Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Dreamworks

Every man has a dream in his life. My dream, since I ever started with horses, has been to go riding to the mountains. And maybe never come back.
Iceland is full of beautiful mountains, but you need quite some money to rent horses and service for trips – the whole horse-rental business proves to be a lot of work and effort that needs to be paid. Or you borrow horses. Easy for natives, impossible for foreigners. So I spent the last years with watching my young horses grow and reach an age that makes them good and trusty riding-companions.





Last week an offer rained on me like a huge bag of chocolate – join us for a trip! And my mountain dream approached ...
It was 3 days with some very nice women in the beautiful area of Rangársysla. The tour would lead us to the banks of the river Thórsá, through borderless meadows, small rivers and lakes, later through an elfish lava-landscape with a growing forest in between, along a high mountain, the massive vulcano Hekla in front of us, and all the time an endless horizon wherever you would turn your head to. Nothing to bother your sight, nothing to disturb, nothing to bind or to grab, just openness, width and space. I am not sure why this is so important to me, but I never get lost in vastness. I might rather get lost in closeness.
It was a part of Iceland I should know well, as I am working on the other side of the river. But you will never ever get there, except in horseback. No chance to hike, to bike or to drive a car.
Horseback riding is the only way to experience a country from another ankle, deeply connected to the earth by being part of another creature.




Spending 3 days with horses not only calms you down. It makes you completely quiet. 
Puts you into a state of peace you never experienced before.
Erases anything from your mind that could trouble the balance of the two of you. Riding is a prayer of balance.
Cleans your mind from words in any language.
Cleans you from past and future, leaves nothing but presence – the presence of the next 100 meters.
Cleans your love and showers it with determination. 
The horse will only respond to a positive body and an open heart - they know much more about love than most of us do.

It was nothing with a particular horse. They were all nice and just with us. It must have been their aura in a whole, woven around us like an invisible veil. The enormous power of the horses penetrates your body, makes you find their rhythm, and forget your own. Riding on long distances is kind of giving up yourself, and giving yourself to the cooperate project of managing distance – like they do.
No desires, no selfishness, no questions. But intuitive devotion, complete commitment.

I never went on horseback for such a long time. Had to stop riding my mare some weeks ago and was physically completely unprepared. However – no muscle-pain, no tiredness, no stiffness, despite of trotting for many hours. If only my mind could be as easy as my body ….
On the fourth day five of us rounded up the horses and brought them home. I found myself in the front of the herd, on a fast and extremely determined mare, bound for home. She ruled the beat, she defined the speed, and she knew her job in the endless black sands of the Thjórsá banks, when the loose horses tried to run away and she speeded up all of a sudden, in order to stay in the front.
It has been an incredible feeling of being completely alone in my front position, devoted to wind, vastness and to the speed of this fast and relentless tölting horse. I left my fears of losing control behind the resolute beat of her steps.




My own two guys must have felt the deep gratefulness I brought to their meadow today, when they stayed with me for almost one hour while I took a long break in the grass. And maybe they could feel the pictures in my mind, and the rhythm that's still in my body ....

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Tales from the meadow

It feels a little bit like Groundhog day- finding myself alone with two horses, and no one around. Again.
Due to complicated circumstances my mare and my foal ended up in a meadow, just the two of them, far away from other horses. Both came from solid herds, and being alone in the big place has turned them into quite rstless beings. Both have lost their peace, I can see it in their eyes.
People call me mad and make fun about me, but I do understand the worries of these two creatures. The mare misses a mare-friend, instead of having this, she is put into responsibility for the young one, and although being her son, he is not her friend, that's obvious. For her the situation is not appropriate, as she used to be a lady and taught me how to treat a lady.





He is just an easy young horse with a playful mind – and no friend to play with. Good for him, that life outside of his meadow is extremely exciting, presenting free-running horses from the horse-rentals, huge lorries, or seven bicycles in a row. Like a policeman he spends many hours on one of the mounds, just watching.
So I had to give up riding, as the little one can't stay alone. The mare is getting fat, stiff and stubborn – and also very strong, as she has to run with him, whenever he thinks, something at the horizon needs to be examined – in high speed of course. I never saw my horses run so much like in this place. It's breathtaking and beautiful.

As he is too small for riding, although four years old, I started to work with him. Just some minutes every day, with breaks, sometimes more challenge, next day almost nothing, having in mind that his ability to concentrate is only short and needs to be built up gently. And amazingly the mare is helping. She is always by my side, communicating by ears with us, and in fact she is quite a hold in difficult situations, like staying calmly beside us, when he doesn't know what to do or gets nervous (and me getting unsecure of what to do next). I have never trained a horse before.



Together we taught him to walk on halter and rope, walk with us on long walks over this huge meadow, walk on both sides of me, and finally walk alone with me, away from her. His open-mindedness and willingness to say 'yes!' is a precious gift, as my experience with mare and men were rather characterized by constant 'no' and me getting nervous and restless on finding solutions.
The young one and me, we had a strong connection right from the start. I was the last one he saw when they left him alone in a dark stable over night, before he could be brought to a foal herd. He was given to me as a birthday present half a year later, and he remembered me. And as he is close to my heart, his giver will always be. In the following years we lived close to each other, we met daily, and on countless occasions he would lie down next to me, like I was part of his herd.
Trust never dies, if you don't kill it.

He is curious and ready to be a grown-up (at least sometimes ;-) ), he accepts perfumed mane-spray and endless grooming, he endures stinking anti-fly-spray, while the mare immediately leaves, when she catches sight of any of the bottles in my hand. He even tried to follow me into the scary stable (that is too narrow for a horse to turn around) – she refuses, no chance up to now to get her inside in order to take off her irons or even feed her there.
So everything we do has to take place outside and in freedom, with no facility to tie and bind a horse.
Trust never dies, if you don't kill it.



I feel a bit like 200 years ago, living in a remote valley, being forced to find single-person-solutions. You have read hundreds of horsemanship books, only now you know what counts, and how many pages are made of western-european luxury.
In the end the horse is your teacher – it will tell you, where you went wrong and where you have to work on yourself to be convincing enough to lead them through situations that they estimate unsafe.
I am far from that point – but at least I know my goal.

People asked me why I was not selling these horses.
You don't sell your family.


Sunday, July 7, 2013

Dance on the line

It's a thin line between life and death. Life requires from us to dance on the line, even if the music is not appropriate or really crap. Crappy music causes the rope to swing. Can be fun.
Funambulating implies keeping your balance with no other means than focus.
Some people use drugs as a balancing pole, but I prefer to be unfettered from expedients.
Keeping the balance means moving forward and backward, focussing on straightness – with the sideward movement being just a variation in the process. If you can find stability on a string made of air, your steps will get easier, faster and lighter. The heavy-loaded, however, have a tendency to fall. They crush through the net and eventually might meet death. But life also allows to climb down and take a rest in the arms of others. Premised, there are others.





The rope under the feet of castaways, witches and bitches presents itsself thinner than any other rope, without granting a resting place except for their hidden cave. No company, no admittance. No net, but sharing cushion with destiny. No cake, but self-healing. No trust. Trust can kill.
You might stumble from a single hit, and fall. Death's door is always open, just crawl inside. It takes some effort to not listen to his seducing song and pass the door.

I have been struggeling with balance in the past weeks. Fought the luring deep, tried to drown the song with silence and bustle, imitating the world around me, but lost hold after a well-aimed kick.The net under my rope, though, is a thin veil, woven by handicapped people and by my two horses. Any time I loose balance, they cure my fall, knowing everything about the pain of broken hearts and humiliation. The walls of my cave are bolstered with gratefulness for their small signs of care.




“When we can do nothing else, we can still love, without expecting any reward, or change, or gratitude.” (Paulo Coelho)
Love is no drug. But a balancing pole.