A subtle shift in perspective happened when I was in England last week. I couldn't really put my finger on it, but when I went to the barn today, I decided to not do a thing with Little Love, but instead use the tools I received at the Epona workshop to really connect with her. After doing the chores (which was hard since Little Love decided to do them with me... :-) I walked into the field where Col was already grazing. Sometimes it's hard to be around Col, as he doesn't always understand boundaries. Becky feeds him treats constantly, so he expects them as soon as a human is in sight. So, as usual, I had to make it quite clear to him that he could not walk all over me. He is quite persistent, but in the end, got the message and both horses settled down to graze.
I stood back, under a tree and turned my back on the horses to do the "body scan". Nothing else came up, but a green and red light behind my eyes. I stayed with it, asking if it had a message for me. The first thought that came to me was about "being" with Little Love (vs. "doing" something with her). I turned towards the horses and the light dissipated. And suddenly I realized that in terms of "being" rather than "doing", I have not been completely honest with myself - or Little Love.
I have often talked about the need to walk Little Love every day so her hooves can heal and grow. It is true that movement is absolutely crucial for the barefoot horse. However, I realize now that my obsession to take these long walks with Little Love are not based solely on the need to heal her hooves. Despite the fact that I have stopped riding her and exercising her in a organized manner, I still have not been able to "let go" of doing something with her. With "doing", I mean "building muscle". I come from a background where a horse was not worth a dime if you couldn't ride it. If you saw a picture of a horse, the first thing you looked at was the shape, the muscling. This is clearly still somewhere in the back of my mind. I remember coming back from Finland last month after being gone for ten days and looking at Little Love with a critical eye. I thought she looked awful. Yes, she had lost weight, but she had also lost muscle. A lot of it. The first thing I wanted to do was take her out and exercise her.
Okay, obviously anyone would want their horse to be healthy. Having muscles and being in shape does keep a horse healthier and help it live a longer life. But, that all said, I have to really question my own motives in this. Where does this need to exercise Little Love and keep her "muscled up" really stem from? I'm not sure I am so obsessed about it for the right reasons. Am I talking the talk, but not walking the walk? Perhaps. Most likely. It is one thing to say what your intentions are, but to actually live by those intentions... I don't know. Seems like I had been fooling even myself.
As all this information flowed into me, I stood in the field and looked at Little Love. She had stopped eating grass and was looking back at me. Then she walked over and touched my hand. The certainty that filled me was overwhelming. I was right on the money, this is what she was trying to tell me. I don't really know yet what this means. Except that I need to think about this more. Perhaps I need to stop being so obsessed about going on these walks several times a week, the same walks that some days seem to be the hardest thing Little Love has ever done. The same walks that put me in situations where I get really afraid or angry. What if we don't walk for x miles every week? What is more important; her physical health or her mental health? Good question.
And what comes to me and my reasons for "doing" things with Little Love... I need to really look into my heart and see what is there. In a few weeks Little Love will move to a new country. I want her to be healthy for the trip, because it will be a tough one. But I also want for both of us to enjoy the time we have together. Pushing her past her limits (with the cows for example) just because I think it is absolutely necessary to go for walks (when it really isn't) is maybe not always the way to go.