(© Kip Mistral 2018. “Water Sprite” by Theodor Kittelsen)
Almost all of us riders met the horse first in our childhood imaginations. We took our seats on the gleaming black stallions, or the feisty red mares, or even the luminous winged white horse, and they carried us to…wherever we wanted to go. And we flew together with them in a gallop so fast that we conquered space and time.
Some of us children were so lucky to find our way to the horse in the real flesh. We learned to love that wonderful smell of their coats and their sweet hay-scented breath. We groomed them until they shone. We sat on their patient backs for hours while we talked to our friends in the barn aisle. We rode freely out in the country, perhaps, with no rules except to be home by dark. We were unconscious of anything except the moment, the freedom and its joy. We—and I am one of these fortunate ones—know now how extremely lucky we were to have this gift of innocent time with the horse. We could be Wild Things together.
(© 2018 Kip Mistral. Illustration “Holiday Time” by Heywood Hardy [1842-1933])
I dreamed this morning, literally, that I am wandering through a busy outdoor market. It is an old country market with much tradition, animals and all kinds of rustic things for sale by generations of people who know each other. They are friendly and chatty, and I find myself talking to many women who have spent a lifetime with horses. They all have different stories about their experience and I am struck with the richness of their memories. Naturally, being a journalist I start thinking what a fabulous article it would make to bring these conversations together in one place, woven together in a sort of tapestry.
(© Kim Walnes 2018. Photograph by Bo Reich.)
To me instructing is a sacred trust. I feel it is my responsibility to create a safe space where neither human nor horse are judged. It is my job to understand where there may be mental, emotional, or physical blocks in both…to bring these to the awareness of the person while addressing these blocks with kindness, competence, and a feel for what each person/horse can handle in the moment. I always make it clear that I well know that everyone, both horse and human, are doing their very best in any moment.
(© Kip Mistral 2018)
The labyrinth is a archetypal symbol that has appeared in pan-global culture, art and literature for thousands of years. A formal labyrinth created for meditation appears to meander in circles, but in reality is a purposeful path that focuses our attention in a powerful way on a personal pilgrimage experience. The word labyrinth can also describe a place, as in a garden maze, full of intricate paths and blind alleys, or as in the myth of the Minotaur, who is found in a labyrinth of tunnels and chambers on the island of Crete in Greece. Finally, it can be used to describe something extremely complex, intricate, confusing, and even tortuous. And why would I use that word in the title of a blog post that also includes the word “riding” and the name of my beloved Valentín (Val for short)?
(© Kip Mistral 2018. Horsewoman Petting Dog by Alfred de Dreux.)
Recently I was asked by the lovely folks at www.horsesandfoals.com to contribute to their “expert roundup” to answer the following two questions:
1. How do you bond with your horse so that you can get him/her to trust you? and 2. What is your best tip for bonding with a new horse?