So many things bubbling! I will start with a recap of my journey with energy. When I was little I didn't have the courage to ask people for things all the time, but I would think thoughts at them like crazy! Plus, I would give off some pretty obvious body language, i.e. sulking if I did not get my way. This actually worked, although it didn't feel all that great. Manipulation is a rather dark and slimy feeling. I was seeking to control others and was arrogant enough to think I was being sneaky about it, but honestly it is pretty easy to guess when a kid wants something but isn't asking for it. As I grew up and experienced more relationships I got a little clearer on how to communicate. After my family moved when I was 12, I remember thinking consciously that this was an opportunity to turn over a new leaf; demonstrate a different side of myself. I spent a lot of time alone and in my tween and early teen years and realized that when I asked questions in my head, I could receive answers. My family was open about psychic phenomena and did not have any kind of strong beliefs or fears (although my dad does get pretty freaked out about ghosts), so I wasn't worried about this. It was delightful to get information so easily. I painted and wrote, played my violin and had a pony named Welches. He was the first horse I could do whatever I pleased with. We had huge open fields that I would run with him in on foot. I loved the intensity of moving my feet so fast that if I tripped I would tumble. I rode Welch's bareback, racing out of the valley we lived in to the top of our hill to see the sunset. Or riding up there under a full moon to see the valley filled with mist. It is amazing to me how much I instinctively knew about being energetically, and how much I had to learn. Welch's transitioned me into dressage when we were having challenges in the hunter ring and he helped pay in trade for board when I got my first dressage horse at 15.
Welch's cost $350 I think, and Evita, a 4 year old imported Trakehener mare cost $18,000. I showed a lot of talent for Dressage and loved how important I felt when it was going well. Getting a green 4 year old was hard though and working to pay her off was intimidating. With all of this "growing up" I didn't spend much time alone, with or without horses; I got more social after getting my license, joined a band and enjoyed myself with friends a lot. Dressage at that time was draw reins and neck stretchers. Always making sure the head was low and the back was up. Long spurs and a spooky horse. It was so challenging to get all of this right that I ended up taking breaks and going through many awkward times with my trainer and family. Getting back to energy, this was a pretty intense time. I had amazing insights and at the same time was in way over my head. Parts of my intuition got shut down and at the same time Dressage developed my already strong propensity to push things through, the little goat Capricorn that I am. This really led to two habits when the going got tough, shut down or get super intense.
I spent a year at a warmblood breeding farm as a working student between 18 and 19. There was so much growth and energy work. I had the wonderful experiences of riding tempis and canter pirouettes, and reveled in upper level work. I got to start young horses and take a retired stallion who became one of my best horse friends on trail rides. I met and lived with one of my closest friends and mentors. There was also a lot of horses being worked in restrictive ways. I used a chambon for the last time there and I experienced for the first time anger in the face of not having the knowledge or resources I needed. I was my worst self in some of my work. I didn't yet realize how much I wanted to work in a different way but I think some of my experiences there laid a foundation that would later support my desire to find a more peaceful path with horses.
My next adventure was to meet Jefferson at 20, fall head over heals in love and get married six months later. Jefferson has been my guide for the last 11 years in rekindling the soft intuitive side of myself. When I first met Jefferson he had not had much horse experience. He was and is a Reiki master and is very in tune with energy, as well as having no desire to force anyone to do anything. Dressage is an art as well as an excuse to force horses to do movements. I suppose any horse sport can be those things. Jefferson immediately wanted to know why we rode horses with whips and spurs. I couldn't say much more than that is how we communicated with horses. I still was deep in dressage training but he and I were having separate horse adventures in the Sangre De Cristo foothills at 8000 feet. Our landlord and lady owned two sure footed large ponies and we rode bareback all over the hills. It was so fun and began to bring me back around to Welches. Bonding with horses for adventure and mutual enjoyment.
It wasn't until 6 years ago that we moved to Tennessee and had land to have our own horses with us. I met more dear friends who helped grow me. I began playing with natural horsemanship although it took me years before I was helping horses with it. I got stuck in task oriented performance for a bit. Jefferson singlehandedly demonstrated to me that getting off and walking beside a horse de-escalates stress. He showed me over and over the gratitude his mare felt when he simply hopped off. She wasn't worse the next time. She was't learning that she could get away with anything. She simply thanked him. All my horse life I had been taught that horses were trying to get away with "things", bad behavior of some sort. Now I was seeing that something entirely different was at hand. I had another friend remind me about energy bubbles and rekindled my awareness of horse's comfort. I had forgotten that allowing a horse time and space could be just as powerful as training. Yet I would still need more time to really integrate that information.
A year ago I worked with a troubled horse and finally did integrate that information. I have helped my horses with many things all with the foundation of relationship. This horse I did not have a relationship with and I still thought I could help him through some troubles he was having under saddle. He was very upset and wearing a running martingale. I thought if I took the martingale off he would follow my guidance better. But I think part of the reason he had a running martingale on was to keep him from throwing his head and bucking. I still thought I could help him from his back and instead of getting off I kept attempting to guide him. He was upset enough to continue bucking and throwing his head and the last head toss was high enough to break a front tooth and bend the other back. He was relieved when I got off and I promised myself I would get off every horse that asked me to get off in the future.
I have a crown on one tooth now and the other pushed back into place and healed. I still have to monitor myself as I rarely feel fear when I work with horses. I watch this by feeling the intensity and truly wanting horses to be at peace, filled with confidence and joy. I do a lot more groundwork and I get off any time a horse needs a moment. The last time that happened the horse only needed about 30 seconds before I could get back on. It was like a reset button. Other horses need longer but I am willing to take as long as it takes. It is ok to get on and off and on and off. Provided that you have some stumps or rocks so you aren't hurting your horse's back :)
This leads me to horse dreams. My good friend has been teaching me the Trust Technique which she likes to call meditating with horses. A very brief description: matching horse's thought level by matching their awareness. If they are looking around you are looking around. As soon as their eyes soften even a moment you gaze at the ground and clear your mind. Listen to the birds and the wind. You follow their awareness until I am told they are so relaxed they will lay down. I have not experienced this yet although my friend has. On the day that I am going to talk about my horses were already laying down. I was planning on riding and all of that but Errowood was napping. I contemplated getting him up but sat down beside him instead and matched his energy. A little while later I heard nickering and soft whinnies from behind me. I turned to see Cora also laying down and dreaming! Soon Errowood joined her with his nose resting on the ground. Deep smelling breaths, nickers, ears listening to dream sounds and even a big snort. I was captivated. All of this time with horses and I had never spent enough time with them to see them dream! It inspired me to write this. I wished to summarize some of my experiences with horses and to illustrate how long it can take to begin to find the good stuff. Just now I am beginning to understand the idea of setting up and the allowing the horse to flow into a movement. And just now I value horse dreams more than my own agenda.