Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Our Shared Horse Stories & What They Teach Me

"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.

Really high.

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.


11 comments:

  1. That was beautiful. You are quite the philosopher.

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    1. LOL. That's what reading a new horse book does to you.

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  2. This was just lovely, and so interesting. Really gets me to thinking about the animal mind vs. the human mind and the time thing. You might be onto something there. I've got to read that book. Haven't posted about it yet, but our clinic was amazing! Seriously, I am so proud of Eagle, and I'm pretty pleased with myself too. :) I highly recommend riding with Joe Wolter if you get the chance. Oh, and I would love to ride with you sometime...and philosophize.

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    1. That's wonderful, I can't wait to read all the details about your clinic! And, that would be a blast to ride with you. I need a partner Friday. LOL.

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  4. I love the photo of Leah.
    I like what your friend said; that you can't let fear stop you. We have so many reasons to be fearful around horses, and it is so difficult to still your mind, have faith and just get on and go. Because to do that, you have to let go. Of your fear, your sense of your own inadequacy, your what-ifs. Your knowledge that your abilities decrease as you age. Sometimes I just take a deep breath, and put my foot in the stirrup .... and trust.

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    1. Can't let fear stop you from "what you want to do." Everything else is fair game! haha. I was on a ride today over a land bridge where the path had been overgrown with grass about 3-4 high. It was a bird sanctuary, and I kept hoping that a bird wouldn't fly out as we went over it because I had a friend who was thrown in a similar situation. The bridge is elevated and it would be a train wreck if a horse spooked and went down from it. So, I had to suck it up and hope for the best. It worked out fine.

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  5. Your posts are always so thought provoking! It is true that horses often put us in challenging and sometimes terrifying situations, but isn't that part of the thrill of being a horseperson?

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    1. The older you get, the less you want the thrill part of that! But maybe we should embrace the thrill at all ages. Like jumping off that high cliff.

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  6. Loved this post Linda. I also love the quote at the top. Sounds like a very interesting and insightful book. Also agree that the older you get the less you really want the thrill of being in precarious situations that sometimes comes with riding. But then again sometimes we need a little something to get our hearts pumping and the adrenaline going to keep things from being boring.

    I do know that I won't be jumping off any cliffs in the near future like your friend did. But I do admire her for facing her fears and going for it.:)

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    1. No, I don't have a desire to jump off any cliffs either. ;) I do have a desire to become more disciplined--which was part of my 100 Day Challenge. I've really slowed down my days in saddle lately, but hope to remedy that starting now. Here we are in July already! Time goes by so fast.

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