Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Slow Adventure

I’ve embarked on a new journey that is taking place in my backyard. For the last couple of months, I’ve been feeling disconnected from Silk and Siete. As you know, taking care of them during all the rain and flooding was not fun. Often, I was so exhausted and cold and wet that all I wanted to do was run back to my warm house. I could feel the two horses bonding closer to each other and growing more distant from me. I was blaming myself for not spending more time with them and feeling guilty that I didn’t have more time to give.

Once again, in the amazing way that it can revitalize me, some of my favorite blogs brought me around to a new way of looking at my world. It began with Kate at A Year With Horses, posting a thoughtful and caring piece about whether she was ready to take a break from her horses. Although I totally understood how she was feeling, when I looked at my own relationship with Silk and Siete, I realized that right now, I really needed them to help me hold onto myself and remind me of who I am. Doing what I do for them to make the barn safe and comfortable, to keep them fed and happy is really a way of taking care of my soul and honoring what’s important to me.

Then, I watched a video that Carolyn Resnick posted on her blog that lifted my heart. It was one of her students, Robin Gates, dancing with her horse, Fresco. I couldn’t stop looking at it over and over. I knew that right now, I don’t want to ride my horses, I want to dance with them. I was, however, a bit intimidated at the prospect of getting out there and actually trying it. Like a perfectly timed answer from the blogosphere, I got the nudge I needed when Carolyn decided to offer her Waterhole Rituals course again this Spring. I signed up and received all kinds of help and encouragement instantly as I was able to listen and download an insightful interview with her and phone conversations teaching me how to start this adventure of better communication with my horses. It’s just what Siete and I need to do together right now, and it begins with doing nothing.

The first ritual is to share space with your horse. I sit in a chair in the paddock for an hour each day reading a book while Siete is there with me. “Spending time doing nothing leads to something that would otherwise never have happened.” Carolyn says. On her blog, there are comments from other people all over the world who are doing this same course and having incredible experiences with their horses. It lifted me up to find so many other horse lovers out there making these same deep connections with their own animals. I’m not alone in my feelings about my horses, and through the Internet and Carolyn’s efforts, something really remarkable is happening. I’m so glad to be part of this community, and it reaches beyond just the horse world.

I often read Jon Katz’s blog, Bedlam Farm Journal, and I’ve been very interested in his plans for a new book about grieving over animals who have died. He quoted from a book called “Twins” by Dorothy Burlingham, about how a child’s love for animals can come out of loneliness and solitude: “The two share everything, good and bad experiences, and complete understanding of each other; either speech is not necessary, or they have a secret language. The understanding between them goes beyond the realm of consciousness.” That’s what I’ve been feeling with Siete. It’s the relationship that I already have with her mother, and I’ve been longing for it with my little horse.

Spending an hour sitting in a chair with my horse isn’t easy for me. Time is a precious gift, and I never have enough of it. My mother and my husband look out the window at me and shake their heads. I’m glad that I’m in the solitude of my own backyard so I can avoid anyone’s judgment or ridicule. To force myself to slow down to a total halt and do nothing brings me to the same level of awareness that Siete has as she’s grazing next to me. I feel one with her. It’s a huge commitment to slow down.

I just learned the term “slow blogging”, coined by Todd Sieling a few years ago. “Slow blogging is a rejection of immediacy. It is an affirmation that not all things worth reading are written quickly.” he says. As you’ve probably noticed, I’m blogging a lot less than I used to and find that many of my friends in the blogosphere are too. I was feeling a bit guilty about it, worrying that everyone would forget about me. Now, I see that there’s an ebb and flow we all follow. I’ll be mentioning my new slow adventure with Siete here on my blog as we make our way along. One of the things that I love is that Carolyn insists that there should be no agenda. Every day is simply taken as it comes, and that’s what makes it so wonderful. I was in New York for two days last week and by the time I came home, I was dying to be with my horses. I missed them so much. My love for them is being renewed, just like the lilacs, tulips and the other flowers are beginning to bloom again.


Ewa said...

Dearest Victoria, this post you wrote is one of the most remarkable posts I have ever read. I could see you with Silk and Siete in the backyard. You sitting in the chair and your mom and husband shaking heads - that part made me really laughing. Slowing down while living in fast pace is something very difficult to do, so my kudos to you.
Thank you for making myself realised that I need to get connected with my garden again. Time, time of doing nothing is the key.
Hugs my friend,

Victoria Cummings said...

Ewa - That you could respond this way, from thousand of miles away in Poland, is so remarkable and just illustrates what I was trying to say about there being a community of all of us feeling and thinking on the same wavelength that is only the touch of a computer key away from each other. Thanks for being my friend.

Dusty Devoe said...

What a refreshing post. I loved the video's. I have often thought about going and sitting in Dusty's turnout with him. Wonder what he'd think!!! I too have cut down on my computor time. It was getting to addictive, and I needed to put the most important things in my life back at the top. I'm getting there. Thanks for sharing.

Lori Skoog said...

Victoria...taking care of your soul and honoring what is important...music to my ears. I read and respect the words of Kate...don't think in the long run she will be able to give up horses. What a sensible person she is. I also loved Dancing with Fresco and read Jon Katz everyday. There are so many people that have a lot to share.

Kate said...

Very much enjoyed your post - thoughtful and joyful at the same time.

Breathe said...

Lovely post, I'm very interested in what you find in that clinic.

When Cibolo was going through his colic episode, I went to the barn and just sat in front of his stall, just making sure he was okay. It was so quiet and lovely. I wished I could have more time like that.

I miss my life without pause, the pauses that allow you to finally inhale. I hope to bring more of that back. That's why I'm blogging less too. It had become another urgent thing in my life.

Barbara said...

Hi Victoria,
I look forward to every post you write - and it doesn't make any difference how frequent they are. I'm happy to wait for thoughtful, thought-provoking, and well-written. I went through a similar experience in terms of re-assessing what I really wanted from my horse and came to a similar conclustion - I just wanted a good relationship with him and then we would move forward from there. Some of the best times we had together were late afternoons when the horses were in from turnout and had been given hay. I would sit in his stall and he would munch his hay. The hustle bustle from earlier in the day was gone, just the sound of the horses eating. It was so calming for both of us.

billie said...

So glad to read you're enjoying your horses and getting to spend time with them. It's the most healing thing I do, and I suspect will keep me going for many years. :)

poniesathome said...

Victoria, I have been gradually becoming slower and slower in how I spend time with my ponies. And as I do so, each moment becomes so much richer. As you say, I am so grateful I can keep them at home and spend this kind of time with them without any worries about what anyone may say. I am also so grateful to Carolyn Resnick who taught me that sitting with horses is a practice. It has been truly nourishing to my soul and I look forward to reading your posts when you do post.


detroit dog said...

Amazing post, Victoria. I'm just going to "second" what everyone else here has already said, and add that I wouldn't forget about you or your writing or your horses.

Grey Horse Matters said...

My daughter and I sometimes take a book or lunch out to the field and just hang out with the horses. They are a nosy bunch and will always come over to see what's going on. There is no better place to be than relaxing in the field with our horses. Wish we could do it more often.

I applaud the fact that you are making time each day to spend quietly connecting with your girls, regardless of the head shaking through the window. Have a peaceful hour each day and it will surely do you and the girls good. I've sort of taken a break from blogging because it's very time consuming and I have so many other things that need taking care of, something had to suffer. I'm afraid it was my blog. Good to hear from you again.

Paint Girl said...

I have actually sat in the pasture while my horses are grazing. It is very peaceful and I just love watching them. I am glad that this is helping you reconnect to your horses!
I've also had to cut down on blogging and visiting others. I am just too busy with work and my own horses, and I am so exhausted that I just don't have the motivation to do it. I am hoping when the sun comes out (the rain doesn't seem to want to stop, I know you know that feeling!) then I will start to feel better.

Pony Girl said...

I've always wanted to do this (read a book in the pasture) w/My Boy, too! It really helps the bond...I've sat at the base of My Boy's tree and watched him while he's eating his dinner and just hung out. I think it relaxes him (he doesn't feel like I'm going to "catch" him and take him out for work.) And for me, it's an issue of trust. I mean, what if he spooks and whirls and kicks me or knocks me down? It's about awareness of each other in a common space. I become his herd.

deejbrown said...

This post gets a special star. I will come back and read it again and again. There are so much in it that speaks to me and I don't even own a horse. But I do have a chair and a back yard.
My blog posts also occur in waves and are usually a sign that the dullness of routine has been broken.
Will be following your saga. You will not be alone in what I personally refer to my "hour of power."

sandy green said...

That was a good story.

Thanks for sharing that.