Ben as teacher

I am reading Margrit Coates’ Connecting with Horses and in it she speaks a lot about how horses teach humans, if we humans are open to learning. With this in mind, I think about a small interaction Ben and I had this morning.

This morning is their first breakfast back home: Ben and Rosie are being limited to the grass around the track but after breakfast Ben looks optimistially through the open shed door which has extra hay bales inside:


Of course, I being soft bring out two small slices of hay for Ben and Rosie and put them on the ground at opposite ends of the yard area. I had intended to sit and relax with them this morning as a way of re-connecting, but a small challenge from Ben changed this. For he took the hay on the track end of the yard, with his rear end firmly turned towards Rosie, who was waiting further up the track. I wanted a peaceful time with the ponies, so I tried to entice Rosie past Ben. She was having none of this. So I upped my energy and chased Ben off the hay. He barely moved, so I upped my energy again. Eventually he ended at the far end of the yard, watching me, waiting to see if I would leave a gap for him to get through. Rosie had retreated further with all this going on.

I felt clumsy in my attempts to keep Ben at that end of the yard, but as we did our little dance, I came into my body and felt myself centering, with my energy all in my core. And as this happened I had to move less and less, barely tipping my hips towards Ben. I also felt energised and as I centered like this Ben relaxed, dropped his head, sniffed out some blades of grass and settled to eating his hay.

Rosie had moved up the track and waited. I went to her, leaving the yard to do so. Ben stayed where he was and Rosie followed me to the other slice of hay.

If I think about that interaction in terms of what Ben was teaching me, it seems like he was teaching me to come into my body energetically, to centre myself and he kept me moving until I had one so. Lesson over, he relaxed. I thought I was teaching him to allow Rosie at her hay, but I think he was instead teaching me, saying, effectively “wake up!”



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12 responses to “Ben as teacher

  1. June McIntosh

    Welcome back, Maire! We missed you!

    Having read Connecting with Horses, I’m re-reading it to try and absorb it better. I’d be interested what other thoughts you have as you go through it.

    I wonder what George is trying to teach me? I have a similar problem with him keeping him off the mares and allowing them space to do stuff. For a while I felt I needed to not be strong with him, to be soft, but now perhaps the wind is changing …. ? Maybe I got a little stuck at the previous “level” and didn’t notice that it’s time to move on.

  2. June McIntosh

    Thank you, Ben and Maire! Because of this blog entry, I abandoned the housework I had planned and went out to see the horses, where I had an interesting interaction with Mr. George. And now I plan to eschew yet more housework by blogging about it!

    • Thank you June, it is good to be back and reunited with Ben and Rosie. I will have a look at your blog now – that is what is great about keeping them at home – you can interrupt so much housework.

  3. I like this notion of interrupting housework… 🙂

    Your “lesson” with Ben is inspiring. I think if/when we begin to look for the lessons, we see that they are there in almost every interaction we have with the equines. I’m not sure if it’s because they just naturally teach, or if we humans have so lost touch with our bodies and our inner states of being that we stand out to the horses as needing their help!

    I had a client over last week and every single equine managed to get into the arena with us (I had brought Keil Bay in only). In that case it wasn’t so much that the equines perceived neediness, but openness – and they all wanted to offer their “take” on things. At one point Cody (low horse in the herd) took the dressage whip out of the grooming box and began to tap Keil Bay with it. A nice demonstration on how we use whips here – I had to laugh.

    I left them all in the arena when we went into the barn to finish up, and once again they managed to come find us – as we talked about each horse, that particular one would, like magic, appear in the barn. And when I recommended yoga, Keil Bay appeared and did his big yoga-Bay stretch. I love how attuned they are.

  4. Billie, I am always fascinated by how in tune your equines are. You are obviously very in tune with them also. I think when we see horses as equals, not lower than us, not the same either, equal and different that we (I anyway) can be open to what they have to show us. This is a growing realisation for me and not how I would always have viewed horses, much as I have always loved them.

  5. Maire, when we moved here we were fortunate in that the barn and pastures and arena are set up in such a way that the horses can come and go without having to be led from one place to another.

    When I realized how often they choose to be where I am, I went about doing things to make it even more possible for them to “join” me as I go about the day.

    We secured the grass paddock so Salina and the donkeys can come right up to my bedroom window. We secured the barnyard so that the horses can go in and out from barn aisle to barnyard, which is where we have a picnic table and chairs by the arena. When we had a trainer coming to give us lessons, it was quite usual to have one of us riding in the arena while another of us sat and watched, joined by a horse or two who also wanted to watch (or wait for his turn to ride).

    The way it’s set up, there is almost no place that isn’t accessible to them if I keep gates and both ends of the barns open. What I’ve learned is that if given the option, these equines choose to be where the humans are much of the time. They will go out to graze, but if I’m in the barn one or more will come hang out with me while I work.

    This week after a client session with Cody, I turned him out of the arena but left the gate open. He went to check on the herd, got a drink of water, and then came BACK to the arena and stood by the picnic table just outside, which is where we were talking about the energy in the session. It was clear that he wanted to be part of that discussion, and chose to be. Had I closed that gate, he couldn’t have shown us that he wanted to be close right then.

    I’ve said before that I don’t think my horses are any more attuned that any other horses would or could be – mine just have the opportunity to show it very clearly. Your set-up allows for that as well – it is clear to me in all your posts that Ben is transforming before your/our very eyes.

  6. June McIntosh

    Oh, that is so great, Billie! I would like to set things up that way. I know the horses would come and hang out a lot. George would come in the house if he could. So many times the horses come over to the fence and seem to be saying, “What’s next?” And I always act as if there’s something in particular I need to do for them: water/feed/walk/etc. Sometimes there is, but sometimes they’d probably just like to just join in whatever’s going on.
    How am I ever going to explain the new fencing arrangement to my husband????? Answer: probably not going to happen. But maybe I could compromise. Maybe get a picnic table for the pasture or something like that.

  7. June McIntosh

    Or maybe get some step-ins and some electric tape and have a temporary fence that includes the back porch of the house …. ?

  8. June McIntosh

    I’ve been thinking that they must think it’s very odd the way I keep appearing and disappearing, and when I leave, they have no say in it, and they can’t follow.

  9. Our grass paddock and the barnyard both have gates into our fenced backyard (where the dogs and cats can go into from our house via their own door).

    We frequently open up both gates and let the horses come in. This year they enjoyed being in with me while I worked on the garden. In years past, Keil Bay has come up and hung his head over the deck rail to peer into the house at me. They ARE very curious about what’s inside!

    The grass paddock ends at my bedroom, but we have temporary fencing there which we can also open up and extend the paddock all the way around the front of the house, to the front porch. They enjoy being up there as well, with us enjoying our very large porch in the evenings.

    Eventually I will get the front drive gated and at that point we could conceivably open up the entire front to them. There are a couple of spots I’d need to “horse proof” if we did that, but it’s on my list of things to do at some point. I can totally see two miniature donkeys greeting UPS at the front gate. 🙂

  10. This summer, I let Ben and Rosie into our garden, as grass was so scarce for a couple of months. It did get me thinking about reorganizing access. It was funny when Ben decided he had to investigate our courtyard. Hmm. I think there is quite a lot we could do. Billie, it sounds as if they can be far more part of your everyday life simply because you have set up your fencing that way.

    It is so interesting how they choose to be with you. And that is happening with Ben also. Rosie would always be with me if Ben allowed her to.

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