I can tell when it is 'blog time' again because the words just jump about in my head and demand to be set down!
So what has me so enthused this time? Yesterday, I held a Liberty Clinic at home and decided that I would pair each of the participants with one of my own horses, Axel or Timo. Rather then explain theory or demonstrate what I can do, I wanted everyone to go away with a unique direct experience of liberty that they could take back to their own horses. Axel and Timo did not disappoint. I was particularly impressed with how much Axel seemed to enjoy the exchange with two new playmates. It felt like watching him have an unfolding conversation, feeling for who these new arrivals were, and understanding how they communicate. It reminded me that horses should not be wrapped in cotton wool and need new experiences in order to thrive. They enjoy opportunites for growth every bit as much as we do when these opportunites are prepared for and set up with consideration.
Reflecting on the day, I wanted to share my own learning highlights. Every clinic is so different in personality, depending on the subject and the mix of characters that are there. This is a big part of the enjoyment, never quite knowing what magical mixture will turn up on the day. Of course, this can cut both ways but I am a 'cup half full' kind of woman so always believe that the outcome will be positive.
Subtle Energy Every Time
We started off the day with some exercises playing with using force, as opposed to using subtle but powerful flowing energy. These exercises related to rein contact, in particular achieving those elusive 'forward thinking' hands. We contrasted two alternative ways of achieving a similar effect. Using 'box hands' and the 'unbendable arm' exercises, people were able to experience how to access strength, without brace or rigidity. One perceptive participant aptly named it 'soft power' which I really like. By using a concrete example of changing energy states and its benefit to both the horse and human, participants could see how this related to liberty. Our energy states are the words in our invisible communication with horses at liberty. An added bonus with these exercises is that participants got some great tips to improve their riding. Two for the price of one!
We also considered the dictionary meaning of liberty. The Concise Oxford Dictionary describes it as 'freedom from captivity, imprisonment, slavery or despotic control'. I offered the perspective that developing liberty with horses has the greatest benefit for humans, as it offers the opportunity to liberate ourselves from our own ego captivity, imprisonment, slavery or despotic control. Anyone I have ever met who achieves what I would consider to be true liberty, has made many inroads into significantly reducing their own ego.
During the sessions in the arena, we talked about the need to start every single piece of communication with very subtle energy as oppossed to 'shouting' at the horse. Of course we need to make things very clear in the beginning but there is no reason why we can't trust our horses acute sensitivity and perceptiveness each and every time. I have seen it many times over and it is a common pitfall. So many of us get stuck at some point, in using large signals and busy body language so that the horse simply stops listening to this information overload. Here is the discipline of liberty! Having the confidence, trust and skills to allow the magic to flow. We are so used to controlling life with big efforts, energies and gestures that we forget to turn the volume way down and focus on accessing a far more subtle and powerful way of moving through life.
The Potent Power of Stillness
When I watch people who have a beautiful connection with their horse, I see that even when they are in activity, there is a quality of internal stillness that is palpable. I initially became consciously aware of this quality when I first visited the Self Realisation Fellowship Temple in Encinitas, California. The monastics and sisters there had such a deep and profound quality of stillness and peace that it was quite an unnerving experience. In comparison, I felt like I was jumping about energetically all over the place; even when I was sitting still! This made a huge impression on me and never left me. It is a way of being that I aspire to and love to include this awareness more and more in lessons and clinics.
The biggest highlight of the day though was definitely the openheartedness, effort and commitment of the people who came to learn from the horse. I was so pleased when I saw the pictures I'd taken as I feel they really captured something of the inner stillness and calmness that each student is manifesting in their own way of being with horses. To this end, I will leave you with a few of these images and hope you see what I see in them, and recognise the power in the stillness.
For information about the next Flow Horsemanship clinic in March, please go to upcoming events.