Movement Monday: Balance and your Feet

20727932_270340196799144_6827416665027523990_nMost of our ‘domesticated’ movement is habitual. It’s easy to get into movement ‘ruts’. It may feel as though we are great exercisers, we may even love exercise, and yet we still have areas of our body that are sticky, tight, or painful. No matter how much we exercise, if it’s always the same kinds of exercise, then we always move the same body parts through the same planes and loads. Anything we do repetitively tends to become fairly mindless. It’s easy to develop unconscious patterns of avoidance, or simply go through the motions. This kind of movement plan can lead to a false sense of security. We feel fit but then throw out our back bending over to pick something up off the floor, for example.

Culturally, we tend to spend very little time doing things that require us to work on our balance. The saying ‘if you don’t use it you lose it’ is doubly true of our balance control. We talk about this all the time in our Parkour class. Even Parkour athletes admit that balance is something they work on all the time. If they don’t, they lose it too. Maybe you do a lot of Yoga or something where you work on static balance or balance from one position to another. Great! But, every type of movement, and every surface we work on recruits different muscles and requires new proprioceptive pathways.

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I do a lot of in hand work with horses that have soundness problems. The only way I can stay out of their face and help them keep their balance is if I am solid in mine.

You may have great balance on a yoga mat and discover you have terrible balance while in motion, say, walking next to your horse. Balance in motion is different and requires a whole different skill set than static balance. Balance on a horse is different from the balance required to walk next them doing in hand work. It’s important to incorporate as much variety as possible into your daily movement. Rather than simply exercise for an hour I find it helpful to seek out things I can do while I feed the horses, while I’m watching TV, even while I work at my computer. The more often I move, and the more variety I inject into my moving life, the more capably I adapt to whatever the world throws at me.

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My 81-year-old Dad and I climbing ladders to tie down the hay tarp. Climbing ladders is something I used to dread. It hurt my knees and I was afraid of the height. This year it was easy as pie to climb all over that hay stack, up and down the ladders.

Why does balance matter in the context of interacting with my horses?

When I learn to control my balance on the ground, out of the saddle and away from my horse, my body accesses all the small muscle groups that help me hold myself up independently. Ever try dancing with someone who has not spent time developing their own balance? Steve will be the first to tell you, it is NO fun trying to move someone who leans on you! It’s way too easy to use our horses to help us balance if we have not worked on this skill independently.

 

I hope last week’s blog inspired you to get out and find things to balance on. I know I had fun finding more ways to explore developing my balance at home!

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What if you set up an obstacle course in the arena for you and your horse is your balance assistant?

One of the things my horses taught me when I started asking them to show me how to move and interact in ways that work better for them is that they LOVE following someone who has good balance. The more I have control over my own balance the more I can support my horse to carry themselves in relation to me. Horses communicate through body language as their primary language. By carrying myself well my horse automatically works to carry himself better. Horses follow our ‘body language lead’ whether we are aware of it or not. The more refined we become in our balance and movement, the more refined our horse becomes in relation to us.

This week I want to expand on the concept of balance by talking about our feet. Our feet that spend gobs of time encased in protective shoes or shoes that look pretty but don’t really help our biomechanics. Think about how much time and energy we put into the care of our horse’s feet and the footing we work them on. We all know how important balanced feet are to a horse’s movement and longevity. They won’t stay sound very long if we work them hard on bad footing or unbalanced feet. We ought to put as much energy into our own feet!

My feet have had some problems over the last few years. I’m not willing to say I am now an expert on feet, but I am becoming an expert on my own feet! Those who know me know that I like to find non-medical solutions to my issues whenever possible. When I developed plantar fasciitis in my right foot it sent me on a mission. What I am finally learning is that by encasing my feet in cushy, thick-soled, heavily protective footwear all the time, it’s the equivalent of putting my feet in casts. The skin on our feet is designed to be in contact with the ground, gathering information from the surfaces we walk on that help us adapt our body to the terrain. All of the joints in our feet and ankles are designed to move over varied terrain, our toes giving us ten little fingers that feel around and help us with balance and proprioception.

When I first started dancing I was taught that the high-heeled shoes help us dance better by keeping us on our toes more. What I did not know is how important it is to build strength in your feet independent of the shoes before you start wearing the heels. Man my feet and ankles suffered for that!

MY feet were pretty sticky and not very mobile. Working toward having more mobile, agile, functional feet is a process. The longer we have had our feet stuck in shoes the longer it takes for them to wake back up and become mobile again. I cannot say the process of strengthening and enlivening my feet has been a cake walk. My feet get really, really sore. But it’s the kind of stiff and sore any muscles get when they are being used in novel ways. And the joint pain and plantar fascia pain are all but gone. In fact, my plantar fasciitis pain resolved in just one day of addressing a few postural things for just a few minutes a few times during the day, while continuing to work on my balance.

Your feet are a key component to your ability to balance well. How are your feet?

Here’s a short video showing you how I’m working on my own feet, and by extension, my balance:

And here are some additional resources I’ve been exploring:

Move Your DNA: Restore Your Health Through Natural Movement by Katy Bowman

Extra stuff on feet and shoes on Katy Bowman’s website: nutritionmovement.com

 

Introducing Movement Mondays!

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Fall is in the air! My favorite time of year! Cooler temperatures and no bugs mean more time with the horses, and more time outside in general. This fall is particularly exciting. I feel all inspired after teaching three clinics this fall and delving into new material with my online class. For the last year or so Monday morning blogs have been devoted to body language: what our horses might be telling us with the things they do, and what we might be telling our horses. This fall teaching made me realize that the key to clear body language is movement infused with emotion and meaning.

Or, rather, our movement needs to be infused with emotion and meaning if we want to be interesting to our horses.

Unfortunately, for a multitude of reasons, most of us do not infuse our movement with much of anything. The nature of modern human existence leaves us shackled in bodies with limited range of movement. Most people I know, including myself, have body parts that are stuck, sticky, or downright painful. We, often unconsciously, limit how much we move, or the kinds of movement we employ, to protect these compromised areas.
Movement has always fascinated me. I love watching people and animals move. What the body is capable of is incredible. What we actually make use of in modern life is far less than what is actually possible. Katy Bowman of Nutritious Movement calls the ills that plague modern humans: ‘diseases of captivity’. This really struck me. We horse people spend so much time thinking about ways to get our horses moving well and comparatively little about getting ourselves moving.

We humans are domesticated, in captivity, just as much as our horses! It is just as important for us to get moving as it is for our horses to get moving! If you truly want a partnership with your horse in which your horse follows your lead willingly, without force or coercion or bribery, the solution is movement.Your movement…

Before you start thinking: ‘I can’t possibly, because _______….’ If I can do it you can do it. I kolb_brothers_grand_canyon_photography_6started dancing when I was about 44 years old. Prior to that my movement diet consisted primarily of walking, riding, and skiing. All activities where my body moves in similar planes. My husband and I went to the Grand Canyon a few years back. As I gazed longingly at the Bright Angel trail I realized that at 49 years old it was unattainable. I would never be able to do that if I continued on the path I was on. My feet and knees barely made a few miles on hills anymore, let alone miles into the Grand.

At the same time I was deeply inspired by the Kolb brothers who built a house on the edge of the canyon way back when it first became a tourist stop. Their adventurous spirit blew my mind. The things the human body is capable of that we just do not make use of in this modern, domesticated culture! So, at 49 years old I found Parkour. I am not jumping off of buildings or doing back flips! But, over the course of the last year, just once a week, I am now capable of doing things I could never do before. Parkour, at a core level, is about using all the range of movement options available to navigate your environment in creative ways. In other words, I do not need a gym to exercise, I can make feeding my horses a movement rich activity, always seeking opportunities to use my body in as many ways as possible as I engage in my daily life.

For the next while Monday’s blog is devoted to getting YOU moving. Each week I’ll share my own explorations into infusing movement into my daily activities. Not just any movement, but a wide variety of movement. How can we be creative in getting fit, confident and capable?

My most recent explorations are about balance. As our Parkour teachers always say, we always have to work on our balance, it just goes away so fast when you don’t use it. I find all sorts of ways to work on my balance every day. It was scary at first because I did not feel very safe but now I find things to balance on all the time, especially when I go for walks in the woods or the desert:

What can you find to balance on?

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I just found an old 4×4 – a 2×4 also works. Here I’m closing my eyes and Susan is my spotter. Start as easy as you need to. If you don’t have a board handy just stand on one foot. If you don’t have a spotter handy use a counter top and stand on one foot while you cook dinner!

Here I am standing on one leg on my board. Those railroad ties in the background I walk on those almost every day on my way to and from feeding. And there I am walking on the rails instead of asking Kastani to walk over them. Of course we can do both!

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As my confidence improves it’s great fun to balance on downed trees in the woods. This was fun because to get from one tree to another required going up or down. Some had branches I had to work around. Always think about the risk versus reward and make sure you aren’t going to hurt yourself if you can’t stay up!

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As my confidence continues to improve, jumping from one log to another!

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Hiking is a great place to find natural obstacles. This log was fun because it was high enough to feel like a challenge and it was fun to climb over and crawl under (varied movement is key!)

Unshackle yourself. Start moving. Find freedom of self-expression through movement and then go interact with your horse. You’ll be far more interesting to follow if you move well!

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Next Monday I’ll talk more about why balance is important to our horses and how to implement your newfound balance with your horse!

For more inspiration on infusing your life with movement please check out:

Nutritious Movement with Kay Bowman – huge resource for how to move more and move well

MovNat: Natural Movement Fitness. This is parkour at it’s most basic.

Hoof Trimming – Victory!

Sundance got his feet trimmed last week!

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If you follow my posts about trimming feet, you know this is cause for celebration around here! More than a year ago I made the commitment not to force him to have his feet trimmed. Every time we muddled our way through to get the job done it set us back in the trust department. I suppose I could have sedated him or used treats to worm my way in but he is so dang smart. He feels tricked or betrayed easily.

This last year I made it a project to trim my own horse’s feet. It was shocking to discover the amount of worry each shared about having feet handled. As I offer them the opportunity to engage in a conversation about their feet being trimmed my awareness of the subtler aspects of communication deepens, and they feel free to share how they really feel. Understand we never did anything out of the ordinary here. No horses were abused or beaten. I work with patient, kind farriers.

And yet…

It makes sense if you think about it. Horses have a nervous system designed to prioritize coordination of movement. The ability to move is such a primal part of a horse feeling safe. And here we come along and ask them to stand quietly while we hold onto their leg. It is surprisingly difficult for an older horse, or a horse with physical issues to balance on three legs for any length of time. Every horse here falls into one of those categories. If said leg is held in a position that is uncomfortable, doubly so.

Noticing how he responds as I approach his shoulder with the intention of reaching for a front leg, Sundance used to react with a dramatic arching of his neck, a small snort as he hastily sidestepped away. I learned to recognize the feeling of anxiety, stop everything and just breathe in order to avoid his exiting stage left. Once I slowed down, working with him gently and progressively, it was so clear he simply could not hold his balance long enough to stand with a foot up.

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Sundance has been a complicated case. I know he has physical issues but he is wound so tight, so skeptical and resentful of human agenda, as to make it nearly impossible to accurately evaluate his physical challenges. If he even thinks I might try to tell him what to do he exits stage left, carting me off toward the paddock that has become his safe space. Make no mistake, this is not disobedience, this is not rude behavior, this is pain, fear, and anxiety. Every time we explored past his comfort zone and he carted me off to his safety zone I lost him, sometimes for weeks. He would refuse to come near me, especially if I had a halter. This is not about correcting bad behavior this is about helping him recover from his traumatic experiences at the hands of humans. It is about giving him a voice…

Before he came to me his previous owners tried to have his issues diagnosed. Vets could only guess what might be going on. It is really challenging to diagnose lameness in a horse when they are wound so tight. The mental emotional anxiety translates into physical tension and reactivity to being touched or handled. Add to that that horses are masters of disguise. They make it their business not to limp around like predator bait. If we act like predators there is no advantage to showing us they are lame! Sundance had to learn to trust me implicitly, to feel safe here, in order to show me his physical and emotional vulnerability.

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That trust burgeoned when I started working with his feet. As he realized I was not going to force him, or punish him, or grab that leg and hang on, he began trying to figure out how to have a conversation with me. We treated working with his legs as physical therapy. I had to find a way to ask him to lift his left front leg without causing him to lose his balance and fall to the right. He had to explore how to find his balance on his vulnerable hindquarters. Where he used to be defensive about me moving past his shoulders he began turning his butt to me, placing me in spots he felt needed attention.

Finally, he was allowing me to help him release the patterns of anxiety that kept him from opening up before. Then we had the luck of having Dr. Madalyn Ward come to visit. She confirmed my suspicions about his physical issues, releasing some of the worst scar tissue from his gelding scar she had ever encountered. I felt the same and had done what I knew how to do to release it, but it was so much more extensive than I knew how to work with. His whole nervous system shifted gears after that, all the excess tension melting from his body. He looked terrible for about a week as he figured out how to move without all that tension!

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With all the horses doing so well with their feet I decided to try a new farrier. The night before he came I approached Sundance and asked if he was game to try again. He let me pick up and clean all four feet with only a tiny bit of trepidation. I told him I thought he was ready and we would try tomorrow.

Having a new farrier come after all this work to rebuild my horse’s confidence was a bit nerve wracking. AJ proved to be well educated and kind, willing to listen to my requests about how to work with these guys. As he worked on Huey’s feet Sundance wandered over to observe. This is how Sundance has learned to cope with most of the stuff we humans do with horses. He wanders over and watches, sticks his nose in and investigates. He decides after that if he is interested in trying it himself.

When we finished with Huey I asked Sunny if he wanted to try. At first he thought about bailing out but when I asked him if he could try again he stopped, allowing me to halter him. All of the horses I work with show me that it is easier for them if I pick out all four feet first. It sets the tone of the conversation and they begin to find their balance, understanding what is coming. Sundance held his breath and only breathed a sigh of relief when he realized AJ was listening, and working with his mind and body.

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A little empathy and patience go a long way. Sundance got all four feet trimmed. Rasping can come another day. Sundance was flat shocked when he got a handful of treats from this relative stranger for doing something so simple. Those of you that know him, know he wears his heart on his sleeve. His expression of shock, such an eloquent statement that he expected to be asked for more than he could give. He expected to be punished or criticized. Instead he was rewarded, praised and thanked for his efforts. I see him letting his guard down inch by inch. This experience has him thinking. I will not let him down as we continue onward.

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AJ giving Sunny a handful of treats. He was so surprised by how little he had to do to get praise!

A big thank you to Dr. Madalyn Ward DVM and A.J. at Cochise Horseshoeing for playing their roles in our journey!

And Now for a Word

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As you can see, it is a foggy and rather soggy morning here. Fog is a fitting image for my thoughts today.

My blog has been a bit quiet lately. After a year or so of being fully committed to writing twice a week I found I ran out of words. Not ideas, just the words to describe them. As my attention shifted to teaching live workshops the horses helped me remember how crazy we humans can make ourselves, trying to meet self imposed deadlines, constantly on the run. I teach using Argentine Tango as a metaphor. Argentine Tango is an improvisational dance that is infinitely creative. A creative dance incorporates pauses, sometimes improbably long pauses…

In fact, there are Tango leaders known for not getting up to dance at a Milonga unless the song moves them. Some get up to dance but do not move until there is something in the song that moves them. For a long time I wrote twice a week as a way to develop my skill as a writer and create a discipline around writing. Now I feel like those Tangeros, waiting until I feel moved enough by something for the words to come.

Ironically, words themselves have me pondering this week. The famous dancer and choreographer, Martha Graham, said, ‘the body says what words cannot’. Horses teach us to let go of words and focus on the language of the body – gesture, emotional content, and movement. The things we convey when we interact on this level are complete, instantaneous and unmistakable, far more efficient than words.

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Sometimes I think language is a burden more than an asset to human communication and connection. We get so hung up on words. Half the time we get so involved in speaking we forget to involve our body and our senses. No wonder horses often struggle to know what we mean, our body language is not so finely tuned as it could be. We spend so little time moving in ways that express how we feel that we get self-conscious about non-verbal self-expression (now that is a mouthful!)

What do words have that body language does not? The same word can have different meanings in different cultures. The same word can mean different things to different people. People often re-define words according to personal experience until their meaning has little to do with the dictionary definition. Some words that have multiple uses get narrowed down and are only associated with one usage that carries a strong emotional charge. The body language behind the words, their context, those are the things that give them meaning. Body language, our ability to feel and sense the meaning behind the words, is universal.

The world of words is not easy to navigate. As a teacher I always run the risk of triggering an emotional response in people. As a teacher interested in getting people to make use of their senses and feel more the risk is even greater. The energy and support of a clinic group allows for things to get stirred up. I often hear it said that words have power. Yes they do. Words have the power to inspire, to intimidate, to educate, to shame, to empower, and to challenge.

Ultimately words only have the power we give them.

One of my favorite self-help programs is called The Presence Process. A book written by Michael Brown, it takes you through daily readings and exercises designed to help you navigate what you feel. What a gift to someone as sensitive as I am! Among his many gems is this one, ‘don’t shoot the messenger’. When someone says or does something that makes us feel uncomfortable, rather than lash out at the person or get upset because they triggered us, he suggests we instead thank them for bringing the uncomfortable feeling or emotion to our attention. Once we are aware we can take that uncomfortable sensation and explore it to discover its source.

Such a simple exercise and yet the act of owning how I feel, little by little, put the power back in my own hands. Words no longer have the power they once did to squash me, shame me, shut me down, embarrass me or make me feel uncomfortable. I enjoy paying attention to how I feel when I read things people write. Sometimes I like reading things that challenge my perceptions and make me feel uncomfortable. Some days I am not in the mood and I might not read those words. When I attend a workshop, and even when I teach with other people I respect, I may not agree with everything I hear. I often think I would use different words to describe the same concept. How boring would life be if we all use the same words and concepts? Life is meant to be diverse, challenging, creative and marvelous.

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My life has not been easy. Has anyone really had an easy life? When I was a kid I never felt I fit in anywhere, I still feel that way most of the time. The only thing in my life that made sense was horses, dogs and cats. But, if it had been easy I would never have found the tools I found to help myself find a way to be a healthy, balanced person capable of going out into the world and sharing my gifts. We are given adversity so we become stronger, resilient, and so that things like words no longer have the power to squash us! I still may not feel like I fit in but I am comfortable in my own skin and comfortable that my differences are what I have to offer to the world.

‘The body says what words cannot.’ Martha Graham really nailed it with that one. Horses do not rely on words. They read body language. The more we learn to convey and receive what is said with our whole body and whole heart the less chance for misinterpretation or misunderstanding. Oh, there will always be things that trigger us but take heart because this to shall pass. Revel in the diversity of ideas and experience, and thank the messengers that challenge you. Words and ideas only have power if we give it to them!

Next time you feel uncomfortable with what someone says or the words they choose, take a moment to feel deeper. See if you can use all of your senses to grasp their intentions. Words are, at best, imprecise ways to describe our experience. If we step out of our intellect and back into our bodily experience we may find we have more in common than we ever imagined.

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Have a little faith

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Dancing with someone in close embrace is a leap of faith.

We must trust each other implicitly. If I send my horse an impulse to move I trust her to receive the impulse and respond. She must be able to trust that I will not rush her, or do anything that might disrupt her balance, as she interprets, and then acts on my lead. It is a delicate balance when we are in physical contact with one another. Whether through tack or touch, physical proximity amplifies everything. Feelings, emotions, movement, all intensify when we come together in shared motion.

The invitation to move is a tiny impulse, almost imperceptible to the eye of an observer. Never a demand, we explore, seeking a common understanding that forms the basis of our conversation. When my tone and movement have enough clarity she naturally recognizes and responds instinctively to the suggestion.

Always begin as unobtrusively as possible. I want to discover how responsive my dance partner might be by whispering my suggestion. Whispering encourages her to listen more closely, be more attentive to what I might have to say. This first whispered request for movement may seemingly go unnoticed. It doesn’t matter. I release and ask again without changing anything – the same impulse, the same whisper soft suggestion.

Most likely she noticed I asked for something that she missed. She is preparing internally, making sure she notices the next time I offer something up. The second time I generate an impulse she responds instantly! Lifting her head and neck, engaging her core, but I feel no movement to follow and so I release the request. She just said – ‘I think you are asking me to do something? Am I right?’ – I answer in the affirmative by creating that impulse a third time, the exact same whisper soft impulse with no increase in pressure or volume. ‘Yes, I am asking you to move with me, you heard me correctly, let me clarify for you.’

This time when I invite her to move she lifts her head and neck, elevates her core, shifting to un-weight the foot nearest me. And then I wait. Softly holding the intention, creating the space for my equine partner to move into. I must always remember that she has four legs to coordinate to my two. She needs more time than I do to organize herself to gracefully embody my suggestions. While I wait I feel for a sense of impending movement. Is she balanced enough to take the step? Does she have enough clarity to know what I want or is she still working it out?

If I do not feel a sense of her movement expanding to fill the space I created I step back, letting her know she is on the right track, giving her a moment to reorganize herself. These incremental steps toward movement are key to establishing her trust in me. She knows I will never rush her to respond, disregarding her desire to understand what I want and figure out how to coordinate her body to carry out the request. This kind of trust allows her to relax, surrendering to my whispered suggestions so that we might dance.

Yes, I recreate my impulse a fourth time. And yes, it is exactly the same as it was the previous three times. No increase in pressure or intensity. She has already shown me she can hear my whisper. She has offered up an answering response every time and I have let her know she did hear me correctly, she is on the right track in her responses. The fourth time she lifts her head and neck, elevates her core, shifts her weight and I feel her entire body filling the space I created for her to move into. As I feel her take her step I take mine, our feet landing together, following her into a space that is now shared as we move together.

It might only be one step!

I never stop feeling for the sense of her filling the space I open for us to move into. The instant she doubts or loses her balance or hesitates I pause. I pause for as long as it takes for her to calm herself and re-center. It might be for the barest moment or it might be a full stop. And then for the fifth time I repeat that impulse. The same intensity as that first whisper, maybe even a little less, and this time she flows seamlessly into the space I created and we are dancing.

Together we create a shared dialogue. This is not about training my horse to respond to my cues. This is an honest exchange. My horse and I are having a conversation about moving together. She might tell me my whisper was too soft for her to hear. She might tell me my request or intention is too complicated for her to successfully execute. She might tell me I am making no sense at all and confusing her or throwing her off balance! As the initiator of the conversation it is my responsibility to adapt to her responses. Encouraging her that I am listening, responsive to her needs. She can do nothing wrong in my eyes. It is imperative for her confidence that she never feels she has made a mistake. This is what allows her to blossom into a creative, expressive dance partner.

Physical contact amplifies everything. Dancing in close embrace requires a leap of faith. I must believe that my horse is responsive, intuitive, intelligent and willing. It is my leap of faith in her that allows her to have faith in me.

 

The Joy and the Heartache

Fafnir Christmas Day 2013

It is impossible to live with horses and not feel profoundly. My core herd has been with me for at least 20 years, hard to believe. I love my horses like family. We don’t tend to part ways unless it is a mutual decision and they find a perfect human match. They are my best teachers. They motivate me to get out of bed every single day and keep going no matter what.

Inevitably my heart is going to get ripped out. Every few years another of the old guard passes. Every time we make that decision together and I walk through it with them, holding the lead until I am no longer allowed to, reassuring them it will be quick, breathing a sight of relief as they slump heavily to the ground, released from the burden of an aging body that no longer serves their huge Spirit. How will I survive the pain of letting another one go?

We make a habit of sitting with them until we feel sure they are gone. Say our goodbyes with tears of remembrance and appreciation. Sometimes even relief. It can be such a vigil with some. Waiting, watching, trying to get the timing right. Don’t want to wait too long but don’t want to rob them of life they still want to live. Not always an easy balance to strike.

We said goodbye to one of the good ones on Saturday during a clinic here at my place. Fafnir chose his timing well. He always did love to be loved on by a bunch of women at a clinic. No accident he spent his final days with eight amazing women at his beck and call. I have no words for the depth of gratitude to the ladies who were here with us this weekend. Everyone took it in turn to spend time with him, check in, offer him water and food. When it was clear he couldn’t recover from this there was no question, we all stopped and sat with him, kept him sheltered from the sun, giving him water, and comfort until the vet arrived.

He told the animal communicator he would sure love to stay if possible. I’ll take that as the highest of compliments. We had to negotiate about that one and I explained my feelings about his chances. He had to admit it would be nice not to be in pain anymore.

And so he went.

Of course we had another day of clinic to get through. Thoughtfully, the ladies asked if I wanted to continue. Wouldn’t it be hard for me? There was no question for me, of course we continue. One of the reasons I so appreciate having horses in my life is the lessons they teach about living life. Because, despite pain of my battered heart I have to attend to his burial and the 15 horses who still need to be fed. They are all processing Fafnir’s passing as well. He was a strong presence in the herd.

We carry on, even in the wake of such loss. We carry on.

Watching the horses I can see how they grieve like I do. They grieve in the moments when there’s space for it and then they get on with the business of living. The clinic went on yesterday and we danced Tango with horses in Fafnir’s honor, sharing our joys, our tears, and the honor we felt at being present with him as he moved on from this life. In typical fashion he had a profound impact on everyone here, as he has done for the last 20 years.

Even though I feel like my heart got ripped out I would never trade the time I had with Fafnir for anything. He brought so much humor and joy to all of those he touched, and he touched many. With great joy comes great sorrow. And life goes on.

I am happy to have known you Fafnir. I feel your presence strongly with me every time I close my eyes. I cannot wait to see what you have to teach from this new perspective you have. All of us who learned from you over the years will miss your physical presence in our lives.

Thank you to everyone who was here this weekend. You ladies are amazing!

And thank you to all the horses in my life – past, present and future.

Onward.

Enjoy your freedom old friend!

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Fafnir this summer, claiming his space, as usual.

 

 

A Trip Down Memory Lane

I was recently invited to do an interview for a podcast that aired yesterday. We talked a lot about the things that have influenced my life with horses. It was fun to go back and listen and realize how much it’s those horses who have guided me to the path I’m on now. Each and every one of them points me in a direction that, when I follow their lead, takes me to ever deeper levels of understanding.

I’ve gotten to know myself through each of the horses I interact with.

My first horse, Ricky, let me feel truly alive and free. Galloping through irrigated pastures, water splashing on my bare feet as I felt his body lunging beneath me bareback to the top of the hill. I could be unadulterated self with Ricky. No judgement. Just the sheer jot of being alive with no limits.

And Gin who has been with me for 28 years now. Words can’t begin to describe the depth of what she’s taught me. She rocked my world in so many ways and still does. Gin held me accountable and taught me how to find inner stillness and peace even when I was completely overwhelmed. You’ll know if you read my post last week – Gin is the one who put me squarely on this path to seeking true partnership with horses.

It was fun to take a trip down memory lane. Should you care to listen, here’s a link to the podcast:

Come Along for The Ride Podcast with Tracy Malone

Thank you Tracy for the asking such great questions!