Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Life as teacher

On a post-it note that has been attached to my old computer for about 4 years now I have written:
I do not teach horses anything. I am learning to communicate and the horses are my teachers.
I remember when I first wrote that, it was to remind me over and over that I am not a teacher anymore. Many times I would find myself looking at it and seeing how I'd forgotten that during the day. The teaching "habit" has been a difficult one for me to let go of.

I feel that now I can say I have been able become more of a student with animals, but with humans I find that I still try in every way possible to retain my position as the teacher/authority in order to feel safe and needed by others. It's my act. The truth is that this has become my prison which keeps me separate from other humans.

Horses know which grasses to eat, cats know how to hunt, and chimpanzee mothers know how to teach their babies to eat and get along with others. Humans also know how to do things like hunt and gather and take care of each other. What we modern humans don't know is when to stop, to relax, to tune into the song of life and recalibrate ourselves to the awesome gift of each moment that we have been born into.

There is a time for each of us to teach but I suspect it is very small in comparison to the time for learning. When teaching becomes a place to hide and stay separate, superior, or important, its results can only serve that master. The hardest part is trying to tell where the urge to teach is coming from when almost all of us have covered over those senses which could honestly tell us the difference the moment we met someone.

This is why some trainers can say all the right words and create a huge empire of followers even if they are coming from a place of separation and superiority. This is also why other trainers might say all the wrong words which alienate and confuse potential students and yet they are the ones who can truly connect with the horses and teach others how to do this.

We all do have a way to tell the difference but it is not through any of our 5 senses. Life seems to be the relentless teacher and horses are some of her best student-teachers for reawakening within us that which knows the diamonds from the sequins. I have much more to say on this subject but again, it is getting late and I have other things to tend to.

This morning Sunny was very excited to go on our first real walk since I've been better.

The sheep and goats on the hillside were quite a temptation for Sunny, but luckily he listened to me and didn't chase them.

The grasses that the horses haven't been able to eat are spreading their broad leaves.

Here is the first of our introductions to readers. It's from Jenny (JEN-SKA) in Finland. Thanks Jenny...
Here is a link to my short intro in my own blog, with some photos:

So, what to tell about me..

My name is Jenny, I'm 33 years, living in Valkeakoski, Finland. I have been a big admirer of horses (among other animals) my whole life, but never really felt comfortable using methods taught to me on my early years (from 9 to 15 years of age). I didn't feel safe around those horses. Nowadays I understand that they were only shouting because no one would listen to whispering... I still don't trust any animal that is forced to do something.

Fear is what originally caused me to find out more and more. To overcome fear, I must learn why animals act like they do. And since I know they usually don't pretend anything, it is very interesting to always think Why? What caused this action? When I understand, I don't have to be afraid anymore.

Nowadays I find books interesting and helpful in my path. Writers like Imke Spilker, J. Allen Boone, Stephen Harrod Buhner, Eckhart Tolle, Klaus F. Hempfling have been on my reading list lately. Words fail me all the time, labelling different feelings with a word somehow diminishes them. Not to mention with foreign language... I find it hard writing/talking about these things with someone who does not quite understand, when it is even hard with someone who does! I recently understood that for a long time, walking this path, I nodded at a lot of things people said, but I did not take those things literally but more like metaphorically, when actually those things have proven to be "for real"! I cannot spot any examples right now but maybe you know what I mean by that.

I have had Olga for 5 months now, she is my first own horse. She has spend her former 19 years as a breeding mare. I'd dare to say that she was pretending to be withdrawn and uncommunicative horse when I went to see her for the first time. She knew that was what I was looking for, because I felt that I am good in bringing life to those kind of horses. Well.. she actually is exactly what I needed, to develop as horse person (instead of what I thought I wanted), a horse that has learned to take care of herself as people never did, a horse that runs before looking, a horse that has a strong mind and she is just the best teacher I could have asked for!

Currently I am a student of a finnish girl called Noora Ehnqvist, she is a follower of Klaus F. Hempfling. And hopefully I will be able to arrange Imke Spilker to come to Finland to have a clinic!


One last thing I want to mention today is, in comment to the last post a question was asked about using a long stick to herd a horse who is showing signs of aggression or moodiness. There may be a time and place for this, but coming from what I know of Lisa and Comet and of that particular technique I urge you not to try this. There is something that I think can help everyone here to start uncovering their own guidance system, and more importantly, if you follow it, it will do no damage to your relationship with your horse, whereas walking after your horse with a stick is very likely to be more harmful than helpful in these circumstances.

I highly recommend the book "Zen connection with horses" as the best program I've read and heard on how to get into that space where there is an open communication between horse and human. The author, Jenny Pearce is an Australian horsewoman who sent the book and CD to me after seeing my documentary. I am very selective about which things I recommend, they have to work and not have the potential of leading us farther away from our horses or into a fairy-land of illusion.

So here it is: http://www.bookswithspirit.com/shop

I'd love to hear comments from people who work with this program. If you already have it, don't leave it behind. When I first got it, not only did I do it myself, but I also taught it to Tricia and JD, and 6 year old Emerald as their first introduction to being with my horses. Now, the things Jenny teaches forms the basis of their understanding of horses, so often they will be the ones to remind me about watching the energy first and proceeding from there. If you have others with you who might not know as much about horses, let them read and listen to it too so you'll have a partner to help keep the feeling alive.


  1. Well, I think Jenny communicates just fine in the English language!

    Here's an example of things I nodded at too, but that I now realize is actually real: how about "being in the moment"?

  2. Good to know that I'm understood :)

    Few examples of things that come clearer everyday:

    How horses reflect us. I mean, really, it's so scary sometimes! Often they show us things we don't notice we carry with us or things we think we've put behind us...

    How they show us things. I mean real things, like "come, see, there's the glove you lost before snow came, but it's stuck on ice so I can't get it for you right now!"

    How they work on us. I am still very impressed with one horse I saw working on this girl who attended to a clinic with him. All the things that horse was determined to do to show this girl that he really liked her and thought highly of her. That horse had made up his mind to bring this girl up, to give her more self confidence... It was amazing!

    How patiently they just wait for us to "get it". You know? They just wait for us people to maybe some day see and understand what they are here for. For I do believe they are here to bring us closer to all the things we've lost and forgotten.

  3. how how how how. I sound like a dog :D

  4. Stormy, I'd love to hear more about Emerald and other humans whose first introduction to horses was very different from the conventional going-for-riding-lessons approach. Do you have any stories to share?

    Jenny! I like your stories! Tell more!

  5. It's very brave and honest, Stormy, to admit how easily one can hide behind the 'teaching': not to receive and share but to 'know it'. Finally enough that's what teaching shouldn't be about either; it's never a one-way but two-way road, a moment of growing together.

    As I see it it's about being mirrored and reflected by yourself and by other people. It is the thing many people fear the most! And yet it's the decision we are asked to do every day; it's what life and horses are asking us to do. It's such a gift to see how little we actually know and how much better it is to learn to feel what's right at that moment. Then it's not about knowing or not knowing, it's just living and enjoying it.

    Teaching is actually just forwarding a message of life the way we understand it now, and we're students ourselves all the time too, so we can start to enjoy being receptive and to enjoy listening and learning! :)

    Warm hug, Jenny, and soft greetings to Stormy and all others. :)