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Valakines Painting by Emil Doepler 1905
Horse Sense for Women
I’m continually fascinated by the number of phone calls and emails I receive from women who start out by saying, “I really don’t know exactly why I am contacting you, but somehow horses keep showing up in my life. I feel them calling to me.”
Often I discover, they mean the horses in their dreams, or the horses in a field they pass by on their way to work each morning. Books fall out of the bookshelf at the library with a horse on the front cover and their heart skips a beat. I have come to know this as the mysterious call of the horse.
On occasion someone has a real four-legged horse in her life and wants to feel more connected in the relationship. Always quick to point out that she doesn’t mean just while riding. But, rather the deep reach into the heart and soul of the horse, learning to connect and interpret the vast energetic, kinesthetic territory of “horse -speak.”
There is no wonder women feel connected to horses, in Norse mythology, Valkyrie, refers to a host of female winged figures on horseback flying above battles. These Valakines decide which soldiers will go to heaven – Valhalla.
There are numerous depictions of Valakyies in paintings, sculpture and in literature. As with most myths they stir our deep soul desires pulling us into the realm of spirit. And think of the iconic images of Joan of Arc, where would she be without her horse? Women and horses have had a connection since time immortal.
On the first day of an Equine Guided Education program. I’ll hear women say, “I felt drawn to the horses and I don’t know why.” There’s that myth speaking again! I understand all too well this intuitive reaching out, these longings and musings. It is no accident these women find and often come to study with me.
Nomad, ambassador of Medicine Horse Ranch
Nomad turned out to be my first client when I started a retirement home for horses. And his arrival signaled the beginning an amazing relationship with his owner Dee, meeting her felt like a re-union of lifetimes. I welcomed in a kindred spirit, a riding partner and a trusted friend. I remember thinking the day Nomad arrived that Dee and I would know each other for a long time.
The first order of every day was figuring out how to get Nomad’s pergolide medication into him. This may have been an easier task with almost any other horse, but it was always a challenge with Nomad. I called him “Nomad the Rascal” in the mornings. Often he would make me catch him before I could administer the magic potent. But sometimes he would stand stone still waiting for me and I’d think, “finally” he is with the program. But no sooner than I would shoot the syringe in his mouth, he would spit it right back out along with the mouth full of grass he’d been holding hostage.
Nomad’s adventures at the ranch began when he was run down by a younger and more aggressive Gelding in the pasture. Toyota, one of my EGE program horses placed himself between the struggling Nomad and the charging horse, Toyota mule kicked out at the aggressor until the Gelding retreated.
Normad loved his owner; his sponsors, bananas, brushing and he loved Succotash, the goat. On many a rainy day I would spot a bone dry Succotash standing directly underneath Nomad. On a sunny afternoon it wasn’t uncommon to see them taking a nap together, the goat carefully tucked around his friend, head comfortably resting on Nomad’s heart.
Once a visitor to the ranch lost control of her Boarder Collie. The dog immediately began to chase Succotash all over the paddock. Out of thin air, Nomad and Angel (Nomad’s paddock mate) flanked the goat, Succotash, moving at a perfectly synchronized continual canter. Two hero horses keeping the dog at bay until her owner retrieved him. Seems like Nomad was not ‘retired’ from making friends and protecting them.
After the incident with Succotash and the Collie, I thought to myself, “Nomad paid it forward.”
I looked out of my bathroom window onto an unusual sunny morning in mid January. It was about 6:30 am, I saw Nomad standing in front of the barn grazing peacefully. Then at 8:30 am, I headed to the barn to feed. As I walked through the open gate and rounded the corner with Nomads pergolide in my pocket, I noticed a strange feeling in my gut. I looked out onto the front pasture where normally every horse in the herd is lined up for breakfast. There were no horses in sight. My gut started to constrict. I looked in the paddock and from 30 feet away I knew Nomad was gone.
He was lying down, his blanket perfectly placed around him. There were no signs that he had tried to get up, no tell tale circles in the dirt around his body. It was as if he melted into the earth with one graceful movement, a last breath and a final bow.
I found him facing west, eyes open, head first facing his herd. His paddock mate Guinness was standing next to him, head bowed low.
I knelt down, reached out with both my arms to hug his blanketed body and through a flood of tears, said a silent prayer. Guinness and I paid last our respects to our dear friend, our horse shaman, and the ambassador of Medicine Horse Ranch.
Nomad was in my care for almost 4 years- of course this is referencing linear time. In horse time, it seemed so much longer than this. Truthfully he is still here. I often feel his majestic presence. He sends messages to me in dreams. He fills my heart with memories when I gaze into the sky and see the horsetail clouds above the barn and hear the cry of a red-tailed hawk circling above. Some horses were made to be remembered.
Across the Great Divide – Humans rediscovering horses
In my work as an equine educator, I’ve had the privilege to work with a variety of humans introducing the horses in my herd. One young woman was in remission from cancer and gripped with fear. In the span of twenty minutes this same woman successfully lead a 1,000 lb. horse around the arena, and over a jump pole marked CANCER! In this process, with the help of a horse named Caesar, her troubled spirit was lifted and set out on the road to recovery.
Horses are sentient beings capable of healing broken spirits and reconciling troubled souls. Today there exists a chasm between those who relate to horses primarily as tools, existing only for human pleasure, performance and blue ribbon wins and those of us who relate to and love horses for their wisdom, companionship, beauty and spirit.
As evidenced by their plight throughout history, horses are often and easily disposed of when they become elderly, injured, and/or unable to carry riders weight on their backs.
The Ancient Horse
Since the beginning of recorded time, horses have danced through our art, shared our mythology, and shaped our history. Together, humans and horses have waged war, tilled soil, explored new lands and engaged in great contests. Kings and commoners, heroes and villains, saints and sorcerers have ridden into history on the back of the horse. Equines bring us as close as we will ever come to flying on our own.
These powerful beings are at once mysterious yet noble, wild but manageable. And yet, for as long as horses have been in our consciousness they remain a mystery. Perhaps, no other creature in our lives holds the sweet paradox quite like the horse.
The size and power of the horse is naturally intimidating to many people. Partnering with a horse creates confidence and provides for some wonderful metaphors when dealing with other intimidating and challenging situations in life.
In my 15 years as an equine educator, I have facilitated hundreds of sessions for a wide variety of humans – abused children, people struggling with addiction and people with health challenges.
A trouble teen, who had seen her mother murdered in front of her, had not spoken in two years when she came to the ranch. After grooming and communing with a grey Appaloosa named Tizzy she broke open and spoke her first words. Tizzy had “whispered” to her.
Nine Latino 6th grade boys and girls on the verge of dropping out of school, become inspired to read and write about horses during a four month pilot program, called Horse Sense for Readers.
The Horse as Messenger and Teacher
Horses have been an every day feature of western human life until just 50 years ago. As our industrial need for the horse greatly diminished, the horse of today seems to be transforming and reinventing itself.
The modern horse signals the emergence of teacher, healer, mentor, guide, coach and mediator, at the very forefront of human self-development, education and recovery.
Humans are learning the intrinsic value of the horse. People in the corporate realm are venturing out to a pasture, on a ranch, letting horses teach them about leadership. Veterans damaged by war are regaining confidence and feeling understood by horses. At risk teens, who have never experienced wide open spaces are bonding with horses. Those recovering from addiction, illness, grief and loss find a gentle ally in 1,000 pound animals.
I am so privileged at Medicine Horse Ranch to facilitate these programs, and witness first hand the horses healing influence and power.
For me, horses evoke a fierce love, and a unique relationship, that will never dim with age nor fade with time. My life’s work is to honor and celebrate the horses healing presence, across the great divide.
WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR EZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: Finding North Horse: Discovery, Recovery and Transformation Through the Call of the Horse. Alyssa Aubrey, CEGE Incorporates horses in human development through Equine Guided Education. www.medicinehorseranch.org