Equine Demo Report Part II – Extraordinaire!
Hope Rising Retreat
I arrived at location of the demo to find a picturesque farm and retreat nestled in the rolling farmlands in Central Ohio. Hope Rising is a bed and breakfast retreat and horse farm. It was a brisk, early spring day as Terri Kucera of Heartland Farms was in a round pen with the beautiful creature pictured above. I am a bit of a drive away and arrived late so just picked up in the middle of things as I found a place at the round pen. I was able to learn she had determined the horses personality type and was working in specific ways suited to this horse’s mind set. She talked about horse body language and her process of getting the horses attention on to her. The unique thing with this demo is that it was Christian based and as she worked she began to show us about how we relate (or not) to God. Her goal in working with the horse was to use its personality traits and build a trusting relationship. What became fascinating was how this also became a beautiful visual example of how WE react in our relationships.
The group watching consisted of youth camp counselors, mental health counselors and just curious horse people as well as and non-horse people. The over all theme had to do with Boundaries and how maintaining proper boundaries is so important in relationships. Terri worked with two horses with very different personalities. The first horse (above) was more extroverted and dominant in her behavior and so tended to challenge boundaries in a different way than the other horse (below) which was more passive and timid. They were seeking similar things (guidance and a leader) but needed different responses to build the relationship.
After Terri worked with the first horse we relocated into an indoor arena to watch her with a grey arab gelding.
The horse was loose and an unfamiliar object (blue plastic wading pool) was put in the arena to represent a challenge or trial in our lives. This is where things really got interesting for me. The horse was very expressive (as most are!) and you could tell he wanted to please and trust but was frightened. Not only did he have this strange thing in this space but all of us watching him too! There was lots of snorting and tense body language going on. A horse is naturally on guard in new or strangle situations but the key to helping the horse overcome those natural tendencies is by building a trusting relationship. Terri beautiful interweaved how to build a horses trust with how we need to trust in God to help us thru our challenges and trials in life. Horses are naturally claustrophobic and at one point Terri moved the ‘scary thing’ toward the wall and worked at having the horse move willingly between the object and the wall. She compared that to situations in our life when we also face challenges and feel up against a wall! I could definitely relate to this! The horse showed clearly with his body and expression how uncomfortable being ‘pressed’ into this situation was for him. Terri used tact and guidance and built his confidence in her as the leader to maneuver thru this unpleasant feeling. I could very much relate to the horses reaction and also the NEED in the horse (and the feeling within ME) of wanting that reassurance from God that He is with me in these challenges of life. There were moments in which Terri asked the horse to respond and there were moments when the horse was allowed to ‘regroup’ and process. This also was related back to our human need to step back and process or digest our own challenges. And when we do where do we find our comfort and strength? How do we proceed or how do we trust when we are afraid or unsure? How do we gain confidence and insight to face hardships and trials in our life? Where do we seek relief from the pressure? In what situations do we flee, shy, avoid or bolt? Its amazing how watching this demonstration brought up so many things that I do and feel! I know I was not alone either because it was something we discussed as a group afterwards. Terri did not use force, cohesion or even much in the way of tack (a loose long lead and a rope halter) to communicate with the horse. What was very apparent with the horse was a sense of confidence as the relationship was built and respected (the horses free will and spirit was not forced) and how the horse sought out this guidance in Terri as the leader. It was a beautiful demonstration of how we also have an ingrained desire for God (even if it is not recognized by us) and how when the correct relationship is built the sense of peace and reassurance is there for us in the trials of life.
To be perfectly honest I did not expect the huge impact this demo had on me. I have seen natural horsemanship demos before and have dabbled in it myself so the basic round pen concepts were not new to me. What was new was how this touched me so deeply during a time in my life when I have been seeking spiritual guidance in a very trying situation. This demonstration and the conversation that followed was a direct answer to prayer for me. What was also interesting when talking with the group afterwards how different people picked up different comments or horse behavior and how it touched them so deeply too. I don’t even think it was because I am a horse nut either… people were there that were only interested in seeing boundaries explained with horses and were not particularly interested in horses like I am. I don’t know if it was just being able to see the physical and honest ‘in the moment’ reactions of the horse as he worked thru this exercise or if it was Terri’s natural way of relating this back to God and our own relationship needs or some wonderful combination orchestrated to be just what I (and others) needed to see/hear). Whatever it was, it was nothing short of amazing and something I will never forget. I think it is even safe to say this was a life changing experience for me.
Terri has a blog at http://lambsend.wordpress.com/ with some beautiful stories of horses and healing.
I went to this demo on the invitation of Beckie Boger who is also an equine specialist and a musician. I will be having an equine session with her in the near future and will report on my experience here. Please consider signing up for updates on this blog.
Mike and Susie Baird are the owners of this picturesque bed and breakfast and can be contacted at 1-419-768-2866 or firstname.lastname@example.org