27 Comments

  1. Ianrowcliffe on June 1, 2013 at 1:05 pm

    “I had a reason to change, and it was called pain.” P84

    Yes, at times you wonder why anyone would want to subject themselves to the hard fought revelations you may possibly learn from the horse.

    And so Linda talks of Sam Powell’s transformation from ‘just about having broken every bone in his body’ to being one of those ‘with a shine in their eyes, a confidence in their gait and a calm yet powerful presence.’

    Clearly, the result is a new-found state of health; that is well-being, well- tuned feelings and a new sense of wealth, where you are ‘tapping but not taxing’ so that you are empowered.

    But, of course, the cowboys could learn from horses in nature, whereas we have to find ways to preserve our horses’ environment against forces that would not only butcher the horses but destroy the eco-system for short term gains. That means that we need to demonstrate that the short term benefits are immensely valuable; that the horses are like the proverbial goose that lays the golden eggs and to kill it for a meal is the most short-sighted thing you can possibly do. Nevertheless, when people are tired, worn-down and at their wit’s end, this is the challenge of more than a life-time, which has led to Linda’s cathedral thinking.

    And so we must work with that engaging future oriented vision…



  2. Ianrowcliffe on May 31, 2013 at 8:59 pm

    “I am talking about the inner, redemptive relationship between predator and prey, and, more specifically, the cultivation of non-predatory wisdom as a key to, perhaps even a mandate of, human evolution.” page 81

    I’ve heard Linda talking about sinking the predator ‘lion’ brain into the heart, creating some sort of fusion. Yes, good Darwinian thinking: fission and fusion. I guess that is what happens when you become one with a horse and so you are able to infuse that experience into your relationships in general…



  3. JosselienJanssens on May 23, 2012 at 4:07 pm

    Dear all,

    I’m catching up with this particular Herd after a time of hardly being able to check in so bear with me if some of what I say has already been covered.

    First of all I hear from insider participants that the POH workshop with Linda was hugely inspiring and I’m sorry to have missed it by a week.I’m glad to learn there will be another opportunity in October.

    In the past week I stayed with Epona Instructor Kathy Ortiz in Arizona because we are developing joint work, and we had a chance to briefly visit Linda and her herd, and distract her from finishing the book for a few hours…

    Ensuing from that conversation was my pledge to her to look up this youtube link to a funny and enlightening 11 min. animation of a lecture by psychiatrist Ian McGilchrist on the left side vs right side hemispheres of the brain.

    I personally found it a great help in visualising and understanding what those two halves exactly do.

    “The intuitive mind (right, wide view) is a sacred gift and the rational mind (left, narrow focus) is a faithful servant. We have created a society that? honors the servant, but has forgotten the gift.” – Albert Einstein (=”Imagination is more powerful than knowledge”)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFs9WO2B8uI

    For example, the fact that both predatory and prey animals use their left (focal) and right (overview) hemispheres equally thoroughly and for more or less the same purposes is one of the baseline facts important to keep in mind when talking about “left vs right brain leadership”.

    Enjoy! Josselien



    • Susan Garvin on May 24, 2012 at 7:56 am

      Josselien, thanks so so much for this link, I watched and was enthralled! So bang on the nail, and so entertaining (practising what he preaches!!!!) – AND he got a dig in at Berlusconi, pure heaven!!!!
      I wish ALL schools would show it to all their pupils and discuss….THAT is what education is about!!!!



    • Ian Rowcliffe on May 24, 2012 at 1:14 pm

      Yes, thanks for posting this, Josselien. I had actually seen the talk before, but it really does seem to be something we should look at here in more detail in relation to the horse. Indeed, Pat Parelli’s left and right brained horses is something that I really, really dislike. And so this film really helps us to justify a much more balanced and useful conception of the way a horse views the world and how it overlaps with our own thinking. So, yes, again, it was really helpful of you to have brought that up. Can you enhance on it in relation to horses and your own experience further?



      • JosselienJanssens on May 24, 2012 at 2:25 pm

        Thanks Susan, I completely agree with you that this is a piece of masterful and artful teaching!

        Ian: I find the Parelli classification of horse character, although fairly recognisable in horses (and definitely simpler to understand than Hempflings’ complex intuitive list of 24 or so types), indeed has actually very little to do with the horses actual use of its both brain hemispheres.

        If you strip it of the association with the brain hemispheres I do find the classification has some merit in broadly describing typical behavioural traits of four categories – although there is definitely much, much more to any individual horse’s character than this!

        In my horse trainer course, we use the work of Dutch holistic vet Erik Laarakker, who has related horse types to the five Chinese elements. This is a really useful inclusive piece of work that neatly fits with the Epona “yin-yang” vision and I am currently checking if it has been translated into English.

        In relation to my own experience with horses and EFEL teaching, my main motivations for looking into the brain hemispheres was to really understand what I was talking about, so as to avoid inadvertently propelling factually incorrect generalisations and prejudices about ‘right’ and ‘left’ brain, ‘predatory’ and ‘prey’, ‘male’ and ‘female’ style leadership.

        For example, I find there seems to be an easy tendency -not in the least on the part of women!- to associate women with prey, and men with predators; women with the right brain and the “right kind of leadership” and men with the left brain and the “wrong kind of leadership”.

        Where on emotional grounds understandable in recently coming out of a long history of religious oppression of one gender by the other; as generalisations, those statements hold no factual ground!

        Both men and women are equally capable of reverting to ‘predatorial’ leadership (towards themselves, their family, those they professionally lead) although you could make some remarks about differences in the way each gender typically expresses it. And also equally capable of keeping overview of the big picture and displaying the mindful “George Washington-type leadership” that Linda makes so beautifully insightful.

        Last but not least, I am mindful not classifying prey animals as “good” and predator animals as “bad”, since in the balanced natural world they have a symbiotic relationship that ensures the long term survival of both types.

        There is a lot we can learn from lions and wolves where it comes to consensually working toghether and teaming up to meet conscious, collective goals. It is in balancing these two properties of our human scope of behaviour, that we move away from the ‘parasitic’ leadership that in the long term undermines both the leader and those they lead!



        • JosselienJanssens on May 24, 2012 at 2:30 pm

          E.g. which is my quick summary of the point Linda makes throughout the book, I should add!



        • Ianrowcliffe on May 24, 2012 at 3:55 pm

          Yes, peeling away the right/left hemisphere classification, it is clear, Pat Parelli’s horse-personalities make intuitive sense, given you take context/environment into consideration,too, and not assume that these are constant.

          Re:we use the work of Dutch holistic vet Erik Laarakker, who has related horse types to the five Chinese elements – that sounds intriguing. And, yes, I love to know more.

          Re: symbiotic relationships – Yes, indeed, how right you are! In fact, this is one of the things that worries me. Horses are no more able to live alone in the long term than any other species the way things are going. We are all caught up in the web of interdependence. Hence, I am really concerned that horses can find their place in our world – in the human world. People must understand just how much they offer us.

          I noted this quote by Church :

          “Some see private enterprise as a predatory target to be shot, others as a cow to be milked, but few are those who see it as a sturdy horse pulling the wagon.”

          In the past, the horse may have carried our load physically but today it seems more to help us with spiritual enlightenment.

          A wonderfully enlightening post, Josselien!!!



          • JosselienJanssens on May 24, 2012 at 8:41 pm

            You are the King of Quotes, Ian 🙂 Its very applicable!

            And I so agree that horses are now, individually, as herds, and as collective consciousness, “carrying” us humans to the next stage of our evolution! It is a beautiful imagery which I often use in my workshop introductions. It usually leads to great discussions about the nature and depth of horse intelligence – as an example species – which is exactly the point!



          • Ianrowcliffe on May 25, 2012 at 8:38 am

            Very funny, Josselien, but I can’t resist another by quote by Churchill:

            “Once in a while you will stumble upon the truth but most of us manage to pick ourselves up and hurry along as if nothing had happened.”

            I think this applies so much to our interaction with horses. For example, you get thrown, and you are left with a very clear impression of what you did wrong, but typically one would simply get back on, leaving the truth behind and moving toward an even bigger accident in the future.

            We were also discussing horse personalities and, in my opinion, the fluid aspect of these. I am sure, with your experience, you take into account hormonal swings, etc. but so often a novice will simply see the horse as it was yesterday… expecting things to be the same, which they never are and never should be – for that is the delight they offer us.

            Another point you raised in my mind, was how I get ‘carried away’ by horses. Linda has pointed out how distortion and projection can ‘color’ our perception and that we need a healthy dose of discernment. You know, not to go into the ‘hero worship’ thing but see horses as an ‘an example species’ as you put it so succinctly. Hence, my passion and love for horses tend to make me exaggerate and people get turned off and walk away – leaving the ‘fool on the hill,’ who they believe must have got kicked in the head:-)

            So thanks for the reminder, JJ:-)



        • Susan Garvin on May 25, 2012 at 10:19 am

          JJ said: “In my horse trainer course, we use the work of Dutch holistic vet Erik Laarakker, who has related horse types to the five Chinese elements. This is a really useful inclusive piece of work that neatly fits with the Epona “yin-yang” vision and I am currently checking if it has been translated into English.”

          YES! along with Ian, I am hungry for more! I do hope this has been or will be translated into English soon! I personally find the yin-yang concept very useful – it appeals to the way my mind works I suppose.And I find I can relate to Jungian thinknig quite easily and yin/yang (im)balance is implicit in that too imho. I find Hempfling’s categories impossible to work with, also Parelli’s because my horses never fit into one category so I end up with a ‘heinz 57’ anyway which is as generalised and imprecise as not using them at all. I can accept this might just be my brain at fault rather than their categories though. Maybe I am not able to prioritise features so i can see patterns more clearly. So my horse seems to me a Child but he has also Kingly qualities too and I’m unable to discern which is stronger/more influential. woods and trees, woods and trees!



          • Susan Garvin on May 25, 2012 at 10:21 am

            PS Ian how I relate to your “my passion and love for horses tend to make me exaggerate and people get turned off and walk away”…………………..



          • Ianrowcliffe on May 25, 2012 at 1:36 pm

            Churchill is also quote as saying,

            “A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.”

            Hence, Linda’s approach of blending the wisdom of the horse and the principles derived into just about everything makes good sense. And contrasting and comparing different approaches does help to achieve a balanced perspective. That said, there is something about the power and quality of the energy exuded by the horse that exists in its own right:-)



  4. Susan Garvin on April 22, 2012 at 7:15 pm

    Thanks as ever for the call, Linda and Mark. It’s a tad frustrating sending messages during the call because the time-lag can actually distort what one is trying to say. however that is less important than the conversation itself which ‘revises’ one’s reading and opens new interpretations. I still think that an explicit treatment of learning to have a personal sense of personal responsibility could be useful 🙂 It is implicit in all the Guiding Principles but implicit is often not enough these days, things have to be spelled out…

    Perhaps you go into this at some point in the book – how far do you think instilling a sense of personal responsibility would contribute to this shift of consciousness you speak of? I mean responsibility for what we do and say and what we ‘allow’ other people to do and even to ‘get away with’? Is there a way you can see this could be started and developed both at a schools level and a family/social circle level? I think it is clear that GW had a very developed sense of personal responsiblity for everything he did and thought, how can we open this ability to everyone? In the horse training world there is a lot of mention in more recent approaches about ‘teaching the horse to take responsibility’ for his choices and therefore (re)actions, so this would be one way, through experience with horses. But what about in general? Our society seems so obsessed with blaming others, or just giving up all responsibility to anyone who will take it on (politicians, trainers, husbands/mothers/gurus/ etc) so they don’t have to think about things any more.
    this leads me to ask another question which is perhaps relevant….how far are we responsible for what has happened in the past? Could it be maybe insofar as we try to stop it happening again? Could this be a starting point for teaching/learning a sense of personal responsiblity for where the world is right now, in the present?



  5. Ian Rowcliffe on April 21, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    Re: the conversation: the notion of ‘doing well by doing good’, which came up, might very well be added to the guiding principles. In fact, perhaps that is really what is meant by the ‘tap not tax’ principle. Or, maybe, it takes that principle to the next level. As usual, I found the call heart-warming and upbeat, especially giving the particularly adverse circumstances that we are confronted with.



  6. Ianrowcliffe on April 7, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    Final and concluding section – The Gods of Adolescence

    And so Washington, instead of stepping up, steps down leaving a space (200 year so far) for all the things he fought against. That is a strange legacy… does that even make horse sense? Nature abhors a vacuum … but on a more optimistic note, we, now, have the opportunity of taking the next step from where he left off, don’t we? Perhaps, a part of that is a de-schooling of society that is being set loose by the Internet. A hands-on approach enabling access to best practice like never before… increasing awareness may enable us to make more meaningful choices in the way we live our lives with those around us. (Or maybe not: See Sherry Turkle: Connected, but alone? http://www.ted.com/talks/sherry_turkle_alone_together.html?utm_source=newsletter_weekly_2012-04-03&utm_campaign=newsletter_weekly&utm_medium=email )



    • LindaKohanov on April 9, 2012 at 4:32 pm

      By stepping down George Washington invited people to “step up.” But he was also being realistic. Sooner or later he would have had to give up the reins by vitue of mortality alone. By stepping down early, emphatically, in a way that blatantly rejected monarchy, he was performing yet another revolutionary act.

      When we look at his life from an emotional and social intellgence point of view, we don’t get a vacuum, we get a new example to follow, not in terms of specific acts he performed due to specific historical circumstances, but because of the long hidden, long ignored qualities he integrated and used fluidly, at will—all those seemingly opposite skills and qualities I outline at the end of the chapter. If we can create an education system that helps people purposefully develop the multi-disciplinary skills Washington accidentally integrated, we will move into a richer, more creative, more emotionally and socially intelligent era of human consiousness. For convenience, I’m quoting that section of the chapter here:

      “George Washington’s least-recognized and most impressive innovation hinged on his
      ability to transcend these long-entrenched opposites, drawing upon masculine and
      feminine, sedentary and nomadic, predatory and non-predatory, verbal and nonverbal
      forms of power and intelligence—fluidly, as needed. A deeply spiritual man who felt a
      sense of divine calling, he nonetheless dodged the pitfalls of religious grandiosity. Not only did he refuse to be deified (as his childhood hero and fellow horseman Alexander
      the Great had insisted upon over two thousand years earlier), he avoided the much
      more common modern affliction of domineering self-righteousness, which, like
      deification, blocks lucid inquiry and constant behavior modification. Heaven and earth,
      faith and logic, culture and nature, vision and practicality, fierceness and compassion
      were all on his side, helping him to win an impossible war through the balanced
      ecosystem of a fully functioning human psyche.”



      • Ianrowcliffe on April 10, 2012 at 11:09 pm

        Re:If we can create an education system that helps people purposefully develop the multi-disciplinary skills Washington accidentally integrated, we will move into a richer, more creative, more emotionally and socially intelligent era of human consciousness – while the notion of ‘system’ is a contradiction in terms, recently while talking to students some glimpses of a much wider healthier perspective has been enlightening us. These moments are marked by a ‘feeling’ of relief and optimism: we lighten up and embrace a little of the magic reflected by the horses. Yes, facades are dropped occasionally and something pure and simple remains.



  7. Ianrowcliffe on April 7, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    The Hidden Revolution/ The Fool’s Progress/Traveling Light

    Refers to Wellington’s tactic in the War of Independence…
    ”evasion maneuvers used by an ancient nomadic culture three thousand years earlier”
    “fighting for another day”

    Historic background “The horse tribes (Scythians) maintained their culture and their territory by acting like the horses they rode”

    Reference to the fall of the Greco-Roman world because of overreach/consumption rather than hostile nomads. Devastation produced by taker over leaver domination.

    This reminds me of the Tao ‘hold on loosely, let go tightly’. The message seems to be not to get pinned down but look for dynamic new opportunities, probably not part of traditional tried and tested notions, doesn’t it?



    • LindaKohanov on April 9, 2012 at 4:19 pm

      Love the phrase “dynamic new opportunities” and yes, looking for them is an important part of visionary leadership!



      • Ianrowcliffe on April 10, 2012 at 10:45 pm

        You have probably come across it but Mark Rashid’s description of the horse’s approach to openings is not only funny but enlightening:

        “When given an opportunity, a horse will not only find but also fit its entire body through an opening the size of a dime turned on its side, while us humans will miss an opening big enough to drive a truck through.”

        The good news is that he is right and we can learn to do much, much better than previously. That is an empowering metaphor I am working with.



  8. Ianrowcliffe on April 7, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    Next section – The Yin Factor

    (The chapter lightens up here… much more progressive and optimistic)

    Refers to: GP 6: Employ Non-Predatory Power Liberally, and Predatory Power Sparingly
    Power does not have to be harsh, exploitive, oppressive, or short-sighted if you master the skills associated with this guiding principle. (Something we were supposed to be discussing in March, wasn’t it?)

    “As nineteenth-century trainer Dennis Magner observed, working with horses requires “the delicacy of touch and feeling of a woman, the eye of an eagle, the courage of a lion, and the hang-on pluck of a bulldog.” Good summary… but could be expanded on more specifically.

    Represented by Lionheart archetype:

    Protecting without Sacrificing Sensitivity?
    Assertiveness without Aggression?
    The Courage to Feel and the Willingness to Act
    ..

    Yet “Bringing our predatory nature back into balance is the challenge of a lifetime! Yes, once again Linda seems to be restating the problem. Parts of the equation seem to be absent or yet to be discovered… or am I missing the point somehow?

    As one becomes more self-conscious, it seems harder than ever to act. Affect contagion then works negatively…



    • LindaKohanov on April 9, 2012 at 4:17 pm

      Great insights and questions as usual Ian. I appreciate these conversations. Your last statement above concerns a classic overload we experience when moving to a more expanded state of awareness, but it’s not insurmountable. In the early years of this work, when people would experience my horses as intelligent, deep feeling beings who could act as teachers, workshop particpants who were experienced equestrians would sometimes go back to their homes and barn unable to ride or work their horses. This is why I created the Rasa Dance card in the Way of the Horse deck, which describes learning to feel, think and act at the same time, using activities previously associated with pure dominance for the purposes of dancing with the horse, which has a completely different feeling to it. Talking and writing about these skills are helpful but they can only take a person so far, which is why in my leadership workshops I also include an exercise called Embodying the Goal, where a person uses sensation, emotion and body wisdom to enhance performing a specific goal that I have given them, because it’s not always about “following your heart.” Sometimes you have to engage a team to perform a goal that has been handed to you by someone else, but you need the other 90 percent working for you here as well.



      • Ianrowcliffe on April 9, 2012 at 5:17 pm

        Yes, the Rasa Dance is a beautiful playful conception – have you created any youtubes demonstrating it? I’d love to see some of these dances… Sometimes I dance with my stallion, Sebastian, who has infinitely more energy than I do so that, if I am not up to it, he simply starts dancing on his own:-)



  9. Ianrowcliffe on March 29, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    At the moment the ‘power of the herd’ is not very self-evident… but maybe it is early days…

    General reaction – owwwwww! Yes, very painful. We are not naturally drawn to pain, so this doesn’t make for light reading. Perhaps, by presenting an image of the future this might be easier to stomach. Imagine a virile healthy conscious dynamic (eco-friendly) state of consciousness, for example, it’s not hard, if you try. Nothing to kill and die for…

    The first paragraph states the problem – the fast track to nihilism – and the reason it has to be wrestled with – either you come to grips with it or you are ‘blown away’. Somehow you need to establish a dynamic balance.

    The second and third paragraph – we actively (inflict loss on ourselves) damn and are damned (suffer enormous loss) … it is true but why do we do that? To maintain our own interests, status and power. We have gained some advantage and hang on to it at all costs. We fear falling back into the void. (see how important the lesson on vulnerability is! Are we able to face such a state?)

    The forth paragraph – more doom and gloom – creativity all but dried up and it promises to get worse…

    The fifth, sixth, seventh and eight paragraph – the flaw behind the flaw, the premature acquisition of knowledge (of good and bad) but what is this about the fruit maturing with humanity? We must eat the fruit but know what we do…? Suggests seeing life in dichotomies (black and white terms – ‘dualistic’ ) is the problem (yet paradoxically labelled as the ‘tools of creativity’) and source of fear. (It is simplistic thinking that we tend to align with because it is easier that way.) Solution ‘integration’ – holistic thinking… to reach full potential (to continue to exist at all!) (Note: Linda points out that plunging into darkness as a rebellion can only be destructive – ‘short-sighted’. An very important point!)

    The ninth paragraph – leads into the ‘fish’ Linda is ‘selling’, ‘the redemptive relationship between predator and prey, and, more specifically, the cultivation of non-predatory wisdom as a key to, perhaps even a mandate of, human evolution.’ The point is that it hasn’t been seen to be necessary ‘recently’… our society has short-circuited this much bigger process and it produces fast and immediate results while resources last (that may only stop when we are consumed – i.e. cancer destroys its host. (How is it possible to ‘re-route’ the process? Rampant consumption can only contain itself, burn itself out. The question is whether the destruction will be complete… No, the question is how to stop it from being complete.)

    Next section – Natural Horsemanship…

    Evolution – leading to horse (prey) wisdom. “I had a reason to change, and it was called pain.” Yes, well put:

    “To imagine someone who is not fragmented, torn and worried half to death — this was almost inconceivable to my Western mind…” Robert A. Johnson, Balancing Heaven and Earth p 206

    So the question is how horse wisdom can be expressed as the solution… I like the lessons best whereas the chapters seem vague in comparison. I need to come up with ways of expressing the lessons more effectively – something that helps to stretch our imaginations still further.

    Anyone else got some ideas on this? I guess if I were to answer my own question, I would write a story around each of the principles to bring ‘home’ the point…



    • LindaKohanov on April 9, 2012 at 4:57 pm

      Love the Johnson quote!

      A note about the lessons versus the chapters: The lessons discuss the practical skills we can develop to bring horse wisdom into the human world. But the chapters take us into the nuances of where we’ve been, the destructive habits we’ve acquired, and also the all-too-often ignored historical examples of a better way. The tendency of modern “scientific” humans to compartmentalize and simplifiy the complex forces that affect us unconsciously is being addressed in these more challenging chapters that look at history, religion, philosophy, science, leadership, power, vision, and nonverbal innovations. I have some freedom to combine all these topics because I’m not a scientist, priest or historian limited by the social pressure to conform to a specific belief system or academic tradition.

      There are key pieces of wisdom in all of these normally antagonistic disciplines that we need to consider to get a more complete picture of humanity’s challenges and potential. The chapters are like weaving a huge tapestry of time, space, nature and human behavior together. The lessons are like crocheting warm cosy blankets on very specific themes.

      The ability to articulate the lessons actually grew out of writing the chapters, specifically informed by what I learned through research. What I researched was inspired by my need to find the vocabulary to articulate initially vague experiential insights gained from working with horses and humans together, and being thrust into an innovative leadership role where the tools my culture gave me were almost useless.

      This book has taken much, much longer to write than expected, like two books in one, because I really feel that we need both the chapter and lesson perspectives to move forward.



      • Ianrowcliffe on April 9, 2012 at 5:10 pm

        Re:The lessons are like crocheting warm cosy blankets on very specific themes. A great way of putting it, and they come across as light, useful and timely in comparison to the ‘heavier’, though, thought provoking ‘tapestries’.