The Heart of a Horse

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Connections-web

Any animal can be tamed by reaching their heart.
Even the wildest beast. Even if they are a Human!
~A. Radford

Horses are Spiritual Animals. Where it seems they are a defenseless animal, other than their strength, they, in fact, have one of the best defenses there is. Heart. They may have no clear outer defense system like other animals do with horns, spikes, talons, or poisons. They instead have an Inner Defense system that is far more powerful than any weapons out there. Discernment. Humans too have the ability to have this power, this gift, but it is usually something learned along the way through many heartaches, lessons, and tears, otherwise known as  “The School of Hard Knocks.”

Horses know the intent of your heart long before they ever let you near them. They could always overpower you with their strength if needed, but most won’t. If you are coming at them softly, with love, admiration, and good intentions, they will “allow” you near. If you are coming at them hurting and broken they will be there for you- and a mighty good shoulder to cry on as well. If you are coming at them with anger and disappointment at the world, they will take you in and teach you deep spiritual lessons from their heart to yours. But if you come at them with anger at them or harming thoughts towards them, you won’t even get close.

Horses teach us Spiritually, They can’t talk to us like Mister Ed, but they speak straight to our souls. They teach us submission, surrender, love, compassion, honesty, and so much wisdom that we would not learn otherwise from mere humans. They teach us that submitting or surrendering to things needs to be a choice of love, not forced. That they surrender to us because they love us, because they definitely do not have to! They teach us that the more hard-headed we want to be with them, the more hard-headed they can be right back at us. That this is indeed no way to win.

Horses teach us so many lessons, about humanity… Respect being the most valuable lesson of all.  Respect a horse and he will respect you. If a horse knows you are not going to hurt him, then he will “agree” not to hurt you. If he feels he is in danger or for whatever reason and has to live in defense mode, then you should be as watchful of him as he is of you. As in any relationship, there is an exchange, a mirrored effect, good or bad, it’s all an exchange. With horses, when we give love, we get love. When we give anger, we get anger. When we give tears, we get compassion and when they give tears, we give compassion.  If we live always in defense mode to others, others will return that to us, they will be as leery of us as we are to them.

Whatever we are giving others is returned to us.

But someone has to go first right? Let that be you. Give love, joy, peace, understanding, kindness, etc. Even if they don’t deserve it. Even if they do not return it… at first… they eventually will. They may be living on a defense system from a past hurt, living in fear and reacting from it, you never know what people have been through. I’ve seen and heard and lived through my own versions of hell as well. I understand, and so should you. Be Compassion.

We can only control ourselves and our actions.
But our actions teach others how to act around us.

One has to to be taught to hate, fear, be mean, or act in defense. If animals or people feel they are in danger they will react defensively. Be the safe place for others. When we feel we can trust one another, then we will allow things in, people in, relationships in. For a horse as they trust us, they “allow” us to pet them, brush them, lead them, saddle them, ride them, open our hearts to them, whatever we need they begin to see what those needs are and start to take care of us. We, humans, are the same way. The more we trust others the more we “allow” them into our lives and begin to start fulfilling their needs without being asked.

Yes, a horse could really hurt you if he felt threatened.
But if you win his heart, he will protect you at all costs.

What about a horse that has been hurt, abandoned or abused? What if they have been hurt so much that they trust no one and live in defense in every way for fear they will be hurt again. Sounds all too familiar, doesn’t it? We all know many people who live this way, it may even be us at times. There is hope. We can love them back to an even better state than before. We can teach them that not everyone in the future is like someone in the past.

With caution, patience, love, and good food,
you can tame the wildest beast.
Even a human. Even yourself.

Horses do not base the opinion of the next person according to the last, that take each of our souls as it is. We should do the same. The key is to teach ourselves and the animals not to live in reaction but in making each encounter new.

Food is used in pretty much all cultures to tame animals and people… (teenagers and men for sure- haha!) “The way to a heart is through the stomach” my grandmother always said as shes always trying to feed us nonstop! Share a pizza with a teen and they will share their world with you – True story!

But really, food is one of many trust exercises that we use to open doors and connect with others. You’re doing something good for them, and in turn, they trust you more and more and want to return the favor somehow in their own way. Food is a connection tool. If you give a wild horse enough carrots, he will eventually let you pet him, touch him, brush him and after many bags of carrots, ride him.  Eventually, it won’t even cost you a carrot, they ultimately just want to connect, to be loved.

Everyone craves to connect.
It is in the deepest part of our souls.
We are made to connect with others.
There is nothing more precious in the world!

A little background for you… I grew up a Trail Riding Stables and Petting Zoo. I spent most of the 1st 20ish years of my life being a trail guide, spending sun up to far after sundown on a horse’s back. Our whole life revolved around the horses, We were their caretakers, their confidants, their pets. We lived, loved, slept, breathed horses- literally- no telling how much hair is still in our lungs!  The horses were not a side hobby. They were our life, and we were theirs. When the economy turned in 2008, we became a Rescue barn taking in many abandoned animals. They were scared, scared, and broken inside. We had to love them back to life, back to health and happiness. It was so hard to see them broken-spirited and starved, but…

We knew that with enough love and compassion, they could be healed.

Once abandoned baby horse, who was born in a frozen pond, by a mother with no milk, in the middle of January, stayed in the house with us until spring! Her name was Christine, and she slept on the couch like a dog, until it was warm enough to move outside… which she didn’t want to do, and would still break into the house once in a while!! So many great stories of animals from my youth I could share I absolutely love them, from squirrels in my hair, to the hen who was her best friend, to the goat that the chicken slept on, who followed the cow around, who all slept on the porch with the dogs!

Through the years we have to tame many a wild beast, raise up abandoned babies, heal the wounded, the sick and the heartbroken, not just animals either, people too!  When a new horse, animal or stable kid would come in we had to go through a major process of taming them, training them, loving them and replacing bad habits one by one with good ones. It wasn’t until we could fully trust them and they us, that we would put them our for people to see, pet or ride.

BEHIND THE SCENES:

The thing most people who come to Horseback Riding Stables don’t see is the level of trust going on during interactions with the animals or especially on a trail ride.

My horse had to trust me and I had to trust him 100% to make any of it work. We had to work as a team, as one. I had to ride backward on the horse 95% of the time, teaching, talking, guiding, calming and gaining the trust of the people behind me- while going through the winding mountainside trails on horses! I had to trust my horse to drive and lead the other horses to where we were supposed to be going, and not to rub me off on a tree or fall down a cliff or even dump me into the creek, which he so easily could have done since I was not looking.

While I lead, trained and talked to the people, He was leading, training and talking to the horses and sometimes other critters that followed the trail rides, communicating with his ears, snorts and the “you better get back in line and behave” looks. Trail critters such as a pot-belly pig called Pepé Le Pew, who would get “fresh” with the leg of a horse, if they dare stop for grass, or the HUGE 1,500lb Roseanne Barr hog who followed us on the trail rides so that she could take a dip in the pond and rest until we came back. She was the Guard “Hog.”

 

The horse named Frank
A horse named Frank

 

The horse that stole my heart was named Frank. He loved me because I loved him, and because I loved him he loved me, I was safer on his back than off of it. He protected me in so many ways that only a person whose soul has merged with another could ever understand. He didn’t let just anyone ride him either. He was an ornery soul, with a great sense of humor too! Picture the horse on Tangled- that was pretty much him! He even hated a boy who first broke my heart! He truly was the best friend a young girl could ask for. He listened, He loved, He protected.

When someone he didn’t like would try to ride him, he knew just how to grab the bridle bit between his teeth, so that they couldn’t control him, and then he would drop his head down and take them for a “ride”. Oh, it was funny and I felt safer knowing he could do that with me but chose not to, He never ever gave me a hard time or hurt me. When some new hotshot showed up at the barn he would rear up and drop them right off his back before they even began, or if he semi-liked them he would test them by, grabbing the reins with his teeth so they couldn’t steer, poking out his belly when tightening the girth, raking their knee against a tree, or walk under a limb… just to see if they were paying attention. He wanted to test peoples patience and attitude. He was smiling as he did it so I know he knew what he was doing, and I was smiling too. I really think he was doing it to show loyalty to me and I didn’t mind, they shouldn’t have been on my horse anyway! haha!

I know that he could have pulled any of his ornery shenanigans with me at any time, but he didn’t. He and I had a spiritual connection, a bond that no one could break, our hearts were one. I never even had to steer him with his reins. I would lean left or right to make him turn if needed. When I jumped off I didn’t have to lead him, he would follow me, usually scratching my back with his head… I think he thought he was petting me lol, a painful but great back massage!

On the trail rides, as I crossed different pastures or property lines, I would have to get off and open gates. He would walk on through the gate, and lead the other 10-15 horses through it and stop for me to close the gate back and walk back to the front, checking on everyone on the way by and stand there and wait for me to get back on, or at least my foot in the stirrup. This is a big deal because if he had felt trapped he would have made a getaway the moment I was off,  he could have left me at any time, but he didn’t. He loved his job, He loved his rider. He always had my back, and he knew I had his! His name was Frank. He was my first love.

THE OTHER GUYS…

The horses behind Frank respected him, if anyone of them got out of line or tried to pass, he would stop them in a heartbeat. He used his discernment to tell what the plan was before it was acted on. He would shoot a look, snort, or lay his ears back. If they were brave enough and tried to pass him, He would grab the reins of the other horse with his teeth and jerk them back if they tried to run away. No other horse was faster or had more presence. He had the respect of all. Sometimes the rider was telling the horse to do so, but Frank took care of it. The horses respected him enough that they would listen to him over the rider.

The other horses had to also trust Frank to safely lead them up, down and around the crazy, rocky, mountain trails. He always had a watchful eye and had to return trust to the other horses to not pass him or do anything crazy so that he could keep everyone safe. It was his job which he did proudly. He was a good leader to them and to me.

The other horses had to trust me also, they always kept their eyes on me as well as Frank, and mine on them. They had an uncomfortable stranger on their back, someone that they didn’t know at all, whose balance was iffy, and heart was pounding with fear. They couldn’t trust them yet, so they had to trust me. The rider not trusting the horse yet, sitting very stiff, and unbalanced and I’m sure sending out all kinds of awkward signals to the horse, had to trust me to tell them the right things to do to keep them safe, and had to trust the horse not to throw them in the pond or off the mountainside!  The horse had to have full trust in himself to be steady and maintain the balance of an unsteady, insecure and usually terrified rider on their backs. Knowing that this stranger might panic and give the horses crazy commands that would put us all in danger. The horse had to trust me to not listen to the commands of the rider just yet, but instead, to do what I was telling them to do.  I had to maintain eye contact with all of the horses, assuring them all it would be ok, as I talked to their riders using the horse’s names, giving calming commands to both to calm the riders tensions and gain their trust in me, so that they could then ease up and begin to trust the horse and settle down so that the horse could safely do his job protecting them.

Horses feel us. They can feel what is going on inside of us. They feel the energy we have around us. Our energy begins within us.

Energy is transferred. Energy is contagious. Energy is Exchanged.
If we are awkward, we make others feel awkward around us.
If we are scared, anxious or threatened, we make others feel the same.
If we are angry, we bring out defensiveness and anger in others.
If we are happy we make others feel happy.
If we show love and respect, it is returned to us.

Knowing what others feel,
and how to help them through it
is called Discernment
and it is a Spiritual Gift available to all.

WITH THE HEART COMES THE EXCHANGE OF CARE

By the animals working hard for us, we were able to pay for things and care for their needs like foods, medicines, and any extra goodies along the way, and by taking good care of them, they would take good care of us allowing us to use them for peoples entertainment, or happiness. Because they loved us they took care of the perfect strangers on their backs or in their faces because they wanted to please us. They did it for the love and received so much of it. By being good and surrendering to the big plan, everyone won. That was their way of taking care of us. It was all an exchange.

Love and Care are an exchange.

After the Horseback riding stables became the Rescue Barn, people from all over, who lost everything, brought their animals to us that they could no longer afford to care for. Sometimes the authorities brought in broken down, hungry, traumatized and scared animals that had just been abandoned and some were in really bad shape. They were starving, sick, alone, and terrified of everything and everyone.  Some of the horses were so bad off that they couldn’t even walk, one had feet that looked like ski’s because their hooves had not been trimmed in sooooo long. Another horse had hooves that were nearly gone where he had been stuck on the side of a mountain alone looking for food. Each had their own story that we had to love and nurture back to not only health but back to love. They all had scars inside and out to overcome, forgive and heal. People are the same.

You can never reach anyone until you reach their hearts.

I believe everyone needs a horse in their life or at least a big dog- close enough – ha! Animals, in general, teach us wonderful lessons about care, love, and respect. Horses are just bigger and teach it better. Horses in their own right can be very scary. They are large, they are powerful, and they could hurt us very badly if they chose to. But, they are also kind, compassionate, beautiful, majestic creatures who are to be respected. It is a two-way street.

Once we tame the heart, the rest comes too.
A bond happens like no other.
A bond that can never be broken.

As a human race, we should be striving for these sacred bonds more than any other. It is indeed the most beautiful gift on the earth.

When we go through something that is life or death with someone it creates a true, sacred bond, a brother or sisterhood, a soul connection. If you have not bonded with anyone like this in your life yet, well… I guess its time for this amazing adventure to begin. Join a mission or humanitarian project, like this one that we are involved in.

In tragedies, bonds abound.
We are made to be apart of something bigger than ourselves,
to serve, care for, help and love others. Just start. 

Reach out to someone who needs someone who needs love and love on them. Give them a safe place, reach their hearts, tame them. Whether it be a grumpy boss, an angry in-law, a hurt teen, a homeless person, a critter. Find the people and animals who need it the most and begin your journey. It will the greatest and most rewarding adventure of your life.

Love conquers all.
With love comes healing and respect.
With healing and respect comes a bond that can’t be broken.

 

Horses teach us so many things, Leave a comment if you’re a horse person and you “get it”.
Add any lessons you feel horses have taught you as well- I could go on for days about them as it was my such a huge part of my life.

P.S. Next time you’re near a horse, and he trusts you smell under his mane. Best. Smell. Ever. You’re Welcome.

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