In October, I hugged a horse’s behind (literal, not figurative) and it was amazing. I was kicked as a child after being placed at a dangerous distance from a pony’s back end (by knowing, older girls whom I looked up to greatly, but who found it funny when I was kicked.) Although I’ve sat in awe and fascination of horses my whole life, admiring their beauty, being astonished at their keen intuition, and overwhelmed by their incredible lip dexterity, I have kept an overly safe distance between myself and their hooves – most especially their hind hooves.
With “horse people” present, I have approached their faces with care, and at times, delight, so I could gently touch my formerly favorite parts of them – their fuzzy ears, their velvet noses and their smooth, warm faces. When it was just me staring into the batting eyelashes of these giant creatures, I was fine. No pounding in my chest. No flashes of hot fear in my inner ears. No nausea. No fidgety feet at the starting line waiting to bolt. There was a connection. As long as I was nowhere near the feet, there was a connection.
My October weekend was different. I was ready to expose myself to this creature. I could hear him speaking to me in the silent shed full of watching women.
I cleared my mind and centered myself by breathing deeply into my belly and staring out into the pasture at a large tree. I focused on the tree as the workshop facilitator helped me do a body scan. She encouraged me to notice the energy and tensions in each part of my body as she verbally guided me from my head to my feet. I imagined the energy in the tree all the way to its threaded roots, holding it fast against the wind. As I watched the specks of dust twinkle like glitter in the sunshine streaming through the shed door, I breathed in the calm and out the anxiousness.
I was asked to turn to the horse and tell him my heart’s desire without any words. As I turned, so did he and then he stuck his head out the back door into the sunshine. I silently asked for courage and he walked out of the shed, into the sunshine, and then out of sight. For a moment, I thought he was done with me.
I didn’t have to go into the gated area of the shed with the horse (the activity could have been done through it), but I chose to walk in, taking a “horse lady” with me. With cautious confidence, I stepped passed the opened gate, and stood where I was told. As I did, the horse slowly, rather intentionally, clopped in from outside. He gave me some space and when my mind and body were still, he came right up to my face with his own, immediately covering my cheeks with his visible breath. I had no fear.
He moved slowly, giving me the left side of his face, of his neck, of his shoulder, his belly, and then he stopped with his left hindquarter staring me square in the face. My breath caught as I was stabbed with fear. I reached my left hand to touch the trainer and extended my right hand to touch his left butt. He knew where I was and what he was doing. I breathed. In with the calm and out with the anxiousness. In two breaths I was weeping. Each inhale finding the fear within and each exhale pouring it onto the dusty floor in the form of tears.
I let go of the trainer. He turned more slowly, giving me his right hindquarter, pushing against me as I touched his fur with both hands. He leaned into me, firmly but gently. I did not back away. I rested my head on his right rump and cried. There was no fear, only trust and gratitude for this loving connection. I won’t hurt you. Lean. Rest. It’s okay.
And then he farted. This guy was definitely the horse for me, knowing exactly when comic relief was necessary.
He let me stay there; processing my fear and my triumph as I covered my mittens with fur and horse dust. When I was ready to reemerge, he knew. He took mellow but faster steps so that he was facing me once again, but he had moved me away from the comfort of the trainer. I thought he was leading me to the gate, facilitating my exit like a gentleman opening the door. No. He had another challenge. He again presented his fuzzy rear and stopped as if to say, See? Still not going to hurt you.
I smiled with immense gratitude.
The next day, I boldly placed myself in an arena full of horses having shed a heavy, unwanted layer that I’d worn for far too long. We danced. The horse ladies said that I wouldn’t see a horse the same way again.I trust it’s mutual.