Tag Archives: Margrit Coates

“Wake up”

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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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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