The Art of Horse Listening
I am sure you have heard the term "horse whispering". A term used to describe people who demonstrate a profound connection to the equine species and are able to "get through" to them in ways that the general horse person cannot. A term often used to refer to someone who has been able to "fix" a troubled or "problem" horse. My intention is not to put down the "horse whisperer" in any way, as I do believe there is a time for everything. The "whisperers" are often referred to as such because they have a gentle, compassionate way of working with horses, which, I am sure we can all agree, is much needed in the horse world!
Now, what about "horse listening"? Have you ever heard this term? It came to me after a very intense experience a couple of weeks ago whereby I was given the choice to whisper or to listen. I chose to listen.
The herd and I were expecting a client to arrive for a session. As we typically do, we had our little "pow wow" of meditation and connection to check in with each other as partners and co-facilitators to see where we were all at that day and who was already connecting to the client. As part of this "ritual", you could call it, I usually go around and brush each horse. The weather at that time had been quite unpredictable. We had experienced rain, sun, mud...in early February! The horses were dirty. I am not sure if you remember the deep freeze we experienced here about two weeks ago? Well this session was just a few days before it.
When I check in with the herd, I like to do so at liberty. What this means is that the horses are not tied or restrained in any way. We are all just hanging out with free choice. The horses can come and go as they please and this gives me a better idea of where they are at during our time of checking in. They are fully engaged with me during our meditation and connection. Next step is to groom these babies to make them look "presentable" for our client, who, by the way, is arriving any time at that point. So here I go around the paddock with my grooming kit and the horses are having nothing to do with it. This was so odd. They typically LOVE this part because I know their sweet spots and places that they love to be scratched and groomed. One by one I was shoned by each horse. I was beginning to check myself to see where I was at and if they were reflecting something to me, but I was good, grounded...and had to really remember not to take it personally!
The client arrived and I shared with her what had happened and we sort of summed it up to a "take me as I am" sort of lesson. A lesson of self-love and acceptance which we all need to be reminded of at times. We had a powerful session with four dirty horses. It wasn't until later on that week, after the passing of the deep freeze that I realized what REALLY was going on.
I was sitting in the sauna revisiting a book I had read a couple of years ago entitled "How To Think Like A Horse" by Cherry Hill. As anyone who is keen on self-study will know, the right information sort of presents itself when it needs to. So, this time around, reading the book about "why horses do the things they do", a piece of information hit me over the head like a ton of bricks. It was no coincidence. I was meant to read this under a paragraph entitled "Seasonal Coat":
"A horse's skin secretes a waxy exudate called sebum, a natural waterproofing. Even if rain or snow penetrates the long hair coat, if the sebum is undisturbed it will repel the moisture. Although grooming in summer is good, bathing or deep and thorough grooming in the winter strips the skin of its built in protection and so is not advised unless the horse will be blanketed. Horses do not require blankets unless they are ill, thin, old or have no shelter."
WHOA. Talk about an AHA! moment!
I picked my jaw up off the sauna floor.
The horses knew there was some intense weather coming in and their own instincts knew that my grooming them would strip them of this necessary moisture repellant. Because our horses live outdoors in somewhat of a "natural" lifestyle (as much as possible given their domestication), it is our responsibility to provide them with the tools they need for survival (shelter, hay, vitamin, salt, a herd...). BUT it is also our responsibility to listen to them when they use their non verbal communication and body cues to try and tell us something very important. Boy, am I glad I listened, as our horses braved the deep freeze without resistance.
That day I could have easily whispered my way into haltering and tying each horse so that they could be groomed and "ready" for our client. Instead, I listened to the horses who clearly had a reason for refusing to be groomed that day.
The art of horse listening expands so much further than listening to horses. If we can consider the views and choices of the horses in our care, we can also tune into our own intuition and begin to listen closer to our own authentic voice when it speaks to us from the heart. Our light further expands as we begin to listen to others, even when they are not speaking.
Listening. Such a powerful resource that we all have access to. You don't even need to see, touch, smell, or hear to be able to really listen. This type of listening is a gift from the heart. Our intuition builds the bridge to the Art of Listening.
Shhhhhhhhhhh. Can you hear it?