I’ve been outside of late walking the sloppy paddocks, my blood pumping and learning the lay of the land. Spirit horse and I jumped over a muddy stream together last week when he clipped my heel leaving me face down on the opposite bank, pain hot tingling poker. Stopped. Plans parked. Earth felt. I let him go and just went soft dead still. My mare Suki trotted over sniffing the ground like I was a hurt foal. Strong inhale, yes alive ok, no fuss back to grass. Chew chew. I lie feeling the pulse of the Earth in beat with my pain. I dare not move. Spirit eats nearby. Chomp chomp. Time passes.
He comes and kisses my hair with his lips.
You’re ok, move he says. Ouch, I can’t. Too far to the house.
He shows his teeth to nip gently, enough get up, the bears may come, get up.
Ok ok, I say. Can I lean on you?
He stands and I pull myself up. His wither steady. Hop Hop. Gate. Crawl. Rest. Crawl. Call. Help.
The kids hear me and come, boy crutches. Toy soldiers, dependable and weak yet strangely strong. Power shifts. Lean on me mum. I will carry you.
We shuffle up the hill. Crawl in the steep bits. Home. Ice.
Little chef makes tea. Rest.
I missed their school concert. Quinn was a monkey, so realistic the crowd cheered. It’s easier with a mask on, he says to really get into character. Beau and his class were a steady mountain in gloomy green capes waving scarves when they felt like it, some missing their cues and a correcting classmate loudly pointing it out ‘you don’t do it then’.
Nothing like an injury to find you evaluating life and how mobility is just one of those things we take for granted. I don’t like having my phone on me down the valley. It is a distraction and gets hot transmitting nonsense in my pocket. But… possibly I will have it on a fencepost nearby when I’m working horses on my own.
Here’s a love story with a happy ending- Suki a thoroughbred mare who lived at Spirit’s old home has come to live with us. She is a natural mother and only been separated from her foal 4 months ago, she is neighing to the neigh-bour’s foals regularly checking in. Spirit and Suki were never in the same paddock but would make lovey sounds over the fence. Now these two are reunited, sharing a paddock and beginning a herd.
Their contentment is beautiful to witness. The power of friendship and belonging to a herd lowers their heart rates and anxiety levels, especially being a prey animal. Underneath trying to please their owners and compete in sports at their humans’ folly, horses just want to be horse. I’m sure lots of them love to be ridden if it doesn’t hurt and love the human-horse relationship, but not at the expense of being in their own kind herd in pasture under open skies. It’s their birthright. I’ve been reflecting on our love of horses- their allure, their pull, but also how we project our own thoughts on to them. We can romanticise them and coddle them. This anthromorphism becomes so normal that we rarely question it.
They are such giving creatures. They carry us, emotionally and physically. They show up with their gentle energy and reflect back to us what emotions and energies we are carry. I’ve been mentoring with a lady in equine therapy. Every Thursday, a group of 5 year 5 boys come out to learn about connecting with a horse (relationships), asking a horse to participate in their wishes (leadership) and emotional resilience (neuroscience and heart intelligence). They learn about herd behaviour that is reflected in their own peer dynamics. It has been such profound work to see these boys learn about controlling their emotions, expressing their feelings and connecting with themselves and the horses. Boys chosen for the program because they have behavioural issues and turbulent family lives. The change in their attitude and the smiles (!) over a short period of time is remarkable. After one term, the program develops with a riding component for those keen to explore more. AJ Millions (founder) has an open door policy so any of these kids can visit the horses at any time they wish.
Writing isn’t flowing for me at the moment. Sometimes, it rolls like the sweet spring wind tussling the leaves and other times, it’s not. I tell myself that it’s ok, to sit with the void and be open to its vulnerability without lurching into it. That like the sun rises, some time when I’m doing another job, a pop up often formed and clear will come to life. I’ll sign off and go and spend time outside. Being patient for the next season.