training,  conscious horsemanship

The Silence Challenge

I was thinking about my experience, described in Neighmaste, Love & The Divine, and as I walking to the barn this morning suddenly decided I was going to bring in the herd for breakfast and do all the morning handling without speaking at all.

It is fall here, and the herd is staying on pasture much longer, fattening on the last of the grass before winter sets in.  Bringing them in typically involves much whistling, calling and hand clapping, and often still a hike to the top of the 30 acre field, up a very steep hill.  They are reluctant to leave the lush grass, and some coaxing (and maybe a bit of grain) is usually also involved.

Today, I set out in silence.  I took my time walking up, enjoying the gorgeous view, smelling the crisp fall air.  When I finally sighted the herd, and Salty sighted me, I didn’t wave or yell.  I just stopped and stood and felt appreciation and love and happiness.  I walked slowly in their general direction, but made a sweeping arc rather than marching into their midst.  I stopped again between them and barn.  Sent more love and appreciation, and then added the soft body position that I use when asking them to walk toward me on a lead.  I looked at the barn, looked at them, turned my shoulders to the barn, sent feelings of excitement and love and breakfast and started walking back down the hill.

Salty jogged to me and started following.

Bahiya suddenly fast-trotted over and fell into line behind us.   I found myself in lead mare position, leading the respectful mares down the track to the barn.

As we got closer to the barn,, more of the herd thundered down.

One by one, two by two, they all arrived.

I still had not spoken a word, just sent feelings of gratitude and admiration and love.

And it was a challenge.  I wanted to speak.  It’s a habit to speak, to praise, to correct, to patter on about stuff.  How much have I come to depend on my voice to fill in the gaps in my ability to communicate precisely with my body and mind?

I got Lucky out to trim his feet and do some bodywork.  He was a bit impatient and shoved at me.  I started to use my voice, and had to choke down the reprimand that had started.  Instead I used my hands and body.  It felt awkward, but it worked.

Lo and behold, we got through trimming both front feet and his daily back exercises (no swayback for this senior), all without a word.  Yet we were connected, peaceful, working as a team.

It was overall a very strange feeling, to be so quiet.  To hear nothing but the sounds from outdoors, the horses breathing and stomping and moving around, the occasional snort or sneeze,, my rasp on his hoof.  It struck me that this is their life, every day, all day and night.  Other than the occasional calling to a distant herd member, they live in silence that is not silent.

So I’ll challenge you – can you go through an entire session at the barn without using your voice once?  Try it.  You may find the results very interesting.

Copyright (c) 2019 C. Eastman.

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