• vslachman

Breathing and Being

Updated: May 18, 2019

The Yin and the Yang of authenticity.





I texted German and told him to keep Dorian in his stall but open his door so he can go out in the attached paddock. We had 10 inches of snow and the turn-out paddock where his buddies are is likely blindingly white so he wouldn’t be able to see the knee-deep holes now frozen where the previous mud had produced them.


Dorian doesn’t need to be stepping in them. So . . . we play around a lot in the indoor arena.


He’s coming off a month-long battle with scratches, a fungal infection in both back legs that was so severe and so painful that Shannon, his farrier, noted the soles of his feet are bruised due to the amount of blood rushing there to combat the infection. He was compensating by moving forward on his front feet so much that his sweet legs were quivering.


So it’s been a slow return for my boy and he’s just now able to go out and romp with his friends. He played and played all day long with Spike and Saber for the last few days, and now this frozen whiteness will delay his joy once again.


But, I hope, not for long.

Could I have better spent our time just being with one another. Just breathing and being?

That month was tough on us. I spent four hours a day with him, just to get him out of his stall. We’d hang out in the indoor arena, I’d give him a massage, or we’d work on ground exercises, or fitness. I was frustrated and felt helpless, but he was always a good sport and tried to do all I asked of him.


So many lessons. And so many of them not learned in the moment.


For example: Was it best to try to keep Dorian and my mind occupied during his convalescence? Was it best to constantly be “working toward a goal”? Could I have better spent our time just being with one another. Just breathing and being?


There was some balance in that time, though, some yin and yang. Some massage, some stepping back and letting Dorian have his space to process and let go following my probing and gentle, light touch. The Yin.


The Yang was more active training. Figure eights on a lead. Backwards and forwards, stepping up on a box (which is the sort of thing I normally hate—he is not a circus animal) . . . trotting around me as I stood still, walking behind him and whistling so he turns to me . . . doing things. Accomplishing . . . things.



But now what I remember of that month are not those things. It’s standing beside him with the palm of my hand hovering on his mane’s crest and him bending around as I opened my other palm beneath his muzzle so he could rest it there, or nuzzle. Dorian, who had never nuzzled anything.


That’s what I remember.


And so I think all the “things” are becoming less important to me, except as opportunities for those moments of “good boy!” and the joy I see in Dorian when he achieves something willingly and on his own terms. Because he wants to, not because I force him.


We are beginning to actually see each other in a circle of mutual respect and trust and, I think, maybe love.


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