A sunny morning, chores done, ponies grazing; I join them and lie down on the dry ground under a hazel tree. It is peaceful. A hazel nut detaches itself and falls down beside me. I rest. Rosie comes near to graze, Ben stays away. I am mildly surprised that they do not stop grazing and doze as well as they usually do at this time of the morning.
Time for me to go; I get up, go up to each in turn and greet them: Ben moves towards me to acknowledge this. Greeting over, he instantly falls into stillness, one leg resting, head low. Rosie joins in.
I watch them and then have to leave them both, dozing in the sun on this beautiful autumn morning.
That was yesterday, and this small event stayed with me throughout the rest of the busier part of my day. Ben prefers me alert, that is certain. When I am standing, and awake (which means mentally), he relaxes.
I have been thinking about leadership, as it relates to horses. It is a much used and, I am sure, mis-used word. Margrit Coates has a section on it in her book Connecting with Horses that I found helpful. “When a leader exudes an energy with a rich content of authenticity that feels safe to gravitate towards, amazing things can happen, both with people and horses.” (p 62) Another quote is: “Only when calmness prevails and we are in harmony will a horse say from the heart, ‘I want to be with you and follow your lead’.” (p 63) She stresses that following as opposed to leading is more important when thinking about horse behaviour and points out that horses lead us in spiritual terms towards discovering and learning. I have mentioned before that Ben will follow me when I am authentic.
I have only Ben’s behaviour to follow as I try to figure out where he is leading me: he seems to want me as a leader, and a leader in the sense that Margrit Coates describes.