I love hearing about and seeing the connections created by those who practice The Waterhole Rituals.  Once a month I will publish a blog written by a student of The Waterhole Rituals so that you can learn about the impact The Waterhole Rituals are making in the lives of others.  This week’s blog is written by Laurel Melick who (if you remember from last week's blog) plays hide and seek with her horse.  They truly share an amazing connection.  Here is Laurel's story: 

It seems like yesterday I was sitting with my father both of us in awe watching a video on YouTube of this little yearling Iberian warmblood gelding running around his pasture. He was so magnificent even at the age of 1, a few months later we welcomed him home to our farm and my life with horses became forever changed.  His name is Hugo and he has been the greatest teacher I have ever met in the lessons of communication, trust, courage and the most priceless lesson of forgiveness. 

The lesson of communication I learned from him first off was that I can communicate with such quietness and still be heard. I don’t need to physically push, pull or scare him into performing my requests, using physical force with a horse is demanding something from them through discomfort or pain. I see no choice for the horse in those situations. Once I got clear but quiet with my requests, he started responding immediately to everything I was asking. He became calmer, he became softer, he even started to communicate his thoughts in return I believe because he finally knew that I was listening. Through this I started realizing I was using the same technique in my daily life, especially in my relationships both animal and human. As a result of learning how to communicate clearly without unnecessary emotions, any stress I had stemming from trouble expressing myself just washed away.

The lesson of trust came from eliminating all boundaries in the relationship both physical and mental. Letting go of all control and the fears that kept me from thinking I needed control was such a powerful awakening for me. To begin to create trust between Hugo and me, I started out going into his stall on rainy days and reading books while he would munch away on hay, eventually bringing his hay over to where I was sitting so he could eat next to me. Through sharing territory and just existing as equal living creatures we both created a mutual bond and trust. He began to trust that my presence was no longer a demanding one and one that wanted nothing more than to be with him in the way that was most natural to him. Then the physical trust came when I removed all tack and restraints from our riding and ground work sessions. The first time I saw someone ride without a bridle I felt my entire body light up, the partnership between the horse and rider was breath taking. I immediately knew that was how I would begin to ride from there on out. Teaching him to ride tack-less was truly effortless because we were free of stress through creating the trust in each other and there was no pressure of demands because our communication was crystal clear. Hugo has been ridden bridleless/bitless longer then he was ever bitted and that is something I am so proud of. Just this past summer we put our trust in each other to the test when for the first time we rode bridle-less off the farm where we went trail riding at our local horse park and through seeing deer, big burning fires, other horses and passing through creeks he was nothing but perfect.

Next is Hugo’s lesson to me in courage. I used to feel very insecure in what I was doing with Hugo because at the time I felt very alone in my beliefs. I’ve been told what I was doing was dangerous or what I was doing was pointless essentially wasting Hugo’s abilities. In the beginning I had moments of wanting to revert back to old ways or just give up all together because the struggle of constantly defending my beliefs was exhausting. But then I would take one look at Hugo and through my reverence for him, what’s best for him would come rushing in. I am his advocate and he has instilled the courage to fight for what I believe in and speak my voice. I now feel such confidence and pride in what we do together that I have carried it over into the relationships I have with all of my horses, and I have had the joy in watching them grow into these exquisite expressive beings. Because of the strength I have in learning from Hugo, I feel limitless in the things I can accomplish not just with my horses but in all aspects of my life.

Hugo’s lesson to me in forgiveness is one of the most power to me personally. Our life together was not always the beautiful organic one it has grown into. We started riding and training the traditional route, as growing up with an eventing/dressage background, horses as athletic as him had to be used for sport. Hugo was trained to jump, trained to do dressage and went through the whole natural horsemanship gambit. In those two years, I never listened to him or truly myself. I just went along with what I thought I should be doing. It wasn’t until I saw some professional pictures taken of us at the only show we ever went to that I truly woke up. While most people saw pretty pictures, I saw a horse whose eyes were filled with fear and his face showed nothing but distress. My heart was broken because Hugo from the beginning was always a horse who said yes. No matter what, he tried his hardest and I felt I took advantage of that. But when I went to his pasture and called his name he still came running. Why? Because he forgave me. He wasn’t living in the past and holding onto all of the things I did that made him uncomfortable or stressed. He was just patiently waiting for me to wake up and be the friend he knew I could be. Through him I learned to forgive myself and forgive others by living for today instead of yesterday. Just another awakening I needed to have that has changed the way I view everything. Through the art of forgiveness, I have learned the art of letting go of the things weighing me down.

Thank you Laurel for your insight, bravery, compassion, and most of all, thank you for sharing your story with us.  Have a great rest of the week everyone!

Linda and the herd

Linda SalinasComment