Horses & Roots

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Horses & Roots

Horses and roots go hand in hand. Or, rather, hoof and root. Improbable. We will examine this thought. I speak of the true movement and be-ing of horses. They root. They root to the earth and to the landscape. They root to the air. I recall a line attributed to an ancient Arabian proverb as “horses are drinkers of the wind.” Horses root to their spirit. They root to each other. They can root into us and we into them if we can find this. Or allow this.

It is clear at first observation how horses root to the earth. Their hooves dig in and push off from it. This goes farther, though. Beyond what we see, as the hoof rests on or digs into the earth physically, it also taps into the flow of energy in the earth, combines it with the energy of the horse and we see movement or intention of movement. The energy in the horse at this moment is important. As it combines with that of the earth, a certain type of movement results. For example, if the horse is moving lazily with no real intention, the two energies will produce a stale, unengaged movement. Think of a horse that saunters across a pasture on a hot day. Its hooves barely reach above the level of the earth and may drag over the ground with each step. Then, there is the horse who spots a new horse that has arrived in its pasture. This horse grows upwards, even when standing still, as its energy becomes alive and directed (intentional) towards the unfamiliar horse. Already, before it has moved its energy is alive and sharp. The horse will stand squarely, each hoof pressing into the earth, and the energies blend together. Here, we have potential. It can be startling to stand next to this horse, as the wash of energy is overwhelming to the point of bringing fear up in ourselves. Or the energy will bring our life up too, and we will feel our own energy increasing, yet a curious grounding to it, from the energy of the the earth as it combines with that of the horse and our own.

Here is Evaristo performing a piaffe, a movement of great energy which is a trot in place. The three hooves on the earth use and combine with its energy to help to create the movement together with Evaristo’s energy. Notice how solid and connected the hooves on the ground are. In the saddle, Clay Wright. His energy, too, is combined with Evaristo’s and that of the earth. Photo courtesy of Sarah Orschel.

I invite you to consider rooting as we begin our journey into ways of the horse. This is vital.

To root is to burrow into another substance, or idea, or realm. Horses root into the landscape. As I have mentioned in previous articles, the landscape can be all of the ‘scapes: land, air, water, sky. Horses are inseparable from the ‘scapes. As humans, who tend to lose this connection, we need to remember our own primal need to root into the landscape. Here, we find home, as in the sense of a haven for our spirits and emotions. The rooting is a tether to this, yet a tether that is flexible and dynamic. However, when this tether is severed, both the horse and our self can become disoriented and lost, even as we move through life. The loss of a horse’s tether may or may not be easily recognized. Only by working with them, spending time with and observing them, and being able to recognize its presence or absence in ourselves can we know.

Horses and Roots, a visual. I love this work of art. It is titled “A Natural Dancer” and is created by Julie K. Miller. Instead of using words, I will let the picture tell you its story. Julie’s art can be seen here. Her work is beautiful and intuitive. Artwork courtesy of Julie Miller.

At this moment, test your tether. Is it present, unbroken?

If your tether is broken, what can you do to reestablish it?

I suggest awareness, focus and exploration.

Where am I?

How did I get here from there?

How do I get there from here?

Brene’ Brown
From her new book “Atlas of the Heart”. You can read more about it, and Brene’ Brown, here . Brene’ is one of my personal heroines and I highly recommend any her books, talks and articles. If you are searching for a way to truly live a wholehearted and authentic life, she has the roadmap.

This brings us to one unequivocal truth: in order to be able to see, as see inside, a horse and come to know who its true nature is, we first need to be able to see ourselves in the same manner. There is no getting around this. If you are not willing to know who you are with honesty and awareness, you will NEVER come to see who a horse is. Or any other animal or person. I think sometimes we put aside accountability and responsibility in addressing our selves in our hurry to “diagnose” and “fix” issues in other beings.

Evaristo and myself, out moving cattle around. Evaristo is once again rooting into the energy of the earth as he moves with purpose towards the cattle. Especially his hind legs. Look at the cow in the foreground. She is using the same energy of the earth with her own cloven hooves to move away from Evaristo. Evaristo’s intention is mostly focused on moving the cattle. Yet, you can see he and I are still connected by the conversation through the reins between his mouth and my hands, arms and body. An interesting note: three of his hooves are grounded in the earth just as the photo above of him in piaffe. The only difference is the left leg is in the air as opposed to the right leg above. Also in this photo, Evaristo’s energy is focused forward. In the above piaffe, it is focused upwards with a sense of forward. Photo courtesy of Christy Chambers.

We have to be radical. I am surprised to learn the word “radical” originates from the Latin word “radix”, meaning root. To quote from the Online Etymology Dictionary, radical is: “the basic sense of the word in all meanings is “pertaining or relating to a root or roots,” hence “thoroughgoing, extreme.” We can be radical in the sense that we explore our roots, our origins. This IS radical. Especially in this time of outward focus, to focus inwards, then down, is extreme.

Well, I have dipped into areas that are nebulous and difficult to articulate. But to come to know horses, these things must be at least considered. Life is not linear, nor is the understanding of horses. You have to open your mind and be willing to stretch it out, up, down and all around in a yoga of the spirit that encompasses all of the potential understandings the universe may present.

Even if you have never been close to a horse or ever will, an appreciation of rootedness will help you to see and understand them better.

In short, just root. As horses do. Then, perhaps, this idea will help you to gain an understanding of future discussions of the horse in this space.

This tree. It has a presence in few trees I have encountered. It is a conduit between the sky and earth. Can you feel it, even through the photo?

  1. As you know, I love this concept of being rooted. If we truly connect with Horses we become part of the earth and sky and air which is essential to all living things. Being part of a horse and they part of us allows us to feel the energy of all universal laws that control everything. It’s elemental and gets right to the core of doing things right and doing things well to attain understanding and balance in all aspects of life. Horses can teach us pretty much everything if we listen and do and listen and do some more. The secret is to know what to do and when to not do and just listen. Being grounded and rooting your own being into the earth but bringing your energy upward is why we pray on bended knee but look upward. Be a tree…… hold fast but bend with the wind, have a solid trunk and light branches.

    1. Well said, Julie. All you have mentioned is the root (no pun intended!) of why I wrote this post. We need to find this before anything else in our life. I love the image of being like a tree in the wind. “Solid trunk and light branches.” Yes! Thank you for commenting!

  2. Dear Jenny,
    I love your post about hooves and rooting…it reminds me of my own yoga. In my approach, we always find our roots (what touches the ground/floor; feet or hands fo ex.) and work with the gravity so we can elongate the spine. There is no elongation without gravity. Rooting comes first on other words. I am going to look at horses in a different way from now on! Happy holiday to you xx

    1. Dear Isabelle,
      It is wonderful to read your words:) This is profound: “there is no elongation without gravity.” Wow. I had never thought of yoga in this manner, or how gravity itself effects work with horses. It makes perfect sense, because the horse HAS to become long before its body can engage and move into the highly collected movements, such as the piaffe Evaristo is performing in this post. Thank you, thank you, Isabelle! I will approach my own yoga and working with horses with a new and exciting sense of dimension to include.

      Happy Holidays to you also!

      1. How wonderful we can connect two different things!!! It’s all about gravity and energy!!! I wish one day i could see a horse closely with my own eyes!

        If you’d like to know more you can read Awakening the spine by Vanda Scaravelli. It’s a book about these principles and yoga!

        Take care dear Jenny! Xx

        1. Isabelle, I actually have that book! It’s in the To-Be-Read pile. I will put it right on top. It is great to share a connection with yoga and horses. I believe they are quite similar, and I look forward to more sharing about them. I’ve always thought working with horses was about energy and the quality of the movement itself. Since you have mentioned gravity, I can see that movement arises from gravity, which seems counterintuitive, but the movement itself needs a solid foundation to arise from, thus gravity. No foundation, no movement.

          Take care of your self, too, my friend❤️

          1. Yay! You moved it to the top of the pile! Please let me know what you think when you’ll read it!
            Yes, foundation. Makes me think of a home… makes me think of our souls… the foundation is the base we build on and rise! So nice to chat with you Jenny! Talk soon, ❤️

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