Sunday, October 16, 2011
The Wisdom of Old Mares
The wisdom of old mares and growing older has been swirling around in my consciousness this week. Billie at Camera-Obscura wrote a beautiful post about her 28 year old horse, Salina. As I mentioned earlier, Linda Kohanov talks about the importance of her mare, Rasa, in guiding her towards her life’s work. Since I’ve been facing some challenges and choices on my own path recently, I have been spending more time with Silk, my 23 year old soul sister.
My farrier told me that he doesn’t think I should ride Silk anymore. At first, it made me very sad to contemplate not being able to sit on her back and wander around on the trail with her anymore. What drew me to Silk from the first time I rode her was that she seemed to be able to read my mind. In the beginning, I thought that it was unique to us and a little bit frightening for me to be able to communicate with my horse without saying or doing anything. Then, I began to find other women who had similar experiences with their mares, and I came to appreciate that there is a connection between some of us and our female horses that is a wonderful gift.
There is no one else on earth, human or animal, that accepts me and appreciates me the way that Silk does. People see it in the way that she looks at me and often comment on it. I have no doubt that if I asked Silk to walk through a flaming building with me, she would do what I said we must do. That kind of trust is only possible if it goes both ways, and I have learned to listen to Silk with a closeness that sometimes seems odd to anyone watching us. So, I have come to the understanding that whether I ride her or walk beside her is insignificant. We still have a lot to talk about and share with each other.
There is a pervasive climate of fear in our country right now. I see it changing the way that my neighbors and my friends behave and think. So, some of the choices that I make these days have to do with focusing on the positive implications of what happens in my life rather than the negative. There’s enough negative energy flying around to sink us if we keep stirring it up.
Clarissa Pinkola Estes, who is working on a new book about wise old women, has good advice about how to deal with this problem: “Consider that most fear is not fear of failure: rather, it’s fear to live fully, in full power. Choose your petty fears carefully, because they can grow truly big teeth. Instead, draw your attention here…I have several fears I would like you to have…Fear these: Fear not loving while you have the chance. Fear becoming bitter. Fear cynicism. Fear turning to stone. Fear living underwhelmed by everything.”
When I am standing with Silk in the barn or in the pasture, I can feel her strength, and just putting my hands on her back or her neck, I am able to draw from it. If I am wavering or hesitating about following what my intuition is telling me to do, I go to my horse, and she lets me know that I have the power to trust myself. That is the gift these old mares give those of us who are lucky enough to live with them.