Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Salina's Gift

Two weeks ago we hosted a natural horsemanship clinic here at our farm. Marlis Amato is a wonderful horse trainer I discovered when searching for someone to help us with trailer loading issues following a traumatic loading incident with our pony at a Pony Club clinic.

Marlis came out and in two extended sessions, helped us learn to load the pony with zero drama and without force of any kind. I recognized a teacher in Marlis, and felt she had her finger on the pulse of something I've been learning since we got our horses.

I was thrilled when she agreed to do a clinic here, and we prepared the barnyard and arena for guests. It was a gorgeous fall day and as each new person arrived, the excitement grew.

Three of our four horses actively participated in the clinic. Keil Bay kept a close eye on things and at times he stood in the paddock by the arena and seemed to be taking notes.

There was a lot to take note of - but the most potent and powerful message came from Salina, my 25-year old mare who has one eye and mild arthritis. I knew she was a special soul when I bought her, but her presence in the clinic was profound.

Salina was handled by a woman who had not ridden in three years and was struggling with some fear and confidence issues due to a knee injury. We all watched as Salina reflected the anxiety and frustration perfectly. She pulled and tugged, circled and side-stepped, but finally, as the handler was able to follow Marlis' suggestions to center herself and quiet her requests, Salina too calmed.

I have experienced this with Salina many times. She's like a living, breathing biofeedback machine. The louder and more agitated one gets, the more she mirrors back. She and I have had some power struggles, and the best lesson she's given me is that less is very often more. And that centering myself is the most powerful tool I have in changing what's going on around me.

During the clinic, everyone watched as Salina went from dervish to attuned. She responded to hand signals given ON HER BLIND SIDE. There was no way she could see the signals. They were silent and subtle and yet she intuited them perfectly.

Her handler made the decision to ride Salina during the afternoon portion of the clinic. The day ended with a woman who hadn't ridden in 3 years achieving a beautiful relaxed and swinging walk on a mare no one could believe was 25 years old. Salina's black coat was dappled in the golden sunlight and the women (we were all women that day) simply went silent in awe.

Marlis has since commented that Salina profoundly affected her that day, affirming everything she has learned and observed and teaches about communication with horses.

She wrote:

"Now I teach that all you need is intent and clear direction for the horse - no touch, but I can't tell you just how profoundly Salina pointed out for every horse that we tend to overdo everything. They are the masters of the subtle and the invisible - and for the most part we are the blind. Ultimately - since they can "feel" energy, we end up confusing them tremendously with all our fuss and that's what causes so many problems. We are the weaker of the species in use of our senses, so we often cannot communicate effectively because of our limitations."

It is very true that even with Salina's missing eye, she "sees" so much more than we humans do. She is teaching me how to use my own knowing energy. It is her primary gift to me.

The day wrapped up with our wonderful equine and human massage therapist, Harriet Ling, providing massages for anyone who wanted one. Mine was last, in the quiet barnyard that still held the magic of the day. When I got up, a small herd of deer had come up through the back field and into the arena. I think the energy drew them in. It was just that powerful.


Matthew said...

Beautiful story, Billie.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Billie.
This is an amazing story. I wonder how much more intuitive Salina is than the average horse and how much of her intuition is due to having one eye. Whatever the source, she does seem to provide a magnified view into the relational between horses and humans. Some people (me) who have not spent very much time around horses would need the 'magnified' view to be able to pick up on what was happening. Amazing. This is truly a gift. Salina is a great teacher. I wonder if she knows that. Maybe she has some idea.


billie said...

Thanks, Matthew and L.

I think all horses have this same energy, but Salina does seem particularly perceptive and more than that, she seems to have a strong desire to share her perceptions with the people around her. You're right, L, she magnifies what is there and makes it quite obvious.

She often leaves the pasture and comes to the barn to hang out with me while I do chores. Keil Bay will do this too, but he seems more focused on getting my attention - whereas Salina seems more intent on being with me in a deeper way.

It's hard to imagine if you haven't experienced it, but it is quite moving (not to mention enlightening) to have a horse acting out what is going on inside you emotionally. And more so to see her shift as you shift inside.

Keil Bay knows perfectly well what's going on inside me, but his response is more like "okay, so get over it."

Salina wants to mirror it. She stays right there with you.

shara said...

Lovingly told, Billie, and beautifully, as always.

billie said...

Thank you, Shara - I am heading over for a visit to melismata right now!