Archive for November, 2018

Last month, I led a meditation amongst horses at the Heading For Home Racehorse Retraining Center. We had 2 retired racehorses. Rock DJ is standardbred who was a regular at the Saratoga Harness track for 8+ years, where he had the majority of his 29 lifetime wins and earnings of almost $290k. The other, Romans Paradise, last ran on the flat track in late 2017 and won $105,256 over his 5 year career. Contrary to some opinions, most racehorses are treated quite well. That said, they lead very regimented lives. Because of this, sometimes freedom can be the most challenging adjustment after retirement; not unlike a lot of Americans. So, the experience was new for horse and human alike. I suggested everyone (self included) drop their awareness down from their heads into their heart. Then the two horses were led in and walked around in their halters. After which, their leads came off and they were free to mingle.

There is a trend of teaming horses with humans to help the human to feel empowered. Often these scenarios involve a human asking the horse to do specific tasks. How they request the movement from the horse is indicative of how they respond in life. This was not what we were looking for with Rock and Roman. Instead, I was asking for everyone to tap into the sense of what it feels like to share space with others while all having freedom. Humans were free to walk up to horses or stay where they stood—the only requirement was to stay fully aware of their safety. The horses were free to walk up to humans or explore the large arena. As said earlier, it was a new experience for the horses to be around people without being handled or told what to do. It didn’t really take long for them to realize this truth and they went around exploring everything. At first we humans were talking and pointing out the horse’s behaviors. Then after 10 minutes or so, I suggested we be silent. There is immense power in silence that modern humans rarely experience, always filling their head with noise—including constant mental chatter. In the arena, we were actually silent in the quiet—being so, changed the energy within the arena even though we were doing the same things as moments previously. Both horses approached each attendee in time, sniffing and lightly touching the person.

When leading meditations, I drum a steady rhythm along with the guided words. As I began to to do this, Rock and Roman came over to check out the drum. They put their noses all over the head and tried biting the beater. It seemed like a possibility that drumming wasn’t going to be part of the night. However, they eventually wandered off to investigate other things. During the meditation, the horses remained free, so humans had their eyes open. That made it challenging to go into an immersive meditation. Even so, there was another moment when the energy shifted again and dropped even deeper. From my position as an observer, I felt the horses respond to the humans. Or was it the other way around? Doesn’t matter, what I know is that the energy within the arena became one of true peace. The horses lowered their heads in this aura. Shortly after that moment, the horses walked to my bag and opened the flap which made it fall. This was enough to distract the relaxation and I brought the meditation to an end. To close, I played my Native American flute. Towards the end of the song, I looked over and Rock and Roman were off to the side yet staring at me with interest. As I walked over, Roman moved off a step and I began playing directly in front of Rock. He stared at me while his energy shifted. He seemed no longer aware of what was going on outside of himself and was only focused on inside his body. At least that is what it felt like from my perspective. Eventually, I stopped playing. I think Rock would have basked in the flute’s vibration for another half an hour or longer. Regardless, all things come to an end and we did so before anyone lost interest. Hopefully, the next time we can start up right where we ended.

Why repeat this story for you? First, because it was extraordinary and perhaps you can feel that. Second, because it exemplifies my belief that animal relationships benefit people. Perhaps the wise Eckhart Tolle says it best;

“Just watching an animal closely can take you out of your mind and bring you into the present moment, which is where the animal lives all the time—surrendered to life.”

Humans have excellent cognitive abilities. Yet, it seems we’ve lost some of our common sense. By that, I mean the ability to sense all that goes on around us. That includes the feelings of humans and animals, as well as what is happening within group dynamics. Are we smart enough to know that these latent skills are needed again rather than something to continue to suppress? Perhaps after centuries of gathering information, it is time for us to believe in and trust our animal instincts.


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