Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Crystal Ball & the Fly On the Wall

There are two common sayings that I deeply dislike: "I wish I had a crystal ball," and "I wish I could be a fly on the wall."  I wouldn't want either.

If someone had accurately shown me my future twenty years ago, I would have had a heart attack and died right on the spot. I don't think I'd have had the courage to have lived my future, knowing it all at once and out of context.

As for the fly on the wall, (and unrelated to this except that it's another of those colloquialisms I disagree with) it goes without saying, people say bad things about me--you--everyone--deserved or not.  As my mom always said, semi-quoting Eleanor Roosevelt--"Small minds talk about people, big minds talk about ideas."   Do I want to hear what small minds say?  Do I want some emissary to bring me back trash talk from small minds--ie. gossip?

Uh, no.

Sharing the art work and horse stories, randomly chosen from Way of the Horse: Equine Archetypes for Self-Discovery — A Book of Exploration and 40 Cards, I want to put out a disclaimer--there is no divination involved in the process--no prediction of your future--nothing out of the normal sphere of emotional interpretation merged with art and story--like a horse, art, story Rorschach test--minus the test.  If this helps you open new windows of insight into your life, like it did me, that's great.  If not, enjoy the art.

Andrea, this is your card--The Herd.  (Authentic community, Consensual Leadership, & Balancing Individual and Group Needs)

The Gift: "When we trade leadership roles according to who's calmest, clearest, and most creative in a given situation, the entire community benefits."

The Challenge: "Consensual leadership is not a job description, it's an improvisation. To be confident in your own dreams and talents while remaining responsive to the needs and gifts of others you must check your ego at the gate."

Leadership in a herd changes, depending on the circumstances-the introduction of new member, an escape out onto a new trail--whoever is calmest in each situation takes the lead.  Chickens have pecking order, but horses have consensual leadership, and it's fluid.

"Humans seeking an absolute definition of leadership, and a concrete technique or job description to go with it, don't like this concept much, but it's really not hard to fathom. ...If you propose to create an authentic community where people's true feelings talents, dreams, and motivations are acknowledged, you have to head in this general direction.  No  leader knows everything."
Andrea, this reminded me of the training video I watched and shared a few days ago with Pat Parelli.  The video was about letting your horse make some decisions and become a partner--trusting in your riding skills and your horse's judgement, and find ways to meet both of your needs.  I plan to use some of this with Leah to help me "get off her face" and quiet my "demands."  The demands--assertive leadership--create fights and evasions.

4 Shoes, here is your card: PROMISE (Auspicious Beginnings, Conscious Birth, Nourishing New Life)

There is a lot written about all of these cards, and I'm only taking little snippets from each.  This one has a lot that is really powerful for me to read, so I'll try to do my best sharing it.

The equine birth is a miracle.  The foal is born and "within hours of entering this world, he not only can identify his mother, he runs alongside her, nursing at will..." 

The mare's experience is also miraculous, "Fetuses adapt to the dimensions of their mother's womb. The world of artificial insemination has shown that ponies implanted with eggs from draft-horse-sized parents can give birth to pony-sized foals.  These newborns, however, continue to grow, eventually fulfilling their genetic potential, towering over their surrogate mothers."  (I did not know this!)

But the card is mostly about the "mother role".
The mare shows us a balanced approach to motherhood.  "Exemplifying what Marion Woodman calls 'the conscious mother,' she's attentive to the needs of her child without identifying with the role of mother. She doesn't impose her own image of perfection, her own egotistical demands, or her unrealized ambitions on him."
Human mothers can be much more conditional in their love, and come off as disapproving and very controlling, putting and keeping their children in a submissive role.  Later in life, the child wears "invisible chains. Those chains create stoic, exacting parents whose behavior isn't always related to physical trauma but to hearts frozen by conformity, practicality, and the external trappings of success. To transform this pattern, we must learn how to mother ourselves in a new way. And we must give birth to a deeper sense of self."

This was a good card for me to read, for many reasons--as a child and as a mother myself.

Grey Horse Matters, your card is Field of Dreams: Unexpressed Vitality, Heart's Desire, Self-Care Supporting Innovation.

The Gift:

"No matter how disconnected you feel from the needs of your own soul, this image reminds you that the restless spirit inside, the one that sometimes feels dominated and spurred on by the demands of society and survival, that dark horse racing through your dreams, is not so much running away from responsibility as galloping toward the fulfillment of your deepest heart's desire."

This card is all about following that dark horse of inspiration and creativity in life and your work with horses.

"Self-care is the key. Many educational, societal, and parental dictates are designed to turn people into workhorses. Resist the urge to run yourself into the ground.  Taking time to rest, eat well, enjoy life nourishes creativity, allowing you to move from a surviving to a thriving orientation."

This HAS to be the funnest card in the deck!   It talks about your desire to connect with a horse, possibly a new horse, in a deep, unique, and creative way.  And, this new relationship will lead to new and unique insights..  "You may be craving the kind of relationship that first drew you to the barn, that magical connection between horse and human all too often compromised by the business of training..."

If anyone else would like to see a card--I'll continue.  Just let me know in the comments.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Creativity, Sadness, Fire, Transformation & the Power of the Moment

A few years ago, I bought the book and cards, Way of the Horse: Equine Archetypes for Self-Discovery — A Book of Exploration and 40 Cards, by Linda Kohanov (art by Kim McElroy).  Like many horse lovers, I had also read Linda's book, The Tao of Equus: A Woman's Journey of Healing and Transformation through the Way of the Horse and loved it.  All of the cards that came with it are beautiful, and everyone of the cards offers some insight into ours and our horse's lives.

There are several ways you can use the cards.

1.) You can spread them out, look at the pictures, and see which one speaks to you.
2.) You can turn them face down and choose a card.
3.) You can choose five cards and lay them out in the pattern below.

I had been feeling "off" since Shadow's passing, so I wanted the full meal DEAL.  I chose five cards.

My central issue was card 10--Lightning Horse--Creativity.  It's all about less words. Feeling the experience, rather than trying to explain the experience.  It's about the power of NOT putting something to words and then the way it can move you to deeper insights in life AND with horses.

"When you've truly made the connection, riding a horse feels like a series of illuminations rewarded by surges of endorphins. Most of these insights, however, are felt and put to use long before the conscious mind can fathom what's taking place. Flashes of clarity mixed with waves of elation flow...It is a creative act, a feeling of music in motion, of a sublime and silent improvisation between two souls that can never be accurately described."
I can see that is where I'm at with Leah.  I used trainers to get us this far together, but the next step is she and I alone--finding a way through whatever it is that's blocking her--or blocking me.  Becoming a team of two and not three or four or five.  Since we took a few steps back, she has taken a few steps forward. She loves to greet me now and get an impromptu massage in the pasture.  Her eyes are soft and open towards me.  It's where we should have started a year ago.

Card 2 is the obvious or most conscious situation to myself and others, and it's The Master of Sadness card.  Isn't that appropriate?  I just lost Shadow.  What could be more obvious than sadness?  But when I started thinking about it, I realized I've been kind of sad for two years.  My mom got breast cancer, two months later my sweet father-in-law died, two months later my youngest son joined the military &  I live(d) in fear of a war, six months later my daughter got married and then my sister moved away, Shadow died and here I am.

This card is about "Sadness or Grief, The Power of Tears, and Release Rejuvenation". It says about it, "Sadness signifies it's time to let go of a relationship, job, or perspective that no longer serves you. Tears help you release attachment to an old way of being, rejuvenating you for the next stage of growth.  Some people are more afraid of sadness and grief than fear or anger, yet holding back those tears leads to despair and depression."

She writes about her sad horse, Noche, and how he grew old, but she wasn't willing to let him go. Then, it was as if he was detaching from the herd and her, and he was making a choice to leave.

"And when his final hour arrived, I was light enough to be there for him, without reservation, without clinging, without panicking, without begging him to stay for my sake, realizing ...he  not only reclaimed his dignity in death, he opened my heart to infinity."

Shadow had also detached, and when he did die, the herd acted like nothing was different.  At first, I thought it was mean of them--or shallow--or un-noble--but I think it was their natural way.  Shadow seemed like a sad soul this last summer, and he'd often have a tear coming out of his eye whenever I'd pet him.

These cards were all random, but they were amazingly true to my experience.

Which leads me to card #3--or 33 in the deck--Bonfire.  A sudden shift, clearing and releasing, fuel for transformation.

And then, the card I loved to see most because it makes me think of Shadow running on some heavenly plain.

#39--Transformation! Rebirth, power reclaimed, true freedom!

"We are not born to live and die, but to die and be reborn many times before leaving this earth."

My last card was 24--Kairos--horse time--moments infused with meaning and choice.

 "These animals live in Kairos time, always open to the next meaningful opportunity for harmony and communication, without holding on to 'what could have been'."

It was fun to do this and it opened me up to some new ways of thinking--which seem more memorable--visceral--emotional since they're associated with these pictures.

If you'd like me to pull a card for you, let me know!  Who knows what kind of insight may await.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Life Since Shadow

After Shadow passed, I got sick. It was a blessing and a curse.  A curse because I was sick and it was awful, but a blessing because it kept me in bed and away from the barn.  No counting of horses and coming up short, no calling the geldings in, but only having two to supplement.  It worked out good for me to be sick.

During my hiatus, I watched an entire season, plus three, of Poldark. What else do you do when you're stuck in bed?  And, I dug up my horse's papers to see how old Shadow was.

He was only 26.

That is shocking to me.  I look at Red, who is 36, and Shadow, who was only 26, and I'm amazed at how some horses age so much better than others!  Watching from my window, a few minutes ago, there was Old Red pushing Cowboy around and playing with him--as if he was 36 going on 3.

Red had the most humble beginnings.  I had to laugh about his bill of sale.

I found Carl Ingram's obituary today when I googled his name.  Apparently, he was hit by a car and died.  Very tragic. After owning Red, I'd have bought a horse from him any day of the week.

If  you want a good laugh, though, click on this link and read his obit!

Shadow came from a more noble background.  To start with, he actually had an "official" pedigree.  Gray Gus was his "name," and he started life out in Baker, Oregon, a descendant of Bold Ruler.

He goes back to money winning race & halter horses like Winning Song.

and Bunny Mackay.

Not that any of that mattered to us.  To us, he was just good 'ol Shadow.

While I was researching, I looked up Leah's papa from her papers.  Here she is on the registration. cute!

Here are her papers.

Here is her daddy. (BLING)

Here's a video I found of him. Cajun's Smokin Bandit.

There are lots of qualities he passed on to her.

While I was on sick leave, I also watched a training video by Parelli.  I'm  not into one trainer or another--I truly believe there is something to learn from EVERYONE, even, if not especially, "non-trainers."

But there is much, in this video, that I see in myself and Leah.  I went out today and tried something from it, and I intend to try much more.

But I'll write on that in a few days...

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

RIP Shadow, Our Big, Bold Gelding

The Barn At Night

Have you ever felt the quiet,
A sundown that steadies your bones?
I stood for a moment as the horses ate grain,
Big, bold geldings as gentle as whispers,
As noble as gods:

Old Red, his eyes blurred with cataracts,
My horse, the orphaned-pinto,
His breath always in my hands,
And the arthritic gray herd leader,
Now totally white with age.

Some people hope for castles,
As for heaven, I’d prefer a barn.

A few days ago we said goodbye to our arthritic gray herd leader, Shadow. He was my husband's horse and, ultimately, it was his decision. Shadow went down hill fast this year and my husband didn't want him to suffer through winter.  

Shadow was a reluctant leader. 

When we purchased him, 13 years ago, and introduced him to Red, they acted like long lost brothers.  It was instant love and respect between them.  Shadow chose Red to be the leader of our 3 horse herd--Red, Shadow & Cowboy.  However, when Shiloh bought our first mare, Cowgirl, a new love sprang up between Red and her, and Shadow decided, literally overnight, that he would be the herd leader from there on out.

Herd leader was a lonely, thankless role.  All the horses loved Red.  Except one.

Leah.  Leah would be the one horse who would mutual groom with Shadow every night at sunset.  And, when the others staged rebellions against him, Leah would stand firmly by his side.

Shadow had many other roles through the years.  When Cowboy broke his coffin bone in 2007, I rode Shadow that year.

 In 2004 Shiloh used him for 4-H and trail rides.

When it came to protecting the herd, he stood up!  Whenever he sensed a "threat", like a new horse, he'd walk out real slow to greet it and then put it in its place.

Because of him, our herd was able to sleep in peace.

And eat in peace.

And, now I can only hope that he rests in peace until we meet again on some heavenly trail.

More pictures of Shadow in better times. He was such a golden-hearted soul.