Saturday, October 18, 2008

And There Were Others

Kevin and I eloped when we got married and in doing so we spared ourselves the worry of determining who to invite to the ceremony. As scatter-brained as I can be, I certainly would have forgotten to include individuals that should have been on the list. After posting yesterday's journal entry, it was as if suddenly I remembered I'd forgotten to invite Auntie Diane to the wedding!

There, of course, have been many amazing people who (whether through personal contact or through the study of their written works) have contributed to my journey with horses. Perhaps sometime I will write a piece that shares who these people were and how they came to influence me. For now, I was mostly keeping to the past five to seven years--and even within that narrow time frame I realize I left out several key players.

Interessdo and Shelagh consider nose to nose contact

How could I have not relayed to you my immense admiration for Carolyn Resnick? Astute reader's will recall that I've mentioned her in a post or two, and her blog link has been a consistent feature in the sidebar links of interest.

It is no idle comment to say that it was the inspiration from Carolyn's youthful experiences with making friends with wild horses that stimulated me to approach relations with my own "wildies" from a perspective that allows the horse complete freedom to choose whether she desires to be with me or not. I think it was here, in Carolyn's book, NAKED LIBERTY, that I first discovered there are horse people out in the world who do not coerce or impose their wills upon horses, but rather spend the time to develop a friendship with horses so that they desire to be with us and try new things we might ask of them.

Nevermind that I still have discomfort with certain elements in Carolyn's "Seven Waterhole Rituals", those that I do wholly embrace have been like keys into a magical realm...and really do, as she says, develop a magnetic heart connection between the horses and myself.

It was also through the inspiration Carolyn's book provided that prompted me to have a go at riding completely tack-less, which has created for me some of the best memories I've ever had with Mistral.
The venerable Mistral views his world through contented eyes

If you order Stormy May's dvd, you'll see some insightful footage of Carolyn "dancing" with horses. Within Carolyn's blog, you see that she is very forthright with her desire to share her way of being with horses and tirelessly works towards helping humans better understand horses.

Carolyn's website is here:

Carolyn's blog can be accessed here:

Prior to Carolyn's work, I was certainly for some time quite captivated by Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling and his DANCES WITH HORSES book and videos. Kris McCormack worked diligently, just as she has done with Imke Spilker's book, to bring Klaus' work to English readers, and she followed up DANCES WITH HORSES with another of Klaus' books titled, WHAT HORSES REVEAL. (And did I mention that it was Kris who sent me a copy of NAKED LIBERTY along with a video of Carolyn's work? Kris has been hugely influential in my journey for many years...she deserves an entire entry herself!)

We meet Klaus again in Stormy May's documentary and HORSES FOR LIFE just recently ran a highly meaningful two part exclusive interview with him--both of which helped soften the rather cynical attitude I'd developed when I found certain elements of his work (as presented in the earlier books) off-putting in light of where I found myself moving forward with my interactions with horses.

Klaus' website is here:

I still look through my books and dvds of this man's work...certain philosophical elements and some pretty lovely images continue to inspire me even now.

Zorita, puts on a grumpy face to suggest to Doll that she move out of her way

A quick bit here about some other authors who have caused me to think differently about what type of environment is best for horses and have served to consolidate for me my continual preference for the Natural world versus that which is scientific and man-made. There have been many authors whose work has contributed, but recently these three in particular have left their mark (and only one is a "horse" person).

--Jamie Jackson
--Masanobu Fukuoka
--Stephen H. Buhner

I'm not mentally prepared to expand upon these gentlemen but I will leave you with a lengthy quote to contemplate from Masanobu Fukuoka from his book THE NATURAL WAY OF FARMING:

A scientist who wishes to know Mt. Fuji will climb the mountain and examine the rocks and wildlife. After having conducted geological, biological, and meteorological research, he will conclude that he now has a full picture of Fuji. but if we were to ask whether it is the scientist who has spent his life studying the details of the mountain who knows it best, the answer would have to be no. When one seeks total understanding and comprehensive judgment, analytic research is instead a hindrance. If a lifetime of study leads to the conclusion that Fuji consists mostly of rocks and trees, then it would have been better not to have climbed it in the first place.

One can know Fuji by looking at it from afar. One must see it and yet not examine it, and in not examining it, know it.

Yet the scientist will think: "Well, gazing at Mt. Fuji from a distance is useful for knowing it abstractly and conceptually, but is no help in learning something about the actual features of the mountain. Even if we concede that analytic research is of no use in knowing and understanding the truth about Fuji, learning something about the trees and rocks on the mountain is not totally meaningless. And moreover, isn't the only way to learn something to go and examine it directly?"

To be sure, I can say that analyzing nature and appending to these observations one's conclusions is a meaningless exercise, but unless those who listen understand why this is worthless and unrelated to the truth, they will not be convinced.

What more can I say if, when I mention that the artist Hokusai who captured faraway images of Fuji in his paintings understood it better than those who climbed it and found it an ugly mountain, I am told that this is just a subjective difference, a mere difference in viewpoint or opinion.

The most common view is that one can best know the true nature of Fuji by both listening to the ecologist speak of his research on its fauna and flora and looking at the abstracted form of Fuji in Hokusai's paintings. But this is just like the hunter who chases two rabbits and catches none. Such a person neither climbs the mountain nor paints. Those who say Fuji is the same whether we look at it lying down or standing up, those who make use of discriminating knowledge, cannot grasp the truth of this mountain.

Without the whole, the parts are lost, and without the parts, there is no whole. Both lie within the same plane. The moment he distinguishes between the trees and rocks that form a part of the mountain and the mountain as a whole, man falls into a confusion from which he cannot easily escape. A problem exists from the moment man draws a distinction between partial, focused research and total, all-encompassing conclusions.

To know the real Fuji, one must look at the self in relation to Fuji rather than at the mountain itself. One must look at oneself and Fuji prior to the self-other dichotomy. When one's eyes are opened by forgetting the self and becoming one with Fuji, then one will know the true form of the mountain.
Though I am helped along by so many others through a variety of meaningful elements,
it is in this manner Masanobu has shared with us that I now attempt to know the true horse.

Altamiro posing left, and right and looking pretty majestic and quietly confident...can he really only be three years old? He has such a sense of wisdom that projects from him!


Kris McCormack said...

I love the photo of Interessado and Shelagh -- what intense focus!

And Mistral looks more majestic every time we see him. He has just bloomed since the move to Ravenseyrie.

Thanks for these additional glimpses into your beautiful world.

Lynne Gerard said...

Kris wrote: "Mistral looks more majestic every time we see him. He has just bloomed since the move to Ravenseyrie."

I agree, Kris. I think this is the life Mistral always felt should be his. When I think back on some of the situations we found ourselves in, in our early years together, I can see that he was incredibly stressed by the life of a cloistered show horse. So many of his behavioral issues have vanished since having he has been given full autonomy within a semi-wild setting populated with lots of other herd members to interact with.

During my show days, I recall there were a number of horses that seemed to enjoy being pampered in a stall and hauled from venue to venue to strut their stuff in front of judges. This was never the case for Mistral--every element within that type of life brought out mental and physical resistences--and yet, not knowing any better then, I kept on with it for a good four or five years. And we won many first places and high point championships in our little region of the world--but it never felt right to me, because of the struggle, because I knew Mistral wasn't happy, even though he was otherwise extremely well cared for by show standards.

So, I am feeling tremendous pleasure to see him obviously blooming now that he is retired and out to pasture. He's probably more fit than he ever was when he was in routine training, and I'm hoping whatever physiological damage forcing an unnatural life on him in the early years created is day by day, year by year melting away here at Ravenseyrie. May he continue to thrive and live long!