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.


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