Category Archives: Animals as partners

Cows as teachers

I am currently shifting and anchoring energy at a retreat in the Black Mountains of NC. One of my teachers here is a horse called Windfall. She teaches me about being present in each moment and how to communicate with animals through energy.

Some days ago her owner rode her up to the top of the mountain where a herd of cows is grazing. They know each other and it was a treat for Windfall to see her friends. Looked like the cows enjoyed her visit and decided to return the favor. Two days later I drove up the mountain seeing five cows and one calf grazing along the gravel road. I decided to bring them back to the pasture.

The conscious way to move cows
I had seen the pasture where they came from but I didn’t know the way from where they were grazing. I decided to let them show me the way. I also was curious how cows react to energy and decided to explore it. To get there attention I had to raise my arms and clap my hands a little bit to get them moving in what seemed to me the right direction. I followed them slowly, allowing them to pick their own pace. I was laughing with delight as they moved slowly up the mountain, sometimes taking a pee brake or catching their (and my) breath.

What to do with adventurous cows
The one in the rear was white and seemed to be the adventurous one. She kept looking for other interesting paths to explore. But a snipping of my fingers was all it took to move her forward. Sometimes I would talk to her, sometimes move a little bit closer behind her to keep her going. I deeply enjoyed how easily and calmly it all went.

Communicating with images
Half up the mountain I heard mooing behind me and discovered that the rest of the herd started to join us. We were at a narrow path, an incline to the left and a steep decline to the right. I decided to stand at the right side and ground myself, becoming very present. A technique I learned from James French. A calf was in front of me, eyeing me curious and nervous at the same time. After a minute it decided to pass me. I kept sending the cows an image of the whole herd passing me calmly. Some hesitated, others rushed but most of them made it past me calmly, joining the six in the front.

Then there was one left and with surprise I saw it was a bull. That created a brief blip in my present and calm state. I too send him the image of passing me by calmly. It helped to know that I was standing beside a tree and could get out of the way fast if needed. The bull seemed undecided. He lowered his head but didn’t seem aggressive. He then decided to make a b-line up the incline to create a bigger distance while passing me.

With lots of hello and other conversations the twenty or so animals moved up the mountain slowly but consistently. The leader in front calling them all to follow, while the white one brought up the rear.

I always find it fascinating that cows never seem to return to the spot where they broke through the fence. So sure enough, we ended up at the closed barbwire gate. The herd started to split and I decided to move slowly through the herd to open the gate. That worked relatively well and with sending them an image of moving through the gate half of them did. I managed to surround the split off group and point them back to the gate. However, the leader started down the mountain again and gave me some extra mileage, but in the end they all ended up in the pasture.

It was exhilarating to see how sensitive these animals are and how willing they were to go back to their home without much prodding. I couldn’t find the hole in the fence they broke through but hoped the owner would.

The unconscious way to move cows
Four days later I heard again a lot of mooing on the mountain. I was sure the herd was roaming again. I went down the trail we had come up before but didn’t see them. I decided to let it go and let the owners take responsibility so that they would be motivated to check the fence. I went to spend time with Windfall.  

One hour later Windfall and I heard human shouts on the mountain and a lot of mooing. Windfall rushed out of her box to listen to the racket. I remembered chasing cows in my childhood and creating a similar racket as we heard that morning. I was grateful for the peaceful experience I had a couple days before.

Sharing a grounded state
Windfall came back into her box anxiously listening to the animal and human voices. I stayed calm and present beside her, telling her what I perceived was going on and that her friends would be okay. She calmed a bit and got more grounded herself, resting one of her hind legs but being alert with all her senses.

The shouting went on for a while and I could feel the chaotic energy fading as the herd moved closer to the pasture and away from us. I was struck how Windfall and I mirrored each other in stance and state of alertness. I enjoy spending time with her and experience her life as a horse. We have come a long way in the last weeks and the cows provided us with a perfect situation to deepen our trust and state of groundedness.

Thank you to the cows for a fun, deeply insightful adventure.

Communicating through energy and images

I am fascinated how sensitive animals are to energy and mental images. Paulette Evans  demonstrates how she trains foals using energy as part of her language in her Ribbleton Attunement Online Course.  When she asks young foals to move their hindquarters to the side she faces the foals side and lays her hand gently on the hindquarter, with only the slightest pressure. Next she visualizes the hindquarter to move away from her. The foals pick up both signals and move their hindquarters.

Energy exchange with a wild deer
After watching this particular video with Paulette I happened to meet a wild deer on the trail to my favored green mountain view. It didn’t hear me and I stopped watching this beautiful animal. I recognized the chance to move closer to it and my brain said: Let’s just quickly see how close you can get and then move on so you can sit down at your usual spot and become one with nature. How funny is that! I smiled and made a different choice.

I dropped my energy into the ground to become very centered and quiet. Then I took step by step until the deer lifted its head. Knowing how mental images are picked up by animals I did not look at the deer but rather at a big stone in front of me on the trail. I also stayed energetically very calm and connected to the Earth.

The deer couldn’t smell me and didn’t quite know what to do with me. She looked at me and her tail went back and forth showing her indecision. But the tail didn’t move frantically. Here we stood both curious about each other. After a while of standing stock still and focusing on the bushes and stones rather than the deer, she lowered her head wanting to eat but raised it immediately. I sent her an image of her eating but she didn’t trust me enough. She kept going through the motions of lowering her head to eat but just before she connected with the plant her head would come up. The same happened with an itchy spot. She moved her head to scratch her hind and decided otherwise. Repeating the process twice.

She was still trying to make up her mind about me, moving a little bit to see me better, when a mosquito discovered me. I tried to ignore it but then finally moved my hand to brush it away. The deer, a little bit further down the trail by now kept watching me without running. I left the hand on my face and stood quietly watching her too.

Then she decided to sound some alarm into the forest without running way from me. I am not sure that it was about me or something else. She made two jumps away from me but didn’t disappear. She was probably as fascinated with me as I was with her. I assume my grounded energy, focusing on other things beside her, and putting no pressure on her made her decide to stay. It was an exquisite opportunity to understand more about communicating with a wild animal.

Eventually she moved off, leaving me behind filled with the magic of our connection.

Waterhole Rituals with a twist

 

Carolyn ResnickCarolyn Resnick’s Waterhole Rituals filled a hole in my interaction with horses I have been looking for. Carolyn showed me how to connect with a horse right from the start. 

First she introduces a reed for safety reasons. She moves the reed in front of her to create energy, asking the horse to move away. The reed doesn’t touch the horse. The horse senses the energy created by moving the reed with intention. Once the horse understands the purpose of the reed and respects it Carolyn moves on to the first Waterhole Ritual. 

The first Waterhole Ritual, which is about creating a bond with your horse. To create this bond she sits with a horse in a pasture or arena and allows the horse to come and explore her when the horse is ready. Carolyn explains that this is the way how horses spend time with each other. During this ritual Carolyn is present in the moment and does not need anything from the horse. She says the best way to achieve this is to read something uplifting or journal to keep the focus away from the horse and create a pleasant environment around you. It is a form of communion with the horse.

Interestingly, I took her online class while I had no access to horses. When I read about the communion piece in her online course, I felt drawn to take a chair and sit in communion with those available to me. In my case it was the forest behind the house I was living in at that time. Read more about this experience and sitting in communion with a mountain.

“Introducing the reed” with a bear

I lived for a while with friends in Burnsville, NC. Their house is located on a mountain with a path through woods behind their house. A neighbor had told us that they had seen a bear near the path and I was told to make a lot of noise when walking through the woods. Bears would be more afraid of humans and run away unless I would get caught between a mom and her cup. 

Bear dropping-IMG_0735One morning my friends discovered that a bear had rummaged through their compost pile. He left a nine-inch long foot print in a sand box in the garden and the dropping you can see on the left. (The shoe beside it is size 9.5). It looked like a good size black bear to us.

A couple weeks later I was on my way home when I suddenly saw the black, furry, round butt of a bear to the left in front of me. Luckily I was downwind and the bear hadn’t seen me. So I had time to retreat up the mountain and think. Even though this bear looked smaller than the one I expect left the dropping, bear is bear. 

I had my cell phone and called my friend asking for advice. There wasn’t another path to the house and they told me to make a lot of noise and go back down the mountain. Okay, it is like introducing the reed in Carolyn Resnick’s waterhole rituals. Only instead of a reed I would use my voice. For whatever reason I was concerned but not really afraid. So I started whistling loudly while moving down the mountain. I stayed calm and alert with the intent of asking the bear to move away. When I neared the spot where I had seen the bear, I heard dry branches breaking to my right. Sounded to me that the bear was moving away from me deeper into the woods. I sure was glad that my first attempt of the “introducing the reed” ritual was successful. 

I was very grateful to the bear to give me space in his habitat. After my experiences with snakes in Iowa and hearing about bears here in NC, I have wondered how we can co-exist with wild animals in nature and shared habitats. I keep exploring this question.

A couple weeks later during dusk I ambled down the forest path while the bear ambled it up. When we met I felt a jolt of surprise and fear move through my body. At the same time I saw the beauty of this young adult bear. I clapped my hand and the bear bolted into the bushes. I moved forward clapping and whistling until I past the spot where I saw the bear. Than I decreased the noise and send the bear a thank you for giving way. I took the beauty of this animal home with me and the desire to be able to communicate with the bear and spending some time together.

Sharing territory with a wild billy goat

Walking through the wood behind my friends’ house in NC, I come to a property where I have a wonderful view of green mountains. While there is a beautiful house to the right on that property it seems that nobody lives there. I love sitting on the forest path enjoying the clouds, fog, sun playing with the mountains. It is a beautiful spot to be in communion with nature, the mountains, trees, insects….

One day to my surprise I saw a wild goat near the empty house. He scrambled up the stairs and ran away. I was intrigued and thought this might be a great opportunity to share territory with a wild animal. Next time I quietly approached the same spot and sat down. The billy goat was lying to my right on the porch of the empty house. He got up to better watch me, chewing its last meal. So I kept sitting quietly, enjoying the view, the butterflies and other critters while once in a while looking at the goat. I felt privileged that he didn’t run, just keeping an eye on me as if contemplating who I am. 

Next time I approached quietly he didn’t get up, just looked at me. While we were sharing space in a peaceful fashion, I suddenly saw the head of a turkey hen popping up in the grass. Walking up the hill she was followed by another hen and seven chicks. What a wonderful surprise. It was like a nature theater.

Being downwind they didn’t quite know what to make of me and passed only 20 feet from where I was sitting. What a delight. The chicks heads where floating over the grass, the rest of their small bodies hidden. When they disappeared to the left side another turkey head popped up. This one seemed to be more worried about me and kept clucking while moving to the side. 

Suddenly I realized that the billy goat had gotten up, watching the turkey with great interest. Then I could hear alarm sounding from the whole non-visible turkey flock. The turkey hen ran towards the bushes on the left while the moms hurried down hill towards the right. 

Billy goats-IMG_0795When I looked the billy goat had disappeared only to show up in my front view with a second one. Both watched the commotion, looked at me and then they charged in the same direction the turkey hen had taken. Suddenly the theater in front of me was strangely empty with only some clucking and other noises coming form the left Sitting there I felt into my body, wondering if this would be a good time to go home. After the bear encounter only a few days earlier I didn’t quite know what to make of the commotion. While I didn’t think that billy goats would chase off a bear, I didn’t need to find out. So I send some gratitude to everyone for the nature show and turned home whistling.

In the present moment with a fly
I was sitting at my favored spot looking at the green mountains of North Carolina. The sun was shining, insects buzzing and I started to relax into nature, when suddenly a fly landed on my arm. My first reflex was to shake it off but I was relaxed enough to let it stay.

It was a medium size fly, hairy and seemingly very busy on my hand. I guess it was sucking salt off my skin. I became curious and watched its progress. Fascinated by the flexibility of its vacuum cleaner-like mouth. The sensation on my skin, which was light and only tickling when it walked over a hair.

I was amazed that these thin, fragile looking legs could carry the body. Wondered what all the hairs are for and how these big eyes see. I became very aware of my skin, each cell presented to the outside, their shape, texture, color. I contemplated how my skin might look and feel to the fly.

I felt that my purpose in this moment was to provide a great salt reservoir for the fly. How easy it is to be of service.

The experience I shared with this fly drew me into the present moment and an understanding that we are all connected. I am grateful the fly came for a visit to intimately share territory with me.

Sharing territory with spiders
Back at the green mountain spot I enjoyed the view of the mountains, thinking of the next personal steps in front of me, when I felt a tickle on my left hand. I looked at my hand and nearly jumped out of my skin. An orange daddy long leg spider was sitting smack on the back of my hand busily tasting my skin. 

Being in the process of learning how to stay calm and relaxed I kept my energy grounded and moved into curiosity. I had no idea if this spider is know to bite and I decided if I just stay calm it will be okay. 

Indeed, the spider kept sucking seemingly delicious stuff off my skin. Its legs, nearly weightless, touched different parts of my hand and the underside of its head gave me a cool, scraping sensation on my skin. It was a curious sensation and I felt honored witnessing this peaceful being enjoying its life. 

I love these shared moments. They give me a different perspective on life and an appreciation of how we are all connected.

While the daddy long leg spider was busy with my hand, a tiny jumping spider was coming up my jeans. Isn’t it amazing how easily they jump great distances. To me it looked like the spider jumped seemingly effortlessly from mountain to mountain (folds on my jeans), a distance many times longer than its body length. I couldn’t do that. 

Watching this spider more closely I realized that it would take a moment to judge the distance and then jump. It reminded me of Barley, my friend’s cat, when he sits on the floor and judges the distance to the top of the counter where his food is. I could feel the same concentration and calculation in the spider. How amazing is that?

 

Horses as teachers

Horses are masterful teachers for personal and spiritual growth. They support us in our quest to reach new levels of consciousness.

When we respect horses as equals and listen to them closely they offer us deep personal transformation. Explore more:
horse-eye-left-18499dmp4ifx5nz

Communicating in the languages of the horse heightens all your senses
“Communicating, dancing, being, and playing with horses awakens our soul.”

We are so used to communicate with words that we don’t realize how limited this communication is. This limitation is true especially around living beings that do not communicate with words, such as horses. Focusing on words, we not only deprive the horse of a voice, but we also miss out on the communication the horse is offering.

Horses communicate through many different languages, body language, voice, rhythm and energy. When we listen and speak in the language of horse we become more aware of our body and all our senses.

Reading Body Language: A hind hoof placed on its tip on the ground means relaxation if the horse directs its weight/energy towards the ground. However, the horse might be ready to kick, if the body shows tension and the face irritation.

Sensing Energy: Horses can sense intentional energy. We emit energy through our body, eyes, thoughts and emotions. Horses can sense this energy and react to it. This sensitivity gives us an opportunity to practice using our thoughts and body movements intentionally and clearly.

Sensing Emotions: Horses are very sensitive to emotional energy. They can read the emotions in living beings, included humans. This sense is a survival skill and keenly developed. We cannot hide our true feelings from a horse, but we can learn to shift our emotional and mental state into that of calmness and curiosity. Horses teach us to become authentic and focus on the positive.

Authenticity: Because horses can read our emotions, we cannot really hide any feelings. The best way to be with a horse is to be authentic. If you feel stressed, angry, frustrated or any other state you would like to hide, tell the horse about it you cannot fully shift into a calmer state. Acknowledging your current feelings makes you congruent in your emotional and mental body. The horse will feel a lot easier around you no longer receiving mixed emotional/mental messages. It might still choose to move away until you can shift yourself into a more calm, centered state.  Knowing the effect you have on your horse you might also choose not to work with your horse at that time but rather spend some relaxing time together. Horses teach us to be authentic and present in the moment.

Movement and Rhythm: When horses play with each other they often adapt the same rhythm in their movements. It emphasizes that they are equals in play and hierarchy is set aside. We too can dance with horses when we are aware of their language and rules. Dancing with horses is a visceral experience of being in unity with another being.

Exploring the language of the horse heightens our own senses and opens us to a partnership that promotes the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being of both human and horse.

Soul Connections – Feeling Unity
“When we are in rhythm with nature it is easy to know when to lead, when to follow, and when to be in the pause. Learning from horses the dance we have with them becomes alive and vital.” – Carolyn Resnick

Horses reach a deep place in us that has often been covered with many layers. The beauty, gentleness, power and wisdom of horses open our heart and allow our own beauty to expand and radiate.

When we invite horses to dance with us, the mutual movement creates a feeling of deep connection and unity. Feelings of excitement, joy, and confidence flood through our body. Together we feel the ease and freedom we yearn for.

Happiness spreads through our heart when we communicate in the language of horse and are being heard. We are feeling the willingness of the horse to communicate and connect with us.

Horses draw us into the present moment when we fully focus on them and allow ourselves to be with them. When time is suspended we can feel our souls connecting.

Frederic Pignon Equitana-2013-3-small

It is possible to connect to our horse in a deep, respectful, joyous way.  Frédéric Pignon is a wonderful example of this kind of connection. This deep bond is created by a deep desire to create a respectful and joyous partnership, listening to the horse on all levels and becoming ourselves fluid in horse language.

Equal Partnership – Co-creative Leadership
“A leader is someone who makes a request”. Carolyn Resnick

We often apply old concepts to our interactions with horses. Dominant leadership is one of those old ideas that need to be updated if we want to partner and co-create with horses. Horses give us the opportunity to develop our co-creative leadership skills.

What feels better to you, to have the freedom of voicing your opinion and being respected or being told/forced what to do without being considered? The horse wants to be respected and have the freedom of choice.

When two beings come together to interact, one of them will make a request to communicate, play, work… In that instant that being is a leader. Most of the time the human is the one who requests, asks, the horse to do something. When the human accepts the horse as an equal partner, the horse is given the freedom to consider the request and voice an opinion. As an equal partner the horse is allowed to say no and/or make a different request.

Horses are willing to accept our leadership if we understand that this comes with responsibilities. As a co-creative leader you have safety and the horses best interest in mind at all times. You adapt to your horse’s needs rather than adapting the horse to your needs. Horses are intelligent, hold wisdom, are creative and can do/sense things we cannot.

Imke Spilker

As a co-creative leader you listen to the horse and allow the horse to express opinions and point out new ways. You only ask the horse to do things you know it can do. You create opportunities to play and work with each other that are interesting and useful to the horse. Read Imke Spilker’s book Empowered Horses to find out how this can look like.

To become a co-creative leader, skills such as self-awareness, willingness to listen, clear communication, clarity of mind & emotions, quiet confidence, patience, persistence and consistency are essential. You can practice these skills step-by-step with your horse and in your daily life. The effort spend on your personal transformation will come back to you in many forms, beauty, fun, ease, well-being and deep heart-felt connections are only some of them.

Mark Rashid points us to leadership skills such as self-awareness, willingness to listen, clear communication, clarity of mind & emotions, quiet confidence, patience, persistence and consistency are essential. You can practice these skills step-by-step with your horse and in your daily life. The effort spend on your personal transformation will come back to you in many forms: beauty, fun, ease, well-being and deep heart-felt connections are only some of them.

Want to play with me or have questions? Email or call me – I would love to connect with you.

Freya’s pathway with horses – The beginning

When I was 10 years old my parents moved from the inner city of Duesseldorf to the outskirts of Mettmann in Germany. Here I grew up with ducks, geese, swans and chickens.

GinoOur home was situated next to a farm. The farmer’s daughter had a pony, a mix of a Fjord and draft horse. Gino was the first horse I loved, groomed and sat on. Several stories are edged into my mind with Gino.

He was the first horse who ever stood on my foot. Yes, it hurt and he thought it was a very comfortable place to stand on. One day his owner called him from the other end of the pasture but he wouldn’t move a muscle towards her. She finally walked all the way to where he stood near the fence. Gino’s hind legs were caught in some barbwire and this smart horse kept his wits and waited for help. The farm was close to a hiking trail and sometime hikers had the idea to take a short cut through the pasture to get to the forest. Gino would watch them and wait until they where in the middle of the pasture. Then he would suddenly gallop full speed towards them. It was always fun to see how fast the hikers would turn and “run for their lives”.

Hohenrade-FreyaMy godfather Hans was a passionate jumper show rider when he was young. Realizing that I was entranced with horses he convinced my parents to send me for two weeks on a riding holiday in Worms, Germany to learn the basics.

Hohenrade DornreicheI had my first riding lessons on Dornreiche (black horse in the photo) and was fascinated by the stallion Mondamin.

After that I attended riding lessons for two years at a riding stable near our home until my parents decided that it would be a lot cheaper to have a pony that could run on the neighboring farm. So without any real horse experience and no knowledge of how to take care of a horse, my parents asked the farmer’s brother-in-law, a riding stable owner, to sell us a horse.

Since I can remember I was in love with Haflingers, my father thought Icelandic horses with the five gaits would be cool. One Monday afternoon the farmer’s brother-in-law we called Uncle, came with a Fjord mix. Uncle put me on him, hopped on Sandy, an English Hunter the farmer’s daughter owned at that time and off we rode into the forest. I didn’t quite know what hit me, but I must have done alright because at the end of the ride Uncle determined that the pony and I were a good fit.

Toby-Headshot-AxelUncle stroke a bargain with my father and I had a pony. (This is a classic example of how to not buy a horse). The pony’s name was Flicka, but we decided that as a gelding he should have a male name. My mom, the one in the family creative with animal names, she named every swan, chicken and some of the geese, baptized the pony Tobias. From then on we called him Toby.

After riding Toby 4 or 5 times by myself and getting into life threatening situations, I decided that riding wasn’t what was important and from then on Toby ran year round in the pastures with Sandy, loved, groomed and fed by me and the farmer’s daughter.

Toby Sandy grasing cutToby and Sandy taught me about herd behavior and leadership. I wasn’t really leadership material then and had no clue how to communicate with horses other than using my voice. So needles to say I was the lowest ranking herd member, which taught me to be alert at all times to prevent accidental run overs and such.

During three summers my parents allowed me to vacationEbbs catalog at the Fohlenhof Ebbs in Ebbs/Austria. Ebbs is known world-wide as the most important stud farm for Haflingers. I was in heaven in Austria: Mountains, Haflinger and wonderful humans with a great dialect. Here I learned more about, caring for horses, riding, and many facts around movement, diseases and proper care.

When I finished High School and  ready to go to University I had to make a hard decision. Because I did not want to let go of Toby I signed up at the University of Duesseldorf to Chemistry although I knew that it wasn’t a good idea to stay at home. Divine intervention arranged a trip to Southern Germany with a friend to visit the University of Ulm. Situated on a hill at the border to Bavaria (my next favored location to Austria) with only a total of 3000 students at that time, I couldn’t help it, I had to sign up to study there. My parents graciously agreed to support me studying in Ulm.

I was still very clear that I didn’t want to risk selling Toby and losing control of his fate. My solution was to gift him to the farmer’s daughter, saddle, cleaning tools and all. This didn’t go over very well with my father but I stood firm.

During my visits home from the university I used to say hello to him. But this became increasingly more difficult as my father developed a horse allergy and I didn’t want to risk him having an allergic shock. So I watched Toby from afar, happy that he had such a good live.

Toby lived a long life and reached his mid 20s. I was surprised that the night he died I dreamed about him dying. The next morning I just knew that he was dead. The farmer’s daughter, heart-broken herself, was afraid to tell me. My knowing was confirmed when I visited my parents the next time. My father drove me home and just when we stopped in front of the house he turned to me and said: By the way Toby died. I could see in his face that he was afraid of my reaction, but I only turned around to him and said: Yes, I know.

During my last three years at the University of Ulm, I took some riding lessons and then leased with two other girls Dorado, a 19-year old dressage horse.  DoradoAlthough fairly stiff by then, he could do flying changes at one tempi, and many other things. My dressage riding skills were still in the beginning stages. Dorado was a great teacher. He would only do something if I asked him correctly. It took me two years to ride flying changes with two tempi with him. He taught me how to use my lower back and achieve a more independent, relaxed seat. I used to ride him without stir ups, which improved my seat and balance enormously.

My girl friend A. and I loved him to pieces and had a great time with him, as long as we didn’t attempt to ride on trails. To us it seemed that Dorado was looking for anything he could use as an excuse to spook. Those trail rides were adventurous to say the least.

Brigitte Archie FreyaDuring the same time I befriended a show rider. B. was showing her horse Archie in dressage (M-class and later S-class). We had an agreement. I would help her during the shows to get ready and take care of Archie and she would teach me, through observation of other riders, how to ride. We had incredible fun and I learned a lot around horses and riding.

GrandenschatzAs a thank you, she let me rider her brother’s Grand Prix-Winner Grandenschatz. Far to advanced for me, Grandenschatz ran away under me. I used to ride Dorado with little leg pressure and Grandenschatz was used to lots of leg pressure in order to slow him down. So we zipped through the arena. At one point I must have given him the aids for piaffe and he turned around under me. A feeling I never forgot. It felt like a dream come true. It was an honor riding him.

I loved watching horses being ridden and my friend B. took me to private lessons she had with different trainers. Those were special times and I treasured every moment. I would suck in every movement, feeling how it must feel as a rider and observing the horse. Even one of the trainers commented on the intensity and concentration he saw in me as a spectator.

A trip to Austria in 1990 provided more experiences and horse teachers. Two friends of mine and I went on a one week trail ride along the Danube (Wachau, Austria). We rode every day in a group of 15 along trails, while our luggage was transported to the next overnight point. JessicaOn the first day we stayed near the home farm to try out our horses and get acquainted with everyone. I started out on Jessica, a Haflinger with a lot of humor and wit. After grooming and saddling her I needed to pick up some gear. Having an intuition, I turned around to one of my friends and asked her to keep an eye on Jessica. Needless to say I had hardly turned my back, when Jessica’s knees buckled and she got ready to roll around on the ground saddle and all. Did I mention my intuition? 🙂

BonsaiJessica went lame during this first day and with some sadness I had to switch horses. Bonsai, fresh from the race track, was chosen as my partner. The lesson that stood out with him was a ferry ride. He had never been on a ferry but because all the other horses just went clip, clop onto the swimming object it never entered his mind to have any qualms about it. That was a powerful lesson. It was a trip filled with camaraderie, funny stories, lessons from the horses and sore butts.

When I moved to America in 1993, I left horses and all other animals behind. I closed the door shut, knowing that as a scientist I would have no time or money to pursue this path. It took 18 years to physically reconnect with the horses and consciously pick up the path again.