• vslachman

Cultivate the Silence of Horses

Jango, a wonderful horse at the rescue owned by Barb, the rescue's founder.

Dorian isn't a big talker. He doesn't nicker or whinny normally. He doesn't call to his pasture mates, except on occasion. And he never calls to me . . . He's a quiet guy.

I am not. At least mentally.

But I'm trying to be, because I notice that when I'm with Dorian, putting myself and all the mental chatter on the "back burner" opens up a whole world outside of me that's reviving and nourishing.

Horses literally pull us into a world where quietness gives voice to a calm reality that resonates with the deepest part of our being. It's liberating.

And it's where creative thought is born--in the quietness, maybe even silence, we--I think--should spend much more time cultivating.

"Quiet places are the think tank of the soul." Gordon Hempton, audio ecologist.

Taylor Made Farm in Lexington, where California Chrome and other racehorse stallions stand at stud. The visual definition of serenity.

Yesterday and today, it took me an hour and a half to get to the barn. It's normally a half-hour drive, but road construction left me going at three miles an hour for miles and miles.

I can't possibly explain how much I can't deal with traffic jams. Or delays. Or not moving forward. Metaphorically as well as literally :). I was over the boiling over point, well over it, all the way to the barn.

So I got there in, well let's say "a state." And there was an obstacle competition or clinic or something, so a bunch of horses and people were there who normally aren't.

More congestion. Lovely.

Dorian does obstacles! Here's whole post about that! But I normally save that

for when I'm by myself or riding with only a couple of other people. I'm not a big fan of crowds.

So I headed out to the pasture to get Dorian. German had opened up the far pasture, so all the horses were a long trek down a dusty path, then another long trek into the pasture to, of course, the very far end of the field.

I had a pretty long walk, and so i took a deep breath and decided to just listen. We aren't afforded many places, I don't think, in our day-to-day lives, to be quiet and listen. Or we don't chose to listen when we can.

D. raised his head to look at me, then went back to gently swishing the flies with his tail and grazing.

Dorian's favorite position, close to the food source :)

As I walked, I relaxed. Being quiet is a great way to let go of angst, of worry, of planning, of filling our minds with what amounts to nothing more than clutter.

I listened to the grass waving in the breeze--yes, it does make a low, comforting sound, who knew! The electric fence's soft pop in one place. Blue, the mule's snort at little Chancey as he tried to play and then his muffled hoofbeats as he turned and trotted a bit away. I heard the far-off birds calling in the the woods.

The sky was a wonderful azure with puffy clouds. The grass was very green, the woods are just now giving off the smallest hint of fall color.

And then I stopped at the top of the pasture rise and shut my eyes. I listened to myself. My breathing. My . . . sadness. I wasn't expecting that.

My daughter getting married was joyous, certainly, but I'm realizing there's also a feeling of loss for me.

"Real listening is about being vulnerable" Krista Tippett, On Being.

A very small part of a painting I shot photos of at the Pace Art Gallery in Chelsea, NYC. Horses do transport us to realms unimaginable!

I'll move through the sadness, I'm sure, and what will remain is the joy. But the sense of loss crops up at the oddest moments, and I'm not prepared.

But ahead was Dorian, who certainly is pure joy, mixed in with a bunch of "Seriously?" at times :) so I continued on my way down to him.

It's true that Dorian's life is pretty simple compared to mine--eat, play, try not to get kicked . . . learn something new with me, go for a ride, try to put one over on me, get my goat, or be his cute, stubborn self . . . He's wildly entertained by my dumbness sometimes.

In contrast, our human lives are always so filled with un-fun stuff--stuff to do, stuff to plan, stuff to let go of, stuff to remember or try to forget.

Mental clutter and emotional clutter and the clutter of day-to-day life . . . This isn't true for everyone, of course, and not all the time for any of us. But I'm finding, more and more, that way too much of my life is spent dealing with clutter.

Time to clear that out!

There's good reason to do this, too. Research has shown that the epidemic of diabetes, heart disease, obesity and other ailments in our country is decreased markedly by authenticity and mindfulness.

But back to my angsty day . . . I eventually meandered down to Dorian, got him out of the pasture, rinsed him off, fed him, took him out to some grass away from everyone and let him graze. I just tried to retain the quietness inside I'd arrived at in my walk out to the pasture. Just let myself be. Be there, in the moment, in silence, with him.

"Silence is a way to open up to what's really there." Katy Payne, biologist.

Nothing miraculous happened.

And yet something marvelous did.

As I turned Dorian back out with his buddies, I was calm and expectant of good, rather than hassled and cussing a blue streak as I'd been on the way in.

That's pretty remarkable, I think--a state of openness and presence I'd love to inhabit a lot more than I do.

Willow--a 17-hand mare at the rescue who loved to jump. She's the picture of alert, expectant serenity, I think, here.

On the way out, I drove very slowly and patiently by all the horse trailers and horses and owners lining the barn road, waved to friends, and gratefully went on my way.

I'm going to take the time from now on to be quiet. It's not easy for any of us, I bet. But I'm going to do it--cultivate the silence of horses, and let the chips fall where they may.

Let the sadness or great new idea come on it's own time, as it will or won't . . . and wait patiently for that soundless little bird of inspiration to flutter down and maybe land on me :)

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