13 February 2012

The View

In February 2012 I look at this image from July 2008, and I now remember some facts about that time, have some opinions about that time, and I remember my thoughts, that moment - not perfectly, verbatim, but I do remember the feeling of that moment, so I can put it into words approximating my thoughts at the time.

Photo: Tine Biedenweg

The facts; 

I was clinically depressed.
I thought the World would be a better place without me and would not notice, much, if I were absent from it, so I wondered occasionally, how best to leave.
My filly, Presence, was 2, and she was my dream from several years previously, come true.
My dog, Rex, a year old, also a friend I had thought much of - his breed, personality and pleasure, before we found each other.
My friends were with me, at this most beautiful piece of land, tolerating my misery. Trying hard to lift me. Allowing me.
I had passed through patterns of depression since childhood, every few years. My pets always gave me reason to continue living.

My opinions about this time vary. What I mean by vary, as examples of my evolving position, is that in 2008 I was of the belief depression was my curse. By 2009 I opinioned that depression was an equaliser, halting my crazy dreams to enable me to blend in, become ordinary. 2010 I'd had enough; depression was a dirty word, I will NEVER experience THAT again. 2011 I learned I could choose my emotional response to everything. I started practising. I am a fast learner. Now I see her, that woman, Jayne, (I love her dearly, I am no longer her), with her dreams manifest, back turned to them, and I am certain depression is amazing. For me it has been the opportunity to explore, learn, evolve.

My thought, in that moment, the moment I did not know had been captured by Tine with her camera?

"What BEAUTY! ...Landscape, hills, rock, geography of millions of years! Like I've seen as a child, in Britain, and periodically throughout my life, each time taking my breath away! I did not know it was here, so close to my home. Colours. Light. And sharing it with Presence, Rex, these women who are still here while I hate myself! I can feel my heart again. I can feel again." I smiled, I think, although retreated to the habit I had been working hard to keep, the sad-face.

I was not cured that day, but moments such as this continued to occur, and countered the hours of self-loathing.

There is much more I can share about my experience of depression, bi-polar and whatever other disorders I've played with, but this moment, today, Monday 13th February 2012, I simply admire the moment of this photograph, and for the first time I notice Presence wrapped around me, and I am actually lost for words... XJ

6 January 2012

I Appreciate

The last opportunity I had to write, I said I would tell you what I am FOR, and asked you what you prefer, like, advocate, are "for." I believe you could learn much about me from my preferences. You may conclude I am inspiring, or abnormal (I do hope so!). I do not concern myself with how others view me unless they are a horse, so you may keep your opinion to yourself, or if you enjoy what I advocate, join me in creating more! In reading my "likes," however, you will learn much more about yourself, reflected in this jotting. This may be the first time in your life you have begun to ponder your preferences in this way. Many of us prefer to notice, even list, the things and events throughout our day that we do not like. Instead, let's start our next co-creation; and I would appreciate your comments at the end, or over here on Facebook, underneath the pink rose

I love Planet Earth. I have an thesis of reasons why. Another time, perhaps!

I love the ocean. Water. Ice. Waterfalls! Clouds, snow, forests, plants, jungles. I'm for the bush. Diversity. I appreciate the countering of negativity that all species other than my own offer. I admire nature. Awe.

I could, and have lived, in many places, but I choose to live in Serpentine, Western Australia. This is the highest praise for a location I can offer. I'm for Serpentine because it meets my needs, and on the outskirts of a city, is not difficult for people and horses to visit. I'm definitely for Heartland. My home, and home to not only my herd, but much wildlife, from dung beetles (I'm definitely for dung beetles!) to Ibis (who eat the dung beetles). I interact with my local village and my country in a way that creates only experiences I wish to receive, for example I do not break the laws of the State I live in, so I'm for the law; until it proves to be an ass. I love colour, so I'm all for painting your house the colours of the rainbow, and I did! I'm for rural living, growing vegetables, edible plants and accepting evolution. I plant trees, nurture soil, minimise chemicals and I'm even kind to some weeds!

A Heartland rose in October, grown for their beauty,
scent & because the horses,
Robert Smith Rabbit, and wild birds love to eat them.

I am for the positives changes that my predecessors created for me to now enjoy. People like Boudicca, Marie Curie, Jane Goodall and Alice Walker; I am for diversity, racial and sexual equality, freedom from dogma. I am for people to have experiences and relationships, and be permitted to have any negative experience they may choose, so that they may learn from it and make alternative choices, just like the rest of us!

I'm for fun. For singing even if you think you can't, dancing like no one is watching, art, creativity, comedy and play. I deliberately share the things I like that moved me, to spread the feeling.

Close to my heart, and I have felt this way since birth, is equality with other animals. I don't eat animals, I share the planet with them. I'm for contributors and I'm for children - Masters every one. 

This brings me to my joy, my passion, my calling - Horses, teaching and learning. I am for others to feel good too. I'm for passion!

I'm for a natural approach to animals, and I believe in sharing this attitude with as many people as possible, to effect lasting change and transformation. I'm for riding horses with their permission, free of discomfort, comfortable tack. I'm for barefoot and bit-less horses. I'm for friendship, partnership, reverence and appreciation. I'm for listening to the horse, valuing her opinion. I'm for bodywork. I'm for nutrition delivered in a bio-available way to grazing, free-range horses. I'm for a horse as a member of your family, for her lifetime, cared for in old age. I'm for foals spending as long as they need with their mother, co-parenting young horses, noticing who their friends are, play-dates and sleepovers, holidays on large tracts of land, exposure to a herd and rocks and bodies of water like a river or the sea. 

Bachelor Boy & I at Naval Base Horse Beach, January 2006

I commend people reaching for joy, consciously finding their way back to who they are, their heart. Rediscovering their guidance. I'm for the horses of these people, who are challenged alongside their human. I'm for compassion.

I'm for reviewing my preferences every moment, and changing my mind. 

And I'm for resonance. If you find me, are vibrating at a similar frequency to our herd here at Heartland, I'm for you. XJ

“That night he dreamt of horses in a field on a high plain where the spring rains had brought up the grass and the wildflowers out of the ground and the flowers ran all blue and yellow far as the eye could see and in the dream he was among the horses running and in the dream he himself could run with the horses and they coursed the young mares and fillies over the plain where their rich bay and their rich chestnut colors shone in the sun and the young colts ran with their dams and trampled down the flowers in a haze of pollen that hung in the sun like powdered gold and they ran he and the horses out along the high mesas where the ground resounded under their running hooves and they flowed and changed and ran and their manes and tails blew off of them like spume and there was nothing else at all in that high world and they moved all of them in a resonance that was like a music among them and they were none of them afraid neither horse nor colt nor mare and they ran in that resonance which is the world itself and which cannot be spoken but only praised.” 

3 January 2012

I'm for horses...

I smile as I recall a man I once knew, who often said to people like I once was (opinionated, enquiring, searching for the best way, the right way), 

"When I want your opinion I'll give it to you." 

I can't say that having opinions or searching for the rightness of everything has been a peaceful path. Some time in the past couple of years I started to consider the value of my opinions, it started with a quote told me by a good friend. 

"An opinion is a need of the ego." 

I appreciate the human ego, I spend time watching it, and learning about it. Enough time to have opinioned (Ha-ha!) that my ego is not helped by pandering to its' needs, and so I started to watch for the judgements I made every hour of every day. I pondered the value of each conclusion I came to. For example, In noting the lack of understanding between a person interacting with their horse, and concluding the person to be ignorant and the horse to need pity - how was I contributing to the experience of the three of us, and even socially, as an Earthling? The unravelling of my life-learned ego-habit began...

Assessing for "Australian Natural Horsemanship" Sinnington Manor, Yorkshire Feb. 2003

I defer to my intention; that I am a part of the evolution of this planet, reaching for more love, more compassion. If I judge a person negatively, as in this example, I am negatively focussed. If I pity the horse, likewise. I render myself helpless, or worse, superior, apart from the two. At odds. Compelled to make things "better" - do it the way I know from my experiences to be more valuable than your way. I would interfere from a position of negativity. Extract the fun. Add some insult. I am a good teacher, however I detected the opportunity to become extraordinary, were I to alter my position from the negative toward the positive. 

Some years prior my friend making this comment, I had been teaching professionally in the field of Natural Horsemanship, and active on several Internet Forums since the late 1990's.

The Powerbook, my connection to the rest of the World since 1999, still overworked here in 2006 but ably assisted by Jason.
I believe his approach to my Internet activities holds a message, just one I am wilfully ignorant of at this time. 

I enjoyed much of the debates on forums, but on balance, the feelings I experienced the most during, and post discussion, were negative, and so I left all forums. 

The recipient of thrown tomato's (saved from a salad supper at the nearby pub).
Belstone Stocks, Dartmoor, July 2003
I had not considered holding an opinion about a way to be with horses, ways to behave and teach, ways to not behave nor teach, to be a cause for concern to me until that quote was proffered to me by my friend. 

I observed my judgements occurring each day, and noted the effect of the situation, I came to see that my experience was always negative as a result. I also noted that the person with whom I interacted had a negative experience too. A negative experience is sufficient reason to move away from the apparent cause; Perhaps some people I no longer see drifted thus? 

Amongst my aspirations is the desire to have more positive experiences, or at least find a way to view the ones we could define negatively, in a positive way. I have learned that the greatest assistance one can ever be to another is to be authentically strong, loving and positively focussed. I exist to be a participant on this Earth. I love to teach, to help. Perhaps I could view the lack of understanding between the person and their horse differently? Drop my opinion, try a positively focussed one? 

There was a time when I stood in an arena, shaking with fear and frustration, tearful and distressed. My mare, at the other end of the leadrope, likewise. We could not look at each other, and a spectator called for her to be shot. An amazing story, that I will share in future writings - do remind me! Suffice to say, Cedar and I lacked understanding at that time. Today we are as connected as twins. My belief is that those moments of disharmony (once viewed as despair; I'm looking for more positively focussed thoughts for my memories!) were integral to me reaching for and finding the relationship we have now. 

Cedar pregnant, me about to marry. November 2005

What if I repel the person with my negative opinion? What if I reflect to them every negative self-opinion they may hold? What if I emit to the horse my woe at his life, so it feels woeful? What if I acknowledge the potential for an extraordinary relationship to evolve between the two, like mine with Cedar? What if I look at both with appreciation and love, rather than judgement and pity? Open my heart to them both so that they may sense my offer of guidance? Who does not wish for unconditional support while they navigate through life experiences?

Simon Sinek on Twitter

I like this quote, shared on Twitter recently which I retweeted. Considering what you are FOR is positively focussed. A beautified opinion.

This project, The Heart of Horsemanship, is positively focussed.

What are YOU for?

Note; This post took days to write in my spare time, a most enjoyable experience, but I have heavily edited the writing as my intention is for each post to be short; more readable! My stories around opinions, and everything hinted at in this post, are numerous! I will share each story over time with the same intent, always illustrated with photographs as well as words and feelings. I will share with you the stories you most want to hear, if you let me know what they are. Meanwhile, my next post will share some of what I am FOR. Subscribe or "Like" us on Facebook, or "follow" us on Twitter for notices about new posts.  

24 December 2011

Whiskey; Romantic Notion

Whiskey is always pleased to see me. I feel honoured, and appreciate this more than I can express in words. Every day, because Whiskey greets me with such love, I am more loving as a result. His unconditional delight of me, inspires me in return to shine my love wherever it may be directed. And so the day unfolds. If you meet me, and we have a warm exchange, smiles, I show compassion, I help you and you feel good in my company, know it started each day with Whiskey...

19 December 2011

Lexi learns to be a Horseman

Lexi has been visiting me on occasion since she was 3, and her first ride on a horse was one of our herd. Lexi's mum is a strong advocate, as am I, for animals as friends not slaves, and learns with me also. Lexi is fortunate, and experiences friendship and joy with horses. Lexi, and her peers are the leading edge of Horse-Human relationships, and will inherit a world of equality and love, rather than the place of abuse we found when we got here.

I really don't like kids being lifted onto horses and led around as if the horse were a sideshow ride. Lexi has been playing with horses since she was born, and learning to treat them as equals. When Lexi gets on I assist her, but she asks the horse to assist her too. We spent some time this day at the gate Lexi climbed, and asking Whiskey to get closer as she had difficulty reaching the saddle from her position on the gate. When astride Whiskey, we played to ensure she was able to keep a conversation going with him (children's minds wander), and asked Whiskey if he was willing to fulfill Lexi's desires with her, such as walking to different objects, changing direction etc. Note Lexi has no reins, and no need to complicate her ability to learn to be a real Horseman if she learns to think they are necessary. Can you see how I am able to guide Lexi in her life learning? Even When distracted by Katelyn ( a working student here at Heartland) and the camera, Whiskey can cling to my contained, focussed energy, rather than all manner of behaviours that would possibly harm Lexi or himself.

Here Lexi wanted to play with the obstacles, when Whiskey drifted in attention, Lexi learns it is necessary to get it back before she makes any requests, otherwise she will grow up like the rest of us, learning to ask a disconnected horse, and when it doesn't respond, an increase in pressure, to a kick, is administered. That would be treating the horse like a slave, and is a controlling behaviour, unnatural to us, originating in fear. Lexi is using her voice, "Whiskey," and getting the balance right with the odd tap. Like any small child, Lexi can sometimes overdo the tap! Her challnge is she listens to adults instructing her, rather than the very horse she is astride, and becoming one with. I try to keep my interference to a minimum, and we have mastered keeping mum quieter! I also don't want to punish Lexi for over-zealous tapping, as the horse will let her know how much is too much, and their conversation that is real, experiential, is so much more valuable than any words I can confuse her with.

Lexi likes to talk, and I listen and we can include Whiskey in the conversation. We are always thinking about what would Lexi or Whiskey like to do next, then we get focussed as a team so that it happens right away. More discussions. Team meetings are great! Rex joins in too, and Whiskey was happy to oblige, and rewarded. His reward is the harmony he feels when in our company, a very attractive thing, good feelings. Treats occasionally too.  

Lexi worked hard to fulfill this aim. Whiskey didn't automatically assume she wanted him to mount the pallet, because her attempts to listen to some advice from me, and her natural tendency to look around the environment for stimulating things to look at caused her communication with Whiskey to be fuzzy. I encouraged her to tune-in, and we have been playing games in lessons about focussing on an intent until the horse tunes in to your overwhelming emanation, and fulfils your request. Of course for Lexi, who's only 4, remember, I just repeat the games of look at ... and we get there, over and over, so she understands how to focus, and manifest. Eventually Lexi bounced her horse friend around the pallet until she'd had enough experience at not getting what she wanted, to clear her thoughts and posture enough to start focussing on what she really wanted, and Whiskey obliged.

Lexi knows she doesn't get to sit on horses unless she is relating with them first. As a four year old, Lexi cannot be expected to remember the endless words poured at her every day instructing her to "do this, don't do that..." and so on. I don't teach this way anymore, anyway. Instead we have some simple concepts to stick with, the horse is not a toy, nor obligated to make you happy. If you play with him you will feel happy, and he will feel happy too, in your reflected joy, if not his own. As the teacher I watch these two interact, and if Lexi is vulnerable at any point I can intervene if necessary. When I can sense the two are in closer harmony, permission is granted for Lexi to sit on Whiskey, and we can add to her experiences as she learns and grows.

This is the moment mum thinks "pick up the dragging rope," but I know Whiskey won't tread on it, or her, and don't want to interfere in the building harmony by trying to prevent disharmony. If I intervene, I'll spoil the moment. I can't teach a child to know a dragging rope is cumbersome and potentially dangerous by repeating in an ever increasing tone of fear, "DON'T..." I can allow her to learn with a horse who is friendly and trustworthy, caring and befriended, that there are easier ways to play.

Sometimes we include mum in the team. Mum is very important! I must explain to mum what Lexi is learning, as I realise what she is learning, and my reasons for the decisions we make at each point, such as a choice to ignore the over-zealous tapping to get Whiskeys' attention. This day my intuition told me so much good was coming about in Lexi from learning to focus and harmonise with Whiskey, which has been the work of several lessons, that we could introduce the lessons about sensitivity to tapping later. It's not like Lexi has been given a piece of metal attached to the horses teeth and gums, or a whip, or a frightened, controlling attitude. Whiskey is cool with the taps and bumps. He got worse from his mother...

Lexi has learned to ask Whiskey to increase his energy to trot by eminating the feeling as she gets the desire. Of course that means I have to feel this emanation for now too, and save money on gym membership... 

Lexi is slowly learning to rise trot. There is no rush, she doesn't hurt Whiskey. We play with the concept like a dance, one-two, one-two.

And we dance off into the distance. Want to join us? 

16 December 2011

Rex; Canine Division of The Heart of Horsemanship

The herd at Heartland need fly protection at this time of year. Losing their veils often, Rex, their guardian, my right-hand-man, retrieves the discarded veils. Discomfort banished. Thank you Rex!

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