Wednesday, October 29, 2014

*November* Hill

We're a few days out from the beginning of my favorite month and also the month that inspired the name of our little farm, November Hill.

A decade ago we moved Keil Bay and the Little Man and the Corgis to our new home. It was a dream come true for me. As October passed and we began to learn the whisperings of this piece of land, I waited for the right name to come to me. And  then November arrived, and our farm burst into color around us. 

The name November Hill popped into my head and stuck there. And so our farm was christened.

Months later I was looking through Keil Bay's papers and discovered that he grew up on a farm in Virginia. That farm's name was November Hill.

We love it as much today as we did the first year. After a hot, buggy summer and a busy and stressful August and September, I'm looking forward to being here, fully present, enjoying and relishing every single day of November Hill's namesake month.

In celebration, I'm offering a couple of freebies from my published books.

From October 30th through November 3rd you will find these two titles free on Amazon:

Don't Miss The Magic -  a book of essays on the writing (and creative) process

Search For Fox Hunting Red (Little Shoppe of Colors, 1) - a delightful picture book about two little donkeys who own and operate a shop that sells paints 

You can go here for easy "purchase" and download of the ebooks. You are welcome to gift to as many friends as you like during this free period!

Thursday, October 02, 2014

even when you think you're straight, you're crooked

In one of my recent rides with Keil Bay I noted that he was counter-bending to the outside of the arena as we went down the long sides. For a few moments I thought, well, he's just looking at stuff. Then I thought, oh, no, it's not that, it's that he's just moving crooked.

A few more moments and I got to the place where I always try to get to, which is this: what am *I* doing with MY body?

Suddenly it was clear. I thought I was straight but I was crooked. I was bringing my outside shoulder forward and inward slightly. It was subtle. Not a visible thing but when I focused in I realized I was holding it that way and the tension was definitely there. 

So instead of being looky or crooked, Keil Bay was actually compensating for MY crookedness. 

I breathed in deep and softly let it out, allowing my entire outside shoulder to relax as I did so. He  instantly straightened and suddenly we were moving along much more fluidly, with a nice big swing.

This is just the most recent example of this notion that seems to pop into our heads as riders - we need to FIX THE HORSE. When really all we need to do is FIX OURSELVES and the horse follows suit.

We've been having very lovely rides. We're still doing mostly walk with a little bit of trot, and I'm aiming to just be, without any kind of training agenda or real goals other than to make my body as straight as I can and watch and notice and feel how Keil Bay responds to that.

He's 25 years old and he has always known more than me about dressage and about harmony and schwung and gorgeous movement. I've made it a point to listen to him and celebrate what he teaches me, but I've also thrown in some exercises and done my share of trying to get him to do things in ways I thought were "right."

Finally, I am giving up that pursuit of moving up the levels or even thinking in terms of levels. I am just looking at my own body and trying to make it as relaxed and as straight and as quiet as possible. When I do that Keil Bay matches me and then he takes me further than I could ever take him even if I rode every day for the rest of my life. In truth, he's been there all the time, if I just get out of his way.

I've been wondering why we humans tend to think we need to fix things outside of ourselves instead of simply focusing on ourselves. I'm not sure. I suspect it's because we've become so caught up in thinking and doing and fixing that we've lost touch with our own body parts. It's nothing short of amazing to focus in and find a tightness you didn't even know was there. And when you breathe it out and let that tension go, wow. The whole world (and the horse you're riding) makes a huge and wonderful shift.

In otther news, we have a third cat sick with cytauxzoonosis. River, our rescue kit-meow who has had chronic health issues all of her young life, is now on the treatment protocol but here at home instead at the vet school. She''s fighting and hanging in there but I would so appreciate any healing thoughts and  prayers you might send her way.

I wrote my September column at Talk2TheAnimals about healing circles and the power they have. Go read it here and tell me YOUR story about healing circles!!