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Over and around

Today I went riding with the horses. Once again I let Velmu go free and mounted Raiku. At first our advance was pretty slow, as the horses just wanted to stop to eat. There isn't that much snow yet, so digging with their noses and front hooves they can find dry hay, heather and blueberry shrubs. Every time I asked Raiku to stop eating and to walk on, she took two steps and paused again. For a moment I thought what to do about it - should I just keep her going, applying some pressure before she stops? If I allow her to stop every time she feels like that, how is she supposed to learn to really work with me? But, based on my previous experiences, I felt that I could easily just end up in unnecessary struggle with my horse, building up feelings of frustration. So I relaxed and accepted that this is where we are now - I'd better just take my time and enjoy every moment of riding. We took a smallish forest trail, until Raiku stopped and refused to go on. I allowed her to think about it, we made couple of small circles and paused again. There we stood for a short while. Then it was as if Raiku made up her mind and decided that this is actually fun - on we went with a flowing joy. Later on we went exploring an another trail, finding our way over and around fallen trees. When there was not a clear path to follow Raiku was very sensitive to my cues - just a little gesture with the reins and she softly responded by turning the direction indicated. All the time Velmu was following us freely, sometimes behind us, sometimes ahead.

All of this made me think about my slow process of learning to ride. It must be already about ten years ago when I started. At first I felt that I can't understand what is going on inside the mind of the horse - and that I'm just there to control his movements. From that point of view it is not even necessary to understand that much. If the horse is seen as an unpredictable yet powerful animal, then all there is to do is to harness that power. And if the horse refuses to be controlled, it is either lack of human leadership or lack of equipment. Like, if the horse doesn't move forward, try applying a whip or spurs. If one piece of equipment doesn't do the trick, then try something different... Oh well. But the more I have learned to understand my horses, the less there seems to be need of strict control. The more we build mutual trust, the more we can go on doing things together. Instead of controlling the movements of my horse I let her move and offer her cues and directions. Imagine this as meeting a friend in a city you know and he doesn't. You could grab his shoulders and force him to go where you want - or you could just greet him and ask him to go with you. In both cases you might end up where you wanted to go, but there sure is difference to how it feels.

To me it seems that very often our need to control is based on fear. Horses indeed are big and powerful animals, and it is not always easy to understand why they do things they do. So, at first I was afraid that if I let Velmu go loose, he won't pay any attention to me but would just run away and cause trouble. I was afraid that if I let Raiku to stop when she feels like that she will grow disobedient and disrespectful. And I was equally afraid that if I ask Raiku to do work for me she will protest and feel annoyed. But, slowly I've been finding my way over and around these fears, year by year learning to relax more deeply. Similarly, when I started to experiment with letting Velmu go free, he might indeed decide to go home when we were halfway the route I had planned. But after several times he learned that if he goes away we won't follow - so eventually he decided that it is more comfortable to stay with us.

Well, seriously speaking, an uncontrolled horse can be really dangerous. A horse is quick and strong enough to kill a human. If the horse is aggressive, to some extent we can control his behavior and keep things safe. But this only goes as far as our means of controlling are strong enough - one unlucky situation of losing the control and the horse might have his say. So, I guess that control alone is not the best possible solution. Instead of just controlling aggressive behavior it would be more safe to deal with the aggression itself. And that is where understanding comes to play. The less we understand the mind of the horse, the more we see the horse as unpredictable and potentionally dangerous. But the more we learn to understand, and the deeper connection we find with the horse, the more soft things become.

I think our realation to the horses bears many similarities to our relation with our own emotinal and instinctual side. At least in the Christian tradition we are taught that it is dangerous to let our instincts to take control - that the animal inside us is brute, selfish, sinfull and potentionally violent. So therefore we need to control our behavior, as that is what makes us human. Well, but I think that the animal inside us becomes dangerous only when injured, physically or emotionally. And if we lack understanding and empathy, we are wery likely to cause emotional damage to ourselves and to others. To me it seems that different kinds of traumas get passed on from a generation to another, building up this feeling that deep inside our soul there is just a vast dangerous realm of beasts, and that is is better not to go there. Which, in turn, contributes to the (post)modern sense of alienation and meaninglessness of life.

But the good thing is that traumas can be healed and fears can be overcome. And the more the fears fade away and the stronger the empathy gets, the less there is aggression and brutality. And the less there are dark and destructive emotions inside us, the less there is need to control everything. And as a bonus we feel more deeply connected with ourselves.

In this process of healing my inner traumas this Sunday evening I prepared myself a tasty meal.

riding in the woods
riding in the woods
Lamb rib chops with a pint of beer
Lamb rib chops with a pint of beer
416 users have voted.


I enjoy reading your blogs.(right they are blogs?) I also enjoy seeing other peoples views on life, on the contrast always staying around the same views, such as my friends, can keep your views closed on other 'ways of life' I guess you would put it, other than that, and again I find your blogs very interesting to read

Mewseph :3

The funny thing is that today in the morning, as I was tidying the horses' outdoor stable, I was thinking to myself: "This evening I'd like to write a blog entry about clarifying concepts, and about plurality of viewpoints - I don't know if these will fit in one entry, or should I write a series of related posts. Also, this might somewhat expand the concept of my blog, in addition to diary-like entries having also more essay-like posts." Well, then I came indoors, opened up the computer and read your comment.

So, yeah - I'm not even myself sure if my writings can be called blogs. I guess it is a matter of how one defines the concept 'blog' =) And, anyhow, I don't care if my writings fit into any strict format - the main thing is the communication between the reader and my writings. So, I'm glad to have this feedback, thanks!

Also, I like your attitude. As I'm not here to preach about my way of life. I don't write about my views to make the others adopt my views. I write to communicate. Trying to describe the way I experience opens up the possibility for others to get a glimpse of my "inner world". Similarly, I find it interesting to listen to the others - just for the same reason; it is mentally enrichening to communicate with different ways of thinking. (And I do believe that while there are many different ways of thinking - all legitimate in their own way - there're still some things that make us all the same. You, me, them, everybody, everybody.)

Löysin sattumalta blogisi, pidän siitä kovasti. Meissä on paljon samaa, ehkä siksi tämä koskettaa minua jopa niin, että tulin aika vereslihalle. Liityn lukijoihin. Voi hyvin!

Oi, tämäpä mieluisa yllätys. Ja, kiitos samoin !


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