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.