Sunday, October 20, 2013


How did the horse workshop go you ask. To recap: I had decided to go because I discovered, right in the middle of offering Reiki to one, that I was terrified of horses. Even though the Reiki worked, I was a mess, which didn't seem the best place from which to connect on a healing level.
Lovely spirits put me in touch with Kate Wood, who teaches the Keys to the Heart of a Horse on Orcas Island. Amazing, wonderful teacher and human bean.

Kate rescues wild mustangs and without any force or restraint, brings them into harmony with herself and others. I like the way she says that the horses teach her workshops.

Of course I was drawn to the biggest one who of course was an introvert. I immediately understood why he would hang back from the rest of the crowd but act hurt if he wasn’t invited. 

I learned about ears. Tight mouths. That classic neigh, and the less known horse “raspberry.” And nodding, and lifting. And that horses can bring their personal space down so far that you don’t even notice when they are casually backing you right up against a wall. Once Black Elk knew I was terrified, he pulled his energy down to the size of a human, and did a lot of waiting for me to Arrive.

On Kate’s instruction we sat in the middle of the ring just talking, letting Black Elk discover me.
When his giant face was completely in my space, Kate pronounced it good and began to leave. The panic that had slowly been rising kicked up 10 more levels and I found it hard to sputter anything but “Are you kidding?” 

“You really don’t look scared, I forget,” she said mildly, and settled back down onto her chair. I glanced at the top of Black Elk’s head to his chin and calculated that it stretched pretty much from my face down to my knees. 

But he just stood there, breathing. Then I breathed. I thought of how when you're trying to calm someone down you draw huge, slow, exaggerated breaths, the ancient call from parent to child to attune to each other. He blew out his breath, nudged my shoulder, and continued breathing. I realized my own breathing had been about like a hummingbird’s, and roughly as shallow. 

I breathed.

Kate left somewhere in there but I have no idea when. Then we walked around the corral, Black Elk behind me, which is how they lead. Who knew? Again I was reminded about learning about anyone—you can have an initial connection but there’s some stuff you just have to be taught, or you are not going to understand them ever. Turns out horses lead from the back of the pack. Although Kate had said we could follow behind the horse, it made us both nervous so we quickly rearranged. That is, I trudged along feeling silly while a giant horse followed me. When I stopped, he stopped. When I looped around, he did, too. All without a rope or a lunge (long rope on a stick).

Magical. Amazing. To be that connected with something so big. I could have done that all day.

And then something shifted.

After we came back from lunch, we learned new skills, having to do with showing the horse your own boundaries and keeping your space. And suddenly I had no connection with Black Elk. He ignored me. I kept trying to do what Kate had said but he wasn’t having any. I told myself I was a loser, that he was mean, that I had screwed up, that he was a wild mustang, my mind a flurry of excuses and fear. Everyone else was having a great time, and all their horses were doing what they were supposed to do, and I was spending all my time in an inner panic. I did what I often do under pressure: I gave up. 

And on top of all the other crap I was giving myself I chose to feel personally betrayed. By a horse. We had had such a connection! We were pals! How could he why did he what did I--?

All of this I kept pretty well hidden but stewed about it for weeks. Finally, with a lot of shame, I went back to Kate’s website and immediately discovered this account.
If you don’t want to read it right now, the point is, this 7-year old child did exactly what I wanted to. She played with Black Elk.

I mean, look at the pictures. Giant horse. Small child. Doesn’t matter. She ran, she skipped, she played, and Black Elk played with her. Oh, go read it, I'll wait. 

I cried and cried. Because what I had done, after letting Black Elk see me, was close right back up. Concentrated on “training” him, on doing my exercises correctly. Being a good student. Just like a grownup. When what I felt when I got back from lunch was “Black Elk! Hello! I missed you! Let’s play again!” Gazing at those pictures I saw what I should have done: Start over, hang out, be a kid with him, breathe together like he taught me.

All the shame melted away, and more importantly, I felt it melt away. I noticed. Which, as good friend Bridget reminded just last night, is all you have to do. Notice. Don’t do anything.

I can’t wait to go back and not do anything with Black Elk.

The childhood I wish I'd had

Or perhaps I can go have it now.

Thanks to Brandy for the link.

Animal photobombs