Saturday, April 3, 2010

Keep going

Good news here on the Ridge! (The Ridge is the local slang term for North San Juan where I live.) The picture will say it all.

Yep, I got some pasture time today. Patrik has gained weight and their coats are about to jump off of them if I don't get down to some serious currying soon. The birds will have plenty of nesting material.

I love this look of Patrik's...Isenbart called it "a gaze from the depths of a dream" I believe. Here, Patrik was looking over towards the two mules across the street. He seemed to be very tuned in to what was going on over there.

The same view from another angle.

June made a good attempt at seeing the value in the horse/human relationship chart but we still have more to go. How about a new horse owner using it to evaluate potential trainers, and as a place to start discussions with them, to get to know them better? How about a non-horse owning philanthropist wants to give money to someone furthering the horse/human consciousness shift and this will give her a place to start in researching who to support?

Did anybody notice that there is nothing in there that talked about loving a horse, or respecting a horse? It is based on the physical actions which are performed or not performed with horses, which is what the horses know us by, not by the fancy words we might use.

Keep going, let's hear a few more potential uses of a chart like this.

In the meantime, a little gift. Here's what Sunny and I did this morning. It's a view from "the rocks."

And some clouds from yesterday (no audio). It's hard to tell but the clouds were moving in opposite directions.

Monica said in comment to the last post:
I found the links you included regrettably typical of the traditional horse world. I cannot help but observe that as we treat our horses, so we treat ourselves. Those people do not treat themselves with compassion ... so how, then could they possibly treat their horses with compassion? How do we help people love themselves so they can love their horses?
Monica, this is exactly the heart of the matter. Thank you for posing the observation and question. Let's launch from here.


  1. Ah - symbolic. The clouds are parting like curtains.

  2. I am going to go out on the limb with the following comments, which I suspect do not align well with NHE, but here goes:

    "Did anybody notice that there is nothing in there that talked about loving a horse, or respecting a horse? It is based on the physical actions which are performed or not performed with horses, which is what the horses know us by, not by the fancy words we might use."

    I would agree that horses don't care what "fancy words" we use, but they certainly do not "know" us solely by "the physical actions which are performed or not performed" with them. To me it feels like a reductionist model, whereby we try to understand and relate to a living being solely through physical actions, i.e. behavioural. This does not take into account the full realm of the mind and completely ignores the spiritual. For me this whole journey is about getting to know the horse on all of these different levels, developing intuitive communication with him and exploring the spiritual together. I think as long as we stick to reductionist models, the grandfather of them all being Cartesian*, we are trapped in an old paradigm that will never let us fully appreciate our oneness with the horse and all other beings. (*If you look up reductionism in Wikipedia there is a diagram there of a duck by Descartes that illustrates his approach to understanding other living beings. If we break things down purely to physical interactions is that not still operating within the same paradigm?) I just think you can't leave heart and soul out of this if you really want to know the horse. Also, if I were evaluating a trainer the last thing I would do is take a check list of physical things to watch for. My biggest priority would be my intuitive feel for the trainer's approach. I would of course be noting what the trainer is actually doing, but actions without heart and intuition become methods.

  3. To say that horses know us only by our physical actions is to grossly underestimate the sensitivity and perceptive capacity of horses. Horses instantly know our entire energetic state, and because they do, they also know the intentions and the emotions that animate our actions.

    It is unfortunately true that many of us humans only talk about love and respect without actually acting on the feelings described by those words. We talk about "loving" horses, but continue to harm them -- even sometimes when we know that what we are doing (using bits for example) causes harm.

    We humans often talk the talk without walking the walk. And we often fool one another with pretty talk. But, horses know the difference between a mere "talker" and someone who actually loves them.

  4. Ok (grudingly), there may be a case for using "categories" of some kind to evaluate professionals. But I would eschew using the term "Levels," because it implies superiority. I believe some methods are better, but as Sandie and Kris say, what really matters is your interior disposition. I have seen old-fashioned cowboys (jump on, let 'em buck, yank on their nose if they misbehave, bingo - from zero to perfectly broke in 1/2 hour) who have more respect and affection for horses than (say) a NH trainer like Ms. Parelli. I know parents/horse trainers who use physical punishment and who have a better relationship with their children/horses and happier, more confident children/horses than those who don't punish. And punishment can take many forms. A sharp reprimand for a clear infraction is much less "punishing" than continuous whiny judgmental interference. Which, actually, someone in your highest level could be guilty of.

  5. No doubt, we do (and need to) use criteria to evaluate professionals, vets trainers, fellow humans we want to associate with or not. But why reduce these criteria to a set of observableles?

    There has been an explosion of interest in "liberty" training lately, and the super-coolness of horses performing bridleless has left its mark on youtube. Does this mean the horse is free and people have evolved to some higher form? Just because they dropped the bits and spurs?

    I would say it make not a shred of a difference whether or not a bridle is used as long as the horse himself is "used", that is, held captive with an attitude of objectification, as a piece of property that can be owned, sold, put to death.

    It is a well known "secret" of the liberty training crowd that horses have a memory and will obey without restraint long after physical punishment has ceased, seemingly by free choice. The memory of consequences of disobedience from the past is a powerful motivator that works long after the gadgets are gone. It can then look like magic, created by a whisper.

    I am not against criteria, but the criteria to be chosen must be adequate to the task, that is discriminate in a manner that is relevant. For example, is the horse being asked to participate in whatever we humans devise for his "development."? Does the horse have a real choice? And by choice I do not mean the ability to retreat into the corner of a manage.

    And further, how is the horse kept? Is he allowed freedom to roam, to socialize with his own kind?

    Anyone who has shifted course with their horses knows how long it can take for the horse to stop censoring himself and allow himself free expression, to say no to the manege? And know that his wish will be honored?

  6. I don't know about using categories to judge other people, I have a hard enough time judging myself. In response to my own last comment about using a chart as a sort of tachometer, I think what I meant would be like some sort of horse conscience, or Jimminy Cricket if you will. A way to monitor our relations with our horses, and make sure we aren't "doing" something that is in contrast to our beliefs, morals etc. The problem with that is that everyone probably has slightly different perspective of what is right or wrong. I know my perspective is changing all the time, and I am thankful especially to Sandie who led me to where I am in this moment by introducing me to Stormy's work, as well as Imke Spilker's work, so my own views on so many things have shifted greatly in just the past few months.

    I understand what Monica said about needing to love and respect oneself in order to become the person who is compassionate with all others beings as well. You talked about that as well a little while ago Stormy, when you said you needed to focus more on people, to help them, and then they in turn would be more able to help themselves, and ultimately the horses.

  7. I am appreciating all the comments. Coming from a Parelli background, the term "levels" makes me nervous, LOL. I am more comfortable with relationship oriented words. I agree with those comments that our relationship is much more than simply a series of physical acts. There is heart and soul to take into account, both the human and the horse. Would I be welcomed into this dialogue? I am grateful to Stormy for wanting this blog to go in the direction of a community. I've applied on the NHE website, over a week ago, with no response yet, is that typical? I'm going in the direction of Imke and Carolyn Resnick, starting with just being with my horses. I've started a blog of this journey at Which you are welcome to visit. Unless you love the minutia of horse behavior, it is about as interesting as watching paint dry, LOL, but I want to keep a record of our process.

  8. I believe visual tools like maps are important to understand where we are and where, by choice, we want to go.
    Instead of using a linear, up and down model with different levels I would like to suggest the use of a circle with different stages in the horse/human relationship.
    Observing people at a rodeo Stormy said, "it is not us against them, they are us in other moments. And we are them". In a circle we stand as one. Native Americans refer to it as "All Our Relations", people, animals, nature, cosmos.
    Stormy also said, "...this is all about something much bigger than horses and humans, but that relationship is the vehicle that we'll focus on".

    Here are a couple of examples of circle models
    (circle mind) we could play around with:

    Bill Plotkin's book "Nature and the Human Soul"
    introduces a visionary ecopsychology of human development that reveals how fully and creatively we can mature when soul and wild nature (I add: HORSES)guide us. Bill Plotkin presents a circle model rooted in the cycles and qualities of the natural world... a template that could help us move from an EGOcentric, competitive society to one that is a soulcentric and compassionate.

    The other example of circle mind is beautifully
    illustrated as "Ways of Learning and Knowing" by Tapestry Institute.
    Much of what Stormy does with her horses is
    experiential (what works and what doesn't),
    but it is also spiritual, mythical, and intellectual. By putting all four together we have Integrated Ways of Learning and Knowing.

    Tapestry Institute also offers a Horse Program and maybe an exchange of ideas or future collaboration could be possible...

    This is an exciting time and we are learning to use our forward-seeing imagination not only for our own sake but for the sake of all other species as well.