Hardness, softness, wholeness, coolness (and scholarships)…
This past week, like much of the world, I was rocked by the tragedy in Florida. And then awed by the response, by the action of the survivors, by the voices rising up in unison. It is a powerful time in this world. A time where politicians “thoughts & prayers” are being called out as the farce they are, and action is being demanded. It is a vast contrast from life on the farm, and yet, it speaks to so many aspects of our world, where those in charge resist necessary change and the wave of support for something different, something more loving, rises like a tsunami to meet them. My deepest love and support goes to those impacted by this tragedy.
In my own little nook of the world, I dream of stricter gun laws and the end of machine guns in the hands of civilians AND I also dream of something else, seemingly unrelated, an inside-out change in the way we live and work with horses. When I check in with my spirit, it shares that my own unique way to be impactful in the world is this. Which makes sense given that I have only seen pictures of machine guns (Canada is quite lovely that way and I am reminded of what an incredible privilege it is to live here).
The suffering of horses is scarily commonplace. We have become accustomed to 2-year olds in show rings and on racetracks, to breaking the spirit of a horse so they are ridable, to selling or auctioning a horse when they don’t perform, to whipping or spurring a horse when they don’t do what we want. None of this is shocking to someone who has existed in this industry for a chunk of time. It’s just what is done. I don’t share this to depress you, but rather to expose something right in front of our eyes that we may have become immune to as a way of dealing. And I’d like to propose another way, a path that has been shown to me by countless horses.
I wrote this the other day…
A WHOLE HORSE: A horse experienced as beautifully expressive and emotion-rich, who is seen as a unique personality with unique and diverse needs. A horse who feels safe in their skin, in their communication, and in their “no”. A horse who feels both willing and capable in body and mind of doing what is asked, who is listened to when they are not, and who receives the assistance necessary to be as healthy as possible. A horse who knows being ridden is a choice and not an obligation, whose spirit is beautifully intact and free and whose heart is open and ready for connection. This whole horse generally shares one thing in common, a heart-centred steward who holds the space for their full expression and their happiness. And what is possible from this kind of partnership is beyond your wildest dreams.
I believe in this possibility with all of my heart, not from a place of naivity, but from seeing it before my eyes. Experiencing the return of a horse to this whole state is extraordinary and completely possible – but to ensure that possibility, their human has to be open and willing. And from this state, a state of trust and connection, the level of coolness possible is amazing (and I’m talking about winning ribbons too).
I know that for many people in the industry, horses equal money, and that that money has a lot of control. But there is a grass roots movement that is growing to see our horses, not as a commodity or dollar signs, but as living expressive emotional beings with unique needs and the ability to connect deeply, and show a whole new world to their human. A world where the well-being of the horse is taken into consideration, where they are given the time to grow up, where they are connected with and listened to. This is my vision for the future. If I make an impact with this life, it would be to go to my grave knowing that the well-being of horses worldwide was irrevocably changed for the better within my life-time, that the bar had officially been raised.
Here are a few ways I’m sending out my ripples:
1. The Whole Horse Apprenticeship.
We begin March 15th, 2018 (and every year on this date). Find out more.
2. Two full scholarships for the Whole Horse Apprenticeship ($475 value)
I am excited to be able to once again offer two full scholarships for this year’s Apprenticeship to two committed and passionate horse lovers (no horse required), who would benefit both from this program and support around accessibility. Apply at this link: http://bit.ly/whascholarship2018 by Thursday March 1st. Please share with any inspired and inspiring horse people in your world.
3. The Whole Horse Podcast
We’re up to 8 episodes and counting! Each one focused on holistic horse care, well-being, training and more, with knowledgable and incredible guests. My hope is that as this grows, it will give people a safe place to learn and grow their skills and potentially the impact will ripple out to their horses and beyond. That’s the vision I’m holding for this and so far, over 900 downloads!! If you’d like to listen head here.
Here are some of my favourite resources:
Taming Wild: The Documentary by Elsa Sinclair
Equus: Healing through Horses (a video/documentary project spearheaded by my friends Anastasia Hirst and John Fulton)
HoofRehab.com with Pete Ramey
Tao of Equus and Riding between the Worlds by Linda Kohanov (both amazing!)
If you too are called to move this industry forward one heart at a time, thank you, and don’t hesitate reach out, I’d love to connect. There is so much we can do, in our paddock, in our riding schools, at horse shows, and in our own hearts. It’s a daily practice to choose love.
Thank you for being open to a shift and a part of the change.
Alexa and the crew (Kia, Reilly, Diva and Parker)