Today I am sharing the first part of a story with you from a friend and another one of my Insider Circle students, Connie Funk. It is stories such as this that make my work teaching others so rewarding. Connie writes so beautifully and always from the heart and if you like her style, her first book "Beauty from Brokenness" is now available from the Other Products page of the website.
I'll be writing again on Thursday with more information on the free Uberstreichen Exercises class that I'll be running over the Winter. If you haven't registered yet or have sent in an email or you have just written only a very brief comment to last Thursday's post, then remember I need the following from you if you want to take part:
- Your full name (if it is not part of your site login)
- A brief introduction of your experience with horses
- Your interest in my Method - what attracts you to it
- Our history if we have one
- The name of your horse(s) and his (their) personal training background(s)
This must be written into the comments section below, please do not send an email. Thank you.
I look forward to talking with you more on Thursday and until then I'll leave you in Connie's caring hands.
My name is Constance Funk and I believe this is the first chapter in what may become my third book about my journey with horses and life thus far. The Not So Great Escape is a story that truly illustrates what my study of The Waterhole Rituals™ has done for me and for my horses. Today, because I have read and reread Naked Liberty, studied Carolyn's Methods and put them into practice in our daily lives, I am able to translate them to what I love to do with my horses, which is to spend time with them on our acreage at home and ride them on the mountain trails nearby.
It was in the most extreme heat of the summer and the pastures at their driest when I broke my promise to my herd. Perhaps Gaela and Max could overlook this blunder, but not their fearless leader, Chasta. I had specifically told them that in the heat of the day I would come and take them to the woods for some shade to look for the verdant grassy spots that they so loved and deserved during the the greatest summer drought that we had experienced in many years.
Instead, I was back in the shade myself, ironically reseeding an area in pasture grass under huge evergreen trees for them that I had been grooming and had kept watered in preparation for unveiling in the spring. As I cranked the wheel to scatter seed from a manual box held under my my arm, I heard a vehicle pull up our long drive and an urgent honking. My first reaction was that it was our mail delivery woman, but realized that she had come earlier in the day and I had taken an oversized package from her when I was out front tending the gardens.
So I came out through the gate to see my friend Tom who had come to repair the antique barn lamp. He had circled the drive and motioned for me to jump in as he hollered in a serious tone, "Your horses are out on the road!!"
What a difference there was in me in that moment of urgency from my early days with Chasta! When this wondrous mare first came into my life, she bolted on and off our property on a regular basis and escaped routinely. Only the grace of God prevented either of us serious injury, but my adrenaline level, and certainly hers, was frequently off the charts.
Now I responded with a deep grounding breath and a quiet and calm question: "Thank you! Did you notice what direction they were headed?" I asked without a trace of panic. Tom looked at me dumbfounded as he pointed in the direction of the river and I went in to the tack room to retrieve a rope halter. "Don't you need three of those, and to have me drive you?" he asked urgently as I smiled, thanking him, and headed down the drive on foot.
"No, it is the golden one that I need to apologize to. She is the horse who opened that gate when I failed to show up to take them out," I said as I pointed to their opening to freedom and the wild blue yonder. "But what are you planning to do?" he replied, baffled at my casual demeanor. He thought he had spotted an emergency. And he had, in the respect that it required immediate attention, but I felt certain that Chasta had opened the gate in her left brained calm Houdini mode and was likely leading her charges without any unnecessary exertion to find greener pastures since I had failed to show up as promised. Just a happy field trip. So over my shoulder I exclaimed, "I am going to attempt to negotiate with a very smart mare!" He shrugged his shoulders, shook his head and headed toward the ladder and the lamp.
I looked out as she does with the eye of an eagle down to the ridge of trees by the river but my gut told me that they had headed the other direction once on that road. More than any other teacher, Chasta has taught me to respond to those intuitive instincts, so I turned my head in the direction that I felt their presence and way out in the distance they were enjoying the deep green grass on unfenced neighboring acres that was next to their vegetable garden that was watered regularly! Chasta found the best lush green grass available that was closest for her little herd, exactly as a good lead mare would find with the least amount of energy or danger to get there.
Thanking God they were safe, I repeated my prayer of gratitude that I had uttered aloud when I went to get the halter. "Thank you, God, for sending my horses home safely" as if it was the only outcome and the one I firmly planted in my heart and vision. I knew that Chasta could remain calm, but I wasn't as convinced that Gaela or Max would with possible traffic in the form of rumbling farm trucks or tourists driving too fast on the back roads, and if they had headed to the woods without a trail, someone could get hurt trying to stay together and keep up. Rather than attempting to surprise them, as if that were possible with this wise mare, I spoke softly and quietly and very directly, feeling my voice would travel across the vast distance both audibly and from our heartstrings of connection (in Carolyn's enlightened words) from all of the time we have spent practicing her Waterhole Rituals™ particularly Sharing Territory as companions without any agenda.
"You have my sincere apology, Chasta. I lost track of time and did not come to help you find better grass, so I see you have taken up the matter yourself. Well done! I am not coming to catch you. I am coming to spend a moment relaxing with you as you enjoy it and then I would like to take you all home so that you can stay safe. The roads, farm fields and woods are not places I want you to be without me."
She was a great distance away but I was convinced that she had heard every word and felt my intention and I smiled at this wise soul who never took her head off the ground as she chewed, but her eye and ear spoke volumes. Even though the huge space between us remained, I felt as if the volume of our surroundings and all of my senses had been turned up. I sat down, laid the lead rope and halter on the ground and looked out at the incredible view from this vantage point on top of Pleasant Ridge where we are blessed to live. Though I knew our neighbors had this spectacular setting, I was certainly not used to grazing my horses in their front yard pasture, particularly since their grounds are impeccably maintained! I looked up towards their charming wraparound porch and waved back and forth, hoping they may see me to know that I was tending to the business of removing my herd from their property,however casual I may have appeared.
Before long, Max the Shetland pony headed in my direction and I thought about altering my plan. If I took him home, there would be one less horse who could have a problem and maybe Chasta would take mercy on us. Max follows me everywhere and had never resisted any attempt to being haltered, but as I stood up and took a step in his direction, he trotted off with impunity with an expression that seemed to say, "You have got to be kidding me! Can't you see I am at large with my mares?!!" I looked over at Chasta and she watched my every move at cheating and not following through on connecting with her as I had clearly stated. She still had not taken her head off the ground, grazing as she observed my flub. As Chasta moved off further away, I immediately sat down again and dropped the halter, owning up to my mistake. Next was Gaela, who is also very loving and comes to me wherever I am.
This time, no matter how tempted I was to think of having her haltered and on her way home, I just stroked her legs and belly and showed her some really nice clover next to my shoulder as I laid down completely next to her, looking up at her magnificent tri-colored markings, with a wonderful perspective on her huge chocolate colored furry heart over her left flank. She grazed nearby me for several minutes, seeming to approve of my calm demeanor at their grand level of liberty before she calmly walked away.
To be continued......