When I was little, daydreaming about a horse was the closest I could get to one - my only contact with horses up close and personal was in books.
We lived in American metropolitan suburbia, moving every 1 to 2 years to another military location, and my parents couldn’t afford riding lessons; in addition, my mother was terribly afraid of horses – so I also suspect that this was a convenient reason to avoid her the angst of watching me gallop around and jump obstacles or other equine activities, all of which appeared dangerous and life-threatening to her.
But books about horses were ok. It was in the long-ago & faraway age when the only source of media was a TV (not always in color), books, and the movie theater – no internet & the only way you could watch a movie or a show multiple times was by going to the theater to watch it over again. So I owned most of the book series that young girls had in those days that told stories about horses: Black Beauty, Man o’War, Flicka, Misty of Chincoteague, National Velvet…plus a book or two about riding equipment and horsemanship. I must have had at least a dozen books on the topic.
On rare occasions, we’d visit a riding center where the children of some of my parents’ friends were competing, and I could spend the afternoon greeting each horse in its stable, soaking up the wonderful smells of horse, hay, and leather tack. On even rarer occasions – perhaps only 2 or 3 times in my childhood, trail riders would pass near our home, or our campsite during vacation. If I was lucky enough to be nearby while they were passing through, I would hear the musical “clip-clop” of their gait, and rush outside, hoping to catch sight of them before they disappeared. The sight of a hoof-print in the dirt would send me into a swoon of delight as I pored over it, hoping to identify the size of the horse and its gait so that I could imagine it trotting lightly by. I would follow the famous Thoroughbred races in the press as they took place in the USA, and the first horse that I greatly admired from afar – apart from all the fictional horse heros in my books – was Secretariat, a Triple Crown winner that did become a legendary horse figure in the eyes of many horse-racing enthusiasts*. I had followed each victory of Secretariat in the Triple Crown as it happened – the Kentucky Derby, then the Preakness, and finally the Belmont, clipping out newspaper articles that I saved in a special notebook on a shelf in my bedroom.
The one punishment that stands strongly out above all the other ones received as a child was when I was deprived of what turned out to be the single opportunity to go on a trial ride of my entire childhood. We were visiting a National Park (Smoky Mountains? Shenandoah? somewhere on the East Coast, I think) with my family and a teenage French cousin who was visiting us for the first time, and a short trail ride was planned for the afternoon. To this day, I can’t remember what I did that resulted in the punishment – I just remember being VERY excited at the idea of going on a trial ride for the first time in the great outdoors, and then being told that I would not go as punishment for what I’d done, and me crying for what felt like hours at the time, as I waited in the car with my mother for the others to return from the ride. I must have been 8 or 9 years old…
Fast-forward to today – I own 6 horses and ride at least once a week, outdoors, for at least 6 months of the year, and I’ve had the honor and the privilege to work with and learn from some amazing equine instructors. One thing I’ve found fascinating in the teachings that I received related to work with horses is the literature on horses that describe how many cultures around the world consider horses to be an animal that can navigate both the physical and the non-physical/spiritual world. A veterinarian & scientist by training, raised by atheist parents, I was never one to be attracted to the spiritual “woo-woo” philosophy – and yet I was fascinated by the Grimm brother’s tales that were filled with magic and mystery, Greek mythology, ancient Arabian tales or folktales from northern Europe. Many of these stories describe trusted steeds that carry the heroine or hero to the “underworld” and back, or bring a loved one back from the “other side” for a brief visit. Horses are magical beings…
So come & create with me ! You will discover an amazing creative approach called “Intentional Creativity”, developed by the artist Shiloh Sophia, who says:
“The creative process is a saving grace not just for those who identify as creatives, but for all beings, because of how it impacts our body, our brain and our narrative of what is happening. When we create, we gain access to a collaboration with our deepest selves. We exit the self imposed exile of disconnection to soul self. That self, has information for navigating the future that rivals any other narrative. The only narrative that will work for you, is the one you create. All other narratives are over-rated and most often tainted with the fear. Fear and illusion are smoke screens put in place by the over-culture to keep us oppressed by systems not even designed for human beings.”
*I do also realize now that there are a lot of ethical and animal welfare issues when it comes to horse-racing; as a child, however, I was very far removed from the horse-racing world and only saw of it what I’d read in romanticized equine fiction and the mainstream press.