Break Out Moment

Two complete shoulder replacements and a hip replacement later the thought of riding tickled at my heart.  My horse is almost twenty-six years old.  Would she be okay with it?  I’m in my seventy-second year and haven’t been astride in two years.  Was I kidding myself?

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“Break out Moment,” a prompt used in our writer’s group – Women Writers at The Well.  The prompt came as an entrance into exactly what I want to share in the moment.

The last time I got on a horse I literally crawled and was pushed, gently and tactfully, but pushed nonetheless, on board.  I had no strength in my arms, no support in my legs.  I knew I would never ride again.

I mourned the loss of that life, a passionate life-time horsewoman, but in time became reconciled to the loss.  I sold my truck and horse trailer and rehomed the younger of my two horses.  I cried in deep grief listening to Dave Stamey sing “Come Ride With Me.”

Two complete shoulder replacements and a hip replacement later the thought of riding tickled at my heart.  My horse is almost twenty-six years old.  Would she be okay with it?  I’m in my seventy-second year and haven’t been astride in two years.  Was I kidding myself?

I contacted my adopted granddaughter, Kaylee, and we agreed on a time.  She would be there for moral, emotional and physical support.

Sparkle Plenty stood to be saddled as though no time had passed.  She swished her tail as she always has, flicked her ear and stood.  Two tries accomplished getting the saddle in place.  A little ground warm-up helped to loosen the old mares joints.  I led her to the mounting block, positioning her so that the stirrup was in easy reach.  With hesitancy and held breath I put my left foot in the stirrup, took hold of her mane and the off side of the saddle and lifted myself, my right leg not quite getting high enough to clear the cantle and her rump.  Kaylee helped my leg find its way and my right foot found the stirrup.  I started to breathe.

I’m not going to say that first ride was perfection, but it was.  My right leg was stiff, heel not wanting to reach down.  My hips were tight, looking for the flexing comfort and flow that was their experience.  Scar tissue in my back from a ten year old surgery restricted the fluidity of rhythm.  Sparkle and I were together in the new dynamic.  Her hoof steps slow and careful, my body seeking the remembered harmony of joined movement.  It was perfect.

The following day I was able to lift my leg over, not with the smooth grace of yesteryear, but accomplishing the goal just the same.  My leg lengthened, hips softened, back loosened.  And as we (Sparkle and I) were returning from a short walk around the pasture Sparkle’s shoulders and hips also loosened and she reached into her “happy” walk, sending a thrill of joy through my entire being.  We are not done.  We are beginning – again.

I originally started this blog to share my point of view of the horse/human/spirit relationship.  My plan was and is to write a book.  I was hoping for more discussion regarding other people’s point of view and experience in relationship to the topics I brought to the blog.  Obviously I was not clear in this intention.  It is now time for me to turn my attention to the book.  I very much hope to hear what readers have to say regarding the horse/human relationship in all its forms.  Thank you for sharing in my journey.

Lynnea

SPARKLE PLENTY

My horse is the concrete connection
To the abstract of my soul.
Like Pegasus flying Icarus to the sun
She carries me to the outreaches of my world
Dropping piles of care and concern along the way.
She is Sparkle Plenty, namesake to the beautiful
Bad girl in the Dick Tracey comic strip.
Even as a newborn foal life pored from her like sunrays.
The genetics of grey and age bring the glitter
Of diamond dust to her shiny coat.
Her ears stand sentinel straight when she hears my call
And she answers with a whooping welcome whinny.
Like me she has some arthritis, some wisdom and some silliness.

me and Spark 002

 

 

 

A Student First, Second, Always

Long before I was a teacher I was a student. From the first breath shared with a horse, I was enraptured. It became my mission, in whatever level of maturity I lived, to learn all my limited mind and bottomless heart could encompass about the horse. My early teachers, guides and horse friends were books. Margaret Henry, Walter Farley, C.W. Anderson, Margaret Cabell Self, Mary O’Hara, Will James, Dan Muller; famous and obscure, factual and fictional, I read everything related to horse.
My first riding teachers included Del Gonzales, Andy Ruiz, Dr. McCormick and Western Horseman.

Obie (short for Obnoxious) was a donkey, my first equine.  He gave me his full friendship.  I was young ( 11 years old) and inexperienced enough to laugh when Obie chased my little brother out of his personal space.  We wandered the dirt roads around our home, jumping little branches in the road.  He was everything I needed and wanted.  I could easily hop onto his back.  I think that is what gave me the confidence to vault onto a horse and ride a bare back.  Our honeymoon was short lived.  The family returned one night, actually one early morning, to Obie’s bellowing welcome.  I think my parents envisioned lights coming on in every house bordering our short dirt road.  They rehomed him within week.

My greatest teacher was Champagne Lady. She taught me to be light, sensitive and honest. To this day I am in awe of the quality of horse who was my first. Her training was far beyond my experience, but she taught me with the help of human guides. She was my ground and the expression of my spirit from age 14 through 18.  I did not own a saddle until I was twenty-five years old.  Everywhere we went we were bareback.  We galloped along the surf of Topanga Beach, traversed the PCH to George’s Market, tracked Topanga Creek and even once ventured up Topanga Cyn Blvd. to The Center, my friend riding her horse and my brother riding double with me.  My friend now says “What were we thinking?”  Right?  Sometimes you just have to find out it’s not the smart thing to do by doing it.  I wish I had photos of those years.

For five years I was side tracked by motherhood and marriage. When I came back to horses it was as a teacher as well as a student.  Many years, many changes, and I am still learning.  I learn from friends with whom I share the horse experience, I learn from former students, I learn from other’s exploration into the horse/human relationship, but mostly I learn from the horses.

What are your stories of your first explorations into the horse/human relationship?

 

Where I Am Now

Sitting at my computer thinking today is a day I would be riding my Sparkle Plenty.  The leaves are red and gold, new green is spreading across earth dampened from autumn rain, air crisp, invigorating… a deep inhale of the exuberant breath of the season.  I am not riding.  I am at the computer.  I haven’t ridden for a year.  Due to the physical changes of lives long and well lived Sparkle Plenty and I are retired.  The fluidity of body is crystallizing.  She is twenty-five years old and I am seventy-one in just over a month.  Even as our bodies stiffen our spirits expand.  I go out to the pasture and she greets me with ears erect, eyes alive with expectation of goodies and grooming, head held high in anticipation and then she canters, a bit stiff legged, up to my heart.  I love this horse, I have loved her from her birth.  I and my beloved recently returned from a first time trip to the Hawaiian Island of Kauai and I did not feel grounded until I hugged my Sparkle Plenty and I rested my head on her rump listening to the rhythmic sound of her chewing the grass hay I brought her.

Tom Dorrance writes in True Unity, “Often when working with riders and their horses, I will mention the need for self-preservation; this to me includes the physical and the mental – and a third factor.  I’ve been trying for some time to think of words to get this third factor to where it comes to light; to show how it blends in with the other two – physical and the mental.  It is the least mentioned, but I am beginning to believe it is the most important factor to recognize: the rider needs to recognize the horse’s need for self-preservation in Mind, Body and the third factor, Spirit.  He needs to realize what that means to the horse so he can benefit from what it is in the horse, what it means to the horse.  He needs to realize how the person’s approach can assure the horse that he can have his self preservation and still respond to what the person is asking him to do.  This is going to be a useful thing to both the person and the horse.”

Spirit – is it not spirit and freedom in spirit manifested in horse that first brought us front and center into the world of horses?  Are stories still written as they were when I became enamored of horse spirit?  The Stories of indomitable spirit and heart when horse and human were brought together in immense challenge and  companionship?  Marguerite Henry, Sam Savitt, Walter Farley, Will James, C.W. Anderson and of course the all time classic Black Beauty by Anna Sewell.  Spirit comes first.  We just forget in the process of learning the mechanics of tools and integrating tools with living beings.  We are the tool maker, we harness power with tools.  And so we learn about harnessing the power of horse with the implementation of halters, ropes, bits and bridles, saddles and cinches.  Which bit to use when, what saddle works best for the job at hand, how should weight be distributed? And the horse is to stand still while we work out the correct type and use of the tools we have created until the horse itself becomes a tool to be manipulated.  “Just livestock,” as one person said to me.

We are living, thankfully, in a time when horse spirit is being validated.  Explorers of this new relationship include: the McCormick Family, authors of Horse Sense and the Human Heart and Horses and the Mystical Path;  Linda Kohanov, author of The Tao of Equus and Riding Between the Worlds; Mark Rashid, author of A Horse Never Lies and Considering the Horse.   At the leading edge of research into the horse human relationship are the Therapeutic Equine Programs, especially EGALA, Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association  with many certified Equine Assisted Psychotherapy programs across the US.

My passion for horses is still there but showing up at a new level of relationship and spirit.  I peruse the old books and stories and explore new stories and horse-human dynamics.  I find connection in all of it and the connection is SPIRIT.  Sparkle’s spirit and my spirit have danced and embraced over time, place, and life changes.  When I lean into her warmth, her energy, her soul, I wonder afterwards how I will ever live without her.

Sparkle Plenty

A Creation Story

First it is an imperceptible movement within the vast infinite sea.  Then it is a thought, then it is desire which becomes a passion, an irresistible urge rising out of the depths of all possibilities, a place beyond the limits of imagination.  It pushes and heaves and in a mighty burst birth breaks through the crust of manifestation.

Horse-Rider dripping foam and froth of birth, rises from weightless space of thought into weighted gravity of matter.

Atmosphere presses against body.  Organ crushing unrelenting clamp causes a compulsive whole being inhalation – the in breath of incarnation – now a created concrete beingness, Horse-Rider emerge as one from the sea, riding the momentum of immensity from which it emerges, not yet fully formed, not yet landed.  The heave and roll and undulating current of sea moves it steadily toward shore.   With the force of a cosmic fist driving knuckles first into the wavering seam of creation, Horse-Rider is thrown into manifested life.

Weight, unrelenting weight of matter.  No longer one, but two; Horse and Rider.  Standing in stunned senses, froth of amniotic soup and blood drips and pours from nostrils, ears, eyes, skin, submerging them in a fountain of their own creative fluids.  Another wind blast intake of air fills every internal cave and crevice, lungs and heart open, expand, pulse in separateness, two hearts, two beings.

Horse lowers his head and snorts at the blood spiraling and splashing out from beneath his anxious hooves and shies lifting whole body out of the offensive pool of birth blood.  He turns and inspects, ears forward, nostrils flaring.

Rider grasps tight with hands and legs, nearly unseated in the explosive motion.  Out of balance in this unknown – mind gripping fright, already forgotten the place of beginning.  There is only this heaving creature beneath her.  Vertigo of sensation caught in the curl of a visual, emotional, mental tidal surge, spun in the collapsing tunnel crashing into this new awareness of living.  Senses are stunned by the tsunami impact of sight, sound and feel.  The crash of the curling waves cresting and crumbling against sound blasted rock and sand.  The surge swirls past horse hooves, enervating tickle cold, he backs away, head low, snorting.  Rider grab fistfuls of mane, sensing the shift and alignment of bone, tendons and muscles, unfamiliar inner tension – strength and weakness – looseness and tightness – hard edges and soft curves – an unfolding of opposites within her being, desperately clinging to the back of horse.

Horse snorts at the receding foam, takes a step.  Rider senses movement, feels her body align, another horse step, another adjustment.  The cramping hug of her legs begin to soften, Spine lifts into the vast openness above, aligning her head and neck and shoulders over the bones of her hip.  A sharp and sudden spasm shivers through her, bones lengthen, tendons, ligaments, muscle make connections and wrap joints.

Again she is slammed with outward sensation.  Now sight and sound and touch and smell are differentiated.  The air glistens with micro-mini sun caught molecules.  The rumble of the ocean reverberates through horse’s hooves, penetrating her inner cells, activating the pulse of heart and blood.  Her lungs open, filling with iridescent life breath.  The eye shielding brilliance of the sun disc caresses her outer sense with penetrating heat, skin penetrating, scalp penetrating the heat descends in a golden ray permeating Riders inner being, descending, ascending like a helix through her center, descending through horse, through glimmering sand, to earth’s core.  Spirit of light is embraced in earth womb, kissed in earth consciousness, mother blessing her child through spirit and sending back to Rider, spirit baptized in matter.

Horse explodes in sense overload, legs bend then stiffen shooting him into the air, seeking escape, feeling there is no safety in Rider, her knowing disconnected from their one spirit.  Gravity ensnares him, dragging him to the ground.  He lunges forward, hooves pounding against the sand, propelling him forward with legs frantically pumping beneath his great heart, driving spirit into muscle, extending neck and shoulders, he begins a race for his very life, his spirit, his being.

Rider, thrown off balance, grips horse with grappling arms, legs, hands and feet.  Mind locks in fear, breath shallow, nerves chaotic, shutting out all senses except survival, she hangs in limbo, a broken connection.

Imperceptibly Rider feels a magnetic pull, an attraction, a blossoming of emanating energy from Horse heart, encircling her heart, entraining the turbulent boom of primal pounding, heart to heart.  A tenuous internal connection – she begins to feel the bounding rhythm in Horse’s body.  Through tendrils of fear her mind opens to this connection.  Cautiously she maneuvers her body back onto Horse – recognizing the heave and sway so reminiscent of the sea carrying her and Horse in the currents of the amniotic fluid of creation.  Newly invigorated muscles bunch and lengthen, she leans into the velocity of horse’s headlong charge through his fear, his terror of the grappling, clinging body, unbalanced, unsupported relationship.

Hair ringed hooves harpoon the sand, surf, seaweed, all unheeded in Horse’s unleashed run for survival.   The seaweed wraps and clings to his pasterns and fetlocks, begins to drag and tangle itself as his hooves whip through the stems, stems snaking rope knots about his legs. Trapped, he stops, white foam lathering shoulders and flanks, lungs and heart battering breath and blood.  Every cell in his body trembles.  He feels Rider slip from his back.  Caressing hands console his body, kind crooning sounds soothe his terrified mind.  He feels the knots loosen from his ankles and the rope stems slip from his legs.  Dropping his great head to the ground he takes a deep groaning breath, allowing the comfort of Rider’s hands and voice to assure him that she remembers who they are, that they are still one even though two.

Two yet one, Rider’s heart fills with a hope, an anticipation, a love so big it plunges from the confines of her chest spilling into her arms and legs, feet and hands, shoulders and throat, tumbling into her head, her thoughts, her perception, over flowing and encompassing Horse, so protective of his delicate nervous system, his brave generosity, his need to be one of two.  Love lifted she leaps onto Horse’s broad back, her legs explore the spring of his ribs, the muscles of his back beneath her buttocks, and the damp heat of his sweated hide sticky against her skin.  With breath, intent and a quiet tightening of her legs she urges horse to move forward, stepping out of entanglement, stepping out toward the horizon of fanning, slanting pink, orange and purple pluming as Sun settles into a cosmic nest of radiating color.

White caps play against the sheet of deepening color reflecting orange, yellow, red, blue, indigo, violet – rainbow hued arching to the gusting breeze, tickling ocean skin, exiting nerves of riders skin, infusing her breath with the colors of the sinking sun.  Colors radiate upon the sand heaped dunes and flowering iceplant.  Birds bank in the thrust of the wind, kaleidoscopic colors shining off iridescent wings, shimmering in the brined air, caught in the scalloped sand of the fore beach – scattered sparkling particles of light in air and water and energy.  Rider releases her body to Horse.  Horse offers his mind to Rider.

Rider turns West toward the setting sun, horse moving with her gaze, a compass arrow aligned in shared direction.  Golden light gleams, horizontal light of the setting sun encompass Horse and Rider in a golden shower.  Rider turns South, Horse pivoting to her intention, facing out toward the horizon of the great heaving sea, darkening in the early twilight.  Rider turns North, with horse facing the rounded breast of dunes, casting shadows in the fading light.  Together Horse and Rider turn East, the dunes recede into fathomless distance. Moon, at the border of land and sea is beginning Her lift from the horizon, a breath catching silver radiance seeping into the gloom.  Silhouetted in the cross point of Earth and Sky, Water and Land, Horse and Rider breathe in promise, the promise of adventure, the adventure of love and loss, birth and death, the ageless adventure of embodied spirit.

Horse, restless in anticipation, prances his intention.  Rider soothes, yes, just a moment more.  The sun has set, there is a phosphorescent diamond dust sparkling in the surf, in the surge, in the waves.  Deep shadows drape the dunes, the cuff of coastline arcs against the rising globe of the moon, ending in a rocky point pushing into the pound of the sea.  A symphony of stars grace the domed darkness of sky, vanishing into the depth of sightless horizon.  Horse trembles and snorts, paws and lifts his head, eye open to expansive energy inviting him to engage in its expression.  With an exhale of breath Rider releases Horse.  He springs into the air, bouncing forward on hind legs, forelegs grasping for the promise pulsing in his veins.  His hooves hit the ground running.

And then there is only Horse and Rider and the ecstasy of unrestrained, unfettered freedom, exposed power of energy in motion.  With lengthening stride horse reaches into each moment, driving into the barrier of future, releasing the past footfall, balancing for the next, reach, rebalance, release.  Rider leans into the acceleration of Horse’s charge through space and time, arms outstretched like wings, laughing into the lunar light, hips and legs holding to horse, to the undulating surge so like the great power of the sea.  Together, in the full exaltation of life shared, they race the phosphorescent waves, sparks springing from beneath horse’s flying hooves, sparklers mirroring the moon gleam bouncing across the surface of the throbbing sea.

They gallop, fully extended in physical being, in emotional bliss, in mental unity with each other and all that is within the stage of their theater, breathing great lungful’s of night, laced with starlight, moonbeam and shimmering waves, intoxicated by the wondrous sensations and scents, washed in a wind of their own creation in a tincture of salt and sweat and sea.

As suddenly as their run starts it ends.  Horse crests, mirroring the crown and spray of wave, his hind legs slide underneath him, front legs lifting, back and neck round, the spume of mane and tail flung forward, Horse and Rider reach land’s end.  Rock slick, awash with tidal turmoil, trails into a wash of moonlight, silver mercurial cobblestones form a path across the face of the ocean.

There is but a pause in forward motion, a breath, a half halt.  Rider urges Horse forward into the mystic moonlit moment, each hoof tipping the glistening cobblestones, Horse and rider gallop on, and on, pulled by some great magnet into the cosmic presence of their destiny.  The weight of gravity begins to disintegrate, shedding itself in swaths of iridescent star dust, a shining in the darkness streaking into the bright of the moon.  Rider exhales, her breath twinkling, feeling the spaciousness of body, effortless, wingless flight of Horse as they traverse the outward path, lifted by the primordial dark energy of life and light.

A vibrating orb of green and rose begins to glow within the Heart chakras of Horse and Rider.  Deeper and richer and fuller the colors intensify, expand until one encapsulates the other, blending hearts in unity and energy of love.   Descending matter radiates in a light show of red, orange and yellow, ascending spirit glows in blue, indigo and violet, Horse and Rider, a rainbow comet soaring through the infinite cocoon of space.  An ecstasy of oneness, wholeness even as the weight of embodiment falls in a shower of shooting stars, Horse and Rider release heart and mind to the pull of the great magnet, the path home.

Horse and Rider gallop on and on.  A vibrant glow expands upon the horizon of their path, it fills their vision, a blooming, billowing luminescent cloud, sacred burial place of stars, sacred birthing place to solar systems, enduring stage of reincarnation, the fingerprint of God. Time and space collapse into one infinite moment, one immortal archetype.  Horse and Rider dissolve into particles of gas and dust, a miniscule dot in the sweeping kaleidoscopic dance of color and shape, finding home in nebula, an essence of eons in the exquisite beauty of destruction and creation, forever Horse-Rider in the primordial whole.

Lynnea Honn                                                                                                                                                                         Bunker Hill Rd, Amador City

October 20, 2014

Art by Jan Long Harper

Church of The Round Pen

IMG_132099018582259

Let me retouch the joy I feel working and playing with the beautiful lady, Chloe, as we become acquainted in a Bear Valley Springs Round Pen. The joy of balancing energy between horse and human. I am visiting my brother, just outside of Tehachapi, CA. He has two very nice horses; Silver, a gentle giant, half shire-half quarter horse gelding, a delightful silver grey. And he has Chloe, feminine, lovely, elegant, half Friesian, half paint – a beautiful balance of black and white. I am smitten with her.
Chloe and I don’t know each other. I have been told she has a certain level of training. I find when I ask her to move up to that level she is confused, not sure as to how to respond and becomes agitated, throwing more and more energy into escaping my request. I lift my energy, changing my body posture to more assertive as she escalates. I know that somewhere she knows the correct response and I wait for her to find it, not letting up on my response to the energy she is throwing out. And suddenly she finds it, bending her ear and eye to me, her head and tail lower, she begins to respond rather than react and I yield the pressure of my energy and she begins to lick her lips. Joyful communication. We have found a momentary balance, a balance to build upon.
We see the round pen as a place of schooling for the horse but in reality, hidden in plain sight, is the dance of relationship, the coming together of energies, enfolding one in the other, creating a communication of mind, body and spirit. Horse spirit is our captivator. We are enthralled with the primordial, free expression of horse in body and action. We want to capture that spirit and make it our own. Of course we can’t capture it, we can only interface with it. Come to that common denominator that enlivens each of us.
Like any church, the round pen can be misinterpreted to be all about dogma and rules. Rules are guide posts to a deeper entanglement of promise and potential. When we bind ourselves to rules we bind ourselves to the structure of ego. Ego structure is important but it is only a portal, or an impassable boundary, to the greater dimension of energetic relationship.
This is deep stuff and I don’t mean to scare anybody away. We, of The Tribe of Horse, all seek that mystic relationship with our horse. The relationship where we become one in mind, body and spirit.

TRANSFORMATION. “A personality change aligning to a pattern appropriate to spiritual life which so sensitizes the recipient that incoming spiritual forces have significantly increased impact.”

Today we made thunder – You made thunder.
I am the witness making the space available.
You are my horse, the primal voice of my passion.

Lightning lanced, you arc and lash and flare.
A tornado tossed tumble weed your buckskin body
Bounds, lifts, floats, and dances in the round
to the strident concussion of your own music.
I stand in the eye of your storm
Reveling in the power of your expression
tasting the turbulent wind funneled through your nostrils
vibrating to the pounding rhythm your
hooves drum on the skin of sod and soil.

And then the storm is spent.
Your canter is cradle rocking soft
A Soul soothing cadence quiet as an April shower
I lift my hand and step back, a beckoning bow
Inviting you to share the center with me.
You come, ears up, muzzle reaching into my cupped hands
You blow a gentle Zephyr, the west wind’s promised warmth.
The scent of exuberant exertion lifts off your body, damp and dense.
You are Life coming to me willingly,                                                                                           You share your heart space.

“…great sensuous song of life…”

I’m reading “The Feminine Face of God: The Unfolding of the Sacred in Women” by Sherry Ruth Anderson, Patricia Hopkins and wanted to share this quote with you.

“When I was a girl I would roam through the pastures with my horse, Spotty, and there would be a communion, a great sensuous song of life being sung through us that I have no words for.”  Anonymous

These words are so very validating to read; the experience  similar to my own.  It is only as I grow in years and wisdom that I truly acknowledge the communion with nature, with life, that riding my horse has granted me.  A blessing of spirit, “a great sensuous song of life….”  Several years ago I attempted to put this wondrous song into a poem.  The poem won a first place in a contest held by the East Bay Equestrian Network.

Meadow Music – A Rider’s Song

Meadow music notes of spring

Flow the contour of the hills

Swirl the ponderosa canyons

To the rhythm of gentle hoof beats walking

To the meadow music notes of spring.

Yellow flowers rising, reaching sunburst beauty

To the gentle hoof beats passing through their midst

Walking gentle hoof beats,

One-two, one-two, one-two-three-four.

Meadow grass seeds on their slender stalks

Bow and bob in unison to the rhythm of

The meadow music notes of spring

To the gentle rhythmic hoof beats

Of the mare walking in the horse dimension

Meadow music notes of summer

Simmer warmly through the valley

Wrap round trails traced on hillsides

To the rhythm of muffled hoof beats walking

To the meadow music notes of summer.

Powder puffs of cedar scented dust rise in rhythm

To the muffled hoof beats passing on the path.

Walking muffled hoof beats,

One-two, one-two, one-two-three-four.

Toasted gold by summer solstice

The meadow grass sways in sleepy melody to

The meadow music notes of summer

To the muffled rhythmic hoof beats

Of the mare walking in the horse dimension.

Meadow music notes of autumn

Serenade the oaks and alder,

Decked in glowing passion colors,

To the rhythm of happy hoof beats walking

To the meadow music notes of autumn.

Leaves red and gold shake and shimmy

To happy hoof beats walking in their glory.

Happy walking hoof beats,

One-two, one-two, one-two-three-four.

Parading the yellow leafed road,

Petals of sunlight flutter and fall to

The meadow music notes of autumn

To the gentle rhythmic hoof beats

Of the mare walking in the horse dimension.

Meadow music notes of winter

Sing the blackbirds in the choir loft

Of the ancient oak tree’s branches

To the rhythm of crisp hoof beats walking

To the meadow music notes of winter.

Five hundred voices trilling, singing gospel in god’s house

To crisp hoof beats passing ‘neath their perch.

Crisp walking hoof beats,

One-two, one-two, one-two-three-four.

In the waning light of winter, reflected in the shivering pond,

Barren branches nod to the rhythm of

The meadow music notes of winter

To the crisp rhythmic hoof beats

Of the mare walking in the horse dimension

Lynnea Honn

 

Esoteric Horsemanship and The HeartMath Connection

“Initial findings seem to reveal that the calmness or autonomic state of the horses has a greater influence on the human response rather than the other way around.”

I first met The HeartMath Institute at Sophia’s Well, a Wisdom Center in Sutter Creek in the early part of my journey through the Ageless Wisdom Teachings. We learn in these teachings that the heart is an intelligent repository of wisdom, intuition, and knowingness; that it is connected to the brain, constantly informing our thoughts and emotions of our inner resources and resonance. Our brains are so focused on the outer world and our outer senses that we rarely hear or listen to the whisperings of our heart.
Doc Childre and Howard Martin with Donna Beech have set forward in their book, The HeartMath Solution, a scientific presentation of the power of the heart in daily living. In a follow up book, The Science of the Heart, we get a comprehensive look at how the evolution of this new study of the heart/brain connection pervades all our relationships, with ourselves, with other humans and creatures, with the world at large.
“The heart has been considered the source of emotion, courage and wisdom for centuries. For more than 26 years, the HeartMath Institute Research Center has explored the physiological mechanisms by which the heart and brain communicate and how the activity of the heart influences our perceptions, emotions, intuition and health. Early on in our research we asked, among other questions, why people experience the feeling or sensation of love and other regenerative emotions as well as heartache in the physical area of the heart. In the early 1990s, we were among the first to conduct research that not only looked at how stressful emotions affect the activity in the autonomic nervous system (ANS) and the hormonal and immune systems, but also at the effects of emotions such as appreciation, compassion and care. Over the years, we have conducted many studies that have utilized many different physiological measures such as EEG (brain waves), SCL (skin conductance), ECG (heart), BP (blood pressure) and hormone levels, etc. Consistently, however, it was heart rate variability, or heart rhythms that stood out as the most dynamic and reflective indicator of one’s emotional states and, therefore, current stress and cognitive processes. It became clear that stressful or depleting emotions such as frustration and overwhelm lead to increased disorder in the higher-level brain centers and autonomic nervous system and which are reflected in the heart rhythms and adversely affects the functioning of virtually all bodily systems. This eventually led to a much deeper understanding of the neural and other communication pathways between the heart and brain. We also observed that the heart acted as though it had a mind of its own and could significantly influence the way we perceive and respond in our daily interactions. In essence, it appeared that the heart could affect our awareness, perceptions and intelligence. Numerous studies have since shown that heart coherence is an optimal physiological state associated with increased cognitive function, self-regulatory capacity, emotional stability and resilience.
We now have a much deeper scientific understanding of many of our original questions that explains how and why heart activity affects mental clarity, creativity, emotional balance, intuition and personal effectiveness. Our and others’ research indicates the heart is far more than a simple pump. The heart is, in fact, a highly complex information-processing center with its own functional brain, commonly called the heart brain, that communicates with and influences the cranial brain via the nervous system, hormonal system and other pathways. These influences affect brain function and most of the body’s major organs and play an important role in mental and emotional experience and the quality of our lives.
In recent years, we have conducted a number of research studies that have explored topics such as the electrophysiology of intuition and the degree to which the heart’s magnetic field, which radiates outside the body, carries information that affects other people and even our pets, and links people together in surprising ways. We also launched the Global Coherence Initiative (GCI), which explores the interconnectivity of humanity with Earth’s magnetic fields.”
So, what does this have to do with the horse/human relationship? In 2005 Elllen Kaye Gehrke, PhD began a series of five studies to see if the HeartMath science would support using HRV as a marker to demonstrate the emotional connection occurring between horses and humans when they interact. A description of these studies and findings are put forwarded in an extremely interesting and informative article, The Horse-Human Heart Connection, Results of Studies Using Heart Rate Variability published in the Spring 2010 edition of NARHA’S STRIDES.
The last of the five studies was conducted in 2008 in collaboration with Dr. Ann Baldwin, a physiologist from the University of Arizona, using seven pairs of horses and humans.
“It appeared that each person synchronized his or her particular HRV frequency cycle to match the horse’s specific frequency cycle. This result was reproducible and was observed in six out of the seven horse-human pairs. In the one horse-human pair in which the human did not match the horse’s specific frequencies, the person stated that she was distracted with other responsibilities during the recording.”
Dr. Gehrke enumerated several findings of interest in her article. The one that is most relevant to my “aha moment” is number 7. “Initial findings seem to reveal that the calmness or autonomic state of the horses has a greater influence on the human response rather than the other way around.” It is the heart resonance of the horse that influences humans. We are so about us, how we influence that we blind ourselves to the abounding energies that flow through our lives.
I am forever in awe of that first encounter. A white gelding standing in his field. A magnet to my four year old heart. The power of his heart pulled me to him. I stood at the fence participating with hopeful excitement in his gentle approach. His great white head lowered over the fence rail. Our breath intermingled, the whiskers on his chin tickled child cheek. He allowed and acknowledged the tentative touch of child hand upon his muzzle. I was, I am, enchanted, enthralled, enamored. The bio magnetic power of his great heart enveloped me and has held me in embrace though all the journeys of my life.