Recently, I was asked to help develop a book by one of my first horse mentors. It is turning out to be such a gift to me and she feels the same. I have words for aspects of horse training that she has inherently lived by growing up immersed in the depth of true, "old school", classical horsemanship. It is an art that can be refined, but not removed when ethically and effectively creating a partnership with a horse. "Happy" and "feel" are two words that were used in the day to evaluate the success of the training. Happy was a translation for willing and offering by the horse while executing its duties. Feel was the assessment mechanism used by the two-legged to evaluate the state of the four-legged.
My journey with horses led me to these two words. The pain in my path was from the removal of these words from the criteria for training. She smiled when I asked about them and confirmed their nonnegotiable presence. I often felt like chicken little in the search for ethical techniques to train a horse to an advanced level. Over twenty-five years later, the words are now spoken as confirmation to what the Divine had led me to in my heart and soul while in India.
Often in a riding lesson, I would successfully complete the task at hand to an acceptable level as requested by the teacher. So when I would ask, "Isn't there a better, more humane way to get to the same result?" The response would be a pause, then often a contraction, and then words to the effect saying "No." My heart would sink and I would sit with a moment of sadness for the horses. It has been what my seeking was housed in--a humane way to train horses to do things that they didn't sign up for.
The irony and mystery of how we move through life continues as I find my answers in my own backyard and when I had surrendered to not finding an answer. I was ok with using my inner sensing as the boundary, but this was a bonus to have it confirmed by someone who walked in the time that it was a standard way of operating. It reminded me of a book that Gurudev had me read about the ethics and morality of India in the beginning of civilization.
As I stood in the arena teaching today, I smiled and felt relief that I didn't need to be swimming against the tide now to find answers. I still need to swim, but the position feels in alignment with truth and love as part of a community that existed. The escalator ride is coming into focus while the future is an unknown.