That Certain Something About a Horse

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“There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man. [Or a woman].” ~Winston Churchill

“Would you be able to take Sophia to the stable now?”

I consider how to respond to my daughter’s text. It’s 3:00 on Monday, the day I write my blog posts for Tuesday publication, and I haven’t started one for tomorrow yet. Driving Sophia to the stable usually takes at least three hours out of my day, and with the traffic picking up again, it could take four.

“Do it,” Fred says. “You know how much you love it. Don’t worry about dinner. I’ll fix it.”

On the way to her house I try to come up with a topic for this blog. Then it hits me. Maybe I can interview Sophia on the way to the stable and write tomorrow’s post about it.

She immediately agrees. She hits the “voice memo” app on my cell phone and we talk all the way to the stable. Some snippets from our conversation:

Me: “So what is it about being with Harvey that you enjoy so much?”

“Well, usually I’m very much in my head cycling through all the things I have to do. I’m having a conversation with someone in the back of my head thinking, ‘I have a test tomorrow. I need to study.’  But when I’m at the barn I’m grooming my horse, or riding my horse, or playing with him, or sitting on the ground in his paddock looking at him, and all those thoughts go away.”

“It takes you out of your head. It’s a way to escape the stresses of your everyday life. You’re just present in the moment. You’re emotionally involved in your relationship with him too, aren’t you?”

“Yes. Of course. He’s like my everything!  He will never do anything wrong to the point where I’ll be mad at him, because he’s an animal, a horse. I’ll be in the barn and he’s trying to kick me and I’m like, ‘Dude. What are you doing?’ I’m pissed in the moment, but I’m like, ‘He’s not a human. It’s not malicious. Let me appreciate the time I have here and let him be what he is.'”

“Instinct, right?”

“Yes.”

“I’ve never understood why I was horse crazy as a girl, but as I reflect on my life, I realize my mother worked all the time and I missed her. I consider what mothers do. They pick up their child. They carry them around. This big, warm, physical…”

“Comforting.”

“Yes. And, they’re so powerful, and yet you have control over them. Is there anything like that for you?”

“Yeah. I was never horse crazy like that. But once my second grade teacher asked us to write about, ‘What I want to do when I grow up.” I couldn’t think of anything, but my default option in the back of my mind was, ‘Oh, I’ll be a horse rider’ without it being all that important to me. Now I’m at the barn five or six days a week and it’s such a big part of my life that I never expected. I’m always thinking about my horse, watching videos of my horse.”

“So, it wasn’t a conscious decision. You were following your instincts. Do you think it makes you feel confident and powerful to ride your horse?”

“I would say yes. I mean he almost bucked me off and I didn’t fall off, and I felt proud of that. But I would say it’s more like an emotional connection. A horse could literally not give a shit about us but we give horses a personality and imagine that they totally love us and are so excited to see us. We’re building them a whole life that they don’t know about!”

“(Laughing). It’s called projection!  We project all these feelings and emotions onto them, but really it’s us that needs to believe that’s what they are.”

“Yes! They could be rolling their eyes when I get there, thinking, ‘Why does she want to ride me right now?’  And I’m like, ‘Oh, you’re so excited to see me! You love me! You can’t wait to ride,’ and they’re like, ‘Please, could you just bring me some hay?'”

“(Laughing). Yeah, you need a focus for your projections. You need something to love, to believe loves you. I was like that. I had a very real imaginary life where I would have a horse living in the backyard and he would always love me.”

“When I was looking for a horse to buy I’d be falling asleep and think, ‘I want to dream about a horse.’  I would imagine owning a horse and all the things I’m going to teach it to do…and then I got Harvey and I did those things.”

“Can you think of anything about horses that has helped you, strengthened you in any way? Or is it just emotionally comforting?”

“Well, it’s a lot about the emotional things, but it’s also physical. I’m stronger and much more observant at the barn now, more aware of my surroundings, even though I’m not that way at home. It’s also taught me responsibility. It’s made me grow up in a sense. I need to be out there because he has a schedule, and I need to ride him or at least get him ridden. It’s like, ‘This is yours now, and it’s your responsibility.’ I take care of almost everything. I schedule the farrier, I schedule the vet, I tell my Mom that this bill needs to be paid. I bought him with my money. Now I need to be responsible for my choice.”

Me, awed: “That. Is. Fabulous! It’s a huge, huge factor in maturing. I love that.”

“Yes, and now I want to do something with horses for as long as I can. It’s a necessity. If I stop coming here, [we’re at the stable now] then I’m missing something important out of my life.”

“I’m so glad you’ve found something that does that for you.”

What is that ‘something’ about a horse? Entering the present moment. Becoming aware of your body, emotions, and projections. Integrating the instinctual and imaginary aspects of your life. Accepting personal responsibility. I’d say that’s something for a fifteen-year old girl to be learning.

Thank you for helping me write this post, Sophia.

“According to Jung, the animal is sublime and, in fact, represents the ‘divine’ side of the human psyche.  He believed that animals live much more in contact with a ‘secret’ order in nature itself and–far more than human beings–live in close contact with ‘absolute knowledge’ of the unconscious.” ~Barbara Hannah

Jean Raffa’s The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon. E-book versions are also at KoboBarnes And Noble and Smashwords. Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications.com. Her new book, The Soul’s Twins, is available at Schiffer, Red Feather Mind, Body, Spirit and wherever books are sold. Subscribe to her newsletter at www.jeanbenedictraffa.com.

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Comments

25 Responses

  1. Dear Jeanie,

    What a delightful post and wonderful conversation you share with your already wise and beautiful grand-daughter, Sophia … loved all the photos too! Although I‘ve only ridden a few horses in my life, mainly in childhood, I do love them and acknowledge them as truly magnificent beings! The joy and pleasure all animals, especially pets, bring into people lives is immeasurable … perhaps, even life-saving for some! How true it was when Sophia said that Harvey took her out of her head and into her body … and how his schedule helps her become responsible in life. Spot on!

    Dogs, are the animals I know better, as I grew up with many around the farm. We kept sheep dogs mainly, border collies, and there were many a puppy scampering around. Later, aged eighteen, I met my husband and for thirteen years we enjoyed the company of Sheba, a beautiful short-haired German pointer but alas, following her sudden death I felt it impossible to get another dog … such was my deep grief, yet after reading your post today with my heart turning back to her, I wonder if, when the time is right, I could welcome another animal friend back into my heart and home.

    Love and light, Deborah.

    1. Thank you, Deborah,

      I’ve been blessed with five amazing grandchildren. They’re all unique, and each one is an absolute delight to be with and talk to.

      Dogs are also very special to me. There truly is something about animals that touches your heart and soul so deeply in a very special way. If Jung is right and animals do represent the divine side of the psyche, then that something special must be love. Isn’t that what the ‘divine’ is? Love? And with animals you somehow feel that two-way flow.

      Sophia said she was joking around a little about how her horse could care less and just want hay, but she also said she knows that animals do truly care for us. She’s read many stories about how animals have shown their love to humans and she feels it herself, even though she realizes at the same time that there’s always some projection going on with us!

      I had to put down my horse Shadow after he had a deadly colic and a surgery that didn’t work. I’ve never felt a quality of grief like that. I also had to put down our 20 year-old cat, Miss Lottie, whom I kept alive with daily injections of saline solution for two years. Then I had to put down Bear, my son’s golden retriever who spent summers with me in North Carolina. Since then, I’ve never been able to face getting another animal. I love having Izzie, my son’s second golden retriever, with me in the summers too, but I just can’t face one of my own yet.

      Still…..sometimes it’s a temptation!! 🙂

      Spring blessings,

      Jeanie

      1. Oh, I feel very sad Jeanie to learn that Shadow, in particular, is no longer with us in his truly magnificent form! I always enjoyed reading your stories, posts and dreams about him. They helped me greatly over the years to begin to understand how importance it was for me to develop my sensate function … being the strong, intuitive, feeling type of person that I am. Heartfelt blessings, Deborah.

  2. Love your post and reading about something special you and Sophia share together. As a women who still has her horse after almost seventeen years knows about that special bond a horse and his owner have. Yes, grooming, riding, or just spending time with my horse Storm has a very special effect on me. I often spend quality time with him while meditating which brings a relaxation only a dedicated horse owner can understand. So Sophia and Jean, thank you for your post and wonderful insight; and continue to share your special time together with Harvey.

    1. Dear Fern, Seventeen years! Has it really been that long? That in itself is very special. It must feel wonderful to know you have given Storm a beautiful, safe, and loving environment all that time. Thank you for writing, sister horsewoman.

  3. We can learn so much from horses and so much from grandmothers too! Thank you for your wisdom and for sharing that and your time so generously with your family! I love you!

    1. Good morning, darling. And thank you for providing me with two granddaughters who bring me so much joy. Just like their mother did and still does. I love you too! Mom

  4. That’s a wonderful talk, I love horses, though as a child, I had a lot of dogs and cats 😅 I think that horse has a noble soul with the agreement that Dr Jung is absolutely right.
    PS: I am still at the beginning of the Souls Twins but already speechless! It’s a great read my dear Jean, highly recommendable. And by the way, I am 11 to 9 😉🙏❤❤

    1. I think Jung is right too, Aladin. And thank you for reading and enjoying The Soul’s Twins. I’m so glad you like it. I’ll be interested in knowing what you think about your score on the PP! Especially compared to your Life Satisfaction Score. The two go together. 🙂 Happy spring! Jeanie

  5. I read your post earlier this morning Jeanie and now many hours later I’m rereading it and enjoying it even more. I’ve been photographing the glorious full moon in all her shades and shape shiftings and thinking now of Sophia and her growing into her maturity. While my husband and son Mike have been away for several days cycling in the Karoo, I’ve been looking after Mike’s precious cat Angie who has been so sweet and loving to me and laying on my shoulder when I’ve been watching TV or reading. I’m convinced that this close contact has helped hugely in healing my tight shoulder which I’ve had for far tooo long. It feels so much better!

    We’ve always had cats and dogs as pets in the past and we now plan to get our own rescue dog. There’s something so unconditional about the love we give to them and they to us.

    Thank you for this lovely post Jeanie and for the gorgeous photos ❤️ Love, Susan

    1. Dear Susan, I do believe that prolonged loving touch is physically healing as well as emotionally. I’ve experienced the effects of this myself. I think it must happen through that quantum field I’ve written about before. When love meets love, there’s no stopping its power.

      How wonderful to get a rescue dog! My brother and his wife have always had 2 or 3 rescue dogs at a time for several years. I think traumatized animals must be especially grateful to feel safe and secure at last in loving homes. I wish you the best of luck with yours. Do let us know via your blog when that happens. I know all your readers would love to know about that!

      Love, Jeanie

  6. Thank you, Deborah. He was truly magnificent to me. We totally bonded and he taught me so much. Heartfelt blessings to you too. Jeanie

  7. I so enjoyed reading about this relationship between you, your daughter and her horse. There is something very spiritual about horses, I feel it in a way that is different to many other animals. Thank you for sharing the dialogue, really lovely.

    1. You’re welcome. I feel that special spirituality about horses too. Carl Jung believed that horses represent a woman’s masculine side, an ideal she carries around unconsciously of the unknown “other” spiritual half of her soul.

      I don’t personally think you need to attribute a gender to the horse symbol like he did. I just think it might just be the spiritual other part of your psyche that you’re not conscious of. Either way, horses have historically felt uncannily special and deeply appealing and vaguely familiar to humans. There really is something about horses that’s good for us.

      Thank you for writing. Jeanie

  8. I appreciate your comments thank you. I had a dream years ago that I was riding a white horse across the sky and felt incredibly relieved to be reunited with it again, in fact, White horses seem to come up quite often.

    1. I dream of horses often too. There’s no universal meaning to white horses although they are often associated with power. Historically, they have meant many different things to many different cultures and they show up in sayings and idioms that have metaphorical meaning: i.e. horse power, hold your horses, on your high horse, don’t be a horse’s ass, a horse of a different color, wild horses couldn’t drag me away, don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, Trojan horse, horse sense, horse play, dark horse, one horse town, etc.

      I don’t take symbolic images literally, but when powerful images show up in my dreams I think of what might be going on in my inner, psychological life, what qualities I personally associate with the images, and how their appearance might relate to what’s happening in my waking life. It’s like looking for tiny clues to solve a big mystery. Sometimes I get what they’re saying, and other times I have no idea.

      Your dream sounds very numinous. It must have felt amazing to be riding across the sky like that with such a special feeling of reunion. As if you’d come back home to something pure and spiritual and essential to your soul!! Such a lovely dream. Thank you for sharing it. Jeanie

  9. So much fun–and it makes me think about my relationship to dogs, but the most beautiful part is your relationship with your granddaughter. What a gift! I’m a fan of positive training with my dogs, so that means my emotional reaction has to be under control when a puppy chews on a pillow or an older dog digs a hole in the yard. They trust me because I don’t lose it with them. I try to direct their vitality and instincts without crushing their spirit. And I thrive on their joy. Fortunately the dog equivalent of hay (peanut butter dog cookies) works well in training for my two girls. I’m not sure what I’d do if I had a dog who wasn’t a food hound.

    I had a horse as a kid, but no one trained me properly so the horse was in control, not 10 year old Elaine. It was a scary situation and my parents were foolish to allow me to ride unsupervised. After a few harrowing mishaps, I returned to my allegiance for the family dog Amigo and didn’t return to horses. I’m so glad you share this passion with your granddaughter. There’s something primal about an embodied girl and her horse.

  10. That’s so cool that you consciously make a point to be so mindful in your training of your dogs. When I was teaching fourth grade at a new experimental school we were taught how to use positive reinforcement in our classroom to maintain a calm and positive atmosphere. We had wonderful results. But everything depended on the teachers’s emotional maturity. The kids were as instinctual as animals, and if they sensed negativity or insincerity in you they could make your life hell! Peanut butter dog cookies! I’ll have to try those on Izzie this summer!

    There is something primal about an embodied girl and her horse. I’m so glad Sophia is having that experience. Our shared passion for horses is deeply satisfying.

    1. I repeated some of these stories in responding to the next blog, but there it is. Organic peanut butter crunchy dog treats in the shape of a heart. My grocery store carries them. My dogs love them. They’re suckers for treats.

      1. So is Izzie. I’ll look for them so they’ll be available when she comes to the mountains with me. Thank you! By the way, I dreamed about you and Vic last night. I can’t remember what it was about but the feeling was very warm and positive!!!

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