Having never really spent much time around horses but always loving them from across the fence I jumped at the chance to go to a place with my new friend and Nia Sister Anita Stark.
I had no preconceived ideas of what would be involved in my visit but after Anita had described what it was to her, I knew it was a special place, run by two exceptionally talented women who are the definition of being gifted with horse medicine. Peggy is the Founder of Connected Riding and Coral Autumn, owner of Body Mind Equine and gifted horsewoman and teacher. Together they take on horses who in some way or manner have not been provided functional movement under saddle, misunderstood, mistreated and truly rescue them. In turn, the horses respond by being our best teachers, reminding us to live in the present moment.
I was a little apprehensive of working with these enormous and what I perceived as unpredictable animals. I knew that my innate healing ability, experience of bodywork on humans, intuition, and love of animals would come into use at the barn, but until the day was over I had no idea how much healing I would get in return from these beautiful animals.
There are nine horses there and these 2-3 women try to tend to them all individually on a daily basis. The women are, needless to say, working very hard indeed and need support. I didn’t know what I could possibly do to be of any use, given my lack of experience and slight apprehension at the sheer size and power of these animals in close proximity but I approached the experience with an open heart and an open mind and was blown away at what happened next.
When I arrived at the barn there was one horse that immediately caught my eye as he was practically climbing out of his stall through his hatch. His name was Robbie.
Anita introduced me to all the horses in the barn and asked which one I’d like to meet first. We went into Robbies stall. I wasn’t scared and he seemed happy enough for me to be in there but as I was standing in the corner by the half open door, planning a sharp exit if necessary, I was suddenly aware of being gently knocked by another horse. This came as a surprise as this other horse had clearly craned his neck around a corner to reach me through this half open door of his neighbours stall. His snuffly love bite was the most gentle but firm nudge for attention, and I was called to him. His name was Pete. He was black with the most beautiful white heart shape on his forehead. It was undoubtedly a sign that I should give up on grooming Robbie first and spend some time with Pete….
I was soon left alone with Pete behind a closed door with Anita’s two parting pieces of advice running through my head “you’ll be quite safe shut in here with him” and “be gentle on his lower legs, they are sensitive like ours” . It turned out to be all the human advice I needed as I was then in Petes very capable hoofs. I entered into this act of grooming a horse for the first time, unsupervised, with the instinctual realization that I needed to keep my mind as clear and pure as possible. It was like this horse knew my every thought. So in order to keep any residual fear thoughts away I was intent on feeling calm, mindful and focussing loving energy flowing through my hands. This was, as it happened, exactly what worked and for an unknown timescale I groomed him, with absolutely no agenda of “getting it done”. I ran over him with the scraper to remove the mud, the softer grooming brush and my bare hands. Sometimes pausing, always listening, always watching his eyes and always whispering gently to him to ask if what I was doing was ok. He ate his lunch (hay) and had this gentle presence with me and I felt assured that I was doing just fine. At one point we were both very still, me with my hands on his neck standing under his chin, and Pete resting what felt like 80% of the weight of his head on my right shoulder in what I experienced as an intimate moment of love. Pete taught me how to listen and be in the presence of a majestic horse. I don’t know how long I was with him in there but later it turned out to be over two hours. Simply of being present, watching my thoughts, consciously acting purely out of love and service to him.
This was my initiation. Pete had taught me well.
Next Peggy put me on to a new horse called Mazzi .. He was out of his stall and he was in the cross ties. His energy was very different and I have to confess I was apprehensive at the thought of grooming him. He looked at me with suspicion. Nevertheless I took the same approach and soon got very comfortable. Peggy passed by after a spell and commented “you are putting that horse to sleep!!” I hadn’t noticed until then, but it was apparently true…
After a little while he was another happy customer and I was very happy to be of service and rewarded with the honour of such safe and close proximity to these animals.
Robbie was next. I entered his stall, and with my eye for grooming requirements, noticed how his legs were officially the muddiest of them all. His personal grooming box was also lacking the metal scraper which the others all had and somehow I knew that this guy was going to be a little more tricky in that region. I wasn’t wrong and although he seemed fine with the hands on his main body, whenever I went near a leg he lifted it and shook me off. I persevered! I listened to him, I asked permission, I found a soft brush and a harder bristled brush and with some time and patience and gentleness I got the mud off most of his legs. Peggy showed up to take him out the stall and both her and Coral confirmed that this guy does not always let you near his legs!! I was overjoyed and felt privileged beyond words.
So that was it, in one afternoon, having never done any work with horses atall, I was absolutely smitten.
These beautiful creatures want to teach us to be loving, to be confident, to be healers and to live in the dimension of present moment mindfulness and love all the time.
I had needed reminding. I’m forever grateful.
I cannot emphasize enough how impressive the connection work that Peggy, Coral and Anita are doing is. Both for the animals and what the animals can do for us.
If you happen to be in the area, I thoroughly recommend spending some time there and giving them a hand with the horses. You will be amazed how good you will feel.