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Issue 2 - May, 2006

E (equine) Truth is the most important concept horses teach us. The definition is: absolute truth from its inception at the thought level to its reverberation in every fibre of our being.

Horses teach us to be here now and to be in absolute truth. They don’t tolerate the slightest deviation from the experience of “isness”. I talked about “Equinisty” in the last newsletter, which is the gift of finding the unexpected and truly meaningful perspective through the clear and almost 360 degree vision of the equine. The only way we can find our own unique and meaningful perspective is to be absolutely truthful. If we are not we will find someone else’s answers. The physical plane operates by cause and effect so it is very important to clearly determine the cause.

Horsemanship talks about body language. It doesn’t matter the discipline it is all taught around aids, which are conveyed, to the horse through the language of the body. Anyone who has ever experienced oneness in horsemanship realizes an illusive indefinable but nonetheless unmistakable connection that goes beyond the body to the mind and the spirit.

Our body, mind and spirit are one with the horse and in that moment we experience oneness with truth, our truth and life’s truth.

Wisdom, truth, joy, freedom, abundance and love – “isness”

The body is so finely tuned to our every thought it becomes increasingly apparent the more time we spend with horses that we learn to use our body less and our mind more.

It is also important to spend unstructured time with horses; time to commune and enjoy. Interact without halter and lead rope. Put a few treats in your pocket and take out a brush and spend some quality time strengthening your relationship. Teach them to move their body, the front end, hind end forward and back. Teach them some fun tricks like stepping up on tires, walking through foam noodles or walking into a trailer to enjoy a bucket of treats. You will be amazed at how many things your horse will do if they are not forced but invited and rewarded. Always tell them how proud you are and how wonderful and good they are. They understand every word and thought. I rarely use a halter for anything and my horses follow me anywhere; over, under and through obstacles that most people couldn’t whip or lip chain their horse to try.

It’s all done a little bit at a time with a lot of praise and positive reward. Eventually your horse will come to view you as a wonderful experience and do whatever you ask.

Try taking off your bridle and riding with a halter and lead rope (I guarantee it will only improve the way your horse responds and they won’t associate riding with discomfort). Most of what we ask is by our body position and our mind and if you get into trouble it is much easier to stop a horse by reaching down one rein and bending them to a stop with a halter than pulling on a bit and having it slide through the mouth or held between the horse’s teeth.
If you have spent time to develop a trust on the ground, a horse will happily look after you on their back. When I do ground work games I use words like “walk on”, “whoa”, and “back” and I reward “whoa” with lots of praise and treats so it becomes a positive association. When I am on their back and say “whoa” if the horse takes one more step forward I back them to the point I said “whoa”. Once all these safeguards are in place you will never need more than a halter to safely ride, and your horse, instead of running away when you approach, will come running toward you.

FROM “ONE WITH THE HERD”: (excerpt from Book 1).

I watched L.E. and began to train like she did. Just a glance at a horse's shoulder or hind quarter would move it, but there had to be a certain tip to the head; a concentration of focus that was unmistakably clear. We would play a game called “stick” to me. I was the benevolent leader and treat dispenser as this game was fun and based on positive reinforcement; a human adaptation of horse language. Treats could involve food, scratches or effusive compliments; an opportunity for one on one with their human.
The horses loved this game and would line up to go with me, or even approach me at an opportune time and ask for it. A crook of my finger and eye contact with the particular horse and off we would go; usually at a run to get out of the gate before the others, wanting to play. I would close the gate behind us or I would have two or three horses fighting to go over the bridge or get up on the tires, lunging at each other so only they could be with me.

The purpose of the game was to lead the horse happily away from the herd without any mechanical aids, (so it was all their choice) and teach them to watch my body language and depend on me. It always amazed me how much more quickly they would do things for positive reward, rather than threat of punishment. They developed a curious and happy attitude knowing that they were free to participate or not. I was always careful not to stretch their limits to the point where they would run back to the herd. I would give them time to think about it, or maybe run back a short way if spooked, and then encourage them back again. I believe this develops their capacity to reason out situations and trust my judgment rather than just act blindly in a fearful situation. In the end they will jump much higher out of love and trust than fear.

Magic, at a year old, had the hardest time with these challenges, as like her mother Diva, she had an inborn discomfort of stepping on things. I had to use a halter to coax her on the bridge for the first time, and lots of horse treats, but after that her confidence grew. I remember watching her one-day, after our session, when the herd was grazing in the playground Magic showing off her new found strength, walked across the bridge and stopped in the middle until all the herd had noticed her. Then to upstage her, first Picasso and then Matisse ran back and forth over it.

FROM THE HORSES: (Limited Edition, (L.E.) speaking for the herd)

"Horse wisdom is very simple. Humans tend to equate knowledge with wisdom: For horses wisdom and truth imply “isness” or an inherent and unique aspect of the ALL(or God) that can only be experienced moment by moment as it’s truth or “isness” changes and evolves through our life’s journey. The important thing to remember is that it is ours.
Our own absolute truth of who we are; the perfect embodiment of spirit in our unique and individual physical form. When we allow free flow of spirit by connecting to the ALL and intuitively tuning into that immeasurable wealth of wisdom then we become our truth. Humans often seek more to impress others than themselves and by so doing lose the truth of who they are. We can help you with this for we are teachers of truth and we will call you on anything less. Come and play with us. Come without structure and we will teach you about unstructured, connect with us and through us the all, the infinite and you will come to know truth."

Winning Question from Newsletter 1
By Karen Worthington, Vancouver, B.C.

“Magic, are you most happy when you are working with people or when you are out on your own?”

Magic’s reply:
"My life is very full. I have a large extended family: my horse mom, my horse sister, my mom Liz and many cousins, aunts, uncles and friends. People that come to the ranch are my friends as well and I very much enjoy their attention. I love to be played with and brushed; I love treats and I love learning to ride. Liz has taught me to do lots of games on the ground and I feel very proud when I learn something new. I also love my horse family and running with my herd. I have many friends both horse and human so it isn’t a question of when I am most happy. I am content and happy with all aspects of my life."

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Liz Mitten Ryan
liz@lizmittenryan.com
http://www.onewiththeherd.com
http://www.lizmittenryan.com

If you are experiencing problems with this newsletter in your e-mail, you can view it on our website at http://www.onewiththeherd.com/newsletter.html