I’m afraid of horses. To me, their mere size is surpassed only by their intimidating power and strength. Yet, it was exactly a horse’s power and strength that taught me an important lesson. At a day-long Equine Encounter for those with cancer at Ironstone Farm, I found myself lying back on a beautiful horse named Wilson.
My adventures with Wilson began by meeting him in his home environment, a large area where the horses roam freely. As I was being introduced to Wilson, one of his ‘friends’ actually bit me on the butt! I was assured that he was just playing! Wilson was gentler and allowed me to groom him and then lead him around a large arena. At last the time came for me to get on the horse: I donned a helmet and used a step stool to climb onto Wilson’s bare back. Without the impediment of a saddle, sitting on the horse’s bareback made for a more intimate experience. I could feel each move he made including twitching to discourage flies from landing on him. Balancing on Wilson was tricky – fortunately, horses do not have nerve endings at their manes, so I could hold onto his mane to steady myself. After acclimating to being on Wilson, learning his mannerisms, gaining my balance, and feeling more confident that I wasn’t going to fall off, I was invited to lay back on him. My fear of horses was waning, but I certainly did not expect what I experienced next. As I lay back on Wilson, I soon felt, and more importantly, accepted his strong and steadfast might under me. Fear had turned into trust and support. I experienced a strong feeling of relief, surrender and trust.
As we take our yoga lessons ‘off the mat’, I also took my horse lessons ‘off the horse’. Generally, I’m an independent person and uncomfortable asking for and accepting help. Yet, as Wilson taught me to surrender to his powerful support, I also came to more fully understand the impact of accepting support from others. Accepting support can bring feelings of peace and trust. It is a surrender to the strength of others. We are interdependent beings that rely on each other to survive.
My wish for you is that you’re able to receive support from family and friends whenever you need it. Your acceptance is a gift to them and something that will bring you a sense of relief and trust if you let it. Wilson taught me a lot that day, lessons I hope to always remember.