HORSES, Heroes and Archetypes

The Taming of Bucephalus

 

 

I don’t know about you, but I grew up with larger than life, silver screen horseback heroes. It was the horses that were my heroes.  More than that, it was the relationship between the man and his horse, true partners of mutual respect and understanding, which inspired my admiration.  In almost every origin story, the horse of untameable spirit is rescued by the hero. With tenderness and compassion, the hero wins the power of the horse spirit.  The horse is still wild but has given, without coercion, his loyalty to the hero, thus transforming the two into one for the highest good.  WOW! Truly a relationship to aspire toward.

It can be said that this horse/human relationship is Hollywood fiction, but if you asked any person that relies on a horse for their life or livelihood, the answer would be that this is real.  It is the archetype of the hero, the hero’s journey, and the horse as guide, strength, power conductor, and partner.  It is about transforming the limited-body reality of being human to having all of the assets of an apex earth- energy animal, in body and in spirit.

The legend of Alexander the Great and his taming of the magnificent Bucephalus is well known among the Tribe of Horse.  The stallion was brought before the King, Alexander’s father, by a horse trader offering to sell the horse for a large sum of money.  The giant black horse, though beautiful, was unrideable, and so the King was not interested.  Alexander, then only 12 or 13, said he would ride the stallion and if he was thrown, would pay the money himself.  On approaching Bucephalus Alexander saw that the horse was shying from his own shadow.  Talking softly and turning the black into the sun, he removed his flapping cape and stood quietly and soothingly in presence with the horse.  The horse quieted and Alexander vaulted upon his broad back, and together they galloped towards the sun. The rest is history.

The Black Stallion poster

            Recently (a relative term) this story has been retold in Walter Farley’s The Black Stallion.  The myth was beautifully recreated for the silver screen by Francis Ford Coppola.   This is a harrowing adventure of life and death, resurrection, and transformation, the bigger-than-real-life hero’s journey.  Those of us who grew up on The Black Stallion series couldn’t help but be enthralled with this masterful, artistic reenactment of everything that is challenging, beautiful, and rewarding in this magical archetype of the Horse/Human relationship.

The awesome reality is that this relationship is not magic.  Each of us, if we take the time to understand Horse nature and behavior, to honor it and practice the tools of communication that are offered everywhere we look these days, at clinics, instructional DVDs, and books, can have this beautiful bond with our horses.  Like anything worthwhile, it is time consuming, arduous, and needs to be practiced with patience and love.  A passion to share in the presence of these wonderful animals is a prerequisite.  In order to harness the archetypal energy of horse, we must come with humility, understanding, timelessness, honesty, and willingness to relate from the place that is the being of the Horse.

Take a minute or five to view the YouTube video of the Taming of Bucephalus     https://youtu.be/i1J9UueYLNk

And a clip from the movie The Black Stallion                               https://youtu.be/SDW2CT5neyM

 

Beauty Revisited

I am struggling with bringing Beauty out of the realm of the subjective, intuitional and metaphysical into objective, measurable and scientific concept.  I am looking to validate the intrinsic beauty of Horse.

This search has brought me into the harmonizing concept of mathematics in nature, art, architecture and all things human striving for rhythm and balance.  Philosophers, scientists, artists, Theologians have all sought the paradigm of Beauty.  Who am I, one small person in this great universal complex in which we reside, to take on the essence of Beauty?  Because it is about Horse.

Beauty builds bridges
between you
and the creative forces
in Nature…
between you
and
infinity.
Torkom Saraydarian

Beauty, it is said, is in the eye of the beholder.  And yet the study of art and mathematics show there is a universal form to beauty – an asymmetrical balance that creates an ever-evolving movement, forever seeking to bring the whole into balance and forever recreating its asymmetry in a harmony that carries the eye into a mystery of searching.  It is called the Golden Ratio, universal “sacred geometry” that shows itself in the spiral of galaxies, in the crest of an ocean wave, in the curves of a conch shell, and in the complex spiral of DNA.

What is the Golden Ratio?  So now I am going out on a limb, talking about mathematics, design, form and natural, organic beauty.  Quite a combination of concepts.

Elaine J. Hom, Live Science contributer, says “The Golden ratio is a special number found by dividing a line into two parts so that the longer part divided by the smaller part is also equal to the whole length divided by the longer part. It is often symbolized using phi, after the 21st letter of the Greek alphabet. In an equation form, it looks like this:  a/b = (a+b)/a = 1.6180339887498948420 ….”  golden Ratio

graphically it looks like this:

 

 

The artist, Diana Rueter-Twining, creates this vibrant beauty in her sculpture, allowing the essential horse energy to emerge through static form. Her wonderful creation, Maestro, is a perfect example of Horse in the potent balance of the Golden Ratio.  She says of her process:

“Dressage is a discipline of horse and rider requiring extreme strength, grace, balance and will. It is often associated with the famous white Lipizzaners of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, Austria.

 

I chose to pay homage to this in my sculpture, MAESTRO*.  In studying the horse I found that proportionally the horse in this gesture approximated the Golden Ratio or Divine Proportion in mathematics.”

 

 

“The outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man” is a famous quotation attributed to Winston Churchill.  The horse embodies the golden ratio many times over in its form.  We can’t help but admire the shape, the combination of curves and angles, the flare of nostrils, the flag of tail, the curtain of mane – beauty expressed in every part and every movement – universal, primordial beauty. Horse beauty is a dynamic, living thing.  It shines in the elegant cadenced dance of the dressage horse, the classic curves of the Spanish horse, the crest of the wild mustang, the arc of the hunter over a fence.  Horse is a universal symbol of free-flowing Beauty, Spirit, Courage, and Freedom.

Beauty also comes in relationship, searching for that melding of horse/human understanding, reaching into the mystery of inter-species connections.  As a teacher of foundational horsemanship, I ask my young students at their first lesson, “Why do you want to learn to ride a horse?”  The most common answer is, “I love horses.”  Can’t go wrong with that.  Starting from a place of love can only lead to success.  For me, watching these young horse people struggle, trying to grasp the physical, mental, and emotional intricacies of learning to handle and ride a 1000 pound horse and then suddenly pushing past the barrier of not being able to being able, is absolute beauty.   I am passionate in sharing with these young people the experiences and practices that my 56 years of teaching has taught me.  Yes, teaching teaches.  My mentors teach me, the horses teach me, and students teach me.  Learning reaches out through an entire lifetime.

100_1764

Acknowledgements – I am supremely grateful to Diana Reuter-Twining for allowing to use the image of her wonderful sculpture of Maestro.  You can find her on Facebook and at her website http://www.bronzed.net

 

 

Rippling Wave – a “first horse” story

First horse stories are a beginning.  A beginning of a lifelong love affair.  That first horse holds a place in our heart and soul that lays the groundwork for all the horses that come next.  Our passion leads us to the horse and the horse leads us to a new dimension of learning, experiencing and relating.  Here is a first horse story from Dianne McCleery that is both heartwarming and heartbreaking.  Enter the experience of her first love affair.

Rippling Wave

I was a horse-crazy little girl, wanting nothing more than to have my own horse. My father was a career military officer. We moved often, leaving behind friends and beloved pets. Money was tight, and no way was there time or money for me to obtain my dream.
Over the years I took lessons and on occasion had ridden friends’ horses. And never did the dream of having my own horse die.
Then, when I was sixteen, a school mate who knew I loved horses asked if I wanted one. Her sister was off at college and had no time to ride hers. After the farrier would shoe this horse, he would come up lame for several days afterwards. She didn’t feel right in selling him.
I asked my parents if I could have him, fingers and toes crossed. Luckily, I had a part time job at a ranch, so I could afford the monthly costs for a horse. Wonders of wonders, my parents said yes!
I became the proud owner of Rippling Wave, Rip for short, a half-Morgan, half-Standardbred gelding. I thought he was beautiful and fell in love at first sight. He was a dark chestnut, about fifteen years old, and supposedly well-trained. I moved him to a small boarding facility where he had a stall and attached corral. I had stars in my eyes and floated through the next few days.
When Saturday came, I saddled and bridled Rip and led him through a pasture to the trail behind the property. Taking a deep breath, I mounted up and, for the first time in my life, was riding my own horse.
What I hadn’t counted on, and was too green to notice, was that Rip hadn’t been ridden in a long, long time. He danced under me, swinging his butt this way and that, as I wrestled with the reins to try to get control.
A man on a white horse rode up the trail. At that point, Rip, who had slid down a short bank to under a tree, reared up. A tree branch caught me around the neck, and Rip took off at a gallop. The man’s horse bolted after him. I ended up in the dirt on my butt.
I was crushed. I searched in the dirt for my glasses and luckily found them. My dream come true had turned into a nightmare. My neck hurt, my butt hurt, my soul hurt. The man rode his white horse back up the trail, leading Rip by the reins. He handed them to me, asking, “Are you okay?”
I nodded yes, not trusting myself to speak.
I led Rip back through the pasture, un-tacked him, put him back in his corral, and slunk back home. I felt like I couldn’t tell anyone what had happened. I didn’t want to hear, “I told you so,” or “Be careful what you wish for.” I had already learned to hide from my family what was happening in my life.
I tossed and turned that night, not knowing what to do. I had my horse, and at this point, it was a disaster.
The next day, I returned to Rip. Another boarder was there, and I told her what happened. “Sounds like he was just fresh,” she said. She pointed to a flat area and said, “You can lunge him there.” I asked what lunging meant and she explained. (Lunging is putting a halter on a horse, attaching a long line, then standing in the center moving the horse around you. You are safe on the ground; the horse can get his ya-yas out.) So I haltered Rip, attached a long lead line, and sent him out around me. At first he kicked and bucked, which had me holding on for dear life and learning the meaning of “rope burn.” But soon he settled down, trotting rhythmically in a big circle, head lowered. I went home that night feeling a bit more optimistic.
After several days of lunging where Rip became nothing less than a gentleman, I saddled and bridled him again. I took him out to the trail and wisely hand-walked him down to the community arena. This time when I settled into the saddle, there was no dancing, only a well-trained horse that walked, trotted, and cantered on command. Now I was ecstatic! I was a horse owner, and I was in heaven!
Rip turned out to be the perfect first horse. I spent hours on his back, riding him in the arena, down trails, across meadows, and even once to the beach where we splashed through waves. Interestingly, he never once turned up lame after shoeing.
A couple of months after Rip dumped me on my butt, I came across the man on the white horse again. He looked at me in astonishment. “Is that the same horse?” he asked. I nodded. I was riding Rip bareback, no saddle, in a halter with a looped lead rope for a bridle, no bit. Life was good.
I had a wonderful six months with Rip before we had to move across country once again. My father’s secretary loved horses. She could afford the monthly board, but not the cost of a horse. I gave Rip to her, and he lived pampered for the rest of his life, giving rides to her and her nieces and nephews.
When Rip reared up and caught me by the neck in that tree, that wasn’t the first time I’d come off a horse. Nor was it the last. But it was certainly the most traumatic and taught me to be very, very sure a horse is ready to be ridden before even thinking about putting a foot into a stirrup.
And I bless the kindness of Rip’s original owner who made a horse-crazy girl’s dream come true, my parents for saying “yes” when I asked if I could have him, and the wise woman who taught me how to lunge a horse.
–END–

Dianne Chapman McCleery is a lifelong horsewoman.  Her credits and accomplishments are included but not limited to completion of CSHA”s Horsemanship Course, Barefoot Shoeing instruction and a one time certification in energy healing.  She specializes in Natural Horsemanship and Equine Behavior, having studied under Anne Soule of Foothill Equestrian Center.

 

 

Second Chances by Dianne Chapman McCleery

 

The summer I was 52, I spent being 12 again.
It’s sweet when life gives you second chances. And when that chance has to do with horses, well, that’s twice as sweet.
I was a horse-crazy little girl. Unfortunately, I was born into a military family, and numerous moves made riding difficult at times. However, on one of those moves we lived in Fairfax, Virginia. I took lessons at a riding stable deep in Virginia horse country, an hour away from our home, and progressed as steadily as one could while riding one day a week.
Once when I was at those stables, I saw a girl my age, around twelve, cleaning out a stall. She held a pitchfork, and a wheelbarrow was stationed across the stall door. Dickie, my favorite mount, was tied outside. I wanted to be that girl; I wanted to be holding that pitchfork, be a part of that stable, making life pleasant for horses, not just showing up once a week to ride.
Several decades later, I lived on the opposite side of the country in the California Sierra Nevada foothills. One day I signed up my kids to take riding lessons at a local equestrian center. I watched two of those lessons, then approached the owner. “Anne,” I said, “would it be okay, I mean, can I take lessons with my kids?” I tried desperately (and probably unsuccessfully) to keep the pleading tone out of my voice.
The answer was an enthusiastic, “Of course.”
Although I’d had horses several times in my life, I hadn’t owned a horse in over fifteen years. I wasn’t even sure I could get up on one. That worry ended when my mount for my first lesson was Rosie, who was 13.2 hands tall, a pony, very easy to swing up on. Months passed, and the kids and I improved our riding skills, became more educated about horses, and enjoyed being at the stables.
About a year later, a note appeared on the bulletin board – the Saturday stall cleaner needed someone to take over her duties for a couple of months while she recovered from surgery. Hmm, I wondered if I could do that. I could offset some of the money we spent on lessons. And I thought back to that day when I was twelve and longed to be the one cleaning stalls. Did I really want to clean stalls now? At my age?
I read that note for a couple of weeks before I brought the subject up to Anne. “Do you think I could cover stall cleaning duties on Saturdays?” I asked. Again, an enthusiastic, “Of course.”
So here I was, on the plus side of 50, with a job cleaning stalls, shoveling, well, you-know-what. Although there were other adults who did this, I would by far be the oldest. Also, my normal work takes place in front of a computer; I’d never before had a job where I was a laborer. And the pay, although generous by industry standards, was at a rate I’d hadn’t seen in decades. My husband thought I was going off my rocker. Maybe I was.
I showed up the first day in worn jeans, an old t-shirt, and work gloves. I found that shoveling manure and shavings into a cart was not difficult. However, getting it out was.
In the first pen, I loaded the wheelbarrow to the brim with wet shavings and manure. Then I had to muscle the full cart out of the pen, not an easy task. There was a slope up to the top of the manure pile. I got stuck half way up and had to retreat. I made a run at that pile and barely got the cart to the top. Then I tried to upend it to dump it; it wouldn’t budge. I had to turn around, squat, grab the lower edge of the cart, and, straining away, shove upwards with my legs. The cart tipped over, and finally it was empty. One stall down. After that, I learned to take half-loads.
Although I never learned to love cleaning stalls, there were parts of my job that were pure joy: hearing horses nicker in the cool of the morning when I showed up to feed, visiting with others who loved horses, learning how to wrap legs and evaluate horses’ health and wellness. And it was definitely a physical job; some days I was so tired by the end of my chores, I could barely hold it together to drive home.
But, I was spending full days at the barn, which I would have loved to have done when I was twelve and was pretty darn great at 52. I could visit with others who loved horses; I built new muscles; I watched Anne work magic with green horses; I would listen as Anne taught others, something I found particularly valuable for my own riding for the repetition of the basics. The payback for cleaning stalls was all I’d hoped for.
I can’t say I was sorry when the regular stall cleaner came back to work since my back was beginning to complain. But I felt I was able to have an experience that I had desperately wanted when I was twelve. What a sweet second chance!

Dianne Chapman McCleery lives in the Sierra Nevada Foothills. She loves all things horses and particularly enjoys learning body work techniques to help improve horses’ lives.

Voices from The Tribe of Horse

Find us and other Voices at Feedspots Top 100 Equestrian Blogs, which you can access via https://blog.feedspot.com/equestrian_blogs/

It is such an honor to have virtually met some awesome members of The Tribe of Horse through From The Heart of a Horsewoman blog.  Now, with the bigger audience that comes with being in Feedspots Top 100 Equestrian Blogs we have an even larger audience.  Awesome!!!  In my last blog entry I shared an article by Sara B. Willerson, LCSW entitled Even the Horses are Speaking – Are You Listening.  I know some of us are listening Sara!

This posting is highlighting the contemplative blog of DawnSeeker/DawnHoof.  I have been following her inspiring reads for a year.  I will let her speak of herself.

 

 

The Life of My Dreams . . . I Believe in Magic :))

SoulHorseRide

Ah, the frailties of our human Lives . . .

How do we know if our Life will work out?

How do we cope with the hand Life seems to deal us?

What do we do about uncertainties???

“Do you believe in Magic? (Like the Lovin’ Spoonful song from my 60s childhood.)

I have to say, I do!”  DawnHoof

Rainbow StatueReflections . . .

Twenty eight years ago, something wonderful happened — Starboy, my Horse-of-a-Lifetime, was born, in my arms, outside my dome house, up a canyon, in Malibu.

Yet that same night, twenty eight years ago, something awful happened — my (then) marriage fell apart.

chicks preening

So much uncertainty. So many questions.

How were my two young daughters and I to make it? How would I feed and care for all the horses? How would our lives work out???

Mentor LookingFlash forward . . .

To tonight — Starboy’s twenty eighth birthday…

View original post 502 more words

Renewed – Reenergized – Gifted

I was recently perusing Google for  horse related blogs and came across The Top 100 Equestrian Blogs set up by Feedspot.  The blogs covered everything from A for Apparel to Z for Zebra.   It is an incredibly wide variety of equine perspectives in one site. Feedspot is awesome.  For $24.00 a year my blog is now one of the Top 100, #83.  I am so excited.

The same week a friend messaged me an article from The Shift Network witten by Sara B. Willerson, LCSW.  She speaks eloquently to both the experiential and spiritual horse/human relationship.  I emailed her and asked if I could share her story on my blog.  She said yes.  What a Gift.

Even the Horses Are Speaking… Are you Listening?

By Sara B. Willerson, LCSW

Horses have been part of my life since childhood, and for the last 15 years, co-facilitators in my psychotherapy practice. My equine-guided lesson in listening began when my horse Pooh came into my life at age 14. This horse and I had a deeply connected relationship for over 20 years and he completely shifted my world. Without saying a word, Pooh soothed my unspoken wounds, connected me with my courageous self, and challenged me in ways I had never been able to before on my own.

Nature and horses were my sacred space and where I felt in tune and at peace with myself. Even at such a young age, I had a deep knowing that Pooh was re-connecting me with my heart and soul. He is the reason I partner with horses in a therapeutic practice today.

In 2013, I self-published a book, Journey To The Heart Through The Way Of The Horse, composed of horse wisdom I had been gathering for about six years. This book originated from a shamanic journey I experienced in 2006. I can’t remember the original question I asked of my guides at the time, but clearly they had a different agenda with me that day. Instead, I found myself surrounded by horses, as far as I could see. They had come to me because they wanted me to write their story — to tell the human race why they are here on this earth, and why they have always been with us.

To say this was scary, was a complete understatement. If I remember correctly, I’m pretty sure I came up with all sorts of excuses — both during that journey and afterward — of why there was NO WAY I could ever write what they were wanting. These Spirit Horses were relentless in their request. They came into my dreams on a regular basis with their persistent appeal. As I continued to ignore my dreams, the horses in my daily life joined in the campaign, so I was getting it from both sides of the veil. This dual-sided approach went on for quite a while. For the record, it is not always fun to have a herd of massive beings following you around and in your face with the reminder of such a sacred invitation! Eventually I said yes and began writing their words of wisdom.

I sat with my herd, friends’ horses, historical horses, horses in art exhibits, horse ancestors, horses at sporting events, and even the evolutional line of horses, each time vigorously writing down the words of their flowing, deeply moving language. I came to understand their deep wisdom and ancient lineage. That horse is here to assist not only in our healing, but also in our growth toward expanded connection and higher conscious awareness. In my time with them, it has become very clear they are here on this earth for a specific mission.
The Horse Consciousness

It was long ago when we came.
We came to remind you of who you are.
We are part of you and we hold the key to you remembering all of Who You Are.
You are Love. You are Freedom. You are Joy.
You are expansiveness beyond limitation.

We as Horse, embody all of these characteristics
And yet you possess them as well.
And yet you seem to forget.
We have been here all along to remind you of your True Way.
Your True Nature.

In our interactions with you,
We show and share with you this True Essence of Being.
There are no limitations. There is no end to it. It just IS.
We carry these qualities throughout your entire being.

When you sit with us, you are connected to this essence.
But at times, you still seem to forget that we are simply showing you,
Reminding you, of what you already possess.
There is no cost for it.
It is simply who you are.

And so we, collectively Horse, wish to remind you
Of the expansive love that IS the human race.
Come back and remember this for yourselves.
Allow the memory and the knowing to course through your very being
And let it expand throughout the land and the world.
Connect with us all and live in this state of bliss and knowledge.
Be the Essence of Who You Are.
I love this passage recorded from the Collective Horse Consciousness. To me, it is a principal base of horse medicine. As I partner with these amazing, gentle, and wise beings, I see first-hand their gifts to us in this realm. They support us in creating a grounded connection with the earth and all of nature. They inherently model how to walk from a place of balance and harmony with our selves and the world around us. The wisdom of their herd-based certainty that all interactions are able to come from a source of compassion, partnership and right use of power.

This morning as I was sitting with the herd (and gathering my courage to write this article), they shared a present-day message on their role and the ways they are walking with us:

“We are here to pattern the Earth’s energy into a harmony of flow. Our hoofbeats flow with the heartbeat of the earth. When humans walk with us, they calibrate themselves to this flow. This is the original vibration. It is why we are here. Attuning with self. Being in flow with all around. Entrainment with the earth.”

This special herd of horses is calling us to listen, connect, and flow with Mother Earth’s vibration. I see them inviting each one of us to step outside into nature. feel your feet planted and in communion with the earth. Hear the hoofbeats of her vibrational pulse and attune to this internal heart. Take a deep breath. Allow yourself to step into this beautiful, harmonious field. Stand with your horse guide who shows up to walk with you on the original vibration path.

Even the horses are speaking…Are you listening?


Sara B. Willerson, LCSW, and Horses, Heart & Soul® provide equine-facilitated psychotherapy, learning, and nature-inspired creativity services for children and adults in the North Texas area. Sara and her herd live and work on 19 peaceful acres just north of Dallas. She completed an Equine Experiential Learning Apprenticeship with Eponaquest in 2003 and is an Advanced Approved Instructor. She is tri-certified with and a board member of Equine Facilitated Wellness Canada. She is trained in Shamanic Practice and Healing Touch For Animals®. Sara’s professional experience has focused on working with clients through issues of trauma, anxiety, depression, grief, and life transitions. Together with her equine partners, Sara invites everyone to experience the transformational healing power of the horse outside of the traditional office environment. Click here for more information.

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This article appears in:
2018 Catalyst, Issue 17: Your Most Radiant Self