It was 7:30 am on a beautiful bright summer’s morning as I walked the horses out to the pasture. As we approached the pasture gate I spotted a female deer pacing back and forth, aware of our presence but undeterred. I pointed her out to Cricket, our sweet black mare walking beside me, as we drew closer so she wouldn’t be surprised by her unexpected presence. Although she probably spotted her long before I did.
A hawk squawked and circled overhead in a mid-air dance with two black crows. There was definitely a heightened sense of awareness that hung in the air. Still, Cricket surveyed her surroundings and went about finding the perfect grazing spot.
By the time I returned to the pasture with Rayne, our other mare, the young deer had moved out of sight. As Rayne joined Cricket to graze, I returned to the barn to fetch Romeo.
As I re-entered the pasture with Romeo, our lone gelding, and set him free he galloped off with his usual enthusiasm to join his mares. But mid-stride he made a sudden leap to the right and then with wide eyes circled back to the left to investigate a small lump resting motionless in the grass. A quick sniff of the surrounding air assured him there was no immediate threat and so he then trotted off to the comfort of his herd.
My heart sank as I realized there was something amiss. I turned to secure the pasture gate and tentatively made my way over to investigate. There in the grass lay the remains of a baby deer. Oh my heart ached for the young mother deer whom had been pacing in the field earlier.
I made my way back to the barn to fetch the wheelbarrow and shovel. As I returned to collect the lifeless body I was reminded of the circle of life. A sad ending for this wee one and its Mother but much needed sustenance was provided for another of nature’s creatures.
I found a final resting place for the baby, dug a shallow grave, said a prayer of gratitude for this soul’s role in the ever moving circle of life and returned to the barn to collect the final member of our herd. Cassi, our young mare, has a deeply sensitive heart and I wanted to spare her the physical evidence of what had transpired.
As I returned to the pasture with Cassi in tow, I noticed the other three horses peacefully grazing together as they have every other morning. As Cassi walked off toward the herd she stopped to lower her head as she picked up an unfamiliar scent. She followed the scent around in circles mapping out what was sure to have been the final chase. She stopped, lifted her head, and then surrendered to a full body shake as she let the energies move through her and out. And then off she went to join the rest of the herd.
There is a very valuable lesson for us in this – “Shake it off and go back to grazing”.
When tragedy strikes or chaos unfolds in our world we can tend lose our self in it over and over again. We ruminate on the injustice and the pain. We invest in our painful thoughts and feel victimized by the circumstances of our life. In response, our body contracts turning in on itself in a subconscious posture of protection. The heavy energies locked in place and restricting our ability to remain open and connected to our heart. Soon it paralyzes our sense of hope, faith and trust, eventually stopping us from moving forward.
Horses, as prey animals, respond to life in the present moment. They evaluate the circumstances to determine any immediate threat, respond accordingly, then “shake it off and go back to grazing”. They don’t harbour the fear, anxiety, regret or injustice. That’s not to say horses, and other mammals, don’t feel emotion. They most certainly do. But they remain present and respond to each moment as it comes.
How might it shift the energy in our day-to-day life if we are able to stay present to each moment? Without allowing our thoughts to run amok keeping us wrapped up in the past or fearing an unknown future. Imagine the freedom to be present to what is wanting to move through us in this very moment, unattached to any story or expectation. Having the clarity and the courage to acknowledge it, feel it, find the wisdom or lesson in it, and then “shake it off” and return to the next present moment. This is emotional agility. This is what it means to align yourself with the natural ebb and flow of life as it moves you along your journey.
This is horse wisdom.
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Krista is a certified Equine Assisted Learning facilitator and Coach.