Thursday, June 30, 2016

Zen Mind, Zen Horse: Book Giveaway!

"We need a teacher to show us how to see ourselves--not just with heightened objectivity but also with greater forgiveness."

Zen Mind, Zen Horse by Allan J Hamilton, MD


I've been reading the book Zen Mind, Zen Horse: The Science and Spirituality of Working With Horses, and I'm really loving it.  And, you know how it is when you love a book--you want to share it with all your friends!  That is probably not possible, but I'd at least like to share it with someone.  So, I'm going to draw a name for anyone who is interested in having it.

Like Teresa over at Journey With a Dancing Horse, I'd like to request you do something to enter--just for the fun of it.

1. In the comments, share a personal struggle a horse (or horses) helped you overcome.

For me, there have been many, but the most poignant is a time in my life where I was feeling particularly weak.  Can you imagine how a shadow might feel--dark, empty, half-there, quickly vanished--that pretty much describes how I felt.  Divorce, melanoma, three young kids, one of which was an angry young kid--hey, even 9/11--all happened simultaneously.  I don't want to get too melodramatic about it, but suffice to say, I was stressed and fearful.  I saw myself as damaged goods, and DG's aren't good about sticking up for themselves.

My teachers were Red, Cowboy, & a mustang named FLASH!  Flash really bonded with me at first, but she was a tough, alpha mare, and after a while she got fed up with my lack of assertiveness--or CHI (in the book)--and she started chasing me out of the round-pen--front hooves striking away.  I tried to meet the challenge, but it just wasn't in me at that time, so I sold her.

**After thinking about this post, I want to add this on. It was as if Flash was trying to slap me out of my funk. I have some regret about selling her.  She was still at my barn and whenever I'd walk past her turnout, she'd come to greet me as if she was confused at why I'd pushed her away. That choice was part of my weakness.  I would never make that choice today. 

Enter Cowboy.

Cowboy had a colored past--orphaned at 1 month, passed from owner to owner, & mishandled by his second owner.  He was also fearful, but his survival technique was to bully.  He probably saw an easy target with me. But I fell in love with him and no matter what bad thing he did, I just couldn't give up.  I hired a trainer, I read books, and I kept confronting my fears of him every day.  Even then, I knew my fears were less about him and more about the world itself.  Giving up on Cowboy would have been like giving up on life.  Cowboy always gave me his heart--even when he gave me the finger.  There was something extra that drew me back to him.


There was no magic moment where I thought, Oh, I feel strong now, but at some point, years down the road, I did.  Each obstacle we overcame together, each ride alone, just him and me, out in Hells Canyon--it added up like strength points.  Getting through his P3 fracture and year of rehabilitation--not knowing if he'd live or die--he was a GREAT teacher.  I chose the quote above because it is so true--he also taught me to forgive myself.  There are no perfect horses or perfect humans--there are just horses and humans--there is dedication, trust, respect, forgiveness, hope, and love.  And, there is JOY!  Cowboy has been in my life for 13 amazing years.  I hope there are many more.



********

I had my lesson with Leah today.  It had been a month and half since our last.  She was very fat.  But man was she sweet!  She trailered up perfectly & at the barn she gave me her attention and her try.  So much try!   The time off was a good thing.  It allowed her to choose to partner with me.  I was very grateful for that.



Happy 4th of July!  And don't forget to leave a comment!

19 comments:

  1. I'll draw for the book on July 25th!

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  2. You know, I didn't say anything, because I didn't want to jinx it, but I've noticed that my horses tend to appreciate me more when I ride them after a hiatus. They enjoy the attention. I already have the books, so that's why I'm not entering. Great book, though.

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    1. Further confirmation. ;) Horses are pretty darn smart!

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  3. My adopted brother had/has serious mental problems stemming from a non cancerous tumor on the cortex area of his brain. I frequently feared for my safety growing up, as well as getting very little attention as my parents were constantly dealing with him. I'm not sure where I would be or have ended up if a lady from my church hadn't seen me drawing little stick horses, put 2 and 2 together and invited me out to ride with her... whenever i wanted to or needed to. It gave me a chance to be me and get away from home. Horses never judged me based on my older brother and gave me some form of confidence that I didn't have because if my home life. I try to pass it on and give girls from icky situations a chance to be around horses if nothing else.

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    1. That's an amazing story. Someone close to me had a similar situation with a brother, but she didn't have horses as an alternate place to go. She carries around a lot of pain & confusion. Thank you for sharing this. It's wonderful that you're giving back to other girls!!

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  4. I'd love to win this book! Irish and Carmen helped me to heal after losing Steele. But that's not the story I want to tell you- instead let me tell you how the horses helped motivate me to lose weight. As you age (and work in a sedentary but busy job) it's scary how slowly the weight creeps up on you. A few years ago I looked at a photo of myself at a retirement party and it was a like a slap in the face. I decided to work on dropping the weight and the motivation that kept me going was being an effective rider on. When I started Steele hadn't yet been started and I kept visualizing that first day as my goal. In the end I lost about 35 pounds and haven't looked back.

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    1. WOW! What a great story, Teresa. I did not know that. I think my horses keep me from putting on too much extra weight for the same reason. If I didn't have them, I don't know how I'd feel about it, but I always think about being in riding shape so I can hoist up my saddle and then hoist myself into the saddle. Plus, my friends are always taking pictures on our rides. I gained about 10 pounds over the winter and my friend took a picture of me last week and I was inspired to get RIGHT ON IT! I've dropped 4 since seeing that picture. I'm back on the treadmill and eating lighter meals. MOTIVATION!! Thanks for sharing your story!

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  5. I have a side story. We had a patient who came in yesterday while I was reading this book. She's a long time patient, so I consider her a friend now. She was telling me how she can't stop thinking and thinking--which keeps her up all night and produces a great deal of anxiety. She's having memory loss and she shakes all the time. The book was explaining how horse's can lead us out of that constant THINKING pattern--that only humans do--and into the present--the here and now. Next time she comes in, I'm going to talk to her about that and recommend she get into the horse life. At this point, no medication is helping her. It couldn't hurt.

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    1. Do you have a local Therapeutic Riding center?

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    2. We do, but I think they're for kids. I'll have to ask around about adults. That's a good idea.

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  6. July 1st, Happy Canada Day!
    Shortly after Canada Day in 2010, just about home from a morning ride on my old racehorse, Angel, when the ground suddenly gave way beneath her. It was so unexpected that even the mare didn't know the ground wasn't solid (they usually sense that) & she flailed helplessly trying to get her feet underneath herself.
    We had stumbled into a sucking marsh 1/4 mile from home. & in the course of the accident I had suffered a "catastropic break", my tibia bone sheared in 2 just under my kneecap.
    I have never had a phone; that was the only time I ever really regretted my preference to live in the stone age, I think.

    I was forced to drag myself out of the hip deep swamp. Being in the water where my leg was floating along with me was one thing, but once I hit dry land & got my heel caught up on a boulder roughly the size of a mini-marshmellow, I actually passed out from the pain.

    I laid on the edge of the swamp crying because Angel was still stuck in the swamp & down, growing weaker by the moment & barely able to hold her head out of the water. I couldn't even see her because the grasses had closed up behind me, but I could hear her groaning with exhaustion. I called out to her not to give up, but I was so afraid that she was going to drown, & it would all be my fault.
    After hours of yelling intermittently (afraid to lose my voice & never be found), I finally heard a noise. It was Mr Shoes on the quad, hunting for what he thought was the sound of a wounded animal. Funny how we imagine a knight on a white horse, but my Hero was riding a red Big Bear.

    After 3 hospitals, 1 very lengthy surgery with included the insertion of a metal plate & a lot of screws to hold my leg together, Occupational Health finally discharged me. In a wheelchair. Mr Shoes had built a ramp on the house - it was the ugliest thing I ever saw, & I was pretty low.

    Physical therapy was excruciating & proceeded @ the speed of molasses in January. From a wheelchair I progressed to crutches & made it down to the barn at last. Angel was there to greet me, none the worse for wear, because Mr Shoes had saved her too. Double my Hero.
    From the crutches I moved on to a walker, but it was a difficult time & a very painful recovery. Depression threatened to swallow me. But I was bound & determined that I would ride again before the end of the year.
    The doctors said there was just no way, that I was rushing.

    Watching the horses from my windows was the biggest part of my day for months. Then it was Christmas & I was still heavily using a cane; I felt the year had almost slipped away from me & I had to get back out there, lame as hell be damned. I only had about 60% bend in my knee at the time. But December 29th, I hobbled down to the barn & saddled up my best boy (not Angel because she was a full hand taller & it seemed a long way up).

    In the crisp winter air with the crunch of snow underfoot, Padre happily gaited along. I felt the wind through my hair once again! The glorious smell of horse filled my nostrils, the warm of him & the power that he leant me seemed to heal the part of me that was most badly hurt in that accident, my heart.
    I limped pretty badly for several years & even now, if I sit too long, I will lurch the first few steps til the knee shakes out & warms up. The horses keep me wanting to be outside, to be active, to feel wind in my hair. Mr Shoes is my Hero, but it was the horses who really saved me.






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    1. What a survival story. Thank God, for Mr. Shoes!! I can't even imagine the fear and pain you experienced--and worry for Angel. And the healing process!! It would take so much inner strength to get back up and in the saddle again. Thanks for sharing--I had no idea you'd gone through that.

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  7. For me it isn't just one incident, but how horses gave me a focus as a young child. We were dirt poor, and looked down upon by the other children. I had the opportunity through one kind girl to climb on the back of a sorrel thoroughbred mare and after that horses were my life. On the back of a horse, nobody could look down on me!Through all the ups and downs, they are the thread that keeps me grounded, their manes have dried my sad tears as well as my tears of joy. They have taught me to control my emotions (that's still a work in progress) and to be more patient. Everything about them is good, and I consider them one of God's greatest gifts.

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    1. Shirley, I see now why you love horses so much. You must have felt like a princess on that first horse who lifted you so high up. It makes me remember back to my first horse and the inner power I felt--the sense of possibility. Yes, everything about them is good. I couldn't agree more. You have and have raised some great ones who are blessing the lives of many people now.

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  8. Such wonderful stories here! There's so many times horses have been the most important part of my life, it's hard to choose just one. But my current horse Eagle is truly an amazing horse and is proving to be a blessing in so many ways to me. He is bringing me back from a place of fear and despite many friends telling me that I was foolish to pick such a troubled horse, he is teaching me how to trust again. I'm learning to trust him and trust in myself and my abilities again. I believe he is a gift and a blessing who, despite so much bad history is becoming my greatest teacher.

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    1. It's wonderful to watch your journey with Eags unfold day by day. I think fear is so common as we age, and I'm starting to think it's important that we push back against it, like you're doing now. One of my horse friends went out on the boat with us yesterday and she requested we pulled over to let her out so she could jump off a high cliff with a bunch of teenagers. We did and she did. She's a little bit older than me and I asked her, afterward, if she was just fearless or something. She said that she is afraid of things, but she refuses to let fear stop her. It sounds like what you're telling yourself as your go through all this, too. She also said, it felt like from the time she jumped to the time she hit the water was an hour--when to us, it looked like a few seconds. So, being a little afraid and facing the fear, slowed down time for her and brought her into the moment. I find that horses do that for me--especially my work with Leah. Do you feel that slow down in time with Eagle?

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  9. All great stories here about how horses help us all through so many things. I don't think I can put my finger on anything specific about how they've helped me. I just know that I've always loved them since I was a child. I didn't have a great childhood and I never got to ride when I was a kid either. I'm sort of a private person and don't like to publicly say what life was like then so I won't go into it. But I read every book about horses. It may date me but I still like My Friend Flicka and Thunderhead as my favorites. I rode my first horse when I was about 16 on the trails in a park. That was just the best time.

    I can say that when I actually started riding steadily they gave me the confidence I lacked in myself. It was also time spent just for myself instead of for everyone else. That may sound self centered but sometimes we need a few hours where nobody owns a piece of our time and we can concentrate on having one on one time with our horse. I could go on forever and turn this into a book but I won't for everybody's sake. Have a great holiday weekend.

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    1. Working with horses is definitely a confidence builder! I also understand how it feels to experience that time alone--stillness, quiet. Horses live in a quiet world--the book talks about that. Their language is intention--action--movement. Ours is words. The horse doesn't have negative talk going on its head like we do, and we could learn a lot from them about stilling our minds and shutting out the negative chatter. (I'm semi-quoting the book. ;) Happy 4th a little late!

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Please feel welcome to join our discussion--tell us about your own thoughts and experiences.