Horse Training, Mindful Living

Mustang Collage

I’m a horse girl. I’ve always been. The first story about me escaping to the neighbors draft horses, is from before my first memory. I learned to read when I was 5 years old, and read all the horse books available in the library of my town, and the two closest cities (both fictional, and non-fictional books.) As I grew older I started to hang out at the closest riding school, as often as mom would allow me to. On school holidays I volunteered taking care of horses in another stable, getting up at 4am to walk 3,5 km to get there, for the pleasure of feeding someone else’s horses in the morning (without being paid of course.) I saved ten years to be able to purchase my first horse. I’ve attended many clinics with famous, and non-famous trainers. I’ve observed horses in pastures, and in the wild for thousands of hours. I borrowed pieces of knowledge from different centuries, countries, and horses, like pieces of a puzzle, putting them together in my head. One of my girlhood dreams was to gain the trust of a wild horse. It became more than a dream. Two and half years ago, I got the opportunity to put my theories to work.

 

Rebel Day 9

 

The young gelding that became my friend, was approximately 3 years old at the time. There was never any force involved in our friendship. He wanted it as much as I did. The collage in this post is a mix of photos from our second week together. I had my camera take a photo every 30 seconds, during one of our short training sessions, using a fence post as a tripod. I’m a firm believer in many short sessions, to not ever let a young horse get bored. The most important goal being that every session is a positive experience. Slow is fast with horses, and a good foundation is everything, if you want a partner you can trust.

 

“You can never rely on a horse that is educated by fear! There will always be something that he fears more than you. But, when he trusts you, he will ask you what to do when he is afraid.”
– Antoine de Pluvinel (1555-1620)

 

Getting to know a horse born in the wild is slightly different from getting to know a domestic horse. I’ve noticed that my touch was easy to accept, but new materials, and sounds that he wasn’t used to from the wild triggered his flight instinct in a fraction of a second. The jacket that I am wearing in the photos became a monster on a windy day, a few days after these photos. I thought that we had a developing friendship going on, and was completely taken by surprise when he charged at me with bare teeth one morning. He didn’t listen when I told him with my body language to stop, and back away (by making myself HUGE.) He literally ripped the jacket of me, lifting me off the ground, and shaking me. Using his teeth to bit by bit get the monster off me. Everything happened really fast, as it often happens with horses. I concentrated on breathing calmly, and not panic, when I realized that it wasn’t me he was attacking. I have no idea how long it took for him to get the monster of my back. It felt like forever. He would not stop until he finished his task. He took the biggest piece of my jacket (my new winter jacket was now in several small pieces,) and galloped to the other end of the enclosure, throwing it up on a fence post, while stomping the ground around the monster, kicking up a lot of dust,  before slowly trotting over to me. That was it. He was as calm as could be, wanting some scratches for a job well done …

I spent six months becoming his friend, before showing him a saddle. I gave him about a month to get used to the saddle before the first ride. When I did start riding him he never bucked once. My personal circumstances changed, and I was forced to let him go. I will forever be grateful for his friendship, and what he taught me. When I have the right setup for another mustang, hopefully sooner than later, I will definitely adopt one. It is an experience you can’t imagine in your wildest dreams.

 

Love,

Ms Zen

 

PS. I’m not a horse trainer, just a girl who loves horses very much. I do not recommend any training method. Anything, and everything that involves a big animal like a horse is potentially dangerous. Anything you choose to try is on your own risk.

Mindful Living, Minimalism

What does it take to experience oneness?

mu (1)

 

One hot day in July, almost four years ago I made a mistake. The mistake turned out to be a life changing experience. I went on a hike in the Nevada desert, by myself. I was somewhat familiar with the area, but not 100%. I started out early in the morning with a backpack full of water bottles, and good hiking food. It was comfortably warm in the morning. I’m not a newbie to heat, I live in northern California. Our summers get hot too. I knew what was coming. I did however miscalculate the distance to the peak I wanted to climb. It took longer than I thought it would. Naturally I couldn’t turn around halfway there. My stubbornness would never allow that. I wanted to get to the top rather desperately, because I knew that in the valley on the other side of the hill the likelihood of seeing wild horses was very real. I never get tired of watching wild horses play, it’s one of my favorite joys.

 

With flowing tail and flying mane,

Wide nostrils never stretched by pain,

Mouth bloodless to bit or rein,

And feet that iron never shod,

And flanks unscar’d by spur or rod,

A thousand horses – the wild – the free –

Like waves that follow o’er the sea,

Came thickly thundering on.

– Lord Byron

 

The hike was rocky. The sagebrush disappeared behind me. I was grateful for my wide brimmed cowgirl hat, and my comfortable hiking boots. I had plenty of water and was feeling on top of my world. I reached the peak a couple hours later than I should of. There were no horses in the valley below. It was slightly disappointing. I started to slowly zigzag my way back down the mountain. I could see my truck far in the distance. The rocky high desert landscape was wide open underneath my feet. The day got hotter, and hotter. The desert can be grueling hot in July, but the nights are cool. When I reached the sagebrush, closer to my truck, I decided to stop in the shade, behind one of the bigger rocks, until the worst heat gave room for the cooler evening air.

I had a snack, and some water. I still had food left, and plenty of water for the last 4-5 miles back to my truck. All of a sudden I felt sleepy. I used my backpack as a pillow and closed my eyes for a few minutes.. when I came back to my senses, before I opened my eyes, I sensed another living being close to me. Very close. My inner voice told me to keep my calm, and take a deep breath. When I open my eyes, a horse is standing over me, literally. I tried to be as still as I possibly could, to not cause the horse to panic. From the corner of my eye I saw one stocky leg next to my right shoulder, and another stocky leg next to my left shoulder. A horse was standing over me, literally. It wasn’t a big horse. It was a calm, older, mustang mare, a confident daughter of the wild. She had a slightly musky scent. She sensed that I was awake, and lowered her head towards me. I was still a little groggy from the heat, and my nap, and tried to understand what was happening. The mare blowed some warm air on my face, and carefully stepped aside. She walked away very slowly, towards a band of horses grazing nearby. Some youngster’s were playing a game of tag (yes, horses do that too.) I was still in a dreamlike state, and didn’t feel fear. I watched the scraggy bay mare disappear further away. I realized that I didn’t even get my camera out of my backpack. I waited a couple minutes before I headed back to my truck. The air was cooler. The familiar smell of sagebrush took over. I had a peaceful, easy hike back.

Back at my truck I spent a few minutes contemplating this extraordinary experience. I felt so much like a part of the horses I admired my whole life. A part of the nature around me. I’d already started to make changes in my life, to live more in harmony with nature. Still I had some rough edges battling inside of me. I knew that the journey, the change, originated from the very inside of my soul. It started the day I realized that I didn’t need all the stuff that I was taught that we need. This exclusive experience didn’t have anything to do with if I have the fastest car, or if my clothes represent the latest trends. Experiences like this can not be bought with money. Those material things never made me feel alive, but that day, I lived. I decided to make it my mission to strive for more mindfulness in my life, more experiences, more love, more kindness, more oneness, making more memories, and more zen.

I wanted to include this story as a part of the background to this blog. Horses is a big part of my world, and have been since I was 2 years old. They are masters of mindfulness, and I enjoy being their student. Other things that helps me experience oneness (connection to the world around me,) and harmony is; photography, hiking in beautiful nature, and gardening. I’m looking forward to share my zen with you.

I am planning on sharing one inspirational photo from northern California, weaved into one inspirational blog post every week. No flooding your inboxes here. Sharing blog posts, and giving feedback is appreciated, and encouraged!

 

Subscribe below, and follow the strategies that fits the zen you envision for yourself. 

So what does it take to experience oneness? Tell me your thoughts in a comment! Is it something that is high on your priority list? 

 

Love,

Ms Zen

 

 

Disclosure: I would never approach mustangs in the wild by my own free will. I enjoy watching them from a distance. The photo of a mustang mare and her foal in the beginning of today’s post, is taken in the same area in northern Nevada, where I met the mare in the story.