Friday, October 23, 2009

Horses As Mirrors

Mirrors are a big part of our lives--we have them in the bathroom, bedroom, cars, decorating our homes, in our purses. They're everywhere. We're constantly looking at our own reflection and wondering how to improve it, how it's changed, what it means.

But I must say the deepest and most accurate reflection of myself I found did not come from a mirror; it came from a horse.

Horses are vulnerable. It may seem the other way around since they are so powerful and large and we are so small and easily breakable. But from their perspective, we are the carnivore--the meat-eaters--and they have as much to fear from us as they do the cougar or the bear. They are prey.

Yet, they will, under the right circumstances, afford this great trust and partnership. They'll subdue their inate fears to the point of allowing us to ride on their backs (the most vulnerable "kill" position for them).

Over at A Year With Horses blog, Kate's thoughts about working with horses, I was reminded of the great gift working with horses has been for me. I think today I enter the barn as "me", who I am and no more, but there was a time I entered the barn as a complete question mark.

A horse doesn't trust a question mark--am I good, am I bad, am I weak, am I strong, am I worthy or unworthy--those questions have to be answered for the horse to move forward with you.

For me, the answer was that I was all those things. I'm good and bad, strong and weak, worthy and unworthy. I try to be the best of myself, but I'm limited.

And you know, the horses seem to be just fine with that. They really are creatures of the day and creatures of the moment. To them, it's all about now--yesterday and tomorrow have no power over it. Humans have a tendency to be exact opposite--we can really get caught up in our regrets of yesterday and our fears of tomorrow.

So, today I'm thankful for Cowboy who first kicked my butt back into the moment--and then C'ya who gently pulls me back into the moment--and Beautiful Girl whose own fears were greater than any I've ever had. The other horses throughout my life have helped me as well, but these three are the most recent and powerful forces in my life.


  1. linda, i really liked your comment on paint girl's blog...thank you for sharing your expertise! going to follow you now!

  2. Thanks, Kritter Keeper--you're probably referring to my too long comment on urinary calculi in goats--which is a subject I learned about the hard way. I wish I had known more about it when my boys got it so that I could have saved them--and that makes me very desperate to get the word out about Ammonium Chloride when I have any opportunity.

    Paint Girl's experience recently brought that up again. It may not help every goat out there, but if it helps a few, that's better than none.

    Thanks for following--I'll also check out your blog--because if you're a person who cares about an issue like that--you're probably very well worth reading!

  3. Linda, you have such a beautiful way with words. I also treasure the horses in my life for what they have taught me and the emotional honesty they invoke.

    It seems to me that most of the people I encounter in my journey with my horses fall somewhere along a spectrum -- a spectrum ranging at one end from those whose horses bring them something of a material sort - recognition, points, prize money, trophies, ribbons, breeding fees, etc., and those whose horses satisfy a different sort of need, a more spiritual, intangible one. The people on this end seem to be more aware of that incomprehensible trust that these incredible prey animals place in us, and in that awareness, a truly different experience comes about.

    I am always so honored when I read musings and thoughts that touch a chord with me and I can identify with on my own journey.

    So, thanks for sharing your thoughts, Linda! You could write a book!

  4. Laura--You said it well, too--the idea of the spectrum. I think anyone on the side of the spectrum where we are could write a book, because they're seeing life in a unique way. There have been a few books that gave me that same feeling you described of hitting a chord with my own journey--Chosen by a Horse comes to my mind first.

    I focus a lot on horses, but dogs, cats, goats--other animals do the same thing. All animals in our care are very vulnerable and when that caregiving bond is strong--which I REALLY believe is SPIRITUAL--positive changes can happen in our human hearts!

    Thanks to ALL the animals!! :)

  5. Can I add one more idea to my last comment? The reason I think of horses more as mirrors than other animals--and I do--is not because they are more so, but they are more powerfully that way. We can take a dog or cat or goat or bird or tree (see posts below...:) ) for granted because they're so obviously in love with us, but a horse can HURT us--which makes us a bit more desperate to see what we're reflecting.

    I'm interested in everyone else's ideas on this subject.

  6. Lovely thoughts, and great pictures! You are blessed to have the horse "mirrors" you've encountered so far in your horse life.

  7. This is such an insightful post. Loved it.

  8. I so agree with Laura, you could write a book! The opening of this post drew me right in, and I wanted to read much, much more, the details about the horses reflecting you, the scenes and experiences, particularly with Beautiful. The way she watches you continues to amaze me. Would you ever consider writing that story?

  9. Hi Joanne.

    Thanks for the encouragement. I think we all have stories wanting to come out, and this one wants to come out, and always does no matter if it's horses, piano, flowers--but to write memoir you have to be willing to be honest--and to go where the story goes, and I'm not brave enough to go there yet. I have many unfinished stories that sit on the brink, but that I don't take all the way through.

    When I say I didn't like what the horses were reflecting back to me, I mean it. It's a time in my life that was considerably painful and still raw.

    I probably need a writing group to hold my hand through the process and encourage me, but I haven't found one yet here in Spokane.

    Any volunteers? Any other blog friends who have an interest in writing?!?

    Your writing displays that honesty, Joanne--how do you do it?

  10. It isn't always easy, that's for sure. But I guess I'm not happy unless the stories do come out and are honest. Sometimes it's possible to put a different spin on difficult episodes that helps to write and process. I'm actually marketing a memoir right now, and it's been an amazing journey, from living the experiences, to finding the words to relate them on paper, to writing the proposal, to sending it out to the world of agents and editors. One step at a time ...

  11. Wow...what a powerful and beautiful post. I had never been around horses in my life until I moved to Tennessee and then I met someone and his horses that changed my life. I had an amazing year of horses.

  12. Joanne--good luck on the process of getting your book out there. I'm sure it's good, so I hope to buy it one day! I think you're right about putting a different spin on things to help yourself through difficult writing.

    Judy--my mom is from TN--lucky you to live there! I'm interested in your year with horses.


Please feel welcome to join our discussion by telling us about your own thoughts and experiences.