful for me to think of discipline as challenging, or holding a standard that I want the horses to reach for. If it's all smooches and treats, the horses get bored pretty quickly. There is something in humans and horses that likes to rise to a challenge, it really can be another form of play. Alexander Nevzorov starts it in the form of wild games that you can see him and his horses playing in his videos.

Patrik gets much more interested if I start engaging him in play, pushing him away from me and making my demands more intricate and specific. Of course there is always a balance to be found in each moment between when to push, when to allow, when to withhold, when to reward, and how to reward. It's something that has to be developed between each individual human and horse. I can tell you where to look, but your horse is the only one who can tell you when you've found it.

Now that the grass is more interesting, and the hay is getting left on the ground...

...we'll have to cut back on the hay and start watching out for overeating of the fresh grass. Sofi especially is at risk for laminitis and obesity. She won't be happy to hear about that!

Sundance still seems to need her grain. She looks to be at a perfect weight now. Maybe as the grasses get longer, I'll be able to take her off the extra grain for a few months.

As the shadows were lengthening I was treated to a vision of the newly exploded buckeye tree. A garden of Eden in the pasture. The oak tree leaves are sure to follow closely.

The goats posed for a picture today. Don't be fooled by their beauty; little rascals they are!


  1. Connecting with horses is way easier than with people. And it's not easy with horses...

    I feel I am on a phase where i dislike many people. I am hoping to grow over it, but I don't think I can hurry it. But it will come.

    Your posts are helping me so much, it's like whenever I am wondering something, I click on your blog in bookmarks and there is the answer :)

  2. It is my sense that by fully opening our hearts to the horses and the entire more-than-human-world we begin to truly understand that we are all part of a greater whole and are able to start challenging the "optical delusion" of radical individualism so revered by our current culture. For me the unfolding awareness of my deep connection with the horses, the trees, the birds and all of nature has helped my heart to heal so that I can start to open up to including humans in this community. I am truly grateful to have such kind, patient friends in my life as the horses I live with. As I heal I can challenge myself to extend this same friendship to the two-leggeds, who are definitely more challenging.

  3. You wrote "Of course there is always a balance to be found in each moment between when to push, when to allow, when to withhold, when to reward, and how to reward. It's something that has to be developed between each individual human and horse."

    Carolyn Resnick refers to this as 'the three P's': The Push, the Pause and the Pat. It's so valuable to always consider these P's when you're with your horse. When things get out of balance somehow, I just ask myself which one of the P's is underexposed at the moment, so I can make an adjustment.