I've recently had two experiences that exemplify how profoundly and directly horses are affected what's happening in those around them. In my opinion, we humans, too, are likewise affected but are often unconscious of it. This points to the importance of keeping ourselves balanced, peaceful, and happy, as our our internal states have effects that carry far beyond ourselves. It also points to the importance of being selective about those you spend time with, as their energies will affect you.
As mentioned in some of my previous posts, my mare, Tiara, is a sensitive girl and gives me lots of learning opportunities. The stress of cold weather recently has brought an increase in her usual sensitivity, as well as suspected ulcers, and she has been more agitated, impatient, crabby, dominant and reactive than usual. Monica, my sweet mild-mannered mare, has been "low man" in the herd ever since they settled in, but this has become exaggerated in response to Tiara's increased ferocity. Monica has been more wary and on guard than usual, wisely distancing herself from Tiara and often positioning herself with a fence between them. Josh hasn't seemed as bothered by Tiara's fiery energy (this is different than her earlier insecurity which he had no tolerance for); however, Monica's increased insecurity annoyed him, and he's been driving her away.
The past 3 days, I began some dietary adjustments for Tiara and added herbal supplements for soothing her stomach and calming her nerves. Additionally, I've been more diligent about using flower essences for each of my horses: Tiara currently gets Transform Anger, Calm Child, and Male Support (which contains Impatiens, excellent for easing impatience). Monica is on Courage and Athlete's Spirit (both help with confidence and a stronger sense of self, and Athlete's Spirit is particularly good for strength, energy, and a grounded, embodied physical presence). Josh gets Athlete's Spirit as well as Cleansing Fire (to help clear past patterns and engage him in a more grounded way with his body).
I am amazed at what I'm witnessing just 3 days into this. Not only is Tiara calmer and more content, but the whole herd dynamic has shifted. Tiara has stopped running Monica off the hay piles and they are actually nibbling hay side by side! Monica is engaging with the other two more than usual, hanging out or napping in a close knit group, sometimes even playing with obstacles together (normally Tiara would greedily possess these too, running Monica away); instead of being insecure or wary and hanging back, Monica now comes right up and confidently takes her place among the others. Even Josh is more content and peaceful; his own dominant tendencies have settled and he is being friendly with Monica. The herd is more integrated and balanced, and each individual is more at ease.
"Make yourself so happy that when others are near you they become happy too."
~ Yogi Bhajan
Now for my other recent experience. I was working with a horse at Horse Protection of Florida last week. This horse, I'll call M, had a history of abuse, ulcers, and a lot of things being forced on her that caused her pain. Morgan, who runs HPAF, says this horse has been the hardest to keep weight on of all the horses she's ever dealt with (which is saying a lot, since Morgan has successfully rescued hundreds of horses from starvation and turned them into healthy, thriving individuals.) Morgan's goals for my sessions with M are to make her more comfortable and reduce stress, in hopes of helping her better maintain weight (in conjunction, of course, with all the dietary and supplemental things Morgan is already doing). I've worked with M a few times before, and she often prefers off-body work and Reiki to a more hands-on approach. She needs to know that her boundaries will be respected, and that she can be in control of her experience.
As I entered M's stall this time, she was napping in the back corner and immediately put her ears back at me, letting me know she did not want her peace disturbed by anyone “doing” anything to her. I decided to simply focus on centering myself and see where M wanted to take things from there. Staying at the opposite corner of her stall, I worked on myself, creating a space in which she could let her guard down, free to take from my internal workings whatever she wanted and apply them to herself if she chose.
This session was the ultimate “doing FOR the horse, vs. doing TO the horse," and she LOVED it! More valuable than engaging with her, was giving her the experience of a human honoring her boundaries, honoring her desire to have space and to NOT engage. As I began, she took a deep breath and began to relax. As I tuned inward and focused on grounding, M squared up, passed gas, and did lots of licking. She repositioned her body to face me directly, deeply relaxing and licking some more. Part way through, as I ran my spirals, she arched her entire spine into a huge “giraffe stretch," then squared up again, doing more licking, going into deeper relaxation.
Just as rewarding to me as M's response to my inner work was that the entire barn became peaceful, quiet and calm during the session. The horse in the next stall stayed close on the other side of the wall, deeply relaxing as well; the horse on M's other side who cribs constantly ceased cribbing and became quiet; the horse across the aisle who had been incessantly and impatiently pawing, stopped and settled into stillness. Throughout the barn, I heard the sounds of relaxed, peaceful horses: lots of licking, blowing, and deep sighs.
Horses are very sensitive. They feel the internal states of those around them as if they were their own states. People, I believe, also feel and respond to these things, albeit often unconsciously. Taking a lesson from what my herd and M demonstrated, we are reminded of the importance of tending to our own inner states - not only for the well-being of ourselves, but for everyone with whom we come in contact, and for the wider world as well. This is where our power lies. The shift we want to see in the outer world begins within each one of us. "Let there be peace on Earth, and let it begin with me."