"Horses react to what lies in our hearts, not in our heads. They are not confused by the words we use to lie to ourselves or hide from others."
Zen Mind, Zen Horse
One of the reasons I find the book Zen Mind, Zen Horse so fascinating is that it's written by a Harvard-trained brain surgeon who is also a horse trainer, Dr. Allan Hamilton. He goes into great detail about how the horse's mind works vs how the human mind works. One particular area of incongruity between equus and human is the human's communication between right and left hemispheres of the brain. The right is our emotional, instinctual side and the left is our verbal hemisphere which, as he writes, has the skills "of the preacher, the orator, or even the snake-oil salesman."
After my last post, and reading all of your wonderful stories, I started thinking that one of the greatest gifts the horse gives us is the ability to live more in the right hemisphere. It's a place beyond less-then, not good enough, and all the other things that may be going through our minds either from our own doing or from the hurtful things either said about us, or done to us, by others.
It's important to silence the mind--and when you do think, to talk well of yourself to yourself, as you'd talk to a friend, perhaps. Or, your horse. That's the forgiveness part, although, maybe a better word is grace.
Another theme of our shared stories is courage, and the horses give us that, too.
Last weekend we spent most of our time on our boat at Lake Spokane. On one of those days, my "brave friend" joined us. She is a former military vet, a horsewoman, and an excellent slalom skier, as it turns out. I was very impressed by my brave friend. She even asked us to pull near the shore so she could get out and join a bunch of teenagers who were cliff jumping. My brave friend is older than me, but there she was climbing up a steep hill to jump off a really high cliff.
Afterward, I asked her if she was just fearless. She answered me that she has lots of fears, especially heights!!, but she refuses to let fear stop her from doing what she wants to do. (I thought to myself, I don't want to jump off that cliff, so I'm not being stopped by fear!).
Joke aside, I get her point.
We want to ride and work with horses and, even when a challenging experience with one may make us fearful, we tend to not let it stop us. Like Leah. Like Eagle. Like Carmen. Like Tex. Like Gambler. (To name a few of the most recent postings).
The other thing my friend said was that it felt like it took her an hour to hit the water, when to us it was seconds. Time slowed down. Does working with horses, living moment by moment, slowing our left brain, slow down time, too? Do animals, who live much shorter chronological lives than us, actually live much longer lives than us because of this phenomenon?
When we pulled into our house after boating, the first thing I saw was Leah under the tree (photo above). Her mane was lifted gently up by the breeze and the sun was shining through it like a halo. Her eyes were closed (before I came to take her picture) and she was at peace. Zen horse.
Cowboy was grazing nearby and headed over to greet me. Zen Mind.