Friday, July 16, 2010
It’s difficult to put into words what happens between human and horse during one of these special encounters. To an untrained onlooker, nothing happens most of the time—it’s just a horse and a person standing around, or at most, walking around together in a pasture, arena, or round pen. But to the equine and human participants, it can be dramatic.
Here's an example:
In one exercise, our goal was just to experience an energetic connection with one of two horses grazing in a small pasture. We were to initiate the encounter by focusing our attention on the horse we chose to interact with, using a special breathing technique. Then we were to enter the pasture and move toward the horse. I chose Hope, the paint mare, because she and I hadn’t interacted much before that evening.
Hope noticed me as soon as I entered the pasture—I could feel her attention shift, and she lifted her head. I acknowledged her by pausing, exhaling, and lowering my head. When she relaxed, I moved forward again. This happened twice more as I encountered the boundaries of other energetic layers, which she signaled by momentarily shifting her focus back to me. Each time I was careful to acknowledge immediately and fully.
As I got closer—perhaps ten feet from her—I could actually feel her energy in my own body, much as I would with a person on whom I was doing energy work. Hope let me into her space with an acknowledgement of her own: once again she raised her head to look at me, gave a deep sigh through her nose, and returned to nibbling.
I moved close and touched her side, which she seemed to welcome. I could feel the bigness of her energy, so different than the human energy field. The energetic connection between us felt strong and clear.
Then the strange part started. Without thinking about it, I took a small step forward. At that same instant, Hope moved her leg forward. Odd, I thought; a coincidence. Then it happened again: at the same time I moved, she moved.
Was Hope copying my movements? I wondered. Could I make this happen? Nope. She didn’t move that time. But then when I stepped again without thinking about it, Hope stepped, too—and it wasn’t clear who initiated it. It was like we were dancing. Very strange, but very clear, and I had to smile. We “played” with this for a few moments.
Then I told her I was going to walk around in front of her, from her left side to her right side. The instant I started to move, she very pointedly and firmly moved her foot in front of me—it was her left front leg, and she actually moved it slightly toward me and out front, without actually shifting her body much at all. I swear she was saying, “No. Not yet, you don’t.” So I stopped, waited, and then moved again. Instantly, she moved her other foot out in front, in the same way.
By now I was really chuckling. She was managing my movements, without even raising her head from the grass she was so obviously enjoying. It was pretty funny, but her meaning was clear.
I mentally acknowledged to her that I had heard her message. Then, with no disagreement from Hope, I walked around to her other side. I stood for a moment, then crouched down in the grass and pulled a few blades. She turned her head to look at me, and then nodded her head vigorously as if to say, “Yes! You got the message!” She took a step in my direction, looked directly at me, and resumed grazing.
It was pretty amazing. After a while, I got up, thanked her, and walked back out of the pasture. Someone watching would not have seen anything but a woman hanging out with a grazing horse. Hope and I had a different experience entirely.
My sense of this encounter was that Hope was letting me know what horse energy—specifically mare energy—looked and felt like. Mares lead the herd, and I got to experience the how and why of it: Hope’s quiet but assertive energy, I sensed strongly, could be escalated quickly and expertly to the precise degree she needed to get her point across. And I got the message.
[Photo of Hope: AimingHigh Photography by Aimee Bilyeu (http://aiminghigh.photoreflect.com/)]