When I was a pre-teen I was horse crazy.

I had Breyer horses in my room and horse shoes with pictures inside of them all over my walls.  One year for Christmas my parents got me a subscription to the Quarter Horse Journal. I read every single word and even indexed all the information so I could come back to it when needed.  I was organized, committed, and passionate.

My horse’s name was Mr. Ed. He certainly wasn’t show or performance material but he loved me, and I was smitten.  Absolutely smitten. I can still smell him today and feel his breath. Bathing him was probably my favorite thing – an even better smell that takes me back to all things wonderful in my childhood.

Mr. Ed was SLOW.  So, I spent a lot of time on trail rides or pretending to help “work cattle” a mile behind my dad.  I can remember singing “you are my sunshine” to my horse, while ignoring my dad’s pleas for me to catch up.

I now know the science behind what was really happening for me in those sweet and utterly perfect moments – those moments that formed me – powerful attachment and regulation stuff that I love nerding on and on about nowadays.  The thing is, it’s not just research for me, nor is it for most of us.

It’s personal.

It’s why we do this work – we BELIEVE in the power of the horse/human relationship to heal and to help us develop and grow.  We want this for ourselves, and we go to great lengths to offer this to others.

We need the horse human relationship

Some of us may not have had a living, breathing pony when we were young, but even so, many of us knew deep down that we NEEDED one.  Intuitively, we knew what those who have come before us knew, what science is finally catching up to, and what those who will come after us will find deep in their bones – the relationship between horse and person is special and somehow part of the very fiber of our existence.

AND most of us, at some point, if we are in the EAS field long enough, find that our heart and our passion get fractured.

Bills to pay.

Horses and families to feed and care for.

A business to fund, and clients and communities with needs well beyond our capacities to meet.

And grief and loss – oh, the loss that is deep when we love our horses, and that can be particularly complicated to process.

So, we plug along.

And plug along some more.

And plug along some more, because. . .

Goodness me, horse people have some serious grit.  It’s a strength until it’s a hindrance.

In Natural Lifemanship, one of our core principles is that true healing cannot happen at the expense of another.  The first time we ever said this, we were talking mostly about the horses, and about how important it is that their physical, emotional, and psychological well-being is cared for in and out of sessions.

But a good principle is a good principle regardless of where it is applied (another foundational NL principle), and true healing for my horses and my clients cannot happen at my expense or at the expense of my family.  I, too, need care for my physical, emotional, and psychological well-being in and out of sessions.

Maybe read that again, because you need this, too. We all do.

Returning to our why

So, this year it is my intention to return to the heart of this work – the relationship that formed me – my real why.

Selfishly, I’d love to have support and a little accountability, so I’d like to invite our NL community to join me.  Connect or reconnect to what childlike love of a horse feels like – this simple, yet profound love is at the heart of what we teach and what we do in the world every day.

My invitation to you is that you spend time each day for 30 days with your horse or horses, then we’ll meet as a community once a week to support each other and reflect on our time.  For those of you that find it useful, we’ll give you prompts each day – some gentle guidance as you deepen your relationship with your horse. You can learn more about what we’re doing here.

I plan to do my best to create space for this each day, with all kinds of grace for imperfection.  It’s okay to miss a day (actually, we’re building in a few extra days for this purpose).  Your community will still be here when you get back.

Remember, true healing cannot happen at the expense of another

As of late, I need this reminder on the regular. And I need time with my horse, while ignoring the world’s pleas to catch up – even if for just a short time each day.

If you need this too, please join me.  Join our community as we take time for ourselves and time for our horses. . . on our own and in community.