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 🙂

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A challenging week!

In my last post, I was excited as we’d finally been connected to the internet via a Minihub and I was at last able to catch up on some work that had been on hold since we moved here, 3 months ago.  But things went downhill from there!  My computer had been in for repairs and I thought that when I got it back I would be able to get stuck in with many of the things that I’d been planning to do, such as updating my website and planning the Equenergy Open Day, however when I turned it on it made a kind of ‘pfft’ noise, there was a smell of burning and it immediately went off again.  Not good!  I wasn’t too worried though, as I now have a laptop to fall back on, but when I switched it on it was obviously not well either!  It went into a diagnostic loop and then crashed.  Consequently, both are now back in the shop and I’m typing this on my husband’s laptop.  As someone who likes to feel independent and unrestricted, this is frustrating for me…

You might not be aware that in addition to my health and wellbeing business, I also work as a British Sign Language / English interpreter.  This week I’ve been supporting communication for a case at family court.  I was booked by the solicitor representing the mother which has meant that I am interpreting instruction from the client to her solicitor and barrister.  These conference meetings are normally fairly brief and less formal than the court proceedings, and so I have been working on my own, unlike the court interpreters who work in pairs.  The case has proved quite challenging with heated and emotional issues coming up, resulting in long and serious discussions outside of the court room.  I realised that I was going home at the end of each day exhausted and still carrying these emotions.  As you can imagine, the case is highly confidential and so I am unable to offload to anyone.  I am self employed and don’t have a supervisor or line manager to confide in so at times it can be a lonely and isolating experience.  It didn’t help that this was happening at a time when my plate already felt quite full due to my technological challenges back at Equenergy.

Thankfully, as is the nature of court work, although I was booked from 9-5 each day, the times when I was needed were subject to change, meaning that I finished earlier some days, and on a couple of occasions I wasn’t needed until later in the day.  This allowed me to have some time with the horses, doing the regular duties of feeding and poo picking.  (The rest of the time my wonderful husband had taken this on for me.  Without his fabulous support I wouldn’t be able to work these hours.)  These regular duties might not sound very exciting, but they were a great way for me to relax, re-ground and recover my balance and perspective.  Spending time in court listening to evidence of abuse and seeing witnesses caught in perjury can make the world appear to be a very negative and threatening place, but being back in Nature, around these gentle beings, helped to restore my faith in the goodness of Life.

It helped me to remember to focus on the positive and not to get too caught up in the things that seemed to be going against me.  It can be so easy to think of all the ‘problems’ that we’re facing, all the things that are going ‘wrong’ in our day, and to forget about all the little wonderful things that make our lives better.  These can be simple things like the sun shining, a smile from a friend, or enjoying a nice warm cup of tea.  The more we can notice, and be grateful for, these little things, the more things we will see to be grateful for – and the more of these things we will attract into our life.  For me, it was:

  • noticing again the beautiful, restorative stillness of this place
  • the opportunity to spend quiet time with our cat and the horses, whose gentle energy is so calming, smoothing out the wrinkles of my day
  • coming down from the fields to a nice warm house with our little woodburning stove glowing nicely
  • enjoying our outdoor, more physical lifestyle, and being grateful for my health and strength which allow me to do this
  • the beautiful sights and sounds of being in this rural setting
  • being able to cook tasty and nutritious meals to support my wellbeing, particularly when I’ve had a busy, demanding week and need to look after myself

These things are very individual, so what is important to you could be quite different from my list, but these things are particularly precious to me as there have been times in my life when I haven’t had them, and so I’ve come to understand the impact they have on my wellbeing.

What things in your life support your health and balance?  Are there ways that you can bring more of them into your day to day experience?

So when your day is feeling really tough and you’re struggling with lots of challenges, look around for those little moments of brightness.  Take note of them and hold them in your heart.  Perhaps even keep a gratitude diary.  You’ll be surprised at how much of a difference this can make, and how much fun it can be looking out for things that you can be thankful for, or that make you smile.

If you feel that you would value some support in this, or everything just feels too big and you don’t know where – or how – to start, please reach out to someone you trust and ask for their support.

This is one of the areas where I can help, and if you would like to have a (no obligation) chat, then you can contact me at:

 

Happy New Year! Equenergy is open for business

Hello!  I’d like to start by wishing you all a very happy and healthy New Year!  I hope it brings you many wonderful adventures.

I hope you had a magical festive season and enjoyed some rest and relaxation alongside all the business that tends to be common over the holiday.

I’ve been very fortunate to spend time with family and friends, and also with the horses and out in the woods.  It’s been mostly mild here, with a couple of very beautiful sharp frosty mornings.  We made the most of the dry weather to put up a field shelter for the horses and my husband put a floor into the ‘tack room’ on the end, making it a wonderful hay store.  This means that I don’t have to push the hay up to the field twice a day!

The dry spell has also allowed me to paint the sign for our cottage, making it easier to locate us:

And, of course, the Equenergy sign is there as well:

We also received the most beautiful wooden plaque for a Christmas present, but we haven’t yet decided where to put it:

We’ve sanded and varnished the floor of the healing room, and had the place painted, so it’s looking much fresher.  I’ve now moved the furniture back in and it’s ready for clients:

 

The peaceful, healing energy of this place takes my breath away, every day, and I’m so looking forward to sharing that with others!

Amazingly, the longer daylight hours and the recent mild weather have already brought on some signs of the promise of spring to come.  It feels like a wonderful new energy in this place, heralding in the New Year, and a new adventure for Equenergy, here on the Blorenge in South Wales.

If you would like to experience some of this amazing energy for yourself, please contact me:

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

   

Lessons from the mist and a formal introduction

Well, we’ve been in our new home for 3 weeks now!  In some way the time has flown by and it feels like we’ve been here for much longer, and in other ways it still feels very new.

The time has flown by in a blur and at times it has felt very overwhelming.  It’s a huge change living here, compared to our old life in the suburbs of Bristol.  Suddenly having 8.5 acres of paddocks, woodland and vegetable and fruit areas feels rather out of our comfort zone!

  • How on earth do you care for all these magnificent trees and hedges?
  • How do you support Nature to do her thing while still keeping the land manageable?
  • What’s the best way to care for our little orchard?
  • What veg should we grow here – and where do we even start with that?!

As you’ll know, if you’ve been following my blog, we’ve been without WiFi since we moved in.  On one level this is quite nice, as it allows us time to focus on other things – wow, I can now see how social media has eaten my time in the past! – but it has also meant that we don’t have a working landline in the house, our mobile connection is patchy, we have no access to emails or looking things up on the internet – and we have no TV.  (Lots of DVD watching and actually having to have conversations!)

All this has left us feeling rather out of our depth.  At times I’ve felt like I’m lost and can’t see my way…

One morning I was pushing a barrow full of hay up to the field for the horses.  Dawn was just breaking and there was a mist hanging over the fields.  I could only see clearly for a few steps ahead of me.  But as I walked I realised that, as I moved forwards the path ahead of me was revealed, step by step.  I couldn’t see any further ahead than a few metres, but the fact of moving forward was meaning that those few metres were also shifting with me, allowing me to see my next few steps.  This felt a bit like my life at the moment.  It made me think that if I could just ‘go with it’, and trust the process, choosing to be content with only seeing the next few steps and not stressing about being unable to see the whole of the path, then I would feel more at ease and less out of control.

This, and spending time with the horses surrounded by the beautiful fields and woodland here, has helped me to be more grounded and to feel more balanced and settled in this new life.  I’m more able to look ahead to how I might be able to develop my practice by drawing on all the wonderful resources of this place.

In this week’s post I also wanted to introduce you to our newest addition to the family.  Her formal name is Ulrike, and previously she was known as Eureka, but we’ve shortened her name to ‘Rika.  As you might remember, I believe that names can be significant and I love the meanings that this beautiful girl’s name holds:

Ulrike – a German name meaning Mistress of All

Rika – a Norse name meaning Forever Strong

Rikka – a Teutonic name meaning Tranquil Leader

I had been hoping that this mare would be a leader for our ‘teenager’ gelding.  That hasn’t quite worked out as planned as he tends to be the one who bosses her around, but I think that her steadfast, gentle presence will still be a wonderful asset.

Next week I’ll share a little more about how things are going with her but for now I need to sign off as I need to get home before dark to feed these two!