Chant loves to be groomed. She is addicted to ‘teat grooming’ but after I have satisfied the ‘itchys’ there, she welcomes the touch of grooming all over her body. She gives her full attention to the sensations that caress her skin. She doesn’t lower her head and relax and enjoy, she stays alert and seems to interpret information touch by touch, as though it holds communication between my hands and her body. I ponder this behavior as I groom her; is she reading answers from her own body or is she listening to what my hands say as they touch her?
I find this interesting because most horses will relax and just enjoy the act of grooming. They may nod off, press in to help you groom or use their nose and lips to demonstrate just how delicious this pleasure really is. Chant seems to use it for communication. She uses it to tune in to her own body, acutely aware of every sensation present. Its as though she experiences her body from a different perspective through my hands. Or perhaps, she is looking for messages from me as I groom her. She deeply appreciates the pleasures of grooming, yet throughout her grooming session she seems to be listening and processing information.
I decided that I would see if I could apply that technique to myself when I next rode her. Life had been odd for several months and we had not ridden in a long time, so when we finally arranged a ride, I had the chance to see if I could apply that process to my own body as a method to my own Quest for the Centaurian experience.
She is still an inexperienced Horse, so we were both a bit anxious as we started, but I focused on information through touch of any kind during the ride. It’s interesting to listen with sensory awareness, my brain told me her head was high, her neck was tight and her breathing shallow, however the information that passed between us with cues through touch told me she was listening and responsive. As I wrapped my legs around her body, I provided a place for her to be held as she processed her anxiety and she gave information back was that she was listening.
About 20 minutes into the ride, I felt her body relax and look for more information from me, her senses were asking for more instruction. As my legs answered they allowed for more action, she replied with more presence to her movement. During this ride I made a decision to not use pressure/cues as training; but to use touch to carry information. I was not dismissing training, but this ride I was looking for conversation. For a way to hear her body more and to hear how my body replied. I could sense that my legs were in awe that they were allowed contact with this magnificent Being, in awe that this magnificent Being was willingly cooperative. As my hands held the reins, they held the memory of countless hours hoping and praying for a Horse, sensory information that spoke to the Horse within the reins. This deep love and connection to the Spirit of Equus emanated between us from my body.
Because Horses are so in tuned with their senses, if I am to be connected with them, then I need to hear the language in sensory awareness. This does not supersede training, instead, it will enhance training because I will be more aware of the message spoken through her body, and she through mine. As Humans, we cannot fool our Horse, with a Horse we cannot ‘fake it till we make it’, because they hear our senses of calm, trust or fear loud and clear.
When I was younger, I felt like a Centaur when I rode, I had no fear, no lessons and no idea of the dangers of riding, just the sensation of being connected with my Horse, it was empowering, enchanting, and soul saving. After that Horse passed, I didn’t have a Horse for several years; by then I was mortal, and the naturally wild innocence was gone. When I finally got another Horse, Mystic, I held some fear in my body as I rode, and I no longer felt like a Centaur, instead I was a Human on top of a Horse.
By observing how Chant looks for information through touch, I have gained a tool to becoming a better Horseperson and a better rider. If I can learn to hear conversation through touch, then I can better understand questions, disconnect and connection with my Horses. They are not dominated by thoughts, they use their senses to discern the truth… they already know how to read the truth in my touch.
The next time you work with your Horse, incorporate the language of sensory awareness through touch or cues. Listen to what your body says as you touch/cue them, and see if you can hear the message their body gives back to you.