A little message from me to you:
When I started this blog seven years ago, I never realized how much it would change my life. Through my writing and the other blogs that I read regularly, I have made treasured friends all over the world. Over time, I have ventured out into the blogosphere beyond the generous horse loving community, and one of the best moves that I made last year was to join a Facebook group started by writer Jon Katz called the Open Group for Bedlam Farm. I’ve met even more talented, compassionate people who are part of what we like to call a Ministry of Encouragement. Now, again motivated by the far-sighted, marvelously imaginative Mr. Katz, I’ve joined a new FB group called the Bedlam Bloggers Collective. You are welcome to stop by on Facebook and take a look at all the diverse, amazing blogs. So, I wanted to explain that “Teachings of the Horse” will be sailing a little further off the map, and the focus may not always be on my horses. Don’t worry though, Silk and Siete will still be the spirit guides. You know that I get most of my best ideas in the pasture or the barn.
I began Spring Training today with Siete. We both desperately need to get in shape and tune-up our connection with each other. So, the first thing we did together was to do nothing. For anyone who isn’t aware of it, I’m a big fan of Carolyn Resnick’s “Waterhole Rituals”, and when the weather permits, I spend about an hour each day just sitting with my horses in the pasture while they graze. I think of it as our “secret meeting time”. It is truly incredible what a difference it makes to my horses and how they react to me. To the casual observer, I am simply meditating or reading a book, but to Silk and Siete, I am being one with the herd. Siete can be quite a pushy kid unless I put in my time communing with her and her mother on a regular basis. It mellows her right out.
So, today as the birds sang and the sun joyfully warmed our backs, I relaxed and read about the philosophy of Manolo Mendez, a soulful Spanish dressage master who was one of the founders of the famous Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art. This is not the tortured dressage of tight reins and cruel bits. It is the exquisite dance of intense partnership based on admiration and respect for the horse.
Manolo “preserves the horse’s body instead of wearing it down, and gently nurtures his mental wellbeing, so that the physical and mental aspects work in unity.” He believes: “Many horses today have become so far separated from their essence, or the harmony that comes from the mind and body working in synchronicity, that they suffer needlessly each day of their lives. I witness this damage as part of my work… My approach is that each horse is trained according to his strengths and weaknesses as an individual, and never pushed beyond what he is physically and mentally capable of.”
Manolo grew up on a farm and like some of my favorite cowboys, Tom Dorrance and Ray Hunt, he understands that going slow and being patient are a big part of the deal. So is balance, timing, soft easy motion and relaxed muscles. Almost everything these guys have taught me crosses seamlessly into the territory of relationships with children, elders, other animals and being a good person in general. You can’t “be one with the horses” if there is any incongruity in other areas of your life. They feel the disconnect and let you know right away.
Fourteen years ago, I came up with the idea that I would breed Silk, and I promised her baby when she was born that no one would ever do harm to her. Siete and I have traveled a long way together. She’s a gentle, well-loved companion. One thing I know about horses is that every day, you have to re-establish your relationship even if you're only a herd of three. And once again, it’s the season where we come together to align our compasses to be sure that we are moving forward in the same direction.