Category Archives: horses, dogs & more

bringing out the book

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The publication date for my book, Our Horses, Ourselves: Discovering the Common Body, is approaching (mid-September).  The final scramble of editing is finished, and within a few weeks, it will be in the hands of the printer.

This project has been an amazing, daunting, joyful, frustrating journey of over 10 years.  Actually though, this book pulls from the last forty years of living in a moving human body,  and the past twenty years of dropping deep, then deeper still into the world of horses. The horses hold the two ends of my life – the raw childhood horse love and the ripened adult passion.

Are you emptied out when you finish a book like this?  Not really.  Like making dances, there is always that thing that wakes you up in the middle of the night – a movement that must be danced or another way of saying something about touching horses, learning to be a mindful being in the blessing of their presence.

This next stage -getting the word out, scheduling of readings, workshops – feels overwhelming.  I have done this as the artistic director of a dance company for many, many years.  For whatever reason, I do not feel that  has prepared me.  Maybe it has to do with the ephemeral nature of dance and dancing.  A book is something that can be held, it is an object.  Scary, that, and exciting too.

You can (please) order my book HERE.

 

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feeling

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The other day, after our ride, my lovely 24-year old stallion, Capprichio, surprised me.  Capprichio is not a horse that you can touch casually.  He is often standoffish, a little cranky, extremely specific, and private.  Early on in our relationship he suddenly, efficiently and unexpectedly removed a diamond stud from my ear with his teeth and swalowed it.  I think he was putting me on notice.  I respect him, his space, which does not keep me from continuing to look for openings, to find that lovely touch that he will enjoy.

So the other day, after his shower, I began by finger combing his mane which is huge and thick and long (he is an Andalusian), falling from a massive crest.  He began to settle, drop his head, his eyes closing – a little dreamy.  So I kept going. Thirty minutes or so later (horse time is so very unpredictable), I stopped and began to leave his stall. I lingered in the door for a moment and he moved toward me – very clearly, “not yet”.  I put out my hand. He placed his nose on the back of my hand.  And stayed there.  For another maybe thirty minutes.  Little soft strokes, breathing, just letting go of time, or doing anything but being. He was leading, guiding.

Reciprocity –  being touched by what you are touching. It is so very hard for us humans to remember that  – to receive, to allow, to follow.  Capprichio is a Zen master. We have been together for over ten years, and perhaps I have just now become ready for this lesson.  Thank you, most beautiful.

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finding softness

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A Journey to Softness: In Search of Feel and Connection with the Horse

This is a beautiful book.  I have had the great good fortune of studying with Mark, and so I can say with certainty that this is a person who truly walks (and rides) the talk.  Mark’s writing is so engaging, so plain-spoken and yet eloquent, that I find myself reading just several pages at a time, savoring the writing like rich chocolate.

As a Somatic Movement Therapist, a body person, dancer, movement analyst, I am always in search of writing that percolates into the body, that changes me as I read.  This is his gift to not just the rider, but all of us.  His view of softness is not limited to the riders hands, or seat of legs, but extends to every aspect of life.  He helps us to bring greater awareness and “feel” to each moment.

Doing that wakes us up to a bodily relationship to the present.  Ellen Langer, author of Mindfulness, talks about it as learning to notice new things. Softly holding my cup of tea this morning, I began to see how the light moved through the glass candlesticks and vase on the table as if it were underwater.  I heard the sound of the dogs moving above us like little rattles.  I felt the warmth of the cup moving up my arms.  New things.

In my last Advanced Somatic Experiencing class with Berns Galloway, he encouraged us to orient toward pleasure.  What I also have noticed, with my soft, mindful attention, is the tendency to orient toward pain, toward anxiety.  It is actually easier to harden around those old, repeating thoughts than to sit in the soft newness of the now.  Why is that?

Because being hard (hard body, hard mind, hard heart) is easier than vulnerability and openness.  In Mark’s book, the reader will find help for all of that. Look and see!