Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Dreaming Horses

The days have been sunny, and Silk and Siete enjoy lying down in the pasture after they’ve kicked up their heels. The first time I came out and saw one of them stretched out, I have to admit that my heart started pounding. Colic was my first thought. Then, I noticed how warm the sun was, and soon both horses were dozing.

I noticed that Siete’s feet were moving as she slept. My dog sometimes dreams and runs in her sleep. I wondered if horses also dream. I decided to do some research. Dr. Sue McDonnell, who is the head of the Equine Behavior Lab at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine, has studied horses’ sleep patterns. She discovered that when they lie down flat on their sides, they experience REM (rapid-eye-movement) deep sleep, and she believes that they do dream. She also saw horses “trot” in their sleep like Siete was doing.

Dr. McDonnell determined that horses sleep best when they are with other horses. As prey animals, they set up sentries for the herd when they are in the wild. Several horses will stay awake and guard those who are resting. I often find Silk and Siete in the same stall in the afternoon. Silk will be lying down, having a siesta while Siete stands close to her mother with her nose touching Silk’s back.

The research showed that even in stalls, horses usually stand on either side of the same wall while they sleep so they can feel less isolated. Wild horses had better, deeper sleep than ones that live in stables. We have a window cut in the wall between our two stalls, so Silk and Siete can touch noses and see each other. They both lie down every night to sleep.

What are they dreaming? It’s fun to conjure up possibilities, but we’ll never really know. I often dream about horses, which probably comes as no surprise. A friend who is a therapist and a shaman suggested to me that the horses might represent my creativity.

Last night, in my dream, Siete was walking in the woods and she fell down a hole near a tree. I ran to help her but couldn’t get there in time. I saw her tail disappear. Shouting for help, I kept running until I found her swimming underwater in a muddy river next to the trees. She swam past me and then emerged from the water, covered with mud. I woke up asking myself, what in the world does that dream mean? Then, I sat down and wrote for two hours, slogging my way through something that I’ve been procrastinating about for weeks. Creativity, Siete, falling down holes and emerging victorious but muddy……I was in the barn, mucking Siete’s stall when it all began to fit together, the dream and the breakthrough in the writing.

“The dream is a little hidden door in the innermost and most secret recesses of the soul…If we meditate on a dream sufficiently long and thoroughly, if we carry it around with us and turn it over and over, something almost always comes of it.”
Carl Jung


Rising Rainbow said...

I dream horses too, but not so much in my sleep. Just about all of my waking hours are wrapped around my horse dreams. For some reason they keep me centered so I welcome their presence.

Grey Horse Matters said...

I have often seen my horses sleeping in the paddocks and there is always a sentry on guard. I did wonder if they ever dreamed, now I know. Thanks for the research.
Your dream was really interesting, it is funny how dreams always subconsciously mean something.In this case it was something good that got your creativity flowing again and got you back to work on your project that you mentioned. Keep dreaming good dreams.

Carolynn said...

A dappled gray horse always appears when I meditate, so I did a little superficial research and discovered that horses, as spirit guides, are considered to represent Safe Passage. I like that.


Melanippe said...

Hi Victoria,
re: your dream, either creativity, or you are a case for premonition...


ciao from sunny Italy,

the7msn said...

Yowsah...I think you and I are sharing some space in the twilight zone these days. Yesterday, I posted a picture on my blog of my little herd napping together and made some eerily similar comments to yours about sleeping horses. And I woke up this morning and remembered three incredibly long, vivid dreams I had last night and wondered what in heaven's name were those all about? Then I saw your post and Carl Jung's quote...you can bet I'll be pondering all day today!
p.s. It's great to finally see the sun shining in your pictures. Happy spring!

Heidi the Hick said...

Last night I dreamed that my parent's barn was full of really scabby, underweight, ill-mannered, dare I say ugly and obviously neglected horses.

I might have to look into this.

I can tell you that I've been visualizing riding Phoenix when I'm trying to fall asleep. I imagine his nice smooth jog and picture beautiful scenery. I have to calm my mind to fall asleep. Nice way to drift off.

It was kind of a scary dream though. Those poor horses needed soooo much help and I felt helpless. Hmm. Maybe that's it...

Callie said...

I've seen Kola do that. Sound out and feet going like crazy, flat on her side. I saw Misty do that only once. She's a private sleeper. Kola always catches her "zzzzzz's", but Misty I think only at night when I can't see her.

billie said...

A very potent dream!

I have always dreamed frequently (most nights I wake up 2-3x at least, remembering dreams) and vividly (often upon waking I'm still very much in the dream space) but interestingly I don't often dream about the horses.

I suspect they're so much in my conscious thought these days the unconscious doesn't need to use them.

However, most of the dreams I have that are about spiritual/life journeying are with Keil Bay. I seem to have one of those about once per year, and they're quite powerful dreams that fuel many months of thought on my part.

I would LOVE to know what he dreams about. I spend a fair amount of time wondering what his first few years were like. I hope he was able to stay out and be a horse until he was 3 or 4 years old.

LJB said...

I've seen my horses moving in their laid out flat sleeping. Even some eye movement under the closed lids. Fascinating to wonder what they are reviewing in their dreams!

Years ago I had a series of dreams from which I awoke and wrote out quite complete poems. I 'self-published' them as Dream Horse Poems. The horse was always the first horse I owned, an amazing young Morgan gelding, and in roles that once I wrote out the poetry, were clearly a healing catalyst or protective presence. He was a special being in my life. Still is!