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.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Autumn Update

My days have been filled to the brim over the last month with video projects, dog training and juggling horse care and the hectic schedule of my 16 year old daughter. So, even though I hate to see the torrential rain we are getting today that is flooding the corral and pasture, I also welcome the excuse to hide in the house and take a break. Silk and Siete are huddled in Siete’s stall with some outrageously good hay, so they’ve got no complaints. Stella and I have already been for an hour-long trek in the hills, and I’ve kicked the soccer ball so she can chase it about 200 times today. She has almost inexhaustible energy and is growing about two inches a day.

I’ve started Siete on D-Carb Balance, a supplement that I hope will help her lose weight, strengthen her immune system and keep away the hoof abscesses. She’s not crazy about the taste of it, but since it’s all that she finds in her bucket, she eats it. We had a good week of dry weather, so both horses were able to get out and run around without any mud. We’ve had so much rain that our grass just keeps growing, and the leaves on the trees are not falling or changing colors as vigorously as they usually do. It’s really weird and doesn’t feel like the usual crisp autumn we love.

Last week, I took some time to listen to a couple of interviews with Linda Kohanov about her new book, The Power of the Herd. I always find it stimulating to catch up on what Linda is thinking, and these conversations with Mark Mottershead were both thought-provoking and astonishingly honest. She discusses the death of her beloved horse, Rasa, and the leadership challenges that she has faced with her Epona programs. One of my favorite things that she talks about is how horses ask us to develop “emotional courage”. Certainly, this is true of both my horses, and I am grateful to them for teaching me how to stand my ground without being dominating or argumentative. I recommend that you check out what Linda is doing these days at

Recently, I’ve been stretching myself creatively, and I’m embarking on a new phase in my work as a film-maker. I’ve started shooting and editing my own projects -- going solo. It feels like I’ve come full circle back to when I was in college making documentaries. I’m hoping to create a very natural and comfortable rapport with my subjects where the camera becomes almost invisible to them. As I get my sea-legs on this new adventure, I’ll be asking Silk and Siete to participate with me. So, there will be some videos coming to my blog soon. All this new technology is so seductive that I find myself renewed and excited by the idea of a video journal.

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.”
Albert Einstein