Monday, 10 October 2016

Nature's Treats and Going It Alone

" I encourage you to have a healthy cynicism.

   To believe nothing and am prepared to believe anything.  

Above all else, do not go the way others do just because its the norm"

I am forever grateful to the sentiment and intention in the quote above which came from a seasoned traditional vet now turned homeopathic vet.  He is a man who has played a key role in my herd's life and health over the last 3 years.  His work has given me hope, belief and an even stronger sense of responsibility for my actions and the well-being of my horses.

In fact, he's had such an impact that it is hard to believe that it has been only for 3 years that I have experienced homeopathy and it's impact.

To be fair, it was over a decade ago that I had my first true introduction to homeopathy having gone through a minor career 'melt down'.   After 20 years of working in Corporate life, I felt I had spent my whole life doing the opposite of what I was meant to do!

My first encounter with the world of intention left me walking around for 2 weeks with 36 sugar pills strapped to the back of my neck!  Had anyone then asked me what I was doing and why - I would have had no clue other than to say "it can't do me any harm and I'm desperate!"

Before meeting that lady homeopath (who had no connection with animals or vets) I had not studied any scientific papers, or read books on homeopathy.  I just found myself  sitting on this strangers' sofa weeping and stuttering out scrambled sentences about corporate life,  horses, being outside, horse whispering and other confused musings!

It was over a decade ago, so I don't recall precisely what happened next but shortly after,  I left the corporate world as an employee (aka slave as I had been feeling) and set up working as a Self Employed Consultant.  I set up JigsawEquine at the same time believing I could bridge the massive chasm between my chosen career and my heart's true desire - the two worlds that had always pulled me in opposing directions.

Ten years on and both Jigsawequine and my consulting business are booming.  Life is different and so much the better for being so.  Today my first thought whenever my horses or I have an emotional or physical issue is herbs, essential oils and homeopathy!

Whoever says "you can't teach an old dog new tricks" doesn't know what they are talking about!

Their reach has gone further - I take a small selection of oils on holiday with me as I am often in the wars!  My dogs are offered a range of herbs and macerated oils each week.  My daily smoothy includes milk thistle, barley grass, spirulina or bilburry powder - I follow my instincts about which and when.  Oh, and my monthy typical outaly on natures treats is frequently over £500. (I never said holistic approaches make you smart - just healthy)!  Perhaps 'they see me coming' or perhaps I am the one who can see...!

Saturday, 10 September 2016

The Voice

I lost my voice on January 25th 2016.  Essy passed over.

I have been unable to write about it and for the most part I haven't been able to talk about it. 

Solar Sue, Essy and I had been a herd together for 19 years, It is unfathomable when one of you leaves, to conceive how those left behind will be able to move on. The route forwards was one day at a time and initially one hour at a time.

In loosing my own voice I stifled Essys.  This is my first blog posting since his passing. It is important that I give him his voice back and in so doing, open up the stage for other horses to be heard.

Why am I writing now?  Am I 'recovered' ? Has the sense of hurt and loss diminished?  Not for one second.  I am tearful every single day at not having his physical presence close by.  His cheeky ways, his love of putting our heads together and closing our eyes and being still; and his ability to make me roar with laughter.  He brought the Old Woman into my world of horses for the first time in 40 years.  How do you ever get to a place where you no longer miss that? How do you ever stop needing and wanting that?

It has been even more important than ever for me to listen to Solar Sue and Grace.  I knew I had to avoid trying to replace how Essy and I were together by copying or projecting it onto them.  The journey Essy kick started me on in 2010 has helped me discover so much about 'the horse' and how much they have to say to us,  and how individual they are.  Fortunately that continues through Solar and Grace and I cherish each relationship for it's uniqueness.

Our journey hasn't been documented by the BHS, you don't study or learn it  - it is a life experience and therefore is different for each of us.  Parenting is probably a similar journey.  Sure their are experts and guidelines and 'clubs' and help groups to join but none of them help you become present and put your ego to one side. None of them teach you 'non interference' as Wayne Dyer talked about.

Most significantly none of these learning methods encourage you to give your horse (or child) their voice, their true voice without desire to change them or have them conform to some generalised standard or expectation.

Fundamentally - a horse's voice is not given it is allowed.  

Their voice is accepted when it is offered, without judgement or criticism.  Unlike in the TV programme 'The Voice' if you allow your horse their voice there is no going back!  You don't get to vote if you like it or not.  You can't select to keep it or discard it.

Once your horse realises his/her voice is being heard, the connection and communication you have together is extraordinary.   You will have days where you think you have opened pandora's box as life changes to become much more of a 'joint discussion'.  Gone are the days where what you want; rules.  It's now teamwork every day in every way!  If your horse doesn't want to.... isn't willing to... isn't up to.... he or she will let you know but never in a way that harms you.  Those are the moments that will test if you really do want your horse to have a voice.  If you 'push on' and ignore him/her - there will be consequences.  Or, you can show you are listening, and that you understand the importance of choosing to be together from a place of willingness versus domination.

Listening to your horse is no different from consensual sex versus rape.

It really is that black and white when you allow a horse their voice.

To the BHS trained, traditional horse people it will sound like 'you are letting the horse have his way' and you will be criticised for not 'making your horse' do things you want.  When this happens and it will, I recommend you smile.  Take heart and comfort knowing that yes, they are right!  And... as a result of you not forcing your wishes upon your horse, or trying to know better than your horse, the friendship you and your horse will have goes far beyond the imagination of those 'informed people' and their over controlling fear based egos.

The voice of your horse is a gift.  It is there waiting to be heard.  All you have to do is step back, stop thinking, acting and demanding, and... observe!  Quietly observe, don't stop noticing, and learn!

A voice is a gift we all have - all of creations creatures

Essy was one of the best friend I ever had.  That doesn't change or decrease with his passing.  Grace and Solar are also my best friends.  My friendship with them is unique to each.

We are all blessed with this ability to forge deep friendships with more than one person or animal.  There is no limit to our capacity.  We have no need to compare our friendships or try to have carbon copy relationships.  Whether we need one best friend or several is not the point. If we allow ourselves to listen to others we will remember how to feel close again.  We will suddenly realise that once again life is moving on,  just as it should, and yes quieter some days but always we have that person or horses voice in our heads to accompany us and keep us company.

I thank Essy again, this time by leading the way in his passing earlier this year.  His earlier passing has helped me this week to be real with my own emotions and to have compassion for how others are feeling when faced with a sudden and unjust loss of a much loved husband, father, grandfather, friend and neighbour.

Every moment of their despair I've felt. I've had a strong and calm sense of when to act and when to step back and allow.  I've felt the ease that comes with releasing my own tears unashamedly and not trying to be strong or 'keep it together' for protocol our out of some old fashioned belief that that is how we help others when grieving.    I've known the speed with which regrets, self punishment and recrimination sets in and have acknowledged that feeling in others and encouraged them see it's not true. 

I may not have got it all right this week but there is no right.  There is just honesty.  Pure open honesty that comes from knowing your own heart and allowing your voice to express what is in your heart, so others can find theirs too, if they seek it.

At a time when my human family adjusts to our deep sadness and loss at losing a loved one I have had my friend Essy's voice in my head helping me move slowly forwards. 

Thank you wonderful boy!

With love to Celia and Susan, Ian, David, Emma and Mathew at our time of loss x

Monday, 14 March 2016

It is not all about achievements!

I suspect many of us humans muse away many hours each week, and many weeks each year and then many years of our lives thinking, hoping, worrying about what we will become!

What's wrong with this?  Plenty!

It takes us away from a focus on how we want to live! We get so caught up in what we will do, achieve and "be" that we don't live now, today, here and in the present. This is so different in approach from our horses' way of life, one lacking in any need to plan or aspire - just  live!

We can all get caught up in the rat race of achieving, especially when we take on a sport such as riding. I hear people talk about my horses in the context of what they could achieve or should have achieved!

As an example,  Solar Sue has spent her life playing polo.  She was a high goal playing pony ie. damned good and with the softest of mouths!  When I retired her and began a little local dressage competing, I would hear people say 'she has lovely movement what a waste she spent her career in polo'.  What a judgement!

Solar Sue's Dressage outings in the New Forest

Then there is Grace - a stunning, 17.1 hh (ish) warmblood, bred by the Dutch Vet to the Dutch Dressage team, specifically for a dressage career.  Then I rocked up, met her, bought her and her promising dressage career, with BD points already in the bag by 6 years of age, came to a grinding halt!

Grace grazing, living out 24 x 7

Has Solar 'wasted' her life? Has Grace failed to reach her potential? 

I have wrestled many times with these thoughts.  Then a little voice in my head reminds me that "they are horses - do you really think they have career plans, career goals and career aspirations?"  Put like that it does sound somewhat crazy to humanise our own 'achievement obsession' onto our horses!

In the case of Grace and Solar, I believe from my own observations that they live for today, in the moment, very much focused on now.  This shows up in the way they express their individual needs for food, space, to be scratched, NOT to be ridden, in no mood for change etc.

Grace enjoying space even from her best field buddy

Spiritual gurus say that enlightenment is not an achievement, it's more like a 'homecoming'.  

I have come to think that one of the big attractions for humans withhorses is in being around this very purity that they offer by being in the "now" and being true to their nature, and needs.  Such purity is comforting.  It is honest and welcoming.  It may seem to some like a form of enlightenment.  

Can we humans achieve enlightenment?  How would  this sense of  "homecoming" feel to us?

It must be similar to being "comfortable in your skin".  It must be based in knowing yourself and being accepting of yourself and your situation, moment by moment, such that there is no need to strive for anything else or betyer - beyond the current moment. 

When we think of striving and achieving I look at a horse and I see their main achievement staring us right in our face!  They stand with their heads down.  They walk and graze and sleep with their heads down. They are 'downward looking' beings.   In contrast we 'busy bee' humans tend to look up; we are 'heavenward looking'.  We walk aggressively, we de-value our planet  - after all heaven isn't here it is up there and up there is where we aspire to end our days!

Striving ruins our ability to see what we have today!

I may be stretching things a little here but I fundamentally believe that we have so much to learn about how to be our fullest self, from watching our horses and their nature.

The spirit of the horse is without agenda, ego, aspiration or grudges.  Only in the hands of humans do we see a horse's spirit and fullest self shut down, become aggressive, or fearful.  Equally, it is under our influence that we see them adorned with rosettes and bling and glitz of success!  Bottom line however is that if left to their own devices the horse remains true to his spirit and instinct regardless of achievements which no doubt wouldn't feature in their 'daily to do list'!

Solar Sue and her filly foal in 2002
What if we too could be left to our own devices?  Free to find our true spirit and instinct?  We would be free from gender, culture and age related expectations and obligations.  Could our role as working, married, child raising adults be filled with joy and simplicity instead of strife and complexity?  One thing is for sure -  currently we get so lost in looking upwards, so caught up in thinking about our future that many of us miss out on today! Our horses do not!

Horses remain focused on today - I don't care how talented they are, or what discipline they are trained to perform in.  The nature of the horse is not by instinct - achievement bound.  That is our domain. 

Fortunately we can change.  I am changing.  Slowly.  Our horses change and adapt to oblige us with our whims and goals, so it is foolish and rude, to think we don't need to do a little adapting along the way too.

For me, the biggest change in myself in the last 2 years has been the sudden loss of Goals and ambition.  Maybe it is age or energy related?  I don't think so.  Career and life goals simply feel less relevant and a bit silly! Oops ...  now I am wondering if that's how we make our horses feel?

Another topic for another day!

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Can you afford to ignore your horse's GPS?

What if we all have a Global Positioning System?  Something that works just like an internal Sat Nav?  We might recognise it as our true nature, our purpose, our higher being or 'meant to be self'

When we ignore our GPS we tend to be in discord with life and those around us - quite literally we have lost our way! 

Being lost or separated from where we should be shows up in many different ways including feeling negative emotions; unhappiness, anger and sadness.  It shows up in the 'less than' we wanted relationships or in our own poor health.  We encounter jobs and bosses we can't tolerate, horses that won't do as we ask and kids we no longer connect with.  We are lost in all senses of the word. 

What if a horse is no different? Can a horse also have it's own internal Sat Nav and 'destination'?  When you think about it - why ever not?

Can you think back to situations when a horse has made it very clear what he/ she did NOT want / to do?  If so then chances are they are equally as capable of knowing what they DO WANT/ to do.  Suggesting freedom of thought and an internal Sat Nav that tries to keep them on course.  On course for a horse (no different from a human) would mean living a life in harmony for their well being.  In harmony with what is best for their physical health and spirit. As a simple example Essy was always very clear about if he was meant to be wearing a rug or not, and if not - he'd tug at it and make a face at me until I removed it.

So what if our horses shoot out 'rockets of desire' and 'missiles of opposition' any time we humans interact with them or ask something of them?  What would that look like?  Is it something we can see, or is it something we only notice when we can't see the behaviour we do want? 

Missiles of opposition might include bucking, rearing, teeth grinding, head tossing, bolting, strategies to avoid being tacked up or mounted and of course ill health.  I'm not a betting girl but I bet that 90% of horse riders and owners will have come across a selection of those behaviours in domesticated horses and probably 'explained them away' using logic - ignoring the horse's true message.

In other words the potential for a greatly improved experience with our horses will always be born from understanding their purpose by examining their instincts and behaviour from a place where we believe that horses (like us), need to follow their own GPS.  They need to follow their own emotional guidance system. 

So when Grace refuses to load in some 3.5 tonne boxes but happily loads into others - she's not being naughty, temperamental or anything else deliberately set out to annoy me - she may just be following her own guidance system that says 'this isn't right' and not in my best interest.  

I now believe that learning to trust our horse's inner guidance system may be what keeps us all safe and well. 


Friday, 5 February 2016

Meetings and Horses!

The reason why "Meetings with our horses"  fail to work...

Most meetings fail because they don’t have an agenda right?  Without an agenda there can be a lack of structure and unclear desired outcomes which ultimately results in pointless blah blah, confusion and a waste of time.

Most meetings fail because they do have an agenda!  Uh?   The problem with an agenda is that for all the plus points it offers, it usually results in one of two probably outcomes:-

Discussion and results are controlled and manipulated to suit the desired outcomes inherent in the thinking and planning that went into the agenda 

No one listens!  As soon as there is an agenda listening becomes sporadic and selective.  We tune in only when we want to or need to.  We don’t really listen to others and build on their views preferring to wait for an opportunity to say what we wanted to say that we've been rehearsing since we read the agenda!

So how do 'Meetings' relate to our horses?

Every interaction you have with your horse is like a meeting.  As the human we tend to do the  deciding about what we really want and need as outcomes from our interactions with our horse.

But if we want to connect (really connect) with the horse which means seeing things from their view point before pushing on them ours -  then it stands to reason we have to drop the need for an agenda. (See why above).

After all, 'connection' with another human or a horse comes from listening and putting aside all of our own desired outcomes. Connection comes from being prepared to go with the flow and see where it takes you. Connection means being willing to listen and to give up on you intention and desire in that moment.   

Bottom line If you want to connect with your horse, shut up, and listen!  i.e. have no agenda.

Is there an argument in favour of an agenda? If you want your horse to fulfil a specific need or activity then you may believe an agenda has a role to play.  You may believe that your agenda blossoming with activity and milestones will help you.  In fact the agenda (it’s activities and milestones) all too often will take over and communication and connection falls by the wayside.   

Bottom line you achieve less of what you wanted.  You may also be sowing unhelpful seeds for reaping later depending on  ‘how’ you achieved your agenda and if in doing so it had adverse consequences for the future.

Such adverse consequences include tightness, resistance, boredom, resentment, pressure, feeling helpless and bully-ed – and that’s just how the horse is feeling!

What do I mean by consequences; now or in the future?  At some point if you keep getting dragged to meetings, asked for your view, then not listened to you’ll stop bothering right?! You'll  stop contributing at all, stop showing up mentally (or maybe eventually physically too).  For sure you will  be default stop growing and gaining insight, fail to achieve and reach your potential.

Bottom line - you don't evolve, others don't evolve and more than likely future meetings begin to sound the same!  Now imagine that from the horse's perspective!  Not a pretty thought for your next schooling session is it?  So, find a way to be interesting for your horse and most importantly be interested IN your horse.

Who is he/she? What signals is he/she emitting today?  Whats normal, what's not?  What does your gut tell you to offer your horse to do?  Do you offer or is what you do non negotiable?  Think about how you show to your horse that you value him/her and what he/has has to offer before laying down demands and expectations.  Just see who shows up today and go from there.....!  It may be one of the best meetings you ever been in!

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Those who don't know - often do!

When someone who thinks they have very 'little horse knowledge' or so called 'credibility' approaches your horse and says "sorry, I don't have anything for you" (suggesting she thought your horse expected a carrot or treat), and then says "except love" - you know you've just found someone who knows exactly what a horse needs!

It's good to spend time with your horse looking after their physical needs, bruises, bashes, and cuts.  It's good to nurse them back to health, feed them a natural, chemical free diet, and help them stay healthy.  It's good to exercise together, explore new places and stimulate their mind.


At the end of the day there has to be time spent enjoying the feeling of LOVE together.  There has to be time to bask in and send loving intention to your horse.

Consciously balance the joy of simply 'being in love' with your horse to enrich their emotional needs as with being in charge of their physical needs, and you'll both reap the benefit in heaps!

Sometimes it is better not to know too much and to focus on what's important; LOVE x

Thank you Lisa!

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Messing with my mind!

Followers of the "law of attraction" will already know that we 'get back what we put out there'! Meaning... our thoughts attract more of what we are thinking about.  This means if you think you never have enough money in the bank, all you will notice is more bills arriving on the door mat, and never enough money in your account!

The wonderful reality being that the reverse is also true!  The good stuff you focus on also increases the more you focus on and believe in it.

If ever I needed a reminder of this vital lesson was last week.

I was due to be in Brussels for a few days, and a couple of days before leaving, had found myself thinking and then...saying out loud that Grace must be getting bored just being ridden in the menage.  She lives out 24 x 7 with her two field buddies in a big 5 acre paddock.  She is ridden 3 - 4 times a week, interspersed with lunging for exercise and Parelli for brain stimulus.  It is a life free from pressure, sweat and complication.  The problem is it's a life free from pressure, sweat and complication!  There in lies the rub!

So back to my trip to Belgium...

Having been away for just one night I woke up to the dreaded 'missed call' alert on my phone from the yard manager.

Grace had jumped out of her field over night.  She had cleared a 7 foot wide gorse hedge with wire fence running over the top and a ditch inside.  By some miracle she appeared uninjured and unscathed.  A few days later, once home I found she was lame and after a few days had it diagnosed as a shoulder muscle pull.  (One massage later and 2 weeks of box rest and she recovered just fine).

My horror, absence and geographical distance meant I could do nothing except worry for several hours until I could regain some control of my thoughts at all the 'what could have happened' scenarios.  Given that the hedge also travels the length of a busy road, I had to be very grateful that she hadn't jumped in that direction.

Where had this sudden desire to jump come from?  Why now?  Why when I am away?  Why? Why? Why? (You can hear the pity me party setting in...and no end of Belgium Waffles could conquer it)!

It didn't help that only 4 days earlier the vet had put an elastic band around the Sarcoid under her sternum and I was under strict instructions for her not to stretch, roll, and do any big movement that could result in the band 'pinging off'.  Jumping 7 foot wide hedges definitely wasn't on the list of things to do!

So what does it all mean?  My instincts know she is bored.  One of her field mates is pregnant and the other is 10 years older than Grace so whilst they are a close knit herd, maybe life isn't as much fun as Grace would like!  To my human eye it seems like pretty good life if you are a horse, but then I'm not a horse and Grace seems keen to remind me of that!

What are my conclusions?

1. Listen to your instincts and if you sense boredom for your horse in their work routine, it probably is real!

2  Horses may need to have fun!  Maybe that means variety, maybe mental stimulation, maybe trips out, adventure - possibly all of the above!

3.  We are deeply connected with our horses.  The truth is that for the last 2 weeks I too have been incredibly grumpy due to boredom in my work.  My brain isn't being challenged, and each day has felt like a repeat of the day before -  like the scene from Ground Hog day!

4. Pity party's ('why me, why when I'm away') serve absolutely no purpose at all! They simply don't help.

5. Celebrating and being grateful for the fact she wasn't badly hurt, lost or worse is an important coping strategy.

6.  Let go and accept!  Shit happens, but when it happens and you are away, and can physically do nothing, there is only one option left to you; to let go and accept things will be ok.

January will start with a new plan of action and activities for Grace and I only hope it will please her and keep her in her field.   God forbid she finds ME boring and puts in another obvious complaint!