Play, Connect and Heal
THE HORSE AS A FRIEND
I’ve been around horses on- and- off my whole life.
Early on, I enjoyed riding, jumping, trail rides, and just messing around bareback. Over the years of working with horses, I realized that I was seeking something more profound - a feeling of wholeness and a depth of connection with horses.
I wanted to understand and be understood by these caring and thinking entities who were watching me so closely.
I wanted to be as attuned to them as they were to me, and I worked hard at being accepted by them.
Over the years of interacting with horses, I’ve grown in subtlety, sensitivity and patience. As I’ve learned to slow down, find my serenity and watch for signals from the horses, I learned about myself and what horses can do for us.
I enjoy dressage, jumping, bareback, bridless and liberty, but mostly I'm a horse archer.
In horse archery, the connection with the horse is paramount. You have to drop the reins ... and everything depends on trust.
You don’t have time to think when you’re on the track. Everything happens so fast. It’s a whole body experience where you must act as one entity, in rhythm, focused and serene. You get in a state of flow. In that moment you are the horse, the target, and the arrow.
Working with Clyde I got to experience the depth of connection where he and I are one. He came to us a little anxious. He had a reputation for being "mustangy". He gets off balance and wants to speed up to stay ahead of himself. I worked with him on the ground first to gain his trust and set an expectation. We came up with cues he could understand and practiced cooperation. He now offers me a slow even canter that I call the rocking horse run.
Clyde is a gentle and highly sensitive horse with high standards. He wants to do right and gets frustrated by failures. He requires high levels of clarity and consistency combined with a strong connection. He will not tolerate rough treatment. He is also one of those magical horses that can operate with mental commands. I can ask for a gait change mentally and get it reliably.
While on the track, he listens for my voice cues, my weight shifts, my breath and confidently takes on his role in getting us through the course and over jumps. Riding him always brings me back to that feeling I had from horses as a child.
RAISED BY WOLVES
I was one of those kids who grew up all over the world.
Everything I knew changed every few years, each time my family moved. As a result, I learned to adapt quickly to my environment, to stay open to new experiences, and to stay anchored in the moment.
One constant was animals. As a child, I was always surrounded by animals - cats, dogs, birds, monkeys, goats, snakes, horses. I have always had an easy way of connecting to them. In fact, I spent more time with animals than with people.
In many ways, I think people and animals are not that different. We are all seeking a deeper connection to each other and a feeling of safety.
Starting a horse is a special honor - you set the tone for what they will expect from all the people they will meet in their lives.
Finn was a determined young horse that had lived in a field with other horses all of his life. His first answer to everything was to kick.
Getting him to pay attention and stay out of trouble was the greatest challenge with him. I had to micro manage every moment until he learned to offer new answers. He was immature, playful, and hungry for more. I had to be extremely consistent and particular. Eventually he was happy to try anything I asked of him. His eagerness was inspiring.
He found his forever home and has been doing well with new family. He tested my metal and made me realize the power of connection.