Be True to Yourself

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My greatest challenge as a horsewoman is finding my own voice. It is there, but it still struggles to be the dominant voice amid the wisdom of my mentors. Good teachers are a blessing, and I am blessed to have had some of the best. They are good people to want to emulate, talented horsemen and women all.

I’ll never forget going to a symposium featuring Mark Rashid, Harry Whitney, Deb Bennett and Dave Siemens. Mark and Harry did several demonstrations together. Watching them side-by-side made it abundantly clear they had quite different approaches to horsemanship. Two clearly effective methods, distinct to each gentleman, a succinct demonstration of the personal development of horsemanship as a product of life experience. Their message hit home. I will never work with horses exactly like them because I will never share the life experiences and perspectives that shaped their style of horsemanship.

There is so much wisdom to be found from those who walk the path longer than I have. I believe in the importance of passing wisdom from generation to generation. My mentors shared their personal ways with me. The technical skills and philosophy they learned from their mentors, and those that came before. The sharing of their knowledge set me on a solid foundation. Their guidance helped me stay safe, and be a reasonably effective horsewoman in my own right, while I began the slow process of finding my unique voice.

By virtue of where I lived, my exposure as a young adult was primarily the newly popular Natural Horsemanship world. I had Gin as my primary horse dance partner and she was having none of it. In fact, none of the horses I ended up with in my younger days thought much of natural horsemanship, which put me in a bit of a quandary about who to learn from! I don’t recall how I heard about them, but I ended up auditing Mark Rashid and Kim Walnes in the same month. The rest is history, as they say. I hosted clinics twice a year with each of them so that I could learn an approach to horse training that seemed acceptable to my horse.

Kim and Mark were both so different in their approach, while still compatible philosophically and technically. The things I learned from them still form the basic framework of my understanding of working with horses. Each person I learned from over the years provided essential bits of new information, validation of things I was discovering on my own, and a deeper understanding of why what I was exploring at the time was working, or not. Mentors and coaches help us learn basic, sound skills, and help us refine, but they cannot define who we are.

The horses that came into my life shaped my path more than anyone. I’ll never forget when I finally took Kim’s advice and called an animal communicator to talk to Gin. She was incredibly challenging to work with and had no interest in connecting with me on the level I so desired. Theresa told me that it took three days for Gin to acknowledge her presence, and in the end, the only reason she agreed to talk with her was because the idea of talking to a human who wasn’t physically there intrigued her.

She told Theresa that she just didn’t think much of humans. When Theresa asked her ‘what about Andrea?’ Her response was ‘she’s better than most, but she’s still a human.’ Theresa did her best to explain to Gin that I wanted something different for us than what we tended to see in the horse human relationships we were exposed to at the time. Gin asked that I please let her know, or show her examples of the kind of relationship I wanted. From then on, every time we encountered other people and horses doing things together Gin would stop, look at me, look at them, with her best ‘is this what you are wanting for us?’ look on her face. Each and every time I had to say ‘no, that’s not what I mean’. And each time she would sigh with what seemed like relief.

I never did see an example of what I hoped was possible…

Gin is 29 years old this spring. We first talked to Theresa when she was maybe 6 or 7. We found ways to work reasonably well together over the years but it took me this twenty plus years to discover the level of sensitivity and tact Gin sought all along. Only now can I genuinely show her what I want from my relationship with horses. She shaped me more than any mentor I could ever have because she is the one who was there every single day asking me to dig deeper!

This journey to find my voice, guided by the horses, is a long game, a lifetime journey.

A host of other horses came along over the years, each sensitive in their own ways. Somehow I always managed to attract the horses for whom all these other methods just didn’t work. I remember, during a lesson with Mark one time, saying that what I really wanted was a 50:50 partnership with my horses. At the time I had to settle for 60:40 because there was no model for a way of interacting with horses where the human wasn’t in the dominant role, no matter how tactfully.

It’s not easy to step outside the box and find my own voice when there is no model for what I have in mind. In the last five years I found a way to access the kind of collaborative, co-creative relationship with horses I always felt was possible. First I had to discover who I am. I had to uncover my own talents, my particular way of seeing things based on my life experience with horses. What have I learned from this quarter century with horses? I finally understand what Mark and Harry meant all those years ago. My personal style with horses is a product of the things I’ve done, the people I’ve learned from, but now, most importantly, the horses I’ve had the privilege to spend time with.

What I know is that the horses respond to honesty and heart. Paradoxically, I had to step away from horses to find myself. Who am I as a human being, not as a horsewoman? I had to learn to stand in my own sovereignty and find my personal identity before I could show up for the horses without falling into mimicking what I learned over the years. How do I see things? How do I move through the world? What are my strengths and weaknesses as a human being? What is my inherent value, and what do I have to offer that is mine and mine alone? As I enter my 51st year on this planet I stride confidently into uncharted territory as I forge my own path with horses. And yea, it is possible to have a 50:50 partnership, a co-created, collaborative relationship with a horse.

Gin, in her typically quiet way, lets me know she is pleased. And that is all that matters.

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If you’d like to learn more about my lifelong journey of ‘slow horsemanship’ come join our online community of fellow travelers or attend a live workshop: andreadatz.com

 

 

 

 

Nutrition

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We had a mini workshop at my place over the weekend. I was asked to talk about horse nutrition, which is such a personal and often charged topic, so I decided to talk about it from the perspective of observation. Let’s learn to look at our horses and respond to their needs rather than assume there is a cookbook recipe for horse nutrition that fits every horse. I’ve been managing anywhere from twelve to forty horses professionally for more than twenty-five years, from young to elderly, performance horses to retired companions. Horses are as individual in what makes them thrive as humans!

Hence my trepidation about talking about nutrition!

At this point I’m pretty intuitive about how I feed. I watch their weight, of course, but there are so many other things that are more important to consider. Unusual fatty deposits, swollen sheaths, fluid retention, coat quality, hoof quality, muscle development, behavior… All of these things and more inform me about a horse’s overall health. Anyone that feeds their own horse can benefit from understanding the components of a balanced diet for horses, and then do a little research on what feeds are readily available in their area. Learn the properties of those feeds and then you know what to add or subtract to meet your horse’s current needs. I find horses change quite remarkably on different feeds so it’s easy enough to fine tune and discover what works for them.

Nutrition encompasses far more than what a horse eats though. I recently began following the teachings of Katy Bowman’s Nutritious Movement. She’s really onto something when she talks about how much we focus on nutrition from the standpoint of what we eat, but rarely from the standpoint of movement. Frequent, varied movement is a key component to living a healthy life. We rarely consider that factor in our horse’s nutrient profile. We can feed the highest quality, perfectly balanced diet and if our horse doesn’t have enough opportunity to move they are not going to thrive. Movement is so important to horses, and critical to the healthy function of their digestive system. I see this in my horses all the time, the moment I start doing more with them their coats gleam, their weight optimizes and everything falls into place without changing a thing about what they eat.

The group of students this weekend was here to talk about mustangs. If you think about it, mustangs are always on the move. They walk and browse on whatever they can find. Likely they end up consuming a wide variety of foods and have the opportunity to choose the foods that they need. Nature provides a remarkable array of plants, each with their own nutrient profile, many with medicinal properties. Horses in the wild listen to their body’s needs and eat the available plants with the properties that support their needs in the moment.

Coming into domestication horses not only lose access to the variety of foods they had in the wild, but they also lose the ability to move, to travel, and to find the things they need. Mustangs are interesting. Their metabolism is geared toward this nomadic lifestyle, their digestive system making efficient use of the very basic foods available to them. The better we can mimic that natural diet when they come into domestication the better it is for them. And if we can do that for our domestic horses it’s helpful for them as well. They have not evolved so far from their wild counterparts…

Modern humans have lived a domesticated life for quite some time. Most of us are pretty out of touch with what we eat and how it makes us feel. Our tendency is to gravitate to foods of convenience. Food production as an industry focuses on the production of quantity, as inexpensively as possible, food that travels well, and has a long shelf life. As I pay more attention to what I feed myself, I discover just how pervasive and complicated this focus on convenience and mass production makes it to find simple, clean, vital, ethically produced food!

In terms of horse feed we look for clean, consistent products, free of weeds and other things we might deem undesirable. In our quest for the perfect hay, the perfect grain, we inadvertently encourage hay producers to spray those weeds. Many hay fields consist of limited varieties of grasses or mono-culture crops that require fertilization, to keep the crop productive each year. I see it play out across the street from my house. There are no animals on the pasture, it’s cultivated, chemically sprayed, and irrigated. Without animals grazing the land, poking holes in the ground, adding manure back into the soil, it’s the only way to keep the production high. But at what cost?

Nutrition is a complex subject. Everything is connected. Stressed, depleted soil produces stressed, depleted crops. Stressed animals that don’t get to move as much as they should don’t thrive, no matter what we feed them. Our horses, just like us, suffer from what Katy Bowman aptly refers to as ‘diseases of domestication’. Thankfully, there is a growing movement in food production toward sustainable farming methods and the production of vital foods. In the meantime I find the closer I can keep my management practices to nature the better my horses do. It’s easy to get caught up in one aspect of nutrition, try to remember the bigger picture, how everything is connected.

Every Moment Matters

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There is something comforting about the warm, dusty smell of horses in the springtime. Sneezing as I try to find a way to wipe the loose hair off my face without adding more instead – what part of my sleeve is less hairy than my face? Why is there always a breeze when it’s shedding season? Treasured moments with the horses at feeding time, the only time I have during the chaos of getting the farm ready for the coming of spring.

The horses haven’t seen much of me outside of feeding this year. It was a wild winter and we all just focused on the business of getting through it. Now they look at me with skepticism when I show up wanting to do something more. Loop of rope in hand, no one jumps to volunteer. I don’t take it personally. Life in the herd goes on with or without me. I know it takes a few days of interaction for them to include me as part of their lives again, to remind them that sometimes I have good ideas that enrich their lives as much as time with them enriches mine.

Kastani stands there, stoic as ever, head high and braced for impact. At least he isn’t leaving. He’s been trying to tell me something for about a year now. I haven’t figured it out all the way, but I think there’s something bothering him in his neck and shoulders. Assuring him that I only want to help him get rid of some of that winter coat he lets me put the loop of rope around his neck.

I like to show up with something like a rope or halter and put it on them. Most of the time the rope ends up tossed over their neck. All the horses here have history. They were required to be obedient to aids and when they see a halter or a rope the subtle, visceral reactions are palpable. I hope to pile on so many positive experiences with a rope around that they eventually outweigh the times where that piece of equipment took away their voice and their sense of choice.

With held breath Kastani is guarded at best. Curry mitts go gently to work removing a first layer of spring shedding hair, feeling for tight muscles and sore spots along the way. Observation is key. Noticing when he cocks a foot and takes a breath, when he tenses, when he blinks. What do I feel beneath my hands? What do I feel in my heart as I make this first connection with his body?

Hands are drawn to a tight spot here, another there. Moving with all the grace and peace I can muster softly pull through his tail, encouraging his spine to release all that anticipatory tension. And he lets go, head finally dropping out of that ‘on guard’ state, relaxing into the sensations of circulation coming to those winter tight muscles and joints. A few precious moments of awareness of tension in his shoulders and neck.

Moments of release here, moments there, and now he wants to move as Huey takes note that something interesting is happening over there. Rope around Huey’s neck now, a different horse, different history. Every muscle tight as a drum so we curry in a way that might stimulate those muscles, bring circulation to the area, warm him up so we can move together. He follows me all over the paddock, but stiffly. We know what we need to work on this spring! His body pulls me to touch his low back, his belly, to breathe and relax, as he follows suit and lets go.

Now Peppy is hanging out looking for attention and Huey is deeply processing so, rope around Peppy’s neck now. Peppy is all about expressing his opinions! The rope is tolerated but it’s clear that all he cares about right now is the grooming. Dark bay, he has the most luxurious coat of three-inch long, silky hair. It sheds out in great swaths, neck first, then shoulders, body last, leaving his neck and shoulders slick but for a few straggly hairs that stick out like old man whiskers.

To my great surprise, Peppy steps into synch with me when I offer a suggestion that we move together. Flowing along smoothly as I step laterally, no need to train him to move or respond, he already knows how. It’s only half a dozen strides before he stops, looking at me with as much surprise as I feel. How did that happen? What did we just do? When he stops he’s deep in thought, as though his body is tracking what it felt like to move that way. He allows me to do some gentle bodywork before I let him go. Time to finish feeding.

The herd has been cooped up for a day or two while the pasture dried out from the last big rain. When I open the gate they race for the grass with delight. And I marvel at the changes in how they each move. Kastani, who usually doesn’t expend much energy, is demonstrating the most beautiful floating trot in large swoopy arcs. Huey leaps and twists, sitting on his haunches and spinning away to leap and run again. Just a few minutes of bodywork, a few minutes of intentional movement and this is how much they change? It’s miraculous really. This is what it’s all about for me – knowing the time I spend with my horses improves the quality of their life, even if it’s just a few stolen moments here and there at feeding time.

andrea-8463These are the moments that build our relationship and lay the foundation for things to come.

 

 

 

If you are curious to learn more from Andrea and the herd this year, check out the workshop schedule here: www.andreadatz.com

 

 

 

 

Becoming a Student of the Horse

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When I describe what I do with horses people usually say: ‘oh, so you’re a horse whisperer!’ But I don’t see myself as a horse whisperer, so I say: ‘no, I’m a horse listener.’ But these days, if I had to define my style of horsemanship I’d say I’m a student of the horse. Horses whisper to me, forcing me to listen in ways I never did before. Based on what they have to say, it seems they think I’ve yelled more often than whispered! Listening to horses requires keen observation, a skill seldom taught to the degree required to perceive the subtlety with which horses communicate.

In the early days of my equine education I was taught various systems of aids. Success with horses measured largely by my ability to accomplish my goals, to get my horse to do the things I want him to do. I might picture him shifting his weight back, followed quickly by picking up a soft feel near the halter, followed by my body stepping into the connection, and so on, as heavy as necessary until he thinks about taking a step back. Good boy. Repeat, until he understands he is to respond to my intention. Good boy might come in the form of a release of ‘pressure’, a treat, or a clicker marking his efforts in the right direction. Hopefully I say yes more than I say no. If I do my job right, in the end I have a horse that’s curious and interested in figuring out what any human that handles him has in mind.

These systems of horsemanship work, in the sense they get results that make humans happy in fairly short order. I never really gave a lot of thought to how my horses felt about it because they were compliant. They generally did as asked which meant we did things together that made me feel successful as a horsewoman. I guess I learned to observe in the sense that I learned to look for small efforts in the right direction. I learned to look for things I could say yes to. What I did not learn to look for was how my horse felt about the things I asked him to do and on a deeper level, was he moving through any mental, physical or emotional discomfort to please me and get the reward? I think the assumption was that if he was outwardly relaxed and compliant he was content.

As my observation skills refined I began to see evidence that perhaps my horses weren’t as content as I thought. I began to see their responses to my requests as anxious attempts to get the right answer so as to avoid escalating pressure (no matter said pressure was quite small and always consistent and ‘fair’). When I used positive reinforcement or marking the desired response with something they enjoyed, I still ended up with horses that seemed almost too keen to ‘get the right answer’. Working with horses that had chronic lameness or other mystery illnesses led me down a deep rabbit hole. Coming out the other side I discovered that these ways of working with horses were all about me being successful and had little to do with what that horse needed or wanted. I saw too many horses with serious health issues, breaking down in some way due to the stress caused by soldiering on as asked.

Eloquence develops over time. I was not a particularly eloquent communicator in those days. I feel fortunate to have horses still living with me that I have worked with for twenty years and more. My husband is an artist. His studio filled with old paintings, early studies that will never see the light of day, he refers back to them from time to time to study old mistakes, or see how his work has evolved. My now old horses are living representatives of my early days as a horsewoman. They reveal all the mistakes I ever made with them. It’s truly humbling. Instead of learning from other people I now learn from them. What they taught me over the last few years is that I need to slow way down. I need to learn to observe more carefully. Take the time to ask a question, and then really listen to their answer. Imagine if I asked you a question and there was only one answer I was willing to accept? What if you didn’t understand the question and I just kept repeating the same question a little louder each time? Or maybe I offered you a cookie if you could just get the right answer? No matter how tactful we are, if our horse doesn’t understand the question to begin with then he’s left guessing. That’s an uncomfortable place to live. Never mind the possibility that he can’t comply due to a physical or health issue.

The farther the horses take me down this new path, the more I realize there is no need for positive or negative reinforcement, pressure and release. Conversations need no reinforcement, only a willingness to listen, respond, refine. To converse with my horses requires extremely fine observation. They answer my questions with movement, gestures, facial expressions, and emotional tone. Sometimes they have a lot to say, a whole series of body language expressions that are a bit like learning sign language. I think I’ve been the deaf one all these years! What I used to see as willingness I now see as hurried attempts to figure out what I want before I get more insistent. It takes time to lose that anticipation bred over 20+ years of relationship. Time to discover deeper meaning in our interactions, to let go of feeling like the only measure of success is getting them to do the thing I have in mind.

The conversations I have with horses now teach me more about myself than I ever imagined. Horses I’ve never met before walk right up to me and start ‘talking’ to me in their non-verbal way. I see things I never would have seen before. And now I can apply meaning to all those gestures and expressions and feelings emanating from them. Given the opportunity to speak, horses are such clear, honest communicators. I cannot focus on getting a result and still observe all the tiny things each horse has to say. When I give them time to speak I discover exactly why they might refuse a request. Sometimes it’s because I was not clear in how I asked. Sometimes it’s because they have a physical restriction that makes it painful to do as asked. Sometimes I have them in a position that makes the movement I have in mind impossible. By giving them time to think, and communicate with me, we end up having the most fascinating, rewarding interactions. When we do accomplish some goal it’s that much sweeter for having genuinely found it together.

 

 

Slow Horsemanship

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Slow down. Take your time. Breathe.

The horses keep telling me I go too fast. I keep thinking I slowed down enough for them, but every time I get the message it’s still too much. What is slow enough? Why am I in such a hurry? This year I thought I should try simplifying my life, not take on any more projects and just go deeper into the things I already have. My busy mind rebels at the notion! There is so much out there to learn, and such easy access to information. Why not sign up for one more online course?

I see what the horses are saying. Human priorities have really shifted in just a few generations. Instead of spending the bulk of our time directly engaged with attending to our basic survival needs, gathering food, cooking, staying warm in winter, we devote our time to earning money to buy the things we need. We have an unprecedented amount of time we can devote to recreational activities. We are so removed from the realities of nature in our fast paced, sound bite culture. Nature has no use for our clocks. How slow is slow enough for the horses? Slow enough that I am calm, breathing, fully present in the moment, with a sense of nowhere else to be.

Lately I have this sense of timelessness. Out feeding the horses, currying hair off their spring hungry bodies, there is no hurry. But it’s deeper than that. I can feel my feet interacting with the ground. I walk softly on this earth. Everything feels embodied, methodical, like a moving meditation. Peaceful, at ease, I am like a magnet the horses notice and flock to me for attention. I don’t always learn the lessons the horses want me to get by interacting with them. The last few weeks I believe I might understand what they mean by slow down. And the lesson came in an unlikely form…

20190315_105817I made sourdough bread this week. From scratch, nurturing a starter that came to life from the wild bacteria in the air. Seven days of careful feeding and nurturing before the starter was bubbling with enough life to make bread. The process of making the bread involved multiple steps throughout the day to create the dough and shape the loaves. It took another full morning to go through the steps to bake each of three loaves. The end result was three, golden brown, crispy, crunchy crusts on gorgeous, tasty loaves. There’s room for improvement, but all in all a good first effort! And so gratifying to eat something I know is nourishing.

Going through this process makes me acutely aware of how time-consuming it is to actually cook and make things from scratch. To properly prepare beans so that we get the nutrition out of them requires soaking. Some beans need vinegar or lime juice added to help break down the phytins that are not really that digestible. When cooking, the foam that floats to the top of the water must be carefully removed. They cook long and slow, the kidney beans taking a full day before they are ready to use. We made homemade chili last night. It took three days of preparation to have the beans ready.

It’s no wonder we’ve embraced convenience food, but at what cost? There is something soul satisfying about the time spent in the kitchen, working with my senses to guide me to the perfect combination of foods for my daily meals. Food that really nourishes me and makes me stronger, an act that empowers me to truly take care of my basic survival needs. Cooking is an act that connects me to my food, to where it came from, and fosters reverence for the life given to sustain my own.

This is what it means to slow down.

As I become conscious of where I grab for convenience I realize how far that convenience removes me from the process of creation. The things that make my life easier also facilitate my rat race. Stepping out of the rat race means letting go of some of the things that make life easier in favor of things that make it richer, sustainable, and ethical. The deeper the horses take me, the less value I place on having horse related goals, the more my focus shifts to larger concerns. The horses asked me to wake up. And oh, what a magical world they show me!

Slow means planning ahead, so I prepare today for a meal that won’t be ready to consume for three days. It means I pace myself when I work with the horses. A pace that allows me to observe and respond as they communicate with me on levels too subtle to see with my eyes. This level of slowing down means I appreciate each horse and the time I have with them. Whatever that time might be. It really doesn’t matter what we do, it’s the depth of the relationship that matters, the honoring of all life, including theirs.

Maybe along with the slow food movement there needs to be a slow horsemanship movement as well!

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OPPORTUNITIES TO LEARN FROM THE HERD:

Come join the herd and I this spring for unmounted workshops focused on awakening our senses, building our confidence, and engaging with the horses here in novel ways that foster creativity and intuition.

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It Takes the Time it Takes

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The best lesson horses teach me is this…

It takes the time it takes.

Four years ago I hit the pause button, stopped riding, and actively training horses, and became their student. Enveloped by the herd, time had no meaning as we lost ourselves in the dusky scent of horses. Invitations for a hand placed on a shoulder met with head bobbing, eye closing sighs, followed by dramatic stretches. And then another body part presented, another horse shifting into range.

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I guess from the outside looking in it might seem as though nothing was happening. But for those of us nestled in the herd’s embrace everything was happening! Our world was rocked by what they shared with us: the infinite peace, the profound stillness of the herd, the power of touch to transform. Each horse, in turns, over many days, gifted us with their story, how they feel about their lives, how they’ve been treated at the hands of humans. They allowed us to help them heal old wounds, and they helped us heal our wounds in turn.

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The herd opened a door for me to find my path, to find a new understanding of taking time with them, and in so doing a new sense of taking time for myself. Four years in, no time at all really, and the lessons from that miraculous summer continue to seep into my mind, body and heart. Taking root, turning into something all together bigger than I ever expected.

I’ve no idea where they will take me next but I know this:

It takes the time it takes for a tree to grow from a seedling, grass to mature into hay, a season to pass. Nature has her own pace and will not be rushed – quietly, steadily, patiently, evolving and adapting. I was in such a hurry I hardly noticed the changes happening over tens of years. It’s a blink of an eye really. What is one hundred years to a tree or a mountain?

Take the time it takes. Find the pace that allows you to enjoy life and all it has to offer. Take the time to cook delicious food, walk barefoot through the snow, taste the rain, and appreciate the sunset. It’d be a shame to let all that beauty slip by unnoticed as you hurry through your life.

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I give myself permission to breathe. I give myself permission to step out of the rat race of my own making. I vow to pace myself sanely, to value every moment, and drink deeply of what this life has to offer.

I thank the horses I share my life with for showing me the way to live life well. They are my guides to this place of peace. The ones who help me find a pace that brings me closer to communion with myself and the world around me. Four years ago, no time at all really. I am grateful.

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The Dance

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Photo: Tanya Pearce Redhawk Photography

Connect. Breathe. Settle into one another. Absorbed in this moment of sensing, receptive. There is a place of internal stillness where the deepest of listening occurs. No anticipation, no excess tension, just enough tone to respond to the slightest movement between us. Together we breathe, in, out, and then in unison we move.

Simple steps in rhythm, we find our synchrony, feet landing at exactly the same time. Our bodies influence one another in such close proximity, how can they not? I stay present in my own body, feeling my feet interact with the ground. How they land, how I pivot, determines how well I carry myself through the movements we shape together. Standing tall, I feel my shoulder blades stabilize, helping me receive the impulses to move as my torso moves freely within their frame.

The movement between us is dynamic, all of our senses engaged in this fine connection we share. Sweeping, graceful and ground covering as our bodies entrain to this shared experience. We engage in a moving conversation, exploring the creative possibilities. How can we move together? What’s possible? How much do we trust on another? Our vocabulary expands, speed up, slow down, staccato, perhaps filled with intricately complex footwork.

Sometimes the rhythm slows, or even pauses. The tension building as we find our balance within this more challenging pace. Collected, coiling, ready to spring into the next surge of inspiration! The connection does not diminish in the pauses. It intensifies to build energy, or creates space to exhale the release of excess tension and anticipation.

There are no mistakes in Tango. Only this shared experience of improvising. If either of us gets flustered we pause and breathe until we feel the tension dissolve. Whether physical, mental or emotional, we cannot dance if we are tense. Fully engaged with one another we explore the possibilities, finding the humor in the stumbles and miscommunications. Some of the best conversations are the ones that aren’t perfect.

Saturday night on the dance floor I followed while Steve led. This is the kind of experience I wish for my horses. Compassionate, challenging, fully engaged, filled with the joy of sharing each others company in this unique way. An opportunity to feel my body move, reveling in unexpected possibilities. A shared experience, mutually agreed upon, as we support one another to access the raw physicality and power inherent in these amazing bodies we inhabit.