The Horse Connection – December 2005
Where is the heartbeat in our over-scheduled, tech-dependant lives? If it is there, can we possibly hear it above the din of the television, the roar of the traffic, or the cacophony of voices fighting for domination of our ears? Can we feel its vibration through senses dulled by over-stimulation of mass media or the latest pharmaceutical product? Without this heartbeat, we lose our way, our purpose, our footing to the most basic needs of our humanity; a connection to our own spirit.
There is something inherently organic about our spiritual selves. You have felt it in the past as your hands plunge into the rich soil of the earth and bring up the smell of an ancient relationship that goes to your core. You have sensed it in the brief flickering moment when your eye catches the setting sun at the second everything turns an impossible hue of gold. You have experienced it when you hear more in the silence of a solitary stroll than in all of the noise that surrounds your daily existence. And above all, you know it when you are in the presence of a horse.
You cannot look or touch or ride a horse without feeling the heartbeat. It is there in the eyes; the eyes that everything swims up to. It is there in the breath; the breath that emanates from the nostrils that are mysterious in the way that the entrances to caves are. You can feel it in the way the earth resonates with the percussion of their hooves. It is familiar, it is organic, and it is us.
The horse is the most important animal in history, longest and most faithful in its service to man. One of man’s noblest of callings was to be a tamer of horses. Time and time again, the horse has faced extinction, but as man’s companion it has survived. The horse has ploughed our fields, built our roads, carried us to war, given us our sport, and has been a cheaper, more reliable, much safer, and less invasive mode of transportation. The horse has never been our pet, and although sometimes mistreated, it has never been a slave.
The horse invokes a deep emotional response from us. There is more throaty, passionate clamor from 50,000 people watching a horse race than from 150,000 watching cars race with their 500-horsepower engines.
When you heard the snort of a horse for the first time, you didn’t wonder what it was, because it is as familiar and deep as the sound of your own voice. And using those moist nostrils, expanding and contracting with an earnest curiosity, the horse quietly examines our odor, as if it were a resume, and we, not they, were for hire.
Rub a horse’s neck and feel the oil and fine dirt on your fingertips. Rub them together; smell the earth, the sweat, and the essence of an unbridled spirit. Your spirit. Marvel at the leg that tapers to an impossibly small circumference, considering the weight that it bears. Watch as the ears, like a small bird on a fence post, stand, swivel, and listen. No one learns to love a horse just as no one learns to breathe. Gaze upon a horse in a field; now try to turn your back on him. You can’t. Like a magnetic field pulling you, you turn back. He’s looking at you with those eyes that see all the way through to your weaknesses, which he forgives.
The connection we have to the horse is unlike any connection we have to other animals. I love my dogs, but I feel a certain superiority over them, a guardianship if you will. My dogs live in my world, I don’t live in theirs. I feel no such superiority with a horse, but rather a privileged, almost reverential feeling of being in the presence of something my equal, something that holds the key to a part of my soul that I know is there but cannot unlock it by myself.
Our spirit and soul is grounded in and to something that cannot be readily defined in today’s world. It can easily be lost because we have neglected our connection to the earth, the soil, and more importantly, the time it takes to reflect on such matters. So I again ask the question, where is the heartbeat in your life? If you live with horses, you already know the answer.