A Glimpse Into Their Classroom: The Horse as Teacher
I get it. I totally get it. The perspective of the skeptic. I completely understand because I have been there, tirelessly wandering from barn to barn, riding horses and wondering why I didnt FEEL the connection on their back that I felt in my heart. When I heard about horses as teachers and healers, I too was a wee bit skeptic. Although, I knew there was something very special about horses that had drawn me in since a little girl, I just couldn't quite grasp how this would work.
From my first experience as the client at a facilitated workshop with horses and their human co-facilitators, I was completely and 100% convinced that this was the "real deal" with horses. And so began my journey of meeting, one by one, over the span of 3 years, my very gifted and willing partners, teachers, healers and co-facilitators. The entire experience sparked something inside of me that I could never have imagined. Profound moments of revelation accompanied by moments of truth where the horses demonstrated the meaning of compassion as they held space for the unraveling of my messiest tangles and opening of my deepest wounds. They didn't try to "fix" me, they didn't even try to "say" anything to me...they were simply present in the most authentic form, tip toeing around my spirit as I faced my fears and finally, saw my purest reflection in their eyes. I would rush home from the barn with fairy tale like stories of the magic I had experienced with the herd. I remember trying to explain the happenings to friends, family and even my own husband, all of whom would look at me with a blank stare in total disbelief while trying to be encouraging with support. It was interesting because my son and nieces would listen so attentively to my animated versions of these stories and they often felt like the only ones who understood. Children still believe in magic. Horses took me back to a time when I believed in magic too and perhaps that was why the children loved my horse stories so much. To this day, I have never left that special place, thanks to the horses.
It wasn't until the herd came home in September 2013 that my adult friends and family began to experience their own interactions and pieces of magic with the herd. Recently losing his mother, Kevin developed a very special connection to our "mother" mare, Penny. She would watch over him as he did farm chores and I would catch them quietly connecting over the fence. One day, when he was opening the gate from the drylot into the grassy pasture, all of the horses were so excited to get to the grass. Kevin, assuming ALL of the horses had ran out to graze, turned around and walked back to the other side of the dirt lot. I was amazed at what I saw. I called out to him from the house and said "Kevin, turn around...look behind you!" Penny (who LOVES her pasture time) had followed Kevin rather than her herd who were happily nibbling at the grass. He was shocked as well when he turned around and saw her there, right at his shoulder. It was a tender moment, a moment of knowing he was not alone. Day after day, the horses reached out to more friends, family and guests, leaving them with profound life wisdom and, often times, jaw dropping experiences. Guiding them to the centre of their hearts, where things are simple, where things are pure, where we simply are. The horses take us there. Needless to say, with the herd in their third year at home with us, my family and friends listen like children, eyes wide open, as I share the magic of horses, for the horses have brought them back to their true nature of curiousity and wonder, too!
So will you learn quantum physics or algebra while visiting the herd in their classroom? Probably not. But the lessons you will learn when you visit these teachers with an open heart are lessons you cannot be taught in any school. These lessons are invaluable. These lessons are lessons from the heart. The lessons more humans could benefit from. These lessons link your soul with direct experience of love, acceptance, compassion and creativity.
Sometimes things are so very simple but the chaos of the human mind shakes it all up and creates an unpleasant cocktail that will be sure to leave you with head ache that will last for days. There is a Taoist philosophy that speaks of the power of simplicity, When I read this philosophy of the "uncarved block", it really resonated with me in life and with the horse as teacher (and all of hature!). It reads:
"Things in their original simplicity contain their own natural power, power that is easily spoiled and lost when that simplicity is changed."
In order to share authentic teaching with humans, we support the horses in preserving (as much as possible in domestication) this "natural power". The horses do have some conditions. In my poem entitled "Come Along", they share:
Come along my friend, come along with me,
I will take you on a journey that will set you free.
What I ask of you is that you hear me,
For I cannot guide you unless my soul you can see.
Come along my friend, I can show you the way
But please understand, we both have a say.
I know what you need to learn, what needs to be explored
If you take time to understand me, you will need to search no more.
But these are my conditions before I am able to share
Ensure I have adequate food and fresh water
Outdoor shelter, a herd and proper ongoing care
I need to know I am loved and am not a tool to be used only when you need
For in the world of horses, the herd is about the union of "we"
So come along my friend, come along with me
let's discover a new way for humans and horses to be.
A joining of our hearts based on mutual honor and trust
Connection and compassion, loving kindness is a must.
Let us walk together side by side on this path we have been called to walk
I will always be here to answer the door of authenticity when you knock
Come along with me, my friend, come walk this path with me
I am your honest reflection, in this moment we are both free.
I heard these conditions come from the horses long before we ever partnered in co-facilitating and opening our own classroom on our farm. They spoke to me on their journey of working with me as their "client" on an incredible path to heart connection and healing.
The herd and I began taking private clients on our farm to explore the world of horse as teacher in the summer of 2015. What transpired often left me, and the client, speechless. The horses would make a very obvious transition from "horse" to "horse teacher". Our youngest horse, normally quite energetic amongst his herdmates, would completely quiet in his role. He became a master of holding space for his fellow professors, when as a "horse", he is typically anxious for the herd's attention. It would become obvious when a client was in their 'head" instead of their heart, as the horses would remain "horses" or become obviously agitated. When a client truly "showed up", you bet your booty, the horses did too.
With winter upon us and the classroom being outdoors, things have quieted a bit, though the horses still call to clients, some travelling from over an hour away meet the teachers. Out of the 3 dozen sessions held between summer and today, it has become very clear to me that this work is the "natural power" of horses in their "unspoiled" state (ie. the uncarved block).
The lessons taught in this classroom are endless, limitless and countless...but one thing is for certain. Before changing anything from its natural form, take a moment to ponder the simplicity of the principle of the uncarved block and honor the natural power of all things....including horses and including you!
Welcome to the classroom where the horses are the teachers.