“Do you still ride her?” I’m asked this question nearly every time we meet someone new. Molly turned 30 years young this May. We don’t ride very often anymore, and when we do it’s often bareback in a halter and lead rope, around the farm or a short jaunt down the trail … but the truth is, I haven’t ridden her regularly in years.
Life seems to happen constantly (imagine that) and things get in the way; men, injury, jobs, not enough hours in the day, etc … and my beloved girl on her best day has never been a relaxing ride, I’ve always had to be ready for her shenanigans. Her fiery spirit is one reason I love her so much and it can also be exhausting to ride her, especially when I ride out alone. Like anything in life, our time together in the saddle would ebb and flow. In the past year, I find myself increasingly bonded to my little mare. We spend much of our time these days parked under the shade of a tree while she eats her lunch and I read my books. I look into her deep brown eyes, and I see contentment. There is a connected-ness and a knowing that touches me right in the core of my heart. As we share space and companionship, doing activities we both enjoy, there is a deep and profound peace.
This is a vastly different experience than that of riding, which is an activity that she is pretty clear she doesn’t especially enjoy. As I think back on it now, with the perspective of a Gestaltist and awakened horsewoman, I see now that her “Fiery Spirit” was really her telling me that a lot of the time, she didn’t really enjoy what we were doing, and there were also days that she clearly did enjoy it. I just never took the time to ask.
There is a movement going on in some pockets of the horsewoman community, where we are learning to honor the horse as an individual, where we stop and listen to the voices of our equine partners, we acknowledge that they have opinions, and we even allow them to say “No.”
These days, I am learning to ask Molly if she wants to be ridden, if she wants to join me out of the pasture, if she’d like to walk around, where would she like to graze today, would she like to go roll in the sand of the arena, would she like to step up to coach clients with me? I am learning to listen to her voice and let go of my expectations, and when I sit with her and we connect in our quiet way, I can feel the gratitude on her part. The affirmative knowledge comes to me in her soft sighs as she grazes, or her sharp whinny & full tilt run towards me when I call her name in the pasture, a sure sign that my horse enjoys the time we spend together as much as I do.
Am I saying you shouldn’t ride your horse, or that they shouldn’t be made to do things they don’t want to do? No, absolutely not. I’m writing this to raise your awareness to the possibilities that exists when we open our hearts and minds to our equine friends, and lessen our human expectations and agendas.
I see my horses as I see my clients Capable, Creative, Resourceful, & Whole. ❤ Thanks for reading! I’d love to hear what you do with your equine friends out of the saddle!