Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Power of an Open Heart


Yesterday I watched the most amazing connection. Celia, a 7 year old came for her fist lesson. She was excited and totally unafraid. She had to patiently wait while her friend had her lesson, but she played happily and freely on her own. They had made friends with the horses feeding them blades of tender grass as children do, and the horses were very happy to see them.

Celia wanted to work with Black Elk, I like to trust a person's intuition, and although I don't normally pair my 1400 lb horse up with a 60 lb 7 year old, that's what I did. He was out on pasture. I always talk to the kids, just like an adult, no talking down. We discussed how to greet a horse and what makes a horse feel safe and not pressured, and what is appropriate in horse culture. We did some hellos and retreats, and then gently we pushed him into the arena. This is how horses lead one another, not with a halter and rope, but by pushing from behind. Cecilia grassed this immediately.

From there we gently learned about haltering and leading, matching the horses energy and then encouraging the horse to match her energy. Walking, stopping, backing up. She was so good at it all! We zoomed through things that many adults take weeks to learn! Soon she was circling him at a walk and a trot with ease, with a gentle reminder of a stick on the ground near his feet. He was entranced by her. In between she knew to stop and love him.  

She gazed into his face, held his cheeks, fed him bits of grass, arranged his body, even picking up his feet. She encouraged him with her energy, she knew without being told to move her feet while circling him and he began to trot, she also bobbed her head. He seemed to fully understand. More and more I just watched the magic unfold. Only offering suggestions for her safety. He loved playing with her. He was entranced.
 Her mother sighed and said: "Don't you wish we had been taught like this?"

At the end of the lesson time, I just let them play. They played for over an hour in a joyful free way that I have never fully experienced or even seen. I have seen people grasp for it and have it for a few minutes, but this was so spontaneous and full of life that I knew I was experiencing something truly rare and wonderful. Fully at liberty, Black Elk danced with this little girl. Trotting and cantering, turning and following, up on the stump, time for blades of grass, she played and he played. They were in complete harmony and talk about bliss!

When he was turned out to pasture again, she knew to go with him, and pet and coo to him more, while he ate grass. If we could only all be this natural and in the moment, wouldn't life be something?

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