Learning to Dance in the Rain

I initially wrote this blog early last week, but then something happened on Thursday which prompted me to write this short edit.  A friend that I deeply respect, told me that she felt I wasn’t being honest with myself about my responsibility in the situation I find myself with Dax, and that I was placing the blame on other people.  I would therefore like to print an apology for anything I’ve said that has come across in this way.  It was not my intention. 

Regarding responsibility, this has made me think of the difference between ‘taking responsibility’ (in an empowering way that leads to action) versus ‘taking the blame’ – which is what, in hindsight, I think I was actually doing, leaving me feeling overwhelmed and generally powerless.  I have recognised that this is something I need to address and so have begun to take steps in this.  This has then enabled me to look more openly and closely at what’s been happening with Dax and to take more constructive action in this too.

And now, back to my blog:

Last week I wrote about how I’ve been learning to bend so that I don’t break.  A further step in this lesson for me is to practice being able to ‘dance in the rain’ – ie, not to wish that there were no storms in life, but rather to celebrate them, knowing that they bring valuable teaching and that even when times are tough, I can still dance and make the most of every moment.  It’s also about being able to be present with whatever is happening in the moment and to be comfortable, even with being uncomfortable.

Getting to this point takes time and practice.  We rarely manage it in any sustainable way the first time!  But, like the baby learning to take its first steps, it’s a matter of getting up, dusting ourselves off and trying again.

After all, that’s what life’s really about, isn’t it – experimenting, trying, finding out what works and what doesn’t, repeating the former and discarding the latter and continually refining and adapting.

When we make decisions and choices, we might think that we’re doing so from a purely logical, rational, analytical perspective but I’ve come to realise that there’s always an emotional element on some level.  This is true for the simplest of choices, such as what we’re going to wear on a particular day, to what’s for dinner, to what car we want to buy.  It’s even more true when we consider our responses to situations.  These are determined by our thoughts and beliefs which are strongly coloured by our past experiences and our emotional state:

In every situation, when we react rather than make a conscious choice, we are doing what we think will make us feel better / safer in that situation.  However, when our perception is coloured by fearful past experiences, these decisions will not help us to move forward.  They can end up being a form of self-sabotage.

This is why, when we want to grow, we need to become curious about what is motivating our choices.  To do this, we need to develop our ‘emotional intelligence’ in order to gain a greater understanding of what’s going on inside.  It can be a real challenge to face up to the things that we don’t like about ourselves – the things that we don’t want others to see – and to be open and honest about them.  But when we can do this with self-forgiveness and self-compassion it can be a very liberating experience!  Not only that, but it enables us to support others in developing the same skills and so allow them to find that same freedom.

Just imagine how wonderful that could feel:

  • to no longer be held by fear
  • to be free to experience the fullness of love, joy and connection
  • to be fully your self, no longer needing to wear any masks
  • to feel fully alive!

Of course, life still has its ups and downs.  It still seems to throw us curve balls to keep us on our toes!  But when we can learn to bend and to dance in the rain, we are much more able to adapt, flex and flow with these ‘plot twists’.  We have greater clarity and insight on our own responses – and after all, these are the only things we have any control over.

It was very difficult for me to face the fact that we’d lost our field shelter when it was destroyed by the recent storms.  There was the financial pain – it had cost about £4,000.00 and we can’t afford to replace it – and the thought of all the wasted time and effort that my wonderful husband had put in to building it and making it – we thought – storm safe.  Not only that, but I worried about the horses: their safety when it went over and what they were now going to do for shelter.

Then I decided to look at the situation from a different angle.  Yes, we’d lost a lot of money, but everyone was safe, and no-one had been injured, which was the most important thing. 

Obviously, we had tried to stand against the force of Nature, rather than go with it, and hadn’t realised how strong the winds could get in that part of the field.  So how might we do things differently?

I looked around at the resources that we have here.  The house is situated on a lower level than the fields and between them there is an area of ‘unused’ land – rough grasses, gorse bushes and some trees.  It had always been my plan to open this up to the horses and as I looked at it with fresh eyes, I realised that there is a lot of natural shelter there, from trees and the contours of the land. 

So now I’m looking into making this area secure so that the horses can access this natural shelter.  It will also provide them with additional, interesting places to explore.

I’ve also ordered some Willow, to see if I can create a living shelter for them.  If it’s successful it will have many benefits, including roots to further stabilise the land and drink up some of the water which makes that part of the field a quagmire in the winter.  It will provide shoots that the horses can nibble on – as long as they don’t eat until there’s nothing left!  Time will tell on that one…

This is what we hope to achieve:

If you’ve ever tried to create something like this, I’d be really interested to hear from you about how it went, and any tips that you can share!

part of the slope down to the house from the fields

If any of this has resonated with you and you’d like to learn more about developing your own emotional intelligence and resilience, and how to feel your way to the choices that are right for you, you might be interested in attending one of my workshops on how to ‘Feel Your Way from Stress into Flow’.  Contact me for further details:

Learning to ‘bend’ so that I don’t break!

I’ve started to write this blog in my head so many times but not yet had the opportunity to ‘put pen to paper’ – or as I do more often these days, put fingertips to keys! 

Each inner draft has seen the content shift and change, reflecting my sense that everything around me is shifting and changing as we move from winter into spring.

This has been very evident in the weather that we’ve been experiencing this month. 

The weekend of the 15th / 16th saw further storms with very strong winds.  Sadly, after all the hard work and care that my wonderful husband put into repairing our field shelter, when the previous storm had put it on its roof, this time the wind took it, twisted it and ripped it apart beyond repair:

The very next day the sun came out and it hasn’t stopped shining since!  We’ve had some truly glorious days and as the external storms have subsided, it has allowed some of the inner unsettled feelings to calm.

One of the factors contributing to my inner turmoil was the fact that my non-horsey husband and Dax had a serious clash, resulting in Tim saying that the horse had to go. 

Tim is nervous around these big animals and Dax, being a typical hand-reared horse, has little sense of boundaries.  When he comes too close, Tim gets nervous and Dax, being a sensitive animal, picks up on this and gets anxious in return.  Sadly, his response to this is to get defensive, which in his case means threatening with teeth.  Tim tried to reinforce his space by pushing Dax away, but Dax is a horse who just pushes back.  This, understandably, left Tim feeling very vulnerable and afraid for his safety. 

I’ve actually found that Dax responds better when the energies around him are kept calm.  If he starts to get a bit over excited, the best way to deal with it is to distract him and to walk away, to give him the space to feel safe again and to calm himself.  This can be challenging though when faced with an apparently very angry horse!

The need to rehome this beautiful boy, who I had hoped would be with us for the rest of his life, and who has taken a huge part of my heart, has hit me hard.  

Unfortunately, his owner is not in a position to take him back and so I’ve been trying to find him a good and understanding home, as otherwise he will have to be put to sleep.  However, I’m finding that this is far from an easy task when the horse in question is a non-ridden 8-year-old gelding with some behavioural issues.  I’ve found it a very depressing and frustrating process as everyone I’ve approached has said that they can’t take him, but Tim is pressing for him to go.

But life goes on, even when sometimes it feels like it’s falling apart, and this wonderful place, with its amazing energy, has been working its healing magic on me.

On Thursday I went to a networking meeting in Monmouth where Patricia Carswell spoke of her journey from working as a barrister in London, through burnout and recovery to recreating herself as a freelance journalist and top-class rower.  She was then diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer but following surgery and chemotherapy, is back and looking amazing.

Listening to her speak, helped to crystallise some thoughts that have been running around in my head and I thought I’d share them here. 

I’m coming to see, with much greater clarity, the value of flexibility.  For many years I was someone who could have been described as a ‘control freak’.  I liked to feel that I had a handle on each situation, and I needed to know where things were going and what was going to happen next.  I definitely didn’t like to feel out of control! 

I thought that being ‘in control’ would be less stressful and give me a greater sense of security.  However, particularly since moving here, I’ve realised that any sense of ‘control’ I had was just an illusion!  Also, that trying to hold on to that control was more stressful and left me feeling more overwhelmed and exhausted.  It must have been very difficult for those around me too!

I’m now coming to appreciate the value of being able to ‘bend’ and ‘flow’ rather than clinging rigidly to the things that I think will keep me safe.  As Confucius said:

It’s funny that I’ve ‘known’ these things for a while in my head, even believed them, but it’s as my wonderful boss from my first job used to say: ‘It’s not until it makes that 10-inch drop from your head to your heart that you really know it’.

I’d like to close with a quote that Patricia Carswell used at the end of her presentation as I thought it was very poignant and ‘on point’:

Some thoughts on my highs and lows of winter horse care!

The last couple of weeks have felt pretty tough here at Equenergy. This is my first year of being a horse carer, having welcomed Dax back in May last year, and Rika in October when we moved to Wales and got our own land. It has been a steep learning curve!

About a week ago, on Friday, we had the first snow of the season and, obviously, the first since our move. Suddenly I was having to feed the horses much more hay, as they were unable to access any grass. We were already running a little low, and had arranged an order for the Sunday anyway, but it quickly became clear that there probably wouldn’t be enough to get us through the remaining day, night and morning before we picked up more supplies.

I went through uncomfortable feelings of guilt at not being better prepared and getting into a situation where the horses might suffer because of my lack of foresight…

This came on top of me already feeling rather low, mostly due to exhaustion, which was the result of a combination of factors:

  • the short days which never seem to have enough daylight to get everything done
  • the relentless-seeming round of daily poo picking; often in wind, rain, mud and semi-darkness at this time of year
  • juggling appointments, working on the house, business stuff (such as updating my website, networking, etc) and caring for the animals
  • still not having any proper internet, phone or TV connection
  • the time it takes to get things done because of the above challenges.

As you might have spotted, reading the above list, another drain on my energy has been the high level of expectation that I place on myself!

At times I’ve felt rather alone and vulnerable, and it was at one of these moments that I received some comments on a post that I’d made on Facebook. From the perspective of this low point they hit a nerve and felt like criticism. I was tempted to hide away and feel sorry for myself, but instead I decided it would be more productive to take a step back and look at the situation with a more objective view.

Doing this I quickly realised that the comments were far from being critical. They were actually just someone who cared deeply about an issue, expressing their thoughts. However their message threw a spotlight on a need in me that I hadn’t been addressing (old insecurities about how people see me and being ‘good enough’), which was bringing up old hurts and leaving me experiencing emotional discomfort. I could see that this provided a great opportunity for me to work on this inner pain in order to release it, taking a further step in setting myself free from the things that hold and restrict me. I explored the sensations I was experiencing and used them to identify where I needed to change my thoughts to be more supportive.

There are a variety of ways that we can do this kind of exploration:

  • journaling
  • mindfulness
  • meditation
  • talking with a friend or a professional coach / therapist
  • I personally used EFT (emotional freedom techniques, or ‘tapping’) as this helps to reduce painful emotions, meaning that I could look at things with greater clarity

I’ve had to remind myself, too, that change is often painful, as it pushes us out of our comfort zone. This is true, even when we were the ones who decided to make the change. Even when we know in our heads what to expect, the raw reality, and the unknown duration of the discomfort, can make it hard to keep going, and to keep trusting that we’ve made the right choices. This is especially true when we’re feeling tired, alone or unsupported.

Often when we’re feeling low, our inner critic goes into overdrive. I had to remind myself that this part of me is just trying to keep me safe, but in actual fact it’s made up of thoughts and beliefs that are untrue, or at least greatly exaggerated, and viewed from a negative bias. But I am able to choose my thoughts and beliefs, which in turn impacts on my perceptions, emotions, behaviours and the outcomes I experience. If I choose to focus on more positive, uplifting, optimistic thoughts, then I will experience more supportive, hopeful feelings, leading to behaviours which are more likely to produce the outcomes that I desire.

Sometimes we can get stuck in a negative cycle, particularly when we’re feeling run down, which is why it’s so important to take care of ourselves, doing our best to get quality rest, eat healthily, spend time outdoors in the fresh air and engage in exercise that we enjoy. It’s also important to reach out for help when we need it. Things can feel too big to face alone, but with another pair of hands / eyes, suddenly they seem much more manageable. Also, we are social creatures. We need to feel connected. When this is missing from our lives, the world can feel like a very big, scary and lonely place. Even if you feel that no-one can help, it’s still worth reaching out, as even doing something as simple as meeting a friend for a cup of coffee can bring a bit of brightness to your day and make things seem much less bleak.

Taking action in this way has also helped me to remember the many ‘highs’ of our new life here in Wales, and having horses with us. It’s so lovely to be able to spend time with them, either connecting through activities, or just being in their presence and feeling their calming, grounding energy. I’ve been seeing some subtle changes in Dax, where he seems to be processing things and being less reactive. He can tend to show some fear aggression, reverting to inappropriate behaviours – such as biting and pushing – when he feels anxious, but having started some clicker play with him, I’ve seen how he’s using his brain to find other ways to approach situations. Doing this in a safe environment seems to be giving him confidence in other areas of his life as well. Occasionally he seems to take a backwards step, but Rome wasn’t built in a day, and it can take time to change habits that have been held for long periods of time so I just need to remain patient and keep remembering all the good things in him so that he can see these too and step into them more fully.

Another ‘high’ is that Rika is opening up more and more each day. When she first arrived here, everything was so new for her. She’d been taken away from her people, her herd and the environment that was familiar to her. It has taken her a while to find her feet but she now regularly approaches us to say Hello, or for a cuddle or a scratch. She’s such a gentle and graceful creature that it’s a joy to spend this time with her!

I’m also deeply grateful for this amazing space all around us. The landscape is so beautiful and the light changes almost in every moment! We are surrounded by birdsong from early morning to well into the evening and it’s magical to watch the onward march of the seasons.

If you are experiencing painful emotions that feel like they’re taking over your life, and you’d like to explore some constructive ways to address the underlying issues so that you can reconnect with your balance, joy and wellbeing, then please get in touch for a no obligation chat.

PS For those of you wondering about the horses and their hay: I rang our lovely hay man, Gwyn, on the Friday and he happily gave us a couple of bales the next day which easily got us through to Sunday when we collected our order. This reminded me again that worry is unproductive and that when I reach out, help is there, supporting me through the ‘dramas’ of my life and showing me that, in fact, all is well in the end 🙂

‘Irrational’ fears

What are they?  Where do they come from?  Is there anything we can do about them?

This blog has come about because of Dax, one of the horses who lives with us.  I’d noticed that he wasn’t himself during this last week, not rushing in for his food as he normally does and seeming to be distracted by something in the distance.

He was still eating and seemed to be well in himself, but something was obviously bothering him.  At first, I couldn’t work out what it was.  I couldn’t see or hear anything myself, so I couldn’t understand what was holding his attention to such a degree.  Then yesterday morning I followed his gaze and saw that there are some new neighbours in a nearby field.  The farmer has put some cattle in a field that joins onto one of ours.  The cows have a large area in which to wander so they are not always visible from our land, but Dax was clearly acutely aware of their presence.  His owner had told me that he isn’t comfortable around cows and now I was seeing just what effect they have on him.

This got me thinking about fears, specifically the ones that seem to trigger us into ‘excessive’ behaviours.  These could be severe, ‘phobia’ type responses, or simply going out of our way to avoid whatever is unsettling us.  Common triggers can be spiders, heights or enclosed spaces and these can be easy for others to understand, however sometimes the cause of our fears can be simple everyday objects such as buttons, beards or cats.

So where do these fears come from, and why do they affect our behaviour in ways that sometimes seem to be out of our control?

I believe that these fears have come from some form of ‘trauma’.  This can be ‘Big T’, or ‘little t’ trauma, and will be very subjective, but it will have been sufficient to have appeared to cause some form of threat to the person’s safety.  Remember, though, that many of our ‘irrational’ fears have been held for a long time and are very deep seated.  We might even feel that they’ve always been there.  This probably means that they were created when we were very young, further back than our conscious memory.  The perceived threat would therefore have to be understood from the viewpoint of that younger self.  Rationally, it might be hard to understand why someone is scared of spiders as an adult – after all they’re so much smaller than we are and, in the UK at least, they’re unlikely to cause us serious harm – however, from a child’s perspective they could look quite scary.

We can also inherit fears from others; for example a parent who hates spiders, or who has experienced a dog attack, might pass on their fears to their children.

Another important point to be aware of is that when we experience a trauma, our brain takes a snapshot of the moment, in an attempt to avoid any similar situations in the future.  The downside of this is that the snapshot captures all the details of that instant, even the ones that weren’t part of the trauma.  This is why we can develop phobias about innocent objects such as buttons, and why animals can react to very specific things such as people wearing a red coat.

Triggers can bring on huge anxiety, resulting in ‘fight or flight’ type responses, ie adrenaline, fast heart rate, sweating palms, dry mouth, shaking, a need to run away or even burst into tears.  Rational thought can be lost and our ‘survival instinct’ takes over.  When someone is in this state it can be difficult, or even impossible, for them to ‘snap out of it’ or ‘get a grip’ on their feelings.  If you find yourself in this situation – or you’re supporting someone who is feeling this way – find a way to help yourself (or them) to feel safe again.  This might mean moving away from the situation, if possible.  Take some slow, deep breaths, and focus on feeling the air going in and out, perhaps counting along with each breath, for example: breathe in 1-2-3-4, breathe out 1-2-3-4.  Bring your awareness back into your body – you can try focusing on your feet, becoming aware of them on the floor; or of your body sitting in the chair; or of the feel of your clothes against your skin.  This will also help to bring you into the present moment and away from any racing, fearful thoughts and images in your head.

This practice can help you in the moment.  If you would also like to explore more long-term ways to support yourself you could try:

  • mindfulness and meditation – these allow you to explore your feelings and to regularly practice relaxation so that it becomes a part of your muscle memory and is therefore easier to recreate, even in moments of stress
  • journaling – this is a great way of exploring feelings and the thoughts that underlie them. It often brings deeper understanding which is a great way of developing self-compassion and insight into our deeper needs and how to provide for these
  • EFT (emotional freedom techniques or ‘tapping) – this is a very effective way of releasing traumas and deep-seated fears that are no longer serving us. EFT is easy to learn, in order to practice on yourself and is something that you can use any time, anywhere.  It’s good to start off working with a practitioner until you are familiar with the technique, and for some issues it can be best to work with someone subjective and experienced.
  • Reiki – again this is something that you can learn to practice on yourself, or you can book a session with a practitioner. It helps to rebalance your energy, grounding you and enabling you to release long-held tensions.
  • Hypnotherapy – another great therapeutic tool for helping us to deal with issues that can be buried deep in our subconscious.
  • Trauma release exercises (TRE) – when we hold a trauma over a long period of time it actually becomes ingrained into our muscle memory. One of the main muscles for holding emotional memories is the psoas, however it is deep within our body and often cannot be released with simple massage.  These exercises allow the psoas, and other muscles, to let go of tension which in turn helps us to release trauma.

If you would like to know more on any of the above, please contact me.  I offer sessions which draw on some of these techniques and can refer you to some wonderful colleagues for the areas that I don’t cover myself.

As a first step, you might like to take a look at this article on Mindfulness.

I’d love to hear from you.  Please post any comments or questions below.

 

 

Winter is starting on the Blorenge!

Since welcoming Dax into my life back in May, I’ve been on quite a learning journey.  It’s been a fascinating process seeing how the theory that I’ve picked up over the years translates into applied practice – and how it doesn’t always fit the individual as neatly as the books and training might suggest!  This was one of my reasons for getting a horse ‘of my own’: to build a relationship and to learn more about the practicalities of caring for an equine.

I’ve also had the opportunity to see what life on a yard is like – when your horse lives there – compared to the yards that I’d visited through work.  I was very fortunate to be on a lovely yard with fairly like-minded people.  It was a small establishment with only 2 other people and a total of 5 horses, while I was there.  We worked pretty well together, sharing poo picking and happily stepping in when one or other of us went away for a few days.  It was lovely to have others to share and consult or even just chat with, back in those long warm summer evenings.

Now that we’ve moved to Wales and have 2 horses, things are different in many ways.  There’s a lot more poo picking for a start!! Thankfully my husband often steps in to help.  (He nicknamed himself ‘Professor Poo’ back in our yard days, so he has to keep his hand in, so to speak!)

On the plus side, it’s lovely to have the horses here on site with us.  We can’t quite see them from the house, due to the trees and the fact that the fields are further up the hill, but it’s wonderful to be able to just pop up and see them.  It’s also easier to organise my day, now that I don’t have to think about making a trip to the yard.  I just go up first thing every morning to check on them after the night (and at the moment, I’m checking that they’re warm enough), deliver some hay and do the first round of poo picking.  I then go up again in the evening for more of the same.  We’ll soon be getting a field shelter with a hay store which will mean I don’t have to push the barrow up the hill so often, which will be nice – though it has been a good way to build up my core strength!

Sometimes work commitments mean that it’s still dark when I go up in the morning, or the sun has set by the time I get home.  A head-torch is great on these occasions – though I’ve been surprised at how much I can actually see, even in the dark – but I often leave the poo picking until the next day as it’s difficult to spot, even with the beam of the torch.  On these mornings and evenings it’s wonderful to hear the birds and owls calling to each other!  One of the many perks of moving out of the city.

At the moment the main issues I’m dealing with are the weather, whether or not to rug, and managing the grass.  We’re higher up than we were used to, here on the Blorenge, which has meant that we’ve had some very cold nights and frosty starts.  I can sometimes be a cold bod and I like to feel warm, so it can be very tempting to wrap the horses up in a big snuggly rug, however I know that horses are great at making their own inner heat, due to their hind gut fermentation processes.

Dax is a hardy fella, having lived out, without a field shelter, even in the snows earlier this year, but Rika was used to being rugged and stabled, so I was unsure how she would adapt.  She came with 2 rugs – a waterproof and a quilted one – so I kept a close eye on her, and the forecast, in case I would need to use them.  So far, I’ve used each one once but, on reflection, I think it was unnecessary.  It was more a case of me being overly worried for her, particularly as we don’t yet have a field shelter, than of any real need for extra protection for her.  I also ended up just worrying that I was interfering with her body’s natural mechanisms for keeping warm.  A rug can keep the hair from being  able to fluff up to trap air, and also mean that they are too warm in some areas, while in contrast other parts of their body are relatively cool / cold.  In fact that the weather wasn’t as wet as predicted, and even on the really frosty mornings, she has been lovely and warm and hasn’t shown any signs of shivering, or looking miserable or ‘tucked up’.

A big factor is that they have plenty of hay and ad lib access to forage in the fields.  There is grass, hedging and lots of herby things for them to browse on throughout the day and night.  Digesting this, helps to keep their inner heating system ticking over nicely.  They also make good use of the natural shelter provided by the hedges and trees.  It will be interesting to see how much they actually use the shelter when it comes!  Perhaps they will even prefer to be out in the field where they can see in all directions, which is, after all, how horses in the wild keep themselves safe.

Their coats, too, are wonderfully engineered to keep them warm.  The hair forms rivulet patterns when it rains, to help direct the water away from their skin.  It has also thickened up and stands on end to trap air, which forms an extra layer of insulation.  Dax, in particular, often looks very fluffy and has been affectionately nicknamed our Woolly Bear.  Rika’s coat seems to be working differently in that it has become oily and dense, though it too looks fluffier than before.

Rika’s fluffy, dense winter coat

The ‘hole’ is due to a love-bite from Dax when Rika was in season

 

Rain patterns in Dax’s coat forming channels to allow the water to run off

Our muddy, woolly bear!

They’re also both decidedly muddy!  I fondly and amusedly despaired at Dax one morning when I saw just how dirty he was.  At least, I thought, he can’t be cold if he’s rolling in the wet mud.  He assured me that it was good to get muddy!  Now I know that rolling is good for our horses – it’s kinda like a massage for their back muscles – but I wasn’t entirely convinced about the mud…  Dax insisted that it was ‘good’.  When I asked him why, he just said:

It just Is…  Why do you hoomans always need to know a why?!

Trust him to have the last word!

The other issue is the grass.  We’re very fortunate that we have soil that tends towards being sandy, and we’re high up on the side of the hill, so our drainage is good, and we have very little mud.  Long may this last!  I now just need to work out how to best manage the land so that it doesn’t become poached and so that we keep the grass healthy.  The horses currently have access to 2 of the 3 fields.  The third field has longer, richer grass, and I’m hoping to use this, alongside the hay, to feed Dax and Rika as the weather gets colder.  By then, there should be little risk of laminitis – providing we don’t have too much bright, frosty weather which could still result in high sugar levels!

I hope that this lifestyle that provides them with as natural and varied a diet as I can, fewer stresses, plenty of room to run or just mooch around will help to keep them healthy, happy and well.

I’d love to hear from you and your horses:

  • What are your tips for surviving the winter months?
  • How do your horses respond to the weather?

Hoping that you can all manage to stay warm, dry and reasonably mud-free – humans anyway!

 

 

Equenergy’s latest update

Musings on WiFi, having the lurgy, latest developments and the horses

To quote a frequently heard announcement at railway stations across the UK:

EQUENERGY would like to apologise for the late running of this service.

This is due to ongoing technical issues – we still haven’t been connected to the internet, so I’ve been relying on cafés, trains and the local library, where I can.  We’ve been given a new start date of 26 November, so fingers crossed!

Despite the frustrations of being offline – I’ve been surprised at the number of times I’ve wanted to ‘Google’ something, or order things for the new house – there have also been benefits: time being a big one; also, a feeling of less pressure to be ‘on’ all the time – on social media, on ‘duty’, on work.  It has felt like taking a step back and having a bit of a breather, which has been good when we have so many things to do following the move.  It has been a shift from the ‘virtual’ to the present moment, in many ways, which has been a refreshing change.

In addition, we’ve been told that the delay is due to the fact that our provider has felt it necessary to upgrade our line to fibre (the Cottage has relied on copper cable up to this point).  This should hopefully mean a better and faster connection, which will obviously be good for Skype appointments and other online aspects of my work.  Thank you Universe!

Another challenge for me this week is that my body has gone into regeneration (for more information on this, see my blog post from when I was training in ‘META-Health’) on some issues, leaving me feeling a little under par and needing to get as much rest as I can.  However, as I said in a presentation I gave last week, it’s so good to understand now (from my training) that my body is doing exactly as it should.  It hasn’t ‘gone wrong’ and it doesn’t need to be ‘fixed’, it just needs to be allowed some time to do it’s amazing healing thing!   Consequently, I’ve been able to experience this dis-ease – chest infection, headaches, fatigue and bunged sinuses – without feeling that I’m ‘suffering’ with it.  So often our suffering comes from resistance, which in turn comes from fear.  Remove the fear and much of the suffering also disappears.  It’s been a great opportunity, too, for me to explore what’s been going on, where I could have listened to my body more, and perhaps supported myself more effectively.

So, what developments have there been here at Equenergy?  Well, my wonderful husband has been doing some amazing work around the place to make things generally easier for us – well, often for me, bless him!  He’s put lighting in the hay barn so that I can see to prepare the horses’ feeds and fill the barrow with hay, even on these short winter days; he’s put lights in strategic places so that we don’t injure ourselves walking around the property in the dark; and in the house he’s had a cat flap put in so that Kali is no longer going stir crazy, and is again able to come and go as she pleases; he’s put a sensor in the walk-in larder so that the light comes on automatically – amazingly handy as I’m invariably carrying stuff when I go in there and no longer have to fiddle with light switches; and he’s just installed a shower door so no more soaked bathroom floor to mop!

I have been doing a spot of gardening, and recently I’ve been focusing on getting the therapy room ready.  It had been acting as a storage space for boxes after the move, but I’ve slowly been clearing these and putting the furniture, books, pictures, etc in place to see how the space might work.  Again my amazing husband has been a great help, putting in a working heater as the one left by the previous owners was broken.  Synchronously, I met with a friend for coffee last week.  She lives nearby and happened to mention that her partner does painting and decorating.  The inside of the cabin could really do with some TLC in that department, so I invited them over yesterday to take a look and prepare a quote for the work.  Hopefully they will be able to fit me in quite soon and the room will shortly be ready for business.

 

With the horses, I’ve been trying to find a local trimmer to come and see to their feet, and on the recommendation of a wonderful colleague, Sarah Hussey of Naturally Healing in Bristol, UK, I’ve started Dax on some new supplements to see if they will help him.  He can still tend to show some ‘aggressive’ behaviours (biting and being overly pushy) so I’m going to try him on Acid Ease from Protexin (I know from his history that he could be prone to digestive issues such as ulcers) and Over Dominant remedy from BioForce.  It will be interesting to see what impact, if any, these have…

Also, this morning I’ve been making another batch of Golden Paste.  This is a great supplement for our animal friends – and even for ourselves.  It ‘activates’ turmeric, that wonderful spice that helps fight inflammation in the body, easing stiff joints and aiding better digestion.  This is the recipe that I use:

Golden Paste

120g organic turmeric

500ml water

3 teaspoons of freshly ground black peppercorns

140ml organic raw coconut oil (melted)

  • Add the turmeric and water to a pan, put on a low heat and simmer for 7-10 mins, adding more water if the paste becomes too dry.
  • Remove from the heat and stir in the coconut oil and ground pepper.
  • Leave to cool.

This can be kept in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, or for 3 months if frozen.

Initial dosage – to be taken with food

  • Humans: ¼ teaspoon twice daily
  • Horses: 1 teaspoon twice daily
  • Dogs/cats: ⅛ teaspoon twice daily

Increase dosage slowly until you see, or feel, a difference.

* If on medication, please consult your doctor first, as golden paste can increase the efficiency of some drugs.

It’s important to use organic turmeric as otherwise the active ingredient, curcumin, has often been removed.

Cooking the turmeric and adding oil and pepper makes it more bio-available to the body, and therefore more effective than simply taking turmeric on its own.

The pepper should be freshly ground as much of its goodness is lost over time once the corns have been crushed.

 

 

Giving our horses the time they need

Friday 2 November

Often, I think, our horses need us to give them more time and space than we realise.

An example of this came up just this morning.  I was poo picking in the fields and I noticed that Rika was yawning.  She seems to have been finding the transition to Wales more challenging than Dax; but then more of this has been new to her than to him, since she has also left her people, as well as her herd and her place.  I hoped that the yawns might mean she was releasing and starting to relax a little more into her new home.

I’d been spending some time scratching Dax and Rika had approached us, so I thought I would offer her some scratches too.  At first she seemed uncertain, so I stepped back to get a clearer idea of what she was trying to tell me.  I sensed that she was just a little unsure but still open, so I gently took a step forward again.  She accepted this so I continued with scratches and a bit of massage.  I heard some long, loud gut sounds and it seemed that she was relaxing a little into my touch.  I decided to offer some rebalancing of her energies along her bladder meridian.  As soon as I started her eyes began to blink, long and slow and I could see that she was working through some stuff.  I only got about half way along her neck when she walked away, putting some distance between us.  She didn’t stop until she had crossed the gateway into the next field.  She stood there for some time, just processing whatever had come up for her.

Part of me would have liked to continue encouraging her to release, and trying to build a bond with her, but I think that to have done so would actually have pushed her further away and perhaps have caused her to shut me out.  I knew that my desire to carry on in that moment was coming more from my need than from ‘Rika’s – my need to connect with her and for her to be happy here.  A part of me wanted this to happen straight away, rather than allowing ‘Rika to find this balance in her own time.  I had to remind myself that horses, like humans, need time to adjust to change.  Everything here is new to her – the place, the people, the food, the grass, the ‘herd’ – so it’s a lot to take in.  Horses can take up to a year, or even more, to fully settle into a new environment and to really feel comfortable enough to ‘be themselves’.  ‘Rika has only been here 3 weeks so I need to be patient and proceed at her pace.

In our human world we are so conditioned to expecting instant results.  So many things are at the touch of our fingertips: news, information, entertainment, even food.  I’ve been made very aware of our dependence on this due to our lack of internet access following our move, and the remoteness of our new location, which is taking us back to slower ways of being.

Horses live to a different timescale from ours.  They tend to be thoughtful beings, weighing things up and exploring them from all angles before deciding what action to take (except of course in the case of instinctive responses to potential threats).  Because of this, they are generally better at being in the present moment – with more of an awareness of the wholeness of their being – and they are less ‘in their heads’ than we tend to be.  We often want them to respond within our timescales, and with the exact movement, or whatever, that we’re asking for.  If this doesn’t happen, we ask again and again until it does, often increasing the volume or adding more energy.  How must this appear to these gentle, slower-paced animals…?  In fact, when we work with horses, it’s often a case of ‘less is more’ – the quieter and more subtle our signals, the more responsive the horse becomes.

There is much that we can learn from horses in this.  Spending time with them and sharing their energy can help us to take on that slower pace, allowing us to let go of the stresses and pressures of our everyday lives in order to find greater grounding and balance.  This has huge benefits for our wellbeing.

 

 

Saturday 3 November

This morning I went up to give the horses their hay as usual.  Dax is always the first to push in for a mouthful, whereas ‘Rika hangs back, knowing that he will move her away if she comes too close.  I dropped a few leaves from the bale in one of the feeding spots then, while Dax tucked in, I called ‘Rika to follow me to where I would place some more hay.  I left her happily munching while I put out the rest of the hay, then came back to check in with each of them, as I do every morning.  ‘Rika was nearest, so I approached her first.  Normally she adopts a very defensive stance when I come up to her when she’s eating.  On previous days she would tense, become very watchful, put her ears back and sometimes block me with her hindquarters, but today there was none of this.  Her ears stayed forward, or tuned in to me, she appeared relaxed and she even turned to say hello.  Shortly after this she approached me and accepted some gentle stroking.  This is a big change in her behaviour.  Nothing earth-shattering maybe, but she definitely appears to be a more settled and engaged horse this morning.  I believe that listening to her request for space yesterday, and allowing her to take the time she needed, has helped to build more trust and respect between us.  She is such a big-hearted girl and beautiful soul and hopefully she will find contentment here in this wonderful place with us.

 

Alice Griffin, writing in a recent edition of Horsemanship Magazine (Issue 109), about her time on a horseback tour of the Alentejo region of Portugal, says:

“In this increasingly busy world there are few places that offer a true sense of peace; where roads are empty, passersby rare and where we can truly find a way to switch off and be submerged in nature.”

She noticed that the Alentejan people are

“… often teased for their lackadaisical approach to life, but I can’t help thinking they are all the smarter for refusing to get rushed along by expectation, instead choosing to soak up every moment with deepened relish”

I too, think there is something very special about being able to slow down and reconnect – both with ourselves, and with the animals and nature all around us – and to be able to appreciate the richness and wonder of it all.

Alice goes on to say that:

“Somehow animals – unlike humans – have not lost their ability to be at one with the earth, remaining unchanged in their effortless navigation of rivers, rocks, hills and valleys despite the centuries that may have passed.”

If Portugal isn’t for you at this time, you can still experience a little of this magic of Nature and horses for yourself here in the UK.  I offer mindfulness and wellbeing sessions here at our wonderful retreat space in rural Wales, not far from Abergavenny, Wales (map) Just get in touch to find out more:

Or take a look at my website: www.equenergy.com