By Caroline Aguiar
Earlier this Spring, an amazing group of women visited our ranch, and of the many topics of conversation we delved into there was one topic in particular which struck a significant chord within all of us, and I thought it was worth sharing here as well.
Early Saturday morning we rode the Golden Eagle Trail which leads to one of the highest peaks on our ranch. It’s also in the direct path of flight for a pair of Golden Eagles who use our property for their hunting grounds.
Once at the top of the trail we dismounted to rest, and enjoyed the beautiful scenery which surrounded us. We sat in comfortable folding chairs which our gallant pack-horse carried for us while we ate our delicious potato, and chorizo burritos for lunch! Raul surprised us with cold ice tea to drink too. How he managed that I’m not sure, but it really tasted good on such a warm day.
Our horses stood quietly, dozing in the sunshine while securely tethered to nearby Sumac, and Ash trees. No matter where we looked, the vast, blue sky covered us completely. As far as the eye could see we were met with an endless blue skyline, miles of surrounding mountains in the distant foreground, and the grounding presence of the Earth which lay firmly below our feet.
What sparked this intimate, yet lively conversation began with a question about a common bond most “horse people” would attest to, but more so, I think this question would interest anyone who has come into contact with nature, horses, or both, because its raises an awareness in all of us which in turn links us to a common bond. The Healing Power of Nature.
All of us have come into contact with living creatures who intentionally, or unintentionally transport us away from what I call the Square world, the world of linear thinking, stress, and time, to the Natural World, where our True Self resides, and where there is no such thing as time, stress, fear or grief, which is something we have all experienced at some point in our lives. This is the territory of our True Self, the part of us that does not worry about the past, or future. This “self” lives in the Natural world where we are present in the now, and where stress, fear, and worry are non-existent. The horse for many people is the vehicle which can take us there.
While finishing up our burrito lunch, one of the women in our group suddenly asked us, “What is it about horses which is so incredibly healing? Why do I feel so peaceful, and calm when I’m around horses? She flung her hands in the air and said, “It’s like all of my stress suddenly goes away!”
Everyone suddenly leaned forward in their chairs, including myself as if a great secret was about to be divulged. We smiled eagerly at one another, as if each person held their secret version, and answer to this question which in truth would ultimately verify everyone else’s answer too. The words may have come out different, but the meaning in their words were all the same. No answer was better than the other because each one of us told of our own experiences which brought together the complete truth all of us knew was true.
We were intrigued with this topic because we all felt this intimate energy of well-being while in the presence of horses many times. I think this is due to the extra sensory, and heightened awareness horses have which is a major part of their over all being. They are prey animals, and they must be alert in case of impending danger. This means their awareness is constantly in tune with the natural world. All of their sensory perception is on the radar screen 24 hours a day. Have you ever seen a horse suddenly raise its head, with its ears pricked forward, as you followed its gaze into the far off distance where only apparent to the human eye, nothing is there. The horse may not see what’s there, but they sense it through their heightened awareness: hearing, smell, sight, and touch.
The Horse as a Means of Transport to Our Inner Self
The calming presence of the horse can take us to a place inside our self where there are no worries, fears or anxieties. There is no past, or future. The horse dwells in the NOW, and in the present moment. If it allows us into its presence by way of an open heart, we will feel the peacefulness, and overall well-being which naturally emanates from them. What is so remarkable about this experience is we discover this same peacefulness within ourselves once we let down our guard and allow ourselves to fully embrace the present moment.
They say you can’t hide how you’re feeling from a horse. They feel everything right through the saddle your riding in. The horse feels your fear. It feels your anxiety, and it feels your honest intention to interact with it on an equal level, or not.
The horse always looks to you, the rider, as their leader. If you ride with fear, they will become fearful. If you are angry, they will become excited, and angry as well. The horse is the truest mirror you can find, if you’re willing to look closely, into the truth of what really lies within your heart. They are amazing creatures who communicate with us through body language, and they will alert us when we are not on the level with them, or with ourselves.
When we co-exist with the horse in the present moment, not worrying about the future or the past, or any emotions we may have taken on, we feel interconnected with them, and perhaps with something far greater than ourselves. There is peacefulness, calm, and inter communication which begins when one opens their heart to these amazingly gentle beings, and whom I like to call: Magical Creatures. Who needs to pay a psychiatrist when you can visit, with a horse?
Each of the women in our circle, shared their views on why we felt so centered, and grounded around horses. I’d like to share with you, what I shared with them.
All my life, when I’ve felt out of sorts, sad, or unsure of my next move, I’ve sought out the horse. It’s not just going for a ride, although that has a lot to do with it, it’s rather just BEing in their presence which is so calming, and peaceful.
Many people who visit our ranch have very busy work schedules. There’s always something to do, and I too have one of those schedules. I fully understand when they tell me, how relaxed they feel while out riding, and how wonderful it is to peel away the layers of stress which completely engulfs them much of the time.
I believe the horse is one of our greatest teachers, and they are also a passage of transport into the natural world, a world to which we need to be a part of if we are to maintain balance while living within different degrees of stress, and the daily demands put upon us.
Sometimes while out at our ranch, I’ll walk out to the corrals to a shady corner where the horses are, and I’ll approach the herd with absolutely no agenda, no “wants’ except to hang out with them. To my surprise, when I don’t come at them with an intention to rope them, or capture them for a ride, and when I approach them with an open heart of wanting to BE with them, I find they are much more aware of my presence. Some will come over, and stand closer. Others will lick their lips, and chew, and this is a sign of acceptance. My horse Bellota, always comes to say hi, but I notice if I’m feeling irritated or angry she’ll have nothing to do with me. The horse knows us better than we think!
During these times when I can open my heart in the presence of the horse, as I stand under the oak trees with them, all my stress seems to float away with the breeze, and I feel relaxed again. Even brushing, and grooming them as another means of coming into physical contact with the horse can be a relaxing experience for both the horse, and us. Again its a process of letting go of all the stress, and anxiety we may have accumulated during our busy work week, and within our lives.
I believe the horse is a true passage of transport into the Natural World. There’s nothing like riding along the trail, with only the sound the horse’s hooves in my ears. It’s a chance to fully disconnect from the Square World. It’s a time of peace where there are no cel phones, computers, work schedules, or time. Time is non-existent when on the back of your horse as he carries you farther, and farther into the inviting landscape.
I’ve also discovered my young five-year old mare is one of my greatest teachers, as she continuously tests my self-confidence, my ability as a horse woman, and perhaps far more important than any of the latter, is my ability to let go of my sense of false self, which are all the opinions, false beliefs, and self judgements I’ve so generously taken on over the years as my own, and enter the presence of the horse where my True Self resides. In a sense, the Natural world, may I remind you, is where all of our True Selves reside.
If this topic interests you further, I highly recommend a book called “Into the Field of Horses” by Lisa Walters. A friend of mine, Susan S. so generously gave me the book during a visit to our ranch. It was the first time we met, and I instantly felt the mutual bond I speak of in this article, a kinship of understanding with her, and I’m very grateful to her for presenting me with such a marvelous gift. As I read through the pages, it only confirmed what I, and so many other people have felt while in the presence of horses.
I hope you enjoyed this post. 🙂
Happy Trails to All and Open Hearts!