Well, where to start…..?
Since I bought Phantom (and Joy to replace Ron) I have had Pan on the market. Although technically there have been two enquiries, one is from a friend who was really trying to “get you two back together”, and the other hasn’t eventuated into anything. Trisha Wren suggested that someone is still holding onto him (horse or human, and I strongly suspect it’s Pan not wanting to leave….), Leanne said that I should give him a few more years…. I have continued to work with him, as he isn’t a horse that you can easily leave in the paddock, but tried to hold myself back from deeply engaging with him. Mostly he hasn’t put a foot wrong, which my husband says has been a VERY expensive lesson for him…… (And me!)
Jenny Pearce has helped me with a few sessions on the vaulting horse, Magic, and that helped clarify what I truly want and need : a deep sense of safety. And Pan just had not been giving me that enough for me to do what I would like to do with my riding. I was feeling more and more restricted.. Hence the new horse. BUT……. Nothing is ever quite smooth is it?
Joy lost weight on her trip from Queensland, and her groundwork has had to go slowly, so no riding yet. I have been really concentrating on helping her find her comfort zone with me in the arena, being touched with a wand, having her halter put on. I could have pushed through these things, but it’s become so important to me not to, it’s a way of life now. And Phantom is young and doesn’t know me yet, so we are slowly developing a relationship. In some ways it’s been frustrating to go so slow yet try to find time to work with all of my other horses.
I am reading Tom Dorrance’s book “True Unity” and keep finding so many relevant passages…. Viz: “for a foundation…. to get to where if the horse is troubled he will come to me….. Without this foundation I feel very insecure with a horse.”
So on Thursday I had another lesson with Jenny. The theme was “joy and safety”. I had realised that holding back emotionally was not being truly in the moment, so Pan and I did our Sharing Territory and then some amazingly connected Liberty work, while waiting for Jenny, (who’d had an emergency and was held up). This led to a short bareback ride which was OK, but there were moments when Pan’s neck behaved like a plank, and since I thought Jenny might arrive any second, and he might startle, I hopped off.
Jenny’s suggestion was to have another ride, and concentrate on feeling my breath, noticing if there were any changes or holding/tension, using this as my gauge for any minuscule Not Quite Rights. Now things began to get interesting! It’s was quite a challenge for me, to have another person in my space, yet still stay in such a deep place of connection that I could feel even the slightest gossamer bubble of a suggestion of tension, in either of us, meet its microscopic edge, pause, slowly melt away, then feel if it was still there or had it resolved.
As you can probably imagine, this took considerable time, and the lesson ended with Pan being calm and comfortable with standing, saddled and bridled, next to me standing on the mounting block. After Jenny left I decided to continue, all the time checking for those nuances of tension, meeting and melting until they weren’t there*. I just wanted to finish with sitting on Pan and then slide off. Well we got there, but Pan had a surprise gift for me. He paused for a few moments and then offered to freely, forwardly walk on. It felt as if we were exploring with each other, finding the perfect place to ask for a turn or bend. I missed a couple, but was again able to feel for that soap bubble of tensions and where we needed to be for it to be possible.
One of the things we had discussed during the lesson was my goal for the next year. I would like to be able to attend a clinic, such as the Working Equitation clinic with Pedro Neves last weekend, and have a horse who was calm and relaxed about what was being asked of him, and both of us fit enough to keep up with all the trotting and cantering required ! After about twenty minutes of beautiful forward fluid walking, turning, stopping and backing (from just a thought!), I clearly sensed that Pan felt we had done enough, a good start for a possible journey to fitness.
Apart from the incredible high I was on, two things more I’d like to mention. The boy next door was shooting with his rifles during a lot of this, which was brilliant. As Pan startled I was able to meet and melt his tension, initially while I was safely on the ground. After a particularly loud one where I startled as well, I could sense Pan noticing that he could reciprocate, feeling my tension and melting from that. I’m not sure how else to describe it, but it felt like he was taking a baby step in the direction of looking out for me too.
The second thing also came from Tom Dorrance and his talking about “Feel the whole horse”. I need to add “Feel with the Whole Person”. My tendency is to predominantly be stuck in my head, and there may be a place for that sort of thinking. BUT the sort of feel I was experiencing with Pan also came from feeling and thinking with my heart AND the body’s centre, aka Dan Tien or “Home” or the “Wombspace”, ie being “IN” all of me, using my whole being to sense his whole being.
Not sure if I have managed to convey how awesome yesterday was, but I was floating around for the rest of the day and today have attempted to be with Mimi and Joy in that same way. And I have to say it was brilliant! 🙂
May you also find such joy!
* if you would like feel get a sense of what I was feeling for notice your breathing. As you breathe in, feel the air flowing through your nostrils, sense the air moving through your trachea (windpipe), slowly filling your lungs. Notice your ribs expanding, outwards, sideways, backwards. As you breathe out feel your body softening, the ribs contracting towards your centre. Feel how the air leaves. On your next inhale, pause your breath, hold for a second and then keep breathing in. What part of you stopped moving to do that, what did you do to stop breathing in? Repeat that a couple of times getting a sense of how you do that. Then on the next exhale, pause, hold your breath for just a second and then keep breathing out. Again notice what subtle things happen so you can do that.
Imagine you are doing something with your horse, notice your breathing, and if you feel even a suggestion of holding, can you feel the edge of it? (I picture an ephemeral soap bubble) Pause, then melt slowly off that edge. Is it gone? Feel for the edge again if it isn’t, melt slowly away, repeat until you feel the air flowing freely again, then either wait for a lick and chew or ask your horse that question again and see if the “answer” is now a smooth “OK” 🙂