or, how I became a rider and horse owner at 40

One summer on a whim, I took a riding class. That first night, I was given a lovely dapple-gray gelding as my mount. We made a good pair, and found ourselves together again the next week. As we trotted around the ring, he began to canter (not my idea). My reins were loose and I couldn’t stop him. He stumbled a bit, and off I went into the dirt. I ended up with nothing worse than a stiff neck, but I was afraid to ride him again.

But I kept riding other horses, and six months later my teacher assigned me to ride him again. I was still scared, but decided to try. He was now for sale. We had a fine ride that winter day, and as I put his blanket back on, he put his head on my shoulder. I was still scared, so I wasn’t sure what he was doing, but I couldn’t stop thinking about him.

A week later I bought him. Buying a horse is only a wise decision when you have no alternative. They take over your heart, and absorb copious amounts of time and money. I did not care; I was in love with a remarkable 1100 pound animal.

The horse’s perspective

He was almost 14 and I was his seventh owner. The first thing I did was to give him a new name: Blue. He thrived with my love and attention. His guardedness and reserve softened over the years we spent together. He taught me much about how to ride a horse – I was a beginner. He taught me even more about the world from a horse’s perspective.

We loved to take walks together. In those times of just being, I began to understand how an animal who lives in a herd perceives and interacts with the world.

Life as a prey animal means constantly being aware of your surroundings because every cell of your body knows that you could be someone’s dinner. Your primary defense is running, so most of the time you’ll flee before you know what that noise or thing might be. You know your safety and survival lies with your herd, so you monitor each other closely. This is why horses are so sensitive to human emotion and energy. It is part of their environment that they track all the time.

Of the many gifts Blue gave me, the greatest was this understanding of the cooperative, collaborative herd-oriented world of horses. This has inspired me to learn to work with horses facilitating experiences for others who want to learn from the wisdom of horses.

And so when it was time, he named my business: Blue Horse Marketing.

 

Update

I wrote this in 2010 as I launched my first website and began blogging about marketing communications and social media. Today, in 2017, I have closed Blue Horse Marketing. Instead of practicing equine facilitated learning, I’m happily absorbed by equine bodywork. I love learning more about the anatomy and biomechanics of horses, and there is always more to learn about how to be with and work with horses. I discovered that when I teach bodywork for horses, I use what I know about equine facilitated learning in every clinic and workshop.

Blue left this world on a brilliant July day in 2002 at the age of 22. He was surrounded by friends who loved him, eating his favorite foods, and never in pain. I will always love and be grateful for my beloved Blue Horse.

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