|Eyes of Wisdom, Purebred Sorraia stallion, Altamiro|
In the eyes of the Sorraia stallion, Altamiro (likewise in those of his mares and offspring), there emanates an earthy, encyclopedic wisdom that was either missing, or incompletely expressed among the domestic breeds of horses I have known. It is not a sagaciousness my human interactions with them have instilled - it has nothing to do with "training" or "conditioning", rather, it appears to be the natural state of beingness for all entities that live fully integrated with the wild, windswept environment. What I experience with these horses is that their beingness is a radiating self-awareness which perceives and interacts effortlessly with the pulsating entelechy of all that surrounds them.
|Altamrio and his son, Interessado (out of Ciente, a Kiger Mustang mare of Sorraia type)|
Appraising this phenomenon from a broader focus I've noted that while the unbounded luminous liquidity of the eyes seems to provide the most direct display of this expansive intelligence, the same perspicaciousness exudes from the ridges of Altamiro's nostrils, the curve of his neck, the placement of his limbs, the intake and exhaling of his breath, the rotation of his ears...all have significant meaning.
Ethological studies of equines define these aspects in ways that reduce them to behavioural and instinctual commodities - "fixed action patterns" which can be useful for us to gain familiarity with as we pursue particular activities with horses, but which have far too often the effect of stereotyping, pigeon-holing and distancing especially when they serve as a basis for training systems that exploit and subject these noble entities, further limiting our perception of what horses truly are.
|The self-aware eyes of Bella|
|Sedutor (Altamiro x Zorita)|
|Altamiro and the amazing ever-shifting hue of the colour grullo|
|Capaz (Interessado x Pinoteia)|
...And what are horses, truly?
|Altamiro, demonstrating the "driving gesture"|
You will find no dearth of answers to the question (of what horses are) from published sources and from the abundance of strongly-opinionated "horse people". For most of my life I only "knew" horses in relation to what these sources and people defined them to be and I interacted with them accordingly, accumulating some wonderful memories as well as some regrettable ones - with not a one arising from a fully aware, self-actualized state of beingness in myself or the horses. Thus there was no lasting bliss, no enduring satisfaction... This journal entry is not about those times, however, and such recapitulations are best left behind.
|Sandhill Cranes on their way to their nest in the Ravenseyrie marshland|
|A Raven flying over Ravenseyrie|
|Windswept mane of a young Sorraia|
|Altamiro and the sunlit grasses, sharing the glowing colours of late summer|
Since taking up residence here at Ravenseyrie, more and more my humanness is vibrating on a frequency where winged shapes passing in front of clouds, equine manes rippling in quickened breezes and sunlit whisperings of dried grasses have more meaningful information to impart to me than does the voice of CBC radio or the content of the latest article on horsey matters.
|Whitetail deer grazing nearby the "wild" horses of Ravenseyrie|
So much have the horses drawn me into their multi-dimensional culture and wilderness landscape that I no longer depend upon books or videos to tell me more about what horses truly are, and for the most part I have been able to shake off the many pre-conceived ideas such books instilled in me. I learn about horses, now, from the paths they have made through the forest, the bite marks they leave on the trees, the direction they take at midday when crossing the grasslands and from the way the birds and deer and other creatures react to their presence in different sectors of the preserve.
|One of the many paths our "wild" horses have made in the Ravenseyrie forest|
|Dancing Sandhill Cranes in the grassland at Ravenseyrie|
|A "murmuration" of Starlings swoop low over the "wild" horses of Ravenseyrie|
|Esperanda (Altamiro x Ciente)|
Not one bit of it is random and while some of it follows a seasonal repetition, there continues to be amazing, novel alterations and adaptations made by the horses which demonstrate to me there is nothing biologically or psychologically static about them. As often as they exhibit those "fixed action patterns" there are innumerable times when they deviate from applied classifications. In addition to observing and participating in the horses' activities (which are not so scientifically boxed after all), I find I am awakened, as never before, to the open spiral of the landscape itself as I view it now, not just through my eyes, but through theirs as well.
|Altamiro, authentically himself in all things|
What I also see in Altamiro's eyes is complete authenticity, and it draws me away from who I imagine myself to be. What I feel, when among the horses and the grasses and the winds, is my original nature is no longer subverted by the confines of cultural shaping, thus quite frequently I cease to make a distinction between my human self and all that is. It is no longer just a woman observing the world around her...it is also the world observing her, appraising her with exquisite clarity, reminding her she belongs to a non-dualistic organic consciousness - a primal state of Universal Awareness from which all arises. Then, what humans have taught me about horses - that they are considered to be a prey animal, that I should be mindful of my body language, that I should never look a stallion in the eye, feed him from my hand or kiss him on his noble muzzle - and all manner of dos and don'ts completely melt away... There, simply (wonderfully), is a resonance of unity and love. Here there is no need to cerebrally contemplate how to respond to each other - the state of unity and love provides, spontaneously, the appropriate body language and right response - unfailingly, whether it be that the horses and I curl into each others bodies with soft murmurings or stamp our feet and shout to define a boundary essential in that moment.
|Gosto (Altamiro x Bella)|
Living like this - even with the sometimes frenetic dynamics, perpetual changes and harshness of weather extremes, there is, for all of us, a lasting bliss, an enduring satisfaction and self-actualization...you can see it in our eyes.
|Fidalgo (Altamiro x Belina) and Capaz (Interessado x Pinoteia)|
|Altamiro, Pinoteia and Capaz|
|Interessado and Altamiro, eye to eye|