Today was an incredible day.
For the first time ever I felt connected with a horse.
And by connected I mean, uplifted, fond, loving and deeply in touch with a being that, to be frank, has always been scary and intimidating to me.
Never having grown up around horses, and never having really ridden them, I always loved the idea in theory. However, every time I decided to do it, I felt down-right anxious and couldn’t wait for the experience to be over and check it off the list.
I felt that every time I’d sign up for a horseback riding tour I would show up, get on a horse that was assigned to me by height parameters, get on said horse, hope not to die and walk off with jittery hands and shaky legs.
This time was different and the irony is, I felt the closest connection to a horse than I ever have before but I didn’t even ride on its back.
We began our session with Maria on a sunny afternoon after much rain. I was afraid we might have to cancel the activity because up till an hour prior it had been raining. There were six of us.
As we got there, about 10 horses were chilling in the shade underneath a tree. Maria talked to us about how long the horse species has been around for and their significance in other cultures, especially native American.
She talked about how intuitive horses are and how they pretty much can read our mind and our intentions. She also talked about the fact that horses aren’t predators, they have eyes on the side of their head which gives them a 340° degrees view; they do not see 10% in the exact front and 10% behind them. We, as humans, with our narrow set of eyes, can be perceived as predators by horses, hence why it can be tricky to approach a horse from the front.
Maria taught us to approach a horse from the side, slowly and to be aware of his space and ours. Most the time this more sensible approach excludes going straight for petting the horse on its head.
She taught us how to feel the horse’s energy and use our breath to exhale and relieve any tension while approaching this majestic animal. She gave us warnings on the signs to recognize: when the horse tilts his head up it’s a sign of alert or to back off. She explained that when a horse turns its back to us is nothing to be offended by. Of course at times a horse turning his back could be a warning sign for us to move but most the time the horse could want a butt scratch or is establishing its power center/ root chakra.
We then proceeded to do a meditation exercise where we closed our eyes and scanned our bodies. One to one breathing mostly through our nose was used to bring awareness to body parts from the ground up. Once finished, the most unbelievable thing had happened: all the horses surrunding us had all turned to face in towards the circle. One of the horses had even lied down (a very vulnerable pose to be in).
Next came my favorite part: we got to walk around and pick a horse that called to us and connect. At first I wasn’t sure about which horse I’d want, there were so many cool ones and all their colors and patterns stood out.
But at one point one of them, a dark brown one with deep, soul-staring eyes and I had locked eyes. So I walked over tentatively and stood near him, waiting for him to turn his head towards me in a sign of welcome before I’d touch him. That did not happen though. For a long while that seemed interminable he did not give any sign of wanting to engage with me. I started to think that I may have misread him. I took a few steps back and tried turning away and giving space. I started gravitating towards another horse. After a little while had passed, I noticed that the brown horse I had initially chosen had ever so slightly turned his head in my direction. So I went closer again and at that point we started connecting.
The group then took the horses out for a little walk, first in the pasture and learned a bit on how to be in command of the horse gently but assertively.
Later we walked down to the beach. Some of us decided to ride on the horses’s back and some just walked the horses. It was quite an experience. I felt so fulfilled by the experience alone of having this giant, soft , quiet and sweet animal by my side that I felt very content just walking and not riding. I felt that I had more freedom to take in every moment and explore this newfound connection while walking side by side.
The beach was magical. Sunset was in full effect, a giant rainbow appeared and the tide was low. The horses seemed happy and by then I felt comfortable enough with my horse Abraxis to have very close contact, give him rubs and even have him lean his head against mine.
As we were walking back from the beach I felt sad to be apart from the horses, which was such a different feeling than any if my previous experiences around horses. Usually I felt relived and ready to go. My horse took one last moment to lay down, flip onto his back and roll around in the sand. I didn’t even think horses did that? It was incredible to watch!
The setting just felt so magical, and beyond that, the experience of finally connecting with a horse was awakening. It wasn’t a spoken connection made of words and conversations, but an unspoken connection made of energy.
Stay tuned for the next blog post where I will introduce Maria and talk more about what she does!
Photo Credit: Michael Melendez and Cocoa Ethica