21 Comments

  1. Ian Rowcliffe on November 9, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    For those of us with good memories, one of the interesting aspects of the Conversation (that came to me as I was working in the Barn/stables) was Linda demonstrating GP9 – Prepare for Difficult Conversations and GP3 – Manage Contagious Emotions : she took my ‘disappointment’ and followed the four step procedure in the former combined with accessing what had been achieved and considering the final step: what might be achieved – improving the symposium! Hence, Linda demonstrated, first hand, how to implement her thinking:-)



    • Anonymous on November 14, 2012 at 8:44 pm

      Hi Ian,
      I’m resending this to you . I think I posted this under Linda’s reply not yours.
      I want to comment on what Linda mentioned regarding the limitations of trying to explain the other 90 percent in writing.(From 11 days ago) I mentioned to Linda that years ago I read an article by my teacher, Caroline Myss. Her opinion was that if you had not learned common sense by the time you were out of your teens you would never develop any street smarts. From my experience the equine facilitated learning that Linda teaches can help us reclaim the skill of embodied intuition. The horses make it a quick study course, but I feel that life can also open us up to our horse sense.
      There is a huge advantage to working in person with the horses. Linda’s articles could only give me a snapshot of all that could be happening in the moment. There are so many possibilities that I could unconsciously be playing out. Having a guide present that makes you aware of how your body(unconscious) is reacting to a situation helps us interrupt the pattern in the moment. In the workshop I didn’t ever have the thought of pushing the horse out of my space, but my body said different. Intellectually I never wanted to push myself into the horse’s space either. I wanted to be considerate of the horse, which caused me to judge the turning up the volume and crescendo the energy exercises.I didn’t want to be a abusive. Working in person with the horse just helped me fine tune it. The experience and watching other in the class helped my body and mind lined up, which allow the dance. It’s almost like knowledge becomes embodied wisdom. Once you have an awareness of the feeling/meaning and your reaction it is no longer unconscious. New pathways open. Much harder to teach on paper. Like I said it’s only a snapshot.
      I do feel that people can learn these skills without horses, but can be a lot more challenging. Not sure of all the reasons but not having someone present to see how the body is reacting is a big block. Life usually just happens and most people don’t even reflect on what they could have done differently or miss read. Also the thought that humans may not just mirror back what is unconscious in us, but all their projections and defense mechanisms get interwoven. It seems more complicated just working with people.



    • Nancy Proulx on November 14, 2012 at 8:46 pm

      Opps that was from me. Computer illiterate. Now you know why I don’t respond too much.
      Nancy



  2. Ian Rowcliffe on November 9, 2012 at 11:12 am

    We did talk about my disappointment a little – basically, as I had been expecting more discussion (not just from Linda but others registered here).

    Another reason has been this platform. For example, I come to the comment page for this chapter and can see in brackets above that there have been 16 comments so far, but none of the comments appear on the page!!! This may well have been Mark’s and Linda’s experience, too, for Mark informed me that he hadn’t received my ‘key question’ for the conversation.

    The good news is that I think I have found the means to answer my question and Linda did refer to this in the talk. The experiences that have led LInda to the GPS can be found in the Way of the Horse. For example, we haven’t talked about ‘Train Trigger’ yet, but I can imagine that the Lightning Horse, card 10 gives an excellent description of what is going on – largely. Clearly, I now need to go through the whole book to discover where the other GPs are illustrated but Linda could make the task easier by drawing up a list for us:-) Hence, much more meaning might be injected into the GPs with the help of the equine archetypes for those with access to them.



  3. Annemieken Van Reepingen on November 8, 2012 at 4:58 pm

    Thank you so much, Linda (and Mark). Again, this conversation is food for the soul! Very inspiring and energizing.



  4. thea fast on November 7, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    I just want to chime in and say thank you Ian, for bringing up your concerns with regards to this web symposium. I’ve been thinking along the same lines and appreciating the conversation between you and Linda. Linda, I love this challenge. As I understand it, you’re asking Ian or all of us to come up with examples of the guiding principles at work from our own experiences in our own pastures. Brilliant! That makes it more interactive!
    I’ve been on some other webinars or calls lately, yesterday with Lucia Rene from Unplugging the Patriarchy and previously with Feminine Power and they have Maestro conference where after the call/interview people can stay on and discuss, even move into interest groups. With Lucia yesterday she introduced and idea and then lead a meditation and gave people a chance to talk about what they’d be taking into the meditation as examples and then listened to some experiences people had of the meditation after.
    I love this idea of setting us a challenge. Maybe another could be examples of putting the guiding principles to work. I like hearing about horses in the moonlight and things like that too but as dessert, not as the meat and potatoes or vegetarian entree of the discussion.



  5. Ian Rowcliffe on November 7, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    Key Question

    Linda wrote:

    “For a description of the herd behavior that initially led me to entertain this possibility,
    see Guiding Principle Two, Listen to Your Horse. In fact, thinking back on the
    experience, it’s clear to me now that most Power of the Herd Guiding Principles were
    conceived in that wu-wei pasture nearly twenty years ago”

    So here is the challenge: exemplify each principle specifically with respect to that time and pasture:-) If you can do this – although you will probably need some time to prepare – it surely will be the most enlightening conversation yet. Try to give as much detail as you possibly can.

    Looking forward to hearing ‘all about it’.



  6. Ian Rowcliffe on November 3, 2012 at 11:43 pm

    Dear Linda

    Thanks for your prompt and sympathetic reply,Linda, especially given the enormous responsibility that centers around you. And I note how ‘you’ are prepared for difficult conversations and rise so elegantly to the occasion.

    Strangely, as I have mentioned before, your promotional writing IS really enchanting and charismatic and that is part of the problem and frustration it leaves those ‘down on the ground’. How to put it into practice. And yes, the principles have been a very helpful addition. But if I recall the symposium was set up with a view to making the concepts available to a wider audience – people who don’t necessarily have or are in contact with horses – I agree that the ‘experiential’ part does draw things together, of course.

    Nevertheless, I was listening to the sample audio recording introducing and promoting the symposium where you mention that participants of the symposium would be able to use and apply the material with people they are working with. At the time, you didn’t emphasize the (equine) experiential part as being essential to the process. The impression being that anyone could learn the process and apply it.

    Re: I appreciate your concerns Ian, and your thoughtful, I dare say masterful, way of coinciding the skills I outlined in the latest Epona News (which you cited point by point in your comment below) with the correctly corresponding Guiding Principles. Really, I have to say that your understanding of the material is quite exceptional in this regard. – Thanks for confirming that as I often get the impression that I may be overlooking aspects, probably due to little practical experience.

    Re: To address some of your concerns: First of all, the Epona News points you cite were referring to an equine-faciliated leadership workshop where people get to practice these skills experientially with the horses. This workshop involves activities I created specifically to distinguish and exercise the different roles of dominant, leader, and nurturer/companion (similar to Carolyn’s perhaps) . There no possible way that I can exercise the nonverbal experiential dimensions of this work on a web symposium. We are limited purely to that 10 percent of verbal communication, unable to exercise the Other 90 Percent! Your frustration is the very understandable and appropriate in this regard. The limitations of the written and spoken word in teaching leadership and relationship skills is glaring, isn’t it!!!! Which is why it took me FOUR YEARS to translate SOME of the insights I learned from horses into words for this book. These words are fingers pointing to the moon. – yes, your formulations have been quite remarkable and impressive and I’d be the last to dispute that. They are quite mesmerizing such that I agree, but find myself wondering how on earth I might explain those concepts to someone else. Of course, I can guess but feel the need for confirmation – the purpose of the symposium, right?

    Re: But at your suggestion, Ian, I took an extra nine months to write the 12 Guiding Principles where I created step-by-step instructions for taking some of this horse-inspired wisdom directly into the human world. So for instance, there is a very specific sequence for helping groups manage fear and anxiety in Guiding Principle Seven. – Indeed. But the audio versions of the principles have been pre-recorded so they are not as interactive as the ones we started out with related to the chapters. Hence, they tend to say almost the exact same thing rather than enable people to clear up doubts. The comment box also seems to connect with the chapter rather than the principle and you have to reload the page to get back to it and you are left wondering whether the idea is to comment on the principle there at all. (Obviously, these parts are probably best addressed to Mark.)

    Re: Just reading the Guiding Principles is eye-opening for most people, but then they have to put these pirnciples into practice—by practicing them—and that means dealing with the discomfort and vulnerability of trying something new, and it doesn’t feel very comfortable at first. It really does help to have some support in this area, which is why for the last six months I have been training many of my Eponaquest instructors how to coach people in practicing the 12 Guiding Principles, both in person with horses, and over the phone, as some skills, such as the Difficult Conversation skill—which does involve words—can be worked with over the phone. Other skills, however, such as practicing the difference between dominance and leadership, really work best experientially with the horses, and I have just in the last six weeks, created a seqeunce of horse activities that really does exercise this clearly and efficiently. But again, a web symposium will never be able to teach these noverbal aspects. However, in our upcoming call on Chapter 10, I will speak about these activities the best I can in words. (One of these activities is precisely the skill that combines embodied reason and embodied intuition in performing a goal, but this is a horse-facilitated actitivty.) – Yes, wonderful concepts precisely but what do they mean exactly, how to break them down and use them even with a horse.

    Re: During a standard indoor, in-person conference we could converse in real time, but we would still have the limitation of being without horses. This is the nature of what I mentioned in Chapter One where I wrote:

    “It’s taken me a good 15 years to translate horse wisdom into spoken and written language, and yes, I can even inject significant logic into the discussion. Much of the research allowing me to do this didn’t exist when I started this journey in 1993, so it seems I was born at the right time and place to take on such a project. Over the years, through much experimentation, I also developed ways of teaching these same skills to others. Yet while there is much I can now offer in conference rooms and lecture halls, my horses remain the true masters at transforming human behavior, illuminating ineffective habits and hidden strengths, teaching awareness and eventually mastery of that “other 90 percent” with remarkable ease and efficiency.” – yes, this comes over even more strongly in your previous books. By the way, I have been working with some children using an interactive board and films of our horses, which, although not the same as the real thing, begins to prepare the way and get them used to many aspects of horse behavior and simulate some situations.

    Re: I experienced this challenge recently in working with another member of the web symposium, Nancy Proulx, who was having some challenges with a horse she was training. During an subsequent email exchange, I sent her everything I had ever written on the subject, but I also let her know that some of what Merlin taught me could only be transmitted in person, nonverbally. Nancy came out to the Rasa Dance workshop two weeks ago, and indeed, there were some things she was doing with the horses that she was unconscious of, and things that the horses were doing with her that she was unconscious of, involving timing and body language. She quickly learned how to use breath and the crescendo of energy I talk about in GP4 in a very refined way, but I never could have taught her this in writing. Within two days, she was dancing with horses in a much different way, bringing the skills she had gained in the past nonverbally through working with lots of horses, and combining them with these new nonverbal skills, taking her interaction to a whole new level. (Perhaps you might want comment more specifically on this, Nancy, as I only deal with generalizations of client’s experiences to keep their process confidential. But you could share more specifics if you feel comfortable.) – Yes, this would be extremely interesting to hear about. Yes, and there is also the film of you demonstrating the Rasa Dance approach which you published on your site, I think (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dt8aXHnKCA4).

    Re: Mark and I recently had a couple of meetings about creating a forum where people can ask specific questions and I can then answer them through special calls for this purpose. I’m wondering also if there’s a way for people to engage in real time conversation for these “advice calls.” We are currently checking into how to make this a regular part of the symposium ongoing. It would basically have to be like a call-in radio show I guess. – Yes, Mark mentioned that we might send possible questions in to him, but it seemed somewhat vague. Actually, what might work is a Frequently Asked Questions approach. In that way, you wouldn’t have to repeat something you have already explained.

    Re: I’m in the final editing stage of the book. I just today received the Galley Copy, which is the typeset version of the book. Over the next two weeks I have to carefully read through all 420 pages, as this is my last chance to make adjustments and alter typos, spacing, and comment on changes I might like to see in the various grids and charts the typesetters created. After that, I will be officially done with the book and can concentrate on new ways to make the ongoing web symposium more useful to everyone. I will take your comments below to heart and see what kind of problem solving we can do on these issues—within the limitations of the spoken and written word. This limitation is why I keep a staff of 12 horses and a half dozen humans in food, care and salaries, because for the human race to get to the next level of emotional and social intelligence, and really become fully empowered, people must, like Washington, Churchill, and the other leaders I cite in this book, at some point learn directly from the horses themselves. Yet through the field of Equine-Faciliated Learning, we have actually been able to isolate many of these skills and teach them purposefuly, mostly out of the saddle. Washington, who spent 30 years developing his riding and training skills, learned the accompanhying nonverbal leadership skills unconsciously, to a great extent accidentally, in the saddle. As I state in the introduction to my book, which I shared in the Epona News, “we can no longer wait for great leaders to emerge accidentally, as radiant freaks of nature whose inspiring presence nonetheless remains mysterious, untranslatable, unteachable to others. The stakes are much too high.” – Quite! I am sure you also know that virtually all of us keeping horses are under an enormous strain to keep them, promote their interests and be responsible/accountable members of the human race. So it is really natural that we ‘push’ for answers or try to get help to find them – rather than opt for being a lone wolf as you put it at one point.

    Re: Finally, regarding Emotional Heroism, this is addressed in Guiding Principle Eleven, which you have not seen yet, but which I am teaching during workshops. It will be posted very soon, after we do the Chapter 10 call. – Yes, this will be interesting, and, perhaps, as Mark mentions in the call, all this is going to come together naturally and that all will become clear in the end, once the missing pieces of the puzzle are in place.

    Re: Thanks, Ian, for your careful attention to the symposium and for, as always, stretching the scope of what it can be, and how it can best serve! – You are graciously sweet in your reply, Linda – Mark refers to it humorously as being ‘kicked’.

    So high time to leave you to your proof-reading…

    THANK YOU



  7. LindaKohanov on November 3, 2012 at 8:38 pm

    I appreciate your concerns Ian, and your thoughtful, I dare say masterful, way of coinciding the skills I outlined in the latest Epona News (which you cited point by point in your comment below) with the correctly corresponding Guiding Principles. Really, I have to say that your understanding of the material is quite exceptional in this regard.

    To address some of your concerns: First of all, the Epona News points you cite were referring to an equine-faciliated leadership workshop where people get to practice these skills experientially with the horses. This workshop involves activities I created specifically to distinguish and exercise the different roles of dominant, leader, and nurturer/companion. There no possible way that I can exercise the nonverbal experiential dimensions of this work on a web symposium. We are limited purely to that 10 percent of verbal communication, unable to exercise the Other 90 Percent! Your frustration is the very understandable and appropriate in this regard. The limitations of the written and spoken word in teaching leadership and relationship skills is glaring, isn’t it!!!! Which is why it took me FOUR YEARS to translate SOME of the insights I learned from horses into words for this book. These words are fingers pointing to the moon.

    But at your suggestion, Ian, I took an extra nine months to write the 12 Guiding Principles where I created step-by-step instructions for taking some of this horse-inspired wisdom directly into the human world. So for instance, there is a very specific sequence for helping groups manage fear and anxiety in Guiding Principle Seven.

    Just reading the Guiding Principles is eye-opening for most people, but then they have to put these pirnciples into practice—by practicing them—and that means dealing with the discomfort and vulnerability of trying something new, and it doesn’t feel very comfortable at first. It really does help to have some support in this area, which is why for the last six months I have been training many of my Eponaquest instructors how to coach people in practicing the 12 Guiding Principles, both in person with horses, and over the phone, as some skills, such as the Difficult Conversation skill—which does involve words—can be worked with over the phone. Other skills, however, such as practicing the difference between dominance and leadership, really work best experientially with the horses, and I have just in the last six weeks, created a seqeunce of horse activities that really does exercise this clearly and efficiently. But again, a web symposium will never be able to teach these noverbal aspects. However, in our upcoming call on Chapter 10, I will speak about these activities the best I can in words. (One of these activities is precisely the skill that combines embodied reason and embodied intuition in performing a goal, but this is a horse-facilitated actitivty.)

    During a standard indoor, in-person conference we could converse in real time, but we would still have the limitation of being without horses. This is the nature of what I mentioned in Chapter One where I wrote:

    “It’s taken me a good 15 years to translate horse wisdom into spoken and written language, and yes, I can even inject significant logic into the discussion. Much of the research allowing me to do this didn’t exist when I started this journey in 1993, so it seems I was born at the right time and place to take on such a project. Over the years, through much experimentation, I also developed ways of teaching these same skills to others. Yet while there is much I can now offer in conference rooms and lecture halls, my horses remain the true masters at transforming human behavior, illuminating ineffective habits and hidden strengths, teaching awareness and eventually mastery of that “other 90 percent” with remarkable ease and efficiency.”

    I experienced this challenge recently in working with another member of the web symposium, Nancy Proulx, who was having some challenges with a horse she was training. During an subsequent email exchange, I sent her everything I had ever written on the subject, but I also let her know that some of what Merlin taught me could only be transmitted in person, nonverbally. Nancy came out to the Rasa Dance workshop two weeks ago, and indeed, there were some things she was doing with the horses that she was unconscious of, and things that the horses were doing with her that she was unconscious of, involving timing and body language. She quickly learned how to use breath and the crescendo of energy I talk about in GP4 in a very refined way, but I never could have taught her this in writing. Within two days, she was dancing with horses in a much different way, bringing the skills she had gained in the past nonverbally through working with lots of horses, and combining them with these new nonverbal skills, taking her interaction to a whole new level. (Perhaps you might want comment more specifically on this, Nancy, as I only deal with generalizations of client’s experiences to keep their process confidential. But you could share more specifics if you feel comfortable.)

    Mark and I recently had a couple of meetings about creating a forum where people can ask specific questions and I can then answer them through special calls for this purpose. I’m wondering also if there’s a way for people to engage in real time conversation for these “advice calls.” We are currently checking into how to make this a regular part of the symposium ongoing. It would basically have to be like a call-in radio show I guess.

    I’m in the final editing stage of the book. I just today received the Galley Copy, which is the typeset version of the book. Over the next two weeks I have to carefully read through all 420 pages, as this is my last chance to make adjustments and alter typos, spacing, and comment on changes I might like to see in the various grids and charts the typesetters created. After that, I will be officially done with the book and can concentrate on new ways to make the ongoing web symposium more useful to everyone. I will take your comments below to heart and see what kind of problem solving we can do on these issues—within the limitations of the spoken and written word. This limitation is why I keep a staff of 12 horses and a half dozen humans in food, care and salaries, because for the human race to get to the next level of emotional and social intelligence, and really become fully empowered, people must, like Washington, Churchill, and the other leaders I cite in this book, at some point learn directly from the horses themselves. Yet through the field of Equine-Faciliated Learning, we have actually been able to isolate many of these skills and teach them purposefuly, mostly out of the saddle. Washington, who spent 30 years developing his riding and training skills, learned the accompanhying nonverbal leadership skills unconsciously, to a great extent accidentally, in the saddle. As I state in the introduction to my book, which I shared in the Epona News, “we can no longer wait for great leaders to emerge accidentally, as radiant freaks of nature whose inspiring presence nonetheless remains mysterious, untranslatable, unteachable to others. The stakes are much too high.”

    Finally, regarding Emotional Heroism, this is addressed in Guiding Principle Eleven, which you have not seen yet, but which I am teaching during workshops. It will be posted very soon, after we do the Chapter 10 call.

    Thanks, Ian, for your careful attention to the symposium and for, as always, stretching the scope of what it can be, and how it can best serve!



    • NancyProulx on November 14, 2012 at 7:33 pm

      Hi Ian,
      I want to comment on what Linda mentioned regarding the limitations of trying to explain the other 90 percent in writing. I mentioned to Linda that years ago I read an article by my teacher, Caroline Myss. Her opinion was that if you had not learned common sense by the time you were out of your teens you would never develop any street smarts. From my experience the equine facilitated learning that Linda teaches can help us reclaim the skill of embodied intuition. The horses make it a quick study course, but I feel that life can also open us up to our horse sense.

      There is a huge advantage to working in person with the horses. Linda’s articles could only give me a snapshot of all that could be happening in the moment. There are so many possibilities that I could unconsciously be playing out. Having a guide present that makes you aware of how your body(unconscious) is reacting to a situation helps us interrupt the pattern in the moment. In the workshop I didn’t ever have the thought of pushing the horse out of my space, but my body said different. Intellectually I never wanted to push myself into the horse’s space either. I wanted to be considerate of the horse, which caused me to judge the turning up the volume and crescendo the energy exercises.I didn’t want to be a abusive. Working in person with the horse just helped me fine tune it. The experience and watching other in the class helped my body and mind lined up, which allow the dance. It’s almost like knowledge becomes embodied wisdom. Once you have an awareness of the feeling/meaning and your reaction it is no longer unconscious. New pathways open. Much harder to teach on paper. Like I said it’s only a snapshot.

      I do feel that people can learn these skills without horses, but can be a lot more challenging. Not sure of all the reasons but not having someone present to see how the body is reacting is a big block. Life usually just happens and most people don’t even reflect on what they could have done differently or miss read. Also the thought that humans may not just mirror back what is unconscious in us, but all their projections and defense mechanisms get interwoven. It seems more complicated just working with people.



  8. Ian Rowcliffe on November 3, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    A symposium: a conference or meeting to discuss a particular subject.

    So this is as good a place as any to say (again) that I feel disappointed. Look at how this page is set up: the reply to comment function is disabled. How then is real discussion, based on previous points, to take place. As things stand you have to restate whatever has been said to comment on it. This means fusion and snowballing of ideas are going to be very slow to surface and largely have NOT been taking place.

    I was just reading Epona News – November 2, 2012 … and feel that I don’t ‘actively’ understand most of the concepts Linda outlines:

    She says for her future readers: you will learn:

    When and how to employ the roles of Leader, Dominant, and Nurturer/Companion – although I understand the concepts – have the when and how really been defined, more than saying choose what works best and listen to who is the calmest? Is this the answer or am I missing something?

    How to help others manage fear and anxiety in times of significant change or competition – well, we have the principle of treating emotion as information, I guess, and the emotional message chart. So this is a strong area, which has been worked at.

    How to use your own body as a “sensing device” capable of reading the unspoken moods/concerns of co-workers, employees, and clients. Yes, using your body as a reference and scanner, but I don’t feel very confident in this area. Words tend to override this approach. I am moved by them and can’t really help myself here. Hence, the body scan part tends to be undermined or forgotten in my case. The problem is life happens in the now and not necessarily at previously defined meetings.

    How to use emotions as information in a business setting (without, ironically, discussing the emotions themselves) This seems to be the same as above. Is there a difference?

    How to turn “difficult conversations” into trust-building opportunities. So here we have the process of breaking things down into Linda’s four part process – and ironically becoming more detached from the process as such. This seems a contradiction to the previous two ideas. So, if I have understood correctly, you step back and draw up an unemotional four point plan, just looking at (objective?) causes and consequences.

    How to engage “Emotional Heroism,” which Linda defines as “power combined with compassion,” in challenging situations – what comes to mind here is being centered – the notion of the eye in the storm. The problem being to get into that state rather than being taken unawares. In real life things hit you and you may not have had time for a body scan previously:-)

    You will practice:

    Engaging non-verbal leadership skills associated with assertiveness, timing, focus, energy modulation, motivation, experimentation, and boundaries-in-motion—with sensitivity to the needs of others – I know these concepts from Linda’s previous books, but have we been talking about this here? Have we? Principle 4 seems the closest. Where have we talked about ‘experimentation’ and even ‘motivation’?

    Setting boundaries with aggressive people in ways that create mutually respectful relationships – this sounds familiar. It is the principle of dialing up energy once you get some positive feedback, isn’t it? GP4 again.

    Balancing embodied reason and embodied intuition in realizing a goal – I don’t remember how that is supposed to come about other than using the body scan as a starting point.

    Recognizing and moving beyond limiting behavior and thought patterns to achieve optimal performance – what comes to mind here is consensual leadership and not letting traditional role structures limit input.

    But returning to my starting point, where is constructive discussion of the overall approach supposed to take place? Everything seems to be in isolated bits. In short, I am calling on Mark to put this matter right (as organizer). The forum set-up failed, but the only place we have been using for open discussion is the ‘Introduce Yourself Page’, which hardly seems appropriate.

    Clearly, the content of the symposium is supposed to be how to build or the building of the ‘Cathedral’ but that shouldn’t be an excuse for the lack of space to produce constructive thought and planning here, which I feel, in great part, is lacking. But, OK, perhaps, all that needs to be done is to direct me to the space where this is to happen. A space that should include reply options and NOT limit them. Otherwise, you are left feeling that this has all been a lot to do about nothing, which is frustrating and a great pity.



  9. Ianrowcliffe on October 30, 2012 at 11:37 pm

    Just to say that I, too, have witnessed the consensual behavior Linda describes in herds, where horses change their roles according to changes in circumstances. For example, an older mare plays mother to a younger one, but then has a foal and shuns her friend. The friend is hurt but becomes the older mare’s protector when the stallion approaches and wins favor and a re-newed sense of purpose. However, over time she is then courted and prized and becomes the stallion’s favorite. It is a beautiful ebbing and flowing dynamic.



  10. Sally Leong on October 29, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    I have found that my horses are very different at night and especially in moonlight. My former stallion was very anxious as a foal possibly due to weaning at too early an age when I bought him and over the years has become more calm but at night he would connect with me and let me touch his head and caress him and come to me for this. I have noticed this over and over.

    Regarding the idea of leadership vs. aggression and self regulation, I have recently experienced a Gestalt Equine Institute of the Rockies workshop and learned to release somatically through a heart connection old trauma rather than work on regulating it: it is now gone! I think too many self help programs deal with self control but the therapeutic outcome possible with horses is to release the old pain, trauma, etc. as Peter Levine talks about in Somatic Experiencing but in this case the horse facilitates this process and provides the support needed. Then we can move forward in a transformational way. I now find meditation useful to get out of my head and return to my body and it is in the body that you actually relate to the horse in the moment. I am now consciously stopping thinking when I am with horses and trying to focus on my body, heart and solar plexus and use gut feelings and primal emotions to relate to the horse. I try to control my own energy state and when lowering it the horse comes to me without a thought or a request to come. It is truly amazing. No buckets of food. We need to maintain what Carolyn Resnick refers to as the heart strings of connection with horses to have trusting and even leadership relationships with them but if we are damaged we may have trouble establishing such strings. I used my head as a way to stay safe in all aspects of life and this prevented me from making the heart connection. This connection and state of being is much like Sidhartha’s waiting for the horse to come to him for the sugar cane rather than chasing him and going with the flow of Laot-tzu. The person must wait for the horse to come to them and not chase the horse and catch it. That is contrary to the horse’s innate behavior as described in Naked Liberty by Carolyn Resnick.



  11. thea fast on October 23, 2012 at 1:07 am

    Hmmm. I’m thinking of an earlier chapter in which you talk about how being kind a respectful or “nice” couldn’t undo Merlin’s imbalance, the ability to assert yourself use aggression to maintain your own space is necessary. Then this chapter is all about how gentleness, inner peace and awareness of and responsiveness to boundaries can undo a world of damage. I’m not looking these things up and using direct quotes because I’m trying to learn to speak this in my own language. Its not working well yet. I get as far as non-predatory wisdom and get queried on why I’m not calling it prey wisdom. So please lend me clarity where you will. I’m joining in on the applause as I really enjoyed this chapter too but I’d like to come in with you to do some groundwork.
    I understand that we need to cultivate all of this. That our aggressive abilities must be tempered not only by our emotional self control which may well be seated in our ability to control arousal level. Confessedly, this is not my forte. I was at a Animal Assisted Learning workshop as a participant recently. When the instructor was talking about using a high sensitive horse to teach a young street person about self regulation and how it took months for her to get her on the horse’s back I thought. Crap, I probly couldn’t either. I can be aware of my arousal and fear, I can acknowledge it, ask it questions, breathe to it and then I generally go ahead anyway with somewhat less quaking breath and shaking knees but…I eventually worked up my courage to ask if all people are capable of that degree of self regulation and she kindly answered “probably not”. I have a judgement that I should be. I have the experience that I’m not. Perhaps its yet to come and perhaps I’m not supposed to. I’m a great example and vastly experienced with feeling it and going ahead after some reflection and information gathering and grounding. Helps me have compassion for others in my boat, and be able to share some experience of what to do when you can’t breathe it or ground it away. How to pursue enlightenment when you’re not enlightened I suppose.
    I wonder if the qualities in this chapter aren’t a lot about being present and listening. Listening to the horse, to your body, to not knowing the answer and knowing what answers you’re attached to hearing.
    I was pretty triggered by the end of the workshop. It was my first experience with EAGALA type exercises. By the 2nd day I was noticing myself having trouble staying with the group. They were in the arena, I was on the bleachers thinking they would be joining me there. NOpe, all in the arena with the one bucket of oats and the 5 horses. They were on one end of the turkey pen, I was on the other. I was starting to isolate and withdraw, after I left I got mad and worked it through. An experience I call “Debriefing Triggerfest”. But here it is again. Apparently I need to be able to calm my arousal in order to be a good leader. Its not enough to be aware of it, make conscious decisions around it and acknowledge it, I need to be able to control it.
    REally? I know self control in yoga is the def’n of freedom but I have some resistance around it. Go figure. The idea that controlling my arousal responses I guess in conjunction with gathering the information they provide me with is the answer might come in time from some place other than ego or mind control but….I’m finding myself petulantly demanding the difference between this and denial and suppression. Getting a little excited here, what belief I’m real attached to is getting challenged. That I can control who I am? Well, where’s the room in there for God. Its the same frustration I have with the whole, create your own reality movement. Like we should all get what we want. NO, we follow what we want to get what we need. The only measure of success is how we deal with disappointment. That’s from the MOst Exotic Marigold Hotel.



  12. LindaKohanov on October 17, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    Thanks Mark for getting comments back online. Ian, just wanted you to know that some scientists think that horses are nocturnal animals because they do in fact see very well in the dark. As horse owners, we know that they are very active during the day as well. It seems they are primed to function well at any time of the day or night…..



  13. Susan Garvin on October 17, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    got your email and the link to this page, thanks



  14. Mark on October 17, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    Just testing the follow-up commentary (again)



  15. Ianrowcliffe on October 7, 2012 at 12:05 am

    Well, certainly after that, I feel inclined to take my stallion out for a moonlight walk and ask him to comment:-) I have never tried connecting with him outside at night… I wonder how his night vision is.. I say that because one of the mares doesn’t seem to see that well at night and almost knocked me over inadvertently – strangely, her original name is Luna. But there was no sign of the moon that night.

    A fascinating chapter!



  16. Susan Garvin on October 2, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    “the soft, blue light flowing over the landscape is aestheticlly sitrring and deeply comforting….”
    I sometimes have a compulsion to go out in the night and give myself up to the darkness, the air, the wind, the difference from the day; (I live far from the city, up a mountain, where wolves and wild boar roam so I am in the perfect spot…..) but I do often find it almost unbearable, I love it but cannot wait to get back inside, to the safety of my electric lights music and candles. it’s as if the night holds a terrifying vastness that I cannot cope with, I feel like a vessel that has to contain too much liquid….I want to be a ‘midnight traveller’ but with this fearfulness how can that happen? I think you are pointing the way when you speak of understanding what cannot be put into words…as I said after the last Chapter, this is a leap I am struggling to make, my very pragmatic brain learning to step aside and accept images, ideas, fantasies rather than a teacher’s tick in the margin saying Yes you got this point and that point correct.
    Regarding Wu Wei – some years ago I said to my spiritual guide that I felt like I was in a small boat just drifting around not knowing where its rightful course lay. She replied that I had to wait out the time because this was a vital part of my journey….I am still in that drifting mode but am learning so much and am so fascinated by what I am experiencing that I don’t actually want ‘A Direction’ just yet….What Wants To Happen hasn’t presented itself yet….so I’ll go on drifting I suppose! It’s very comforting to me to read what you are saying about such a stage of personal evolution.
    Two paragraphs to me provide a very solid comfort, paradoxically because they speak of what we don’t have…..but they do pinpoint where we are and explain why it is so exciting and so painful at the same time – ‘as we emerge from five thousand years of slavery, dominance and submission…….’ and the following paragraph. These sum up where we are and where we need to go from here. Comforting because when your next step is named you feel reassured, you know where you are going even if it’s only to the next small station down the line! I found this Chapter very comforting and soothing in a way, Linda, an eye in the storm of the awareness of pain and insecurity that surrounds us, a way forward but cutting down our grandiose visions of the complete cathedral to the beauty and possible-ness of the individual stones or decorated windows ……



  17. LindaKohanov on October 2, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    Thanks Susan,

    To be more clear, with the Buddha there are many versions of his life in a variety of ancient texts. They are undoubtedly a mixture of historical fact and myths that are designed to translate nonverbal spiritual realities into words. Yes, in some ancient texts Kanthaka dies of grief within days after Siddhartha leaves him behind to pursue enlighteniment. In other texts no mention is made of how or when Kanthaka dies. But the idea is that however he died, he was reincarnated, and grew up to become one of the Buddha’s disciples later in life. As the Buddha taught for over 40 years after he reached enlightenment, it is conceivable, for those who believe in reincarnation, that Kanthaka could have returned to become an much older Buddha’s student.



  18. Susan Garvin on October 1, 2012 at 8:38 pm

    It’s amazing to read about the Buddha from this aspect, which is usually omitted from teachings and texts. [There is by the way one para that is not totally clear to me, maybe it is just too cryptic – page 4, the para after the anecdote, maybe you need to say ‘some other ancient exts insist however that Kanthaka died of grief…..’ .At least this is what I understand, there are two contradictory myths, right?]
    Apart from this mundane point, I have to say I found the chapter very moving and very inspiring – once again I felt you had opened a window for me, enabling me to grasp something that previously I had found elusive, so thanks from the heart for that!