Our Partner the Horse

Jon and Chief Arvol
Jon and Chief Arvol (and Pamela to the far right) in New York City

We sat on a bench in Central Park and listened to Chief Arvol talk about the horses.  The Central Park and horses in general.  He told the story of the White Buffalo born in 1993, a messenger of Climate Change.  And he said that horses are our partners and without them the rain would stop.

I thought of the video How Wolves Change Rivers  about how reintroducing wolves to Yellowstone Park changed the flow of the rivers along with much of the landscape there. And later, when I spoke to Pamela who owns Blue Star Equiculture, I realized that the connection I’m recently feeling for horses goes deeper than I thought.

A few weeks ago I was texting my friend Suzy and she wrote that when she had her first son instinct kicked in and she somehow knew what to.  And she trusted her instincts.  I’ve never had children, but when she said this, I immediately remembered the feeling of when I took a few horseback riding lessons last fall.  I remember sitting on the horse for the first time (The only other horses I’ve ever ridden have been at dude ranches on vacation when I was a kid) and having a feeling that I knew what to do.  I didn’t really trust myself the way Suzy did, but it somehow felt very natural to me, it felt familiar, like something I once knew and had forgotten.  At the time I was dismissive of this feeling, thinking that maybe I just had a talent for riding.   But yesterday Pamela and I talked about the deep, continuous and ancient relationship between humans and horses.  A  partnership really, both dependent on the other for survival.   We’ve been living and working with horses for thousands of years.   I believe our relationship with horses is atavistic.  And although the relationship has changed and we are not as dependent on them in the same ways we used to be, the connection between us remains.  Which is why we still seek them out, why we still want to ride and work with them, or just have them as pets.  Like a missing twin, we long for the horse.

Cindy, another friend, told me how  she sat on a horse for the first time when she was in her 50’s and she cried.  I know how she feels, it’s like coming home.  I now understand a little better my connection to Rocky, the old blind horse, we had for a while.  I always wondered how I could become so attached to a pony I only knew for a short time.  Although I believe that the donkeys were my introduction to the equine/human relationship, Rocky took it a step further.  It was through Rocky, a small horse, that I leaned not to fear horses but to trust them. And although I still don’t have all  the words to explain it, my connection to him almost mystical.  A spirit horse, he was a gateway, a threshold to usher me into the shared world of horses and people. A world that lived somewhere inside of me, hidden from myself.

Meeting the Central Park Carriage Horses and seeing the relationship between them and the people who work with them, has opened my eyes to this ancient union.  I now understand its importance, not because I can prove it, but because I can feel it and it makes sense to me.  Like a light bulb turning on, I finally get it.

11 thoughts on “Our Partner the Horse

  1. Oh Maria, You can only imagine how I loved this blog. Actually, I was in my 60’s when I was on Maya and crying. If you ever want a good read about Natural Horsemanship, which is what I’m learning, read “The Faraway Horses” by Buck Brannaman. You can’t put it down! It’s about basing your relationship with a horse on trust and respect rather than force. You and Rocky had it. It’s called “hooking on” and that’s just what the two of you did.Many horsepeople take a very long time and much patience to achieve this state with their horse. But you are a natural Maria. The book is wicked cheap used on Amazon. Or I can lend you mine!
    Enjoy N.Y.!

  2. Yes, you get it. It is a beautiful connection. Always a privilege to have these creatures in your life. I know. I could not have it any other way.

  3. Horses are the masters at teaching us feeling, balance and timing. Thank you for expressing so clearly what their importance is in our lives. I wish that more people would listen to what Chief Arvol is saying. For 20 years, living in New York City, the carriage horses were my only touch with that mystical world and I was drawn to Central Park like a magnet several times a week to visit them. They pulled me back to the things that really mattered – love, nature, gentleness. The city would be a more desolate place without them. You and Jon really are messengers for the horses, and through you , so many other people are starting to listen.

  4. Maria, I live in ‘horse country’ up here north of the city of Toronto. There are more horses, it seems, than people and I’ve always said that if you don’t pass wind or neigh, you’re nobody…(smile)…Our Tourism Association has, several years ago, recognized that the equine industry is one that needed to be supported and promoted and they are doing a fine job of it. In 2015 we are hosting, in this area, the Pan Am Games at the Caledon Equine Park. I’ve been around horses much of my life, love them, feel a spiritual bond with them but was never a good rider, always rather timid. But then, growing up I was timid. Horses sense this. It would be a shame to remove the horses from downtown New York for the sake of developer’s greed for the connection, as Jon has pointed out, with people and children is something that would not happen otherwise with horses. Central Park offers something very special. I’d be thinking that NY would be supporting the horse carriage industry as a great tourist attraction instead of trying to squash it out of existence. But then, money talks, doesn’t it; man’s greed gets in the way of finer things in life.
    You’ve had quite a week from Alabama to New York, you’ll be glad to get back to the farm to digest it all.
    SandyP in S.Ont, Canada

  5. Dear Maria, I too saw the video, “How Wolves Change Rivers,” & read the transcript. A beautiful piece. Powerful. Mother Nature knows how to take care…man can destroy.

    I also could feel the deep connection to horses from my 1st encounter. Horses have a way of “knowing.” Meaning, they know what you are feeling, even when you don’t.
    Horses are so healing. After my surgeries I would go to a rescue to “talk with the horses.” I came away peaceful, with joy.

    And I remember my only REAL horseback ride. A “dude ranch” where my mare & I were able to sneak away.
    I gave her a little click-click with my mouth, & away we went.
    Another click, & faster.
    Then another.
    We-were-flying over the open, empty prairie. I was loving it. My mare was loving it. So fast I had to grab hold of her mane. And when it seemed my weight was going to shift off to the side, she adjusted her body under me, to stabilize me.
    Finally, I was able to get her to slow down. Stop.

    This golden beauty is forever in my heart. An experience of a lifetime. The greatest JOY!

    And BTW, I had no idea how to ride a horse. She did all the work for me, & kept me safe <3

  6. Great Maria! I can’t wait to get your take on the book. It’s such an inspiring biography. 🙂

  7. The first time I was ever on a horse (I was in my mid-50s), it was at a friend’s farm and equine center, where she and several staff people work with children and adults who have a variety of physical and/or cognitive differences. In fact, my friend teaches children who have been diagnosed with autism how to vault. Alice invited me to ride one of the vaulting horses (a lovely gal named Stella), and in no time, she had me standing on Stella’s back (no saddle or anything), my hands and arms out to each side, as the horse walked, then trotted around the ring. It was an amazing experience. If I could ride a horse regularly, I would be in heaven!

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