Nonviolence – With horses!

I just arrived home from a few days horse riding and camping at *Nash Horsetrekking it was a lot of fun and also a wonderful opportunity to see nonviolence in action – with horses.

Before we even got on the horses, we were told about horse evolution, horse anatomy, and history with people and how to use that knowledge to communicate and work with the horse, not against her. Horses are prey and we are predators, so it’s important not to trigger fear in the horse by staring her in the eye.  And how to use body language to encourage the horse to do what we want her to do, that sort of thing. And then we practiced what we learned, introduced ourselves to the horses (mine was Prince), caught them, led them and rode them in a little yard before venturing out into the open.

The trail ride on the second day was awesome even though the working with the horse part made it hard work, in one sense. I noticed that when I slumped forward to have a rest, Prince stumbled and I understood that I had shifted my weight and made it harder for him. So I tried hard to sit up straight and make life easier for him (since he was doing the heavy lifting). I also noticed how much he was looking after me. He put up with me randomly swapping between using the bit to tell him to change direction and my version of neck reining. At one point I tried to trot and started to lose balance. He felt what was a slight squeeze of my very tired knees and slowed down to a walk. And I had to get on and off a few times and he always stood quietly and waited for me, even at the end when he was keen to get home and I was very stiff and slow. I was hyper aware of all these sorts of communications and kind acts between me and Prince.

And the whole time I was also thinking back to all the horses I knew when I used to ride as a kid and making connections.  About Silver the brown pony who used to stop and roll in the mud whether you were on his back or not (dominant!). About Trinity ex-racehorse number #1 who ended every gallop with a little buck or two (‘cause even though he was old and skinny he could still have a little fun). And mainly to the grey horse who put up with pony club though it bored him to sleep (literally) but loved roaming around the bush and playing with the neighbours cows, how I just had to look in the direction of a cow and he’d go after it. And how he let me jump on his back in the paddock and ride bareback, no bridle to the top yard. What a lot of fun he was. And I realised that every horse I rode was not just allowing me to ride but probably making conscious choices to keep me up there. I feel so moved and grateful now. I wish I could go back in time and give them all a proper brush down, a handful of oats and say thanks for all the fun and adventures, for encouraging me (sometimes by kidnapping me) to go where I was scared and for having things turn out ok. Because most of all over the last two days I got how all those crazy horses in my past were looking out for me, and how I wasn’t even aware of it.

Thankyou Nash Horsetrekking!

*At Coominya, Queensland, Australia

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