Tom Dorrance insisted that togetherness, ‘this thing between the horse and the person’ could not be learnt through instruction – ‘do this and you get that’. Rather, it was a matter of ‘feel’, something that could only be acquired through full-bodied experience. Speaking of his own experience, he said ‘I try to feel what the horse is feeling and operate from where the horse is’. To feel ‘the whole horse’, he said, involves feeling ‘inside the horse, right in his innards’. And, most importantly, we feel ‘the inside of the horse… from inside of ourselves’. In short, feel is an experience of entwined being (Pp 12-14). To develop an understanding of this experience, in this post I want to introduce the ecological idea of feedback. Continue reading Living in-relation with horses: feedback
I said that this post would be on feedback, but there’s something more immediate I’d like to talk about here – stroking our horses. Stroking has enormous significance to what Tom Dorrance describes as the ‘foundation’ of horsemanship – horses ‘coming to us for security’ (True Unity, p 12). Without this, he says, nothing will work. Above all else, we want our horses to feel happy and safe with us. This is what leadership is about.
In an excellent article about the significance of connection, Jo Spiller says
So how do you create this partnership? You don’t do anything to create it, because it’s not a matter of doing. It is much more a matter of who you are being. You see, we have language for doing things: we can say ‘Put your heels down’, ‘Sit up straight’… but nobody can tell you how to do ‘being’.
After years of teaching riders and training horses, Spiller says that she suddenly saw what had been there in plain sight. She’d been too busy doing things to see that the basis of good horsemanship was the capacity to develop a connection with horses. And, ‘in order to achieve that connection’, she realized, we ‘must undergo a transformation’, a change in form of being.
Any activity performed with skill requires good timing. This is true of catching a wave, for example, or hitting a ball or playing a musical instrument or dancing …. Good timing is also essential to skilful horsemanship, both on the ground and in the saddle. Whatever the specific skill might be, acquiring the capacity for good timing takes never-ending practice, and it depends on a particular temporal way of being – being present.
This is the first of a series of posts I hope to do on living in-relation with horses.
I have been inspired to write about this by Corey Ryan, a horseman with whom I’ve been working over the past year. Corey’s understanding of relationship and connection makes such a difference to the learning experience for horse and human. Through him, I am learning anew the significance of a relational way of being, and more and more about being in-relation with horses. I will be giving examples of these learning experiences in subsequent posts.
Here I want to take as a starting point the ecological principle of universal connectedness, and raise some questions about the implications of this for living in-relation with horses. The Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh uses the term ‘interbeing’ to describe this ecological principle. He says ‘To be is to inter-be. You cannot just be by yourself alone. You have to inter-be with every other thing’. All things in the universe are interconnected. The vegetables that I am eating needed the sun and rain and earth to grow; the rain needed a cloud that was blown by a wind that connected far distant places and people… (The Heart of Understanding P4). Continue reading Living in-relation with horses: interbeing
Here is the last interview for this year.
Ecco l’ultima intervista per quest’ anno.
Appartenenza ad Anghiari – Elisa Sassolini
Elisa è cresciuta a Firenze, la città natale della mamma, ma ha sempre mantenuto un forte legame con Anghiari, dove vive la famiglia del babbo, una famiglia molto numerosa. Adesso Daniele ed Elisa abitano con i genitori di lei nella loro casa in campagna, fuori Anghiari. Elisa è un’agronoma tropicalista e lavora in un’azienda del posto che produce macchine per l’agricoltura, il che comporta frequenti viaggi in Africa. Questa intervista si è svolta in italiano ed è stata poi trascritta e tradotta in inglese da Mirella Alessio. Questa ne è una versione editata.
Sono nata a Firenze il 17 ottobre 1969, lì ho fatto tutte le scuole e l’università. Anghiari è sempre stata l’altra metà della mia vita perché la mamma è di Firenze, babbo di Anghiari. Loro si sono conosciuti a Firenze, si sono sposati e hanno abitato sempre lì, però per il forte legame che il babbo aveva con Anghiari, noi siamo sempre venuti qua. Da principio andavamo a dormire dalla nonna e poi il babbo ha comprato una casa, nel 1973, io avevo quattro anni, è la stessa casa dove abitiamo adesso, l’unica casa che io ho sempre visto perché invece a Firenze abbiamo cambiato diverse case e diversi rioni.
During my stay here in Anghiari, I am learning anew the significance of Martin Buber’s claim that ‘all real living is meeting’. On reflection, what makes life here meaningful for me here is the quality of the encounters I have. It’s what I often write about in these posts. When an encounter has the quality of a meeting, I come away from it feeling quite simply happy and alive.
Everyday life continues well for me here in Anghiari. Every day, I have engaging encounters and conversations, connections become deeper. I am meeting new people, making new friends; and, I have begun interviewing people again, on the theme of belonging. People give so generously in these interviews (which will appear at a later date on this blog). Of course, many of my interesting conversations happen because I am a visitor, but I would describe some of them as truly ‘everyday’, happening with people whom I see in an everyday sort of way.
Yes, this is the same title as my first blog last year, because, again, the welcome I have received has been so warm. It is such a distinctive experience, and, this time, even more extended with the deepening connections I am making here in Anghiari. I run into acquaintances and friends in the street, in shops, in church, in the bar, and am warmly greeted, frequently with hugs and kisses. None of these meetings are planned – they just happen. As soon as I set foot in the street, I enter the life of this place.
In 2017, I began conducting interviews with people who live in Anghiari. Some were conducted in Italian, some in English, and they were all published in both languages on this blog. While in Anghiari in spring this year, I continued this project. These interviews are also being published in both languages.
Appartenenza ad Anghiari: Silvia Dressles
Silvia e il marito Gianni sono i proprietari del ristorante Da Alighiero che si trova nella parte medievale di Anghiari. Silvia cucina e Gianni si occupa della sala ed insieme accolgono calorosamente i loro clienti. Ho intervistato Silvia nel ristorante, un pomeriggio sul tardi. L’intervista si è svolta quasi tutta in italiano, con alcune parti in inglese, ed è stata trascritta e tradotta da Mirella Alessio. Questa è una versione editata.
Sono nata in Germania nel 1966, a Werne, in Westfalia, e ho vissuto e sono andata a scuola a Hagen, vicino a Dortmunt, in Westfalia. Sono andata a un ginnasio artistico.