On Horse Training as a Spiritual Path
A WORK IN PROGRESS
"Everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a Spirit is manifest in the Laws of the Universe - a Spirit vastly superior to that of man, and one in the face of which we, with our modest powers, must feel humble."
"If you will not commit to a belief, you will believe anything."
The horse is a herd animal; to an extent it has a group psyche. In the wild, all it's learning is influenced by the herd strucure and dynamic.
Most people - including trainers, owners, students, horse psychologists - deal with individual horses. You probably deal with individual horses as well, even if you handle several horses in the course of a day, since you are probably dealing with each horse one at a time. The horses are, for you, isolated units, not members of a group.
Peoples' ideas of a "successful" or "well trained" horse could be producing individuals which from a herd's point of view, are psychotic individuals. As they do not act like natural, authentic herd members, they must (from the horse's viewpoint) be "wrong".
People judge other people the same way. We consider the behavior of a hermit or a prisoner in solitary confinement (or anyone who deviates from the "herd behavior" by very much) as unnatural.
"Horse whisperers" and other truly successful horse handlers may be successful because between themselves and the horses they "whisper" to, they create a herd. However, any individual who attempts to create such a human/horse herd without a thorough understanding of the individual horse within a natural herd creates an artificial construct which does not occur in nature and therefore could be considered an abberation.
No wonder horses have so many problems.
Go to where your horse lives. Spend at least one hour just watching. Do not talk to your horse or in any way influence its behavior.
If at all possible, watch your horse interact with other horses.
Try to keep your internal critique at a minimum. Try to imagine your horse
running wild. What behaviors are you seeing? If you were your horse,
hat might it mean to be doing what your horse is doing - from your
horse's point of view?
Repeat as often as you can.
6/15/98 Fear of Horse as Equal
Stanley Schmidt, Editorial King of the Hill (No Matter What), Analog Science Fiction & Fact Magazine July/August 98, p8
On the idea that Man is set apart from the "lower" animals:
"What fascinates me most in all this is not whether ... animals...
can do things that humans have always thought of as exclusively their
own... [but} why so many of us have such a powerful, knee-jerk need to
believe that the answer is no."
"Through our entire history we have become accustomed to
pushing [animals] around in ways dictated by our own wants and needs
without much regard for theirs. Many of us, consciously or un, would
just as soon keep it that way, and admitting that other animals were
closer to our equals than we've assumed would make that harder. As
[Sue] Savage-Rumbaugh* and [Roger] Lewin* suggest... ‘Man's ability to
exploit the planet, to take of its resources as he needs, and to
usurp entire forests and all living creatures therein, rests upon the
unwritten assumption that the chasm between himself and all other
creatures is impassable. All of modern man's activities operate from
the premise that the planet is his to allot into countries, states,
counties, and individual plots, because he, unlike other creatures,
has been given the twin gifts of reason and expression. By assuming
that other animals lack these gifts entirely, man obviates any need
to listen to the wishes of the creatures with which he shares the
planet. He can therefore proceed comfortably by his own lights,
blind to information that is perceived as nonexistent.'
"...Maybe it's time that we as a species worked on the
ability to respect ourselves on some terms other than being better
than everybody and everything else."
* Savage-Rumbaugh, Sue & Lewin, Roger Kanzi: The Ape at the Brink of the Human Mind (Wiley, 1994)
So, where do your beliefs fit into this picture? Are you a homo
Go to where your horse lives. Spend at least an hour watching it.
Do not talk to it or influence its behavior in any way.
Imagine that you were your horse. Imagine what it would be like to
be totally controlled by another being - limited in where you could live,
what and when you could eat, when & how you could work or play.
Keep your inner critique quiet. In this exercise, you are a horse,
not a human! However, as a horse, perhaps at night you dream of the
open plains, running free with your extended family. How might it feel
to have an owner who gave you as much opportunity to be a natural horse
as possible, compared to having an owner who ignored your horse soul?
Now think about this: The oversoul, the higher consciousness,
god or the great spirit, (pick one) is to
you what you are to your horse... only - your higher self knows you
completely. If your horse fights the path you choose for it, what do
you think about it? What do you want your horse to think about your
corrections? Have you fought your own path, and gotten corrected? Were
you accepting of the correction, or do you "fight the bit" of your oversoul?
What does the relationship of oversoul to you mean to you and your
understanding of how things work spiritually and in daily life?
6/28/98 HORSE AS MANIFESTATION OF GOD-SPIRIT
We - humans - are made from the same cell stuff that everything else is made of. Every thing, living or "unliving", is made from the same stuff that the earth itself is made of. The earth is made of the same stuff that the universe is made of.
Everything is made of the same stuff. This stuff that things are made of is a manifestation of the creative force we refer to as God, Goddess, Allah, The Creator, the Universal Intent or Will... whatever term one wishes to use. [Note: from now on I will use the term "god" to include all of these concepts. You substitute your preferred term.] All things are made of god stuff. All things are an extension of god. All things are god.
Being god stuff, all these creations are perfect. All god's creations know they are god at some level - the cellular or the conscious. All things have some awareness of self-as-god. Some float in godliness, live as god. Other things are only vaguely aware of the connection. We humans are probably the least "connected" to a direct knowledge of our self-as-god - but rather than assign a value to this, know it to be the unique opportunity to grow that it is.
Intelligence is related to independence of thought, the price of which appears to be separation from the awareness of one's self-as-god.. This is the nature of intelligence, the option to think thoughts that are not godly in nature, to create separation of the awareness of one's godhood. If humans are unique to any degree from all known things which exist it could be just this separateness from godhood. It distances us from other entities on this planet, from the planet itself.
Critters are more at one with god and most are probably blessedly unaware of any other option. However, critters do feel emotion and pain and have memory. Perhaps to the extent that they are intelligent, they too are separated to some degree from god-as-self. Elephants examine the bones of their ancestors and remember the lessons of their parents and grandparents. Great apes carry the bodies of their dead infants and learn to sign to humans. Dogs mourn the loss of their families, their human ones. Horses, dogs, apes, elephants, they look into our eyes and accept us wholly, our good and our bad. The price of intelligence is high.
All things are god, even humans!
When we look at a horse, or deal with a horse, we are looking at and dealing with god. This is a concept which most people are either unaware of or forget or deny. We can do this because of intelligence. Keeping this idea in mind, this idea alone - that Horse is god - keeping it constantly while dealing with a horse, changes everything.
No greater love does god have for us than to provide a means for us to learn. We learn from experience, and we learn from pain (as well as from happiness). The catalyst for learning is the Other. Other is manifestation of god that is not us. No greater love for us does Other have for us than to be the catalyst for our learning. And we for Other.
Sometimes a change of view, a new way of looking at something, reveals the truth of what was hidden to us. In our current manifestation - or incarnation if you will - of self-as-god, we are separate from god by intelligence so we can have a new view of god. The soul of a horse can provide us with a view we have not seen before if we let it. Thus when we work with Horse we learn about god, we learn about ourselves, we learn about self-as-god.
We so often think we are teaching a horse something when we work with it (using intellect, we forget we are trying to teach god!) When we think we are teaching, what we are actually doing (when it works properly) is discovering how to articulate our thoughts, to convey extremely clearly what we mean. We can look at our relationship with Horse as a form of prayer and discovery of the true nature of reality. We can see this as one path to the top of the mountain.
Mechanical aids, that is, tack, other equipment, are poor substitutes for true communication. They can mask what we mean, and they can lie. We do not communicate with other humans with physical controls and restraints, yet we feel free to do so with animals. The "horse whisperer" enters the stall of the beast with nothing in his hands and exits with a friend. This is true communication. Soul touches soul and each is recognized.
The things we ask of a horse - to turn, to speed up or slow down, stop or go - these are things Horse already knows how to do. When, in spite of or in place of a horse's wishes, we make our requests (hopefully) or demands (usually), we call it "working with the horse" or "training". When a horse consents to "submit" - and Horse so often does so with grace and generosity - should we not out of courtesy understand it is god that we are asking to turn, speed up, slow down, stop and go? Realizing this, we can take the next step up the mountain - we see that we have asked and god has answered.
EXERCISE Spend an hour sitting on your horse bareback, with no halter or headstall, in a round pen or other smallish enclosure where your horse is free to move, but you feel secure. Close your eyes. Bring to your mind and hold the idea, that this animal you sit on is, in fact, a manifestation of god, as you are. Feel as deeply as you can that this horse is a version of yourself, an extension of your own oversoul in horse form.
If the thought wanders out of your mind, pick it up again. Practice holding the thought. Release your inner critic and timelessly hold the image.
Close your eyes. Ask your horse to walk without your moving a muscle. Ask through your soul to your horse's soul. Ask, with the self-that-is-god part of you that you connect to, ask of Horse.
Repeat as often as you can, gradually moving to a larger area. If possible (with a companion rider for safety's sake - let's be realistic, accidents can and do happen and anyone can be jolted out of the god-connection under the right circumstances) do this exercise after you are completely comfortable with it, in an unfenced area.
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