"Sound is the source of all manifestation....the knower of this mystery of sound knows the mystery of the whole Universe." ~ Hazrat Inayat Khan
The Horse in this photo is Snickers. For many of those that have worked with Snickers, you know that one of his many lessons out in the field has to do with boundaries. He has also proven himself, especially over this past year, as a powerful energy worker. He just turned 6 years old in April (on April Fool's Day!) and has really been coming into his own as Teacher and as a horse within his herd. As I carry on with this story, please bear in mind the fact that Snickers has been born into this special work and has never been "broke" or had any formal "training" other than basic handling. In this way, we have preserved his spirit and his highly intuitive nature akin to his wild ancestors.
Snickers brings things up for people.Me included. He can bring up anxieties or fear with his, often times, restlessness and his unusually raw spirit. It is not common in the "horse world" to meet a young horse quite like this. One who has not been "broken" or "conditioned" in any way. Much like humans, many horses begin to desensitize their true nature over time in the heavy influence of equestrian society.
We have learned that the restlessness he often displays is actually his way of reflecting human energy that surrounds him. It has been a huge and powerful revelation....
In working with Snickers with my own horsemanship mentor, I have overcome incredible amounts of fear that really had nothing to do with Horses. Snickers was bringing up deep rooted issues for me that stemmed from a history of Root Chakra disengagement. In other words, I had a history of a lack of stability, security and the bare necessities of life, the trauma of which I carried with me in my adult years. Though things have obviously improved for me through many years of practicing creative visualization and manifestation (and a lot of hard work!), the deep layers of our being carry a cellular memory of the "baggage" we carry from our respective histories. This is where the Horses become Master Teachers. They are able to mirror us in such an honest way so as to literally show us what our patterns look like in a physical form. Very little talking takes place, it is a very somatic experience of being fully present in our bodies.
"Two individual muscle cells from the heart are seen through a microscope. Each is pulsing with its own separate rhythm. Then they move closer together. Even before they touch, there is a sudden shift in the rhythm, and they are pulsing together, perfectly synchronized." ~ George Leonard
For many of our clients, Snickers has reflected a variety of patterns included a lack of personal boundaries and a need for deepening connection to the present moment. He is so highly sensitive to the energetics of his surroundings that he so naturally embodies this gift of guiding the human into moving out of the chatter of the mind-stuff (citta-vritti) and into the presence of the body.With Snickers, there is no other way, you need to be 150% present. This is attuned to the practice of yoga, and the inspiration to the development of Horse Wisdom Yoga and its Teacher Training Program with the Horses, which we are super excited to be offering in less than one year! (Applications begin this Fall!)
I am writing this blog because the other day something happened with Snickers that took my understanding of him and his gifts to a whole new level as his caregiver and as his co-facilitator in this unique work. He revealed his super refined attunement to energy (which is actually completely natural for wild horses and necessary for their survival). It was during a visit from our farrier. For those who don't know what a farrier is, it is a person who comes with tools and a foot stand in order to trim the horses hooves and keep them healthy.
Our newest farrier is a lovely, friendly female. We have a lot in common. She also enjoys yoga and personal development. She is extremely knowledgeable about Horses and the wellness of their hooves. We only see her one every 6-8 weeks so, as you can imagine, we can tend to chat a bit about our respective lives, our horses, yoga etc.
Snickers has never been "good" for the farrier. We have so far been through three for various different reasons based on geography and others. He has always been quite rebellious and restless. Our last farrier suggested that we feed him hay while he is being trimmed. While I could see that this method would completely work to get the job done, I intuitively knew there was much more to his behavior and I wanted to explore it. I just needed a farrier who would be on board with that exploration.
As things go, the right people show up always at the right time in life. Especially, when you are open to change and are aligned with its Greatness. So, about 6 months ago, our new farrier appeared. She is totally open to the idea of our work and also very open to my ideas for deepening the connection in order to finally uncover the mystery of complete and utter rebelliousness when working on Snicker's feet. We have been successful in getting his feet trimmed without feeding him hay or treats and without any restraining or tranquilizing devices. So that is good. But I just knew in my heart of hearts that there was more we could do to make this experience less disheartening and , just maybe, even pleasurable for him. As always, I knew it likely had little to do with the horse.
"Our vocal mechanism is complex - for chanting, the lungs and vocal cords are enough; when we speak, the mouth and tongue are drawn into play. Early human skeletal remains reveal signs that the use of voice to produce speech goes back some eight thousand years while also suggesting that chanting began perhaps a half a million years ago." ~ Yehudi Menuhin
This last visit was different. I meditated before the farrier arrived and was in a very calm state. I was fully present in my body, carrying my meditation out into the field as I gathered the herd to prepare for the farrier's visit.
When she arrived, as humans do, she began some small talk type conversation. I remained monotone with my answers and spoke slowly and very little. She trimmed our first horse, Malachi, and he stood completely still for the trimming, as if he also adopted my meditative state. While he is a "good" horse for the farrier, he does dance around a bit typically and shows some mild hesitation for the farrier and her tools. But not that day, he followed my lead and was completely calm and monotone.
Then it was Snickers turn.
I decided it was only fair that I fill the farrier in on my meditative state and my "plan" for Snickers trim that day. Luckily, she was totally open and ready to hear my ideas.
Before we approached Snickers with the tools, we both closed our eyes and I guided us into a body connection through the breath and beat of the heart. We did a bhavana exercise (imagery) of light surrounding and connecting the three of us in this sacred space we were creating through our meditation. Next, I asked the farrier to repeat the words in her mind of "So Hum" in synchronicity with her breath, while I chanted it throughout the trimming. So Hum means "I Am That I Am" which lends to the yogic philosophy of unity and interconnectedness with All That Is.
So here we were. Snickers, the farrier and me. Intertwined in a beautiful warm light and no longer appearing as "farrier, handler and horse" but rather appearing as One under the warmth of the sun. We were ready for the trim.
While I repeated So Hum, she went to work on his feet. I couldn't believe it. He stood still as a statue the entire trim! He actually was leaning his head into my chest and partially closing his eyes almost the entire time. When it was time to switch sides, he resisted a little and then readjusted himself to place his head on my chest again while I chanted So Hum in monotone. I noticed he had dropped his penis (I know this sounds funny but this is a sure fire way of knowing that a male horse is extremely relaxed and feeling a sense of pure congruency with nothing to be weary of in his environment). Before I knew it, his trim was complete.
As we moved onto trim the mares, I looked over and saw that he was still very meditative for quite some time. He carried this energy of alignment and connection well into the day, after his trim.
This experience was so revealing to me in so many ways. Not only in horse talk but in human talk as well. As a highly intuitive young child, I often times felt like I didn't fit in. Before I was ready to fully embrace these gifts, incongruency also made me very restless and agitated. This experience showed me what this looked like energetically and provided so many answers attributed to my own childhood. Snickers doesn't just ask, he demands congruency. He guides us to be present. This is his gift to me. This is his gift to us.
This experience also revealed the power of sound and its frequency. The impact of imagery and intention. The skipping of small talk and cutting to the chase of the very moment, which in this case, is a young wild horse requiring our full connection and presence in order to feel safe as he relinquishes his main survival tool (ie. his legs used for running from threats in flight instinct are being held up in order to trim the hooves).
The farrier left the farm that day very impressed with this young horse and his dramatic shift in behavior. I resumed the day with an inner satisfaction of following my own intuition and listening to the cues of my Horse Teacher and my own inner teacher. I resumed the day with