On my rides this week, and afterwards, while I graze the horses, I have been contemplating "energy". I am not sure that is the right word, but I have been thinking about whatever it is that is invisible and yet so electric that my horse feels what I am thinking almost as I think it. If I have clean, empty thoughts, without anticipation of a spook or a jump, I get a seamless next few minutes without cessation in the evenness of the ride or a stop in the munching of grass while my horse hand-grazes. But, if I imagine an outcome - and prepare for an event, then most of the time, I am not disappointed - I get to experience that which I prepared for - usually bad. I know that I am passing the thoughts, this "energy" to my horse. It is easy to understand if I am riding. Surely, I am using my muscles in a certain way that "tells" my horse my thoughts. Or perhaps my hands on the reins change ever so slightly and my horse picks up on it. The energy transfer that I can't explain, though, is the one that happens while hand-grazing. How exactly am I conveying my thoughts to my horse when I am standing a few feet away? The energy field that is between us must be, to my horse, so big and "real" because the transfer seems to happen immediately.
When I say "real" I mean something that is visible to my horse. Something that is visible seems easier to explain and hopefully understand (in other words, not out there in my normal metaphysical la-la-land!). Lately, I have been thinking of this energy as a color that my horse can see. If, to a horse, I have an intense band of color around me that is so obvious, then it would make perfect sense that he only has to catch a glimpse of me and know whether to a.) keep on grazing peacefully because the color I am giving off is safe or b.) flee because the color that I am giving off is warning of danger.
Just giving this energy the quality of being visible doesn't necessary mean I can control what "color" I am giving out. But, it has helped me to feel more participatory in what is going on between us. I guess that is because, as a human, I am more comfortable with our five senses than the extra senses our equine friends seem to have. When I think that I am doing something that a horse can see it isn't vague. It is real and I am causing it.
When I was a beginning rider, my instructor would have us graze the school horses after our lessons. If I had a Thoroughbred on the end of the lead, I would talk with my friends, but I was extra careful to watch out for sudden jumps. I thought myself clever to be prepared and try to anticipate a frightened reaction. I would have been mortified to have a horse get loose from me, so I was always conscientious, ready, alert. If I had a tired, loving, old chubby Heinz 57 on the end of the lead, I could feel myself breathe, relax, become less worried. Of course, it is easy to understand why I had many skittish Thoroughbreds to graze and few skittish Grades. Back then, had I thought that I was giving off a color, almost like a wildly waving flag, I might have changed my approach.
Our farm is right beside a busy road and directly across from a bustling auto-auction. Huge tractor trailers pull in and out all day long. Their gears shift, their air brakes hiss, their tires squeal. They bump and crash and clang over the culverts in the road.
When I ride, sometimes I have to go near the road (about 60 feet away) and I might end up going down a hill with a truck coming up from behind us in the near lane. I am not on the road or in danger of being hit, but from behind, the engine roaring can send adrenaline through me and my horse. I have learned to lean forward and laugh and empty my brain and pat my horse's neck. It takes lots of concentration, but I am getting good at it and it is not too difficult because I am touching the horse.
Grazing safely can actually be more difficult. Of course, all three horses know that the best, greenest, most delectable grass is on the road side of the farm. I would never graze them too near the road, but it is close enough to cause a jump or a flee. By thinking of my energy as a color, periwinkle blue, this week I have avoided any fuss at all by the horses. It is amazing. I feel deliberate. If I hear the approach of a roaring engine I breathe out and empty my brain like I am riding. I do not anticipate a reaction but rather feel like I am surrounded by the "color" of safe - periwinkle. I think it is more powerful than words because talking might inflect fear accidentally. This is just a sign. Safe. It has worked so far with Foggy who is new to our farm and all the roaring.
Today's ride on Pie was exceptionally periwinkly. We had not one upset, although there were many distractions.