Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Chestnut Mare speaks - channelling

The most recent post told the tale of Boo's designer talents. She had clearly been watching HGTV, as her rennovation ideas have proved to be logical and simply practical.

Well, she has been working on us for a long time to record and share her story, and, by her actions and situations, has provided ample material. The horse who made the wanna-be writer into a writer. What a concept!

Four chapters are drafted as of this post. There are at least four more in the works. The form of the final version is still evolving, but could go several ways. One would be the simple tales ( 'Boo Stories'). Another would be the tales interspersed with lessons this amazing creature has taught us, or insights to the art of riding and horsemanship. Or, it could be a wonderful childrens' book, complete with a Breyer model....

We are certain Boo will give us the direction she wants!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Wisdom of the Chestnut Mare

Boo has a way of letting us know her preferences and ideas. It has been thus in the years we have been together, and we are always left curiously comforted when she is able to clearly communicate with us. We are, of course, sometimes a bit slow on the uptake, but her patient persistence always seems to break through our human fog.

So the most recent occurrence began with mud season's arrival, several weeks ago. The slight greening of the grass - more like a green tinged surface on the home paddock, wakened our still-winter-shut -down brain into flashes of pasture rotation strategies for the upcoming warm season.

By closing off 3/4 of this pasture, we would allow it to grow some grass and still provide the horses' access to the field through the regular gate. Fine, but the mud at this gate is suckingly horrendous, especially where the preferred path cuts a sharp left, threatening the stability of the adjacent gatepost. The initial plan was still viable until Boodles began discussing her plan with us.

Mind you, in hind sight, her plan began during the winter by removing the top rail in a section of the border fence at the top of the home paddock. The post was off just enough that our efforts to replace the rail would be futile until a total thaw.

Then, within the month, she carefully took down a rail on the shed yard fence. We left it down, as she would just remove it again. But, our design remained unchanged.

Yesterday, that entire section in the yard had been dismantled. All rails were down and the auxilliary post screwed to the main post had been detatched, thus giving the three horses direct access to the tree area where they eat their night time hay. They would no longer have to walk around the edges of the manure pile to reach their hay.

Standing in the new opening, we realized Boo had opened up a direct route across the upper hill to the section in the border fence with the dropped rail. By this opening, the horses were able to avoid the steep, rocky, muddy walk down to the gate with its own mud problems. Shrugging our shoulders, we closed off the regular path.

This morning, we simply removed the remaining two rails in the border fence to allow them access to the field without going through the mud, and now have a clear, efficient way to rotate their use of grazing areas.

The amazing thing here is Boo's ability to either read our mind, complete our thoughts, or demonstrate a remarkable ability to plan and execute practical changes in her environment. This is not the first time she has reordered her space to suit.

We look forward to working with her on future projects and hope next time, we are a bit quicker to get the message!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Musings on giving

Several deaths in the recent weeks have impacted us deeply, as they were people who found ways to give both in life and death. Their passing left us wondering about gifts, about passions and about purposes.

Ray Hunt shared with horsepeople everywhere the simple yet profound concept of horse-centered training. Not new with him, indeed, not new to his teachers, the Dorrance brothers, Ray shared his methods with a widening circle of horse enthusiasts who were searching for a better way to partner with their equine friends. Instead of force and harsh treatment, his way promoted relating to the horse on its level, with language the horse understands - the body and its subtle signals. The ultimate goal is a relationship between horse and human based on trust, willingness and feel, where both become greater for their interaction and become as one body, mind and spirit. We picture the rare occasion where we are struck breathless by the purity of a horse and its rider, moving seamlessly without effort, proud, strong and true. Ray Hunt sought that for horses and their riders. Most of all, he sought that for the horses' sakes.

His beliefs descended directly from the Vaquero tradition of the American West, which in turn was an adaptation of the Classical school of horsemanship. His methods reflected the same foundation upon which Col Carde, Klaus Balkenhol and Dr Gerd Heushmann based their Symposium last fall. The principles endure because they are true, because they work, because they are beautiful.

Sally Swift approached the human-horse relationship from the perspective of the rider's position on the horse. Utilizing imagery, this remarkable woman was able to express in novel ways the feeling of riding. Body language still, this fresh approach to explaining the process of the rider 'letting go' helped multitudes find their connection with their horses. Position is important. It allows the horse to perform what we ask of it. With her breakthrough books, CENTERED RIDING and CENTERED RIDING II, Sally joined the ranks of the Masters. She, too, was an advocate for horses: all true horsepeople are.

The third passing was a young man who had had a difficult life. Blessed with wealth, beauty and intelligence, he was nevertheless unable to find his way in the world. His parents were estranged, each marrying again and having other children. He was loved deeply, perhaps not understood, but loved so that he was a loving person in his own right. His demons rarely let him rest, but he strived to create as normal a life as he could. He died in his bed at age 34 of unknown causes just as his life had begun to stabilize. We did not know him at all in recent years, but his family spoke of learning patience, acceptance, committment and joy from him.

Perhaps his greatest gift came after his death. His parents were able to share their grief and in doing so, perhaps healing their long rift.

How these three deaths differed! And yet, they all opened doors to greater understanding for those who would listen.

May we always be willing to listen.