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Full House Farm: Harmony With Horses

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"The lasting revolution comes from deep change in ourselves."
Anais Nin

 

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Journals ] Annual Letter 2004 ] Annual Letter 2005 ] Annual Letter 2006 ] Annual Letter 2007 ] Annual Letter 2011 ] Annual Letter 2012 ]

March 22, 2004

Wild Child

Children are the most fragile and the strongest beings on this earth. Not, just the children of humans, but the children of all beings. Although they are easily moved and can be crushed with little effort, they are like phoenixes in the way they come through the "accident" of childhood. Each and every one of us has a childhood and out of this we rise to be bigger, older, tougher in some ways, more fragile in others.

Looking at children is painfully beautiful. Children are wildflowers in full bloom, there for only a moment, then on to the next stage of their wild lives. Wildflowers and wild animals are similar in that way. I cannot pick a wild flower. Too often I have seen people reach down and pluck a wildflower from it's appointed place on the earth and I cringe. To me, the wildflower is far more enjoyable wild than in my hand or a vase where it will wilt very quickly. I don't think a wildflower ever looks the same again after being picked.

Wild animals are the same way. If you can watch a wild animal in such a way as to not disturb it, the animal looks fully absorbed in it's life. The beauty that resonates out from the animal is like a magnet. It is easy to desire to be closer and even to touch the animal or catch it and keep it, but the results of this would be disappointing at best and devastating at worst. Wild animals die in captivity. If they do not die physically, they die emotionally, spiritually.

Children are wild, too. Somewhere along the line, though, all children save a rare few, become domesticated. There is a subtle, and sometimes not so subtle, change that occurs. The luster and sparkle in their eye begins to dull, the spontaneous dancing of their limbs quiets. The singsong lilt of their voice becomes more monotonous. Wild children wallow in all their senses, mystified and glorified by the experience of living in a body. Domesticated, a child begins to forget.

As a child, I learned that wanting to eat food at other people houses had to be kept under wraps. I learned that to want to touch other people's bodies was wrong. I learned to hold back a lot of what went through my mind because much of what I thought would get me in trouble with someone. It was not always the same person, but someone was bound to find my thoughts and feelings repulsive or wrong. I could not change who I was really, but I could pretend to be something else, something that made others feel better about me.

Actually, I never conformed well, but I made an effort. I rode horses and everyone thought that was cool. I rode every day for hours. I rode and my horses never bothered me about whether I was thinking, saying or doing the right thing. I did get to learn their ways of community, however. One time, I went to visit a young friend of mine who had a black pony, much like Missy Brown. I went to see this pony and the pony turned around and kicked me right in the stomach. Another time, with the same pony, I was run right over. I learned to get out of the way of that pony.

I liked to ride my horse, Snowball, all over the neighborhood. My friend, Debra, lived a few miles away, closer to town. I rode to her house, where all the houses were closer together and there were a lot of kids playing in the street after school and on the weekends. I like riding there because I could show off and Debra and I rode double for fun. One day, there was an especially large crowd of kids out playing. They all came over to see the horse and I got off. As everyone asked me questions and admired my horse, I went under his neck to give him a big hug. This was my horse and he loved me, I wanted to show them. As I hugged him tight, Snowball curled his neck up and reach back to take a big bite out of my hide. I was so embarrassed.

Horses were always reminding me when my behavior was out of line, but they never commented on my wildness as being bad. It was always my responsibility to check myself, to know what worked and where I fit in. In our pasture there were always new horses to learn about, since we boarded horses and people we always coming and going. We had a pair of Palominos come to live with us one year. They were a mother/daughter team. The mother was quiet and the daughter was a bit more curious and investigative. The daughter, Sweetie, had never been ridden. I thought they were exquisite. I longed to ride them. One day, Sweetie came very close to the fence. I climbed up on the fence and in a flash was on her back. I was just as quickly on the ground, too.

With the help of every horse I have ever known, I have learned where all my body parts are and how to be very aware of them. I have learned how to move them to make a point and when it is best not to make the point, although this has been the hardest part for me. With horses, I can make my point all I want and if it carries power it is listened to. If, however, it does not mean anything to the one I say it to, it is simply ignored, like it was not said. Not so with humans. I found myself forever being punished for saying things I should not have said. The two worlds did not mesh in this way.

However, I am gifted with the pleasure of working with horses daily. I, like those I coach, rise like the phoenix from the ashes of my childhood, at times reveling in all my senses, mystified and glorified by the experience of living in my body. And sometimes I remember what it is like to be wild.

 

 
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Photos Copyright 2004 Barbara Bourne Photography, all rights reserved.
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