First, this isn't her picture. Shadow is more dappled, not spotted, with a burgundy patch on her broad, soft nose.
Shadow is a 21 year old Appaloosa mare, gentle yet full of life. I have been getting acquainted with her at HOPE Equestrian Center in Eagle Point, OR.
Maybe you too had some experience with horses as a child. After the 6 or 8 sessions I had in 3rd or 4th grade I wanted to continue but that wasn't in the cards at the time. It whet my whistle though.
Simple Rituals of Connection
Now I arrive for my lesson. I'm there to literally get back on the saddle. Instead of a horse being presented to me, saddled and ready for me to ride, I learn how to clean her hooves. Horses' hooves are vulnerable if they aren't tended to regularly.
It's still something I'm mastering. There's a stroke that signals her to lift her leg. Her front legs bear weight, her back legs serve as a push off for running, essential for prey animals.
Her legs weigh alot! I hold her hoof and clean around the inside that seems to have deep indents, with a tool to get the crud out. It's obvious but something that is easy to take for granted. This time let's me sense how she responds, let's her and me get re-acquainted.
Simple rituals of care, like rubbing cream on my feet, or taking time to enjoy something warm on a chilly day, go along way to help me feel connected to myself and to those around me.
Listen for the signals coming from inside
During another lesson she seemed fidgety - it was one of those really windy days. As I was brushing her coat she seemed skiddish, unlike her usual steady-as-she goes temperament. Then the woman who volunteers to help me get my feet under me re: the rituals of learning how to communicate with a horse, suggested that I might put my hand on her heart and the other hand on my own.
Well, the obvious is - guess who was skiddish? Not her. I felt harried and got irritable on the drive over to my lesson. I hadn't quite shifted gears before I started grooming. She picked up on my energy and like the wind, I was whirling around her, not noticing her, not tuning in.
After holding our hearts, I calmed down, and I began again. My touch was kinder, more connecting and I was reminded what a great horse she is. She gave me permission to begin again.
It's a gift to interact with other living beings and get feedback about what is going on inside. It's a gift to begin again.
Sitting in the saddle
Sitting in the saddle relates to a feeling of being seen. First, I'm nearly twice as tall as usual. And because these lessons are therapeutic, the pace matches me instead of the other way around. There's time and support to get in the saddle. It's another ritual of joining with Shadow, of learning how to respect her sensitivities. We're a good pair, both sensitive. She responds to the lightest touch, barely need to pull on the reins.
Her gait is profound. When she walks the weight bearing comes up directly through her front legs and shoulders. It's the opposite in our gait, our weight bearing is through our back legs. There's enormous power in her stride. She is rock solid.
I communicate with her through the direction of where I look, how my face and trunk are oriented. My body posture translates down into her body wisdom. She knows where I'm interested in going by how she can sense my body orientation.
So much communication happens from the body to the brain. Learning to feel safe and solid sitting in the saddle teaches my brain what that kind, solid power feels like.
What a gift, to grow inner strengths with my Shadow. I'd enjoy hearing about ways that you are growing inner strengths.
I offer support to grow resources inside you that contribute to living a meaningful, happy life. If you're interested in my services, please visit my website and get in touch. Thank you! Charlotte Nuessle
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