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

 

 

 

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

Church of The Round Pen

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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.

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.

I Am A Teacher of Horse Passion

As a teacher I pass on my knowledge with my heart and soul. I find I tune in with every fiber of my being in the attempt to communicate and share my knowledge, describe in the clumsiness of words. When I connect with a young person who grasps intuitively the concepts of the horse/human relationship steps it is a joyful experience. It is impossible for me to not become very attached to these kids. I watch them with nurturing eye and hand, grow as horse people. I see them explore, get stuck, experience the light of understanding and I move through all of this with them. It is personally fulfilling and rewarding. However, I know with every lesson, every interaction there will come a day for them to spread their wings and move on to the next level, the next horsemanship experience, the next expansion of their passion…the passion that we share. They will leave me. Which of course is what the preparation is all about, it is one of the goals of the teaching. I am devastated, inconsolable, just like a parent whose children have left home.

I have to say, there is real wonder in Facebook. I woman found me, a woman that I knew briefly when she was a youngster and I wasn’t much older. I have been following her postings and page. She now owns a Thoroughbred Bloodstock farm in Florida. I mentioned to her how wonderful that she has fulfilled the horsewoman’s dream. She responded that I was responsible. WOW. What a gift she gave me in those few words. This sharing of the passion for horses has been going on for more than fifty years. It isn’t just in this moment. Just as there are people that have helped me along this journey, the ones I think of in gratitude, there are those whose lives I have touched. We are all linked in this love of horses.

And so I can release my kids, with love, to their future and their past. I go with them in their journey. I am so grateful that, as a member of the Tribe of Horse, I have the gift of sharing the passion for these incredible creations of God, the Horse. For in the end, it is all about our horses.

She is a horsewoman.

She is blessed

with an enthusiasm and passion

that has carried her through life,

generating a journey

compelling and rewarding.

Now she is blessed

by the opportunity

to share her passion

with those starting on a similar journey,

weaving together

the similarities and differences

of interspecies relationship.

She lives in the flame of enthusiasm

as she helps to transform

unknowing into knowing

between horse and human.

Lynnea

Heart of a Horsewoman

The search for the depth of the horse/human relationship through pondering, poetry and study of the multifaceted interactions that bring such wonderful satisfaction to the mind, body and soul. I explore practical and spiritual aspects of this amazing interspecies entanglement.

First blog from Heart of a Horsewoman – an idea that has been percolating for the past 10 years.  Who am I?  A passionate horse lover of 66 years.  I credit year four as the year I was inducted into the Tribe of Horse by a gentle Palm Springs gelding who took the time and interest to introduce himself and the world of horses to me.  What do blogs from the Heart of a Horsewoman look like?  The search for the depth of the horse/human relationship through pondering, poetry and study of the multifaceted interactions that bring such wonderful satisfaction to the mind, body and soul.  I explore practical and spiritual aspects of this amazing interspecies entanglement. It is my point of view that Horse is a bridge between matter and spirit if we are open to that journey.

The picture above is of Megan, a third generation mare raised by me, and Macho, the ranch dog.  This was taken about four years ago.  I love this image of Meg’s connection.  She is one who truly lives in the world of Humans and is eager to participate in the Horse/Human relationship.

This first post is “The Nature of Horse”, something I wrote about about two years ago. It is a good introduction to the point of view of this blog.

The Nature of Horse  Nov 2014

The nature of Horse is Spirit.  Horse is first the embodiment of spirit in earth energy.  Spirit is illuminated in horse by every symmetrical, rhythmic movement…, the side to side swish of tail, the sound of chewing pasture grass, the flash of hooves as they kiss the ground.

The nature of Horse is Heart.  The magnetic principal of heart, the synchronization and pull that draws us to Horse mystery.  That silent beat that creates a primordial pounding in the Human pulse.  Horse heart expands the human heart, frees it to blend with another.

The nature of Horse is relationship.  In relationship to each other and to the ecosystem of existence Horse has lived thousands of years in successful interaction with all the nations of environment; animal, mineral and vegetable.  Horse brings Human into relationship with the kingdoms of nature.

The nature of Horse is sensual.  Horse lives the embodiment of senses, sight, sound, smell, touch, taste, far beyond the human sense realm.  Horse offers Human an experience of expanded awareness.