Lovely gift for my sixth decade birthday, Mom takes the ADVENTURES IN
AWARENESS workshop on relationships. During the first night's gathering for
introductions, logistics discussion, and principles lecture, Mom states she
has heard so many stories of the miraculous interactions between horses and
humans. And she just doesn't get it. She's terrified of horses, especially
Bravely, Mom says she wants to know just what it is between horses and
people. That was the first night. The first day, the wind nearly blew us
out of the arena. We ate our lunch together in the tack room and did the
post lunch interactive circle to square game in the barn isle with Vargas
Earlier that morning Vargas had appeared to make a student/teacher contract
with Mom. He cruised the arena fence line and placed his body between other
horses and Mom. Rama evidenced wanting to engage with both Mom and her
friend, Phyllis. Vargas seemed to have his own agenda. Working with Mom.
Ann and Reed gave the safety lecture and demonstration with the help of AIA
's newest herd member, AMRAINDANCE DREAM. Raine was clearly negotiating
with Angeles for further student/teacher work. Mom was encouraged to chat
with Vargas across the fence - telling him of her fear. Especially her fear
of big horses.
Our workshop theme was emerging as how to surrender to the uncontrollable?
How to admit our powerlessness and learn to work safely in the chaos of
life. The second day dawned with no wind, and the activities of a mock pony
club rally at the barn. The visiting jumper trainer from Peru, Olivier, was
schooling cross country several horses requiring remedial work. Frenetic
activity all around us as we gathered in our circle under the shade of the
mesquite grove by the small fenced dressage arena at AIM HIGH.
I walked Vargas and Rama down from the barn to join CC, Raine, and Maple in
turnout. Suddenly Vargas veered off the path, pausing in his halting three
legged gait to place his head directly on Mom's chest. She had been
watching our approach down the tree lined path while organizing her jacket
on the back of her chair.
A delighted smile suffuses her face, "Oh Vargas you startled me!
I remember the day you first arrived here in our lives. Kelly followed the
green yarn to your stall for her 15th Birthday." Mom is stroking his huge
Roman face. He's giving her contented nuzzle nostril blows. "How old is
Kelly in a few days? (April 10th)" , Mom asks me.
"Kels is turning 34 yrs." I respond. "The Big V's been with us 19 years.
He was just coming three back then."
Eventually, I say, "OK, well more later",. I continue en route to turn
the two soul mate partners, RAMA and Vargas, loose to roll in the deep rich
sand footing of the small dressage arena. I am busy reflecting on my winter
spent investigating humane euthanasia for Vargas. He's no longer ridden.
We're on a quality of life stable management protocol. The high ring bone
has so crippled him, that this past year he's begun to walk three legged. I
am in terror of not being able to help him. We've been through the Legend,
Adequan, and cortisone. He gets a gram of Bute per day.
He's just begun a pricey regime of acuscope and myopulse treatments with an
equine who sends him electronic energy three times a week for an
hour and a half. He's wired to these $20,000 machines where he stands
semi-comatose - relaxed and seemingly pain free. Miraculously there
appears to be carry over. His pain stress wrinkles above his deep socketed
eyes have definitely started to disappear.
My emotional agreement with Kelly is to help Vargas leave his body when the
pain is too great to bear. I know I'm not ready for him to leave. He
invented ADVENTURES IN AWARENESS.
That first day as AIA staff returned horses to their stalls for lunch,
Vargas didn't want to go back. And he'd heard the hay truck. No, he was
more interested in a game of run and play. For several minutes he galloped
and bucked around, just him. The two mares simply looked on with
Earlier, they had fully "energized" during the herd heart bonding
exercise. For this high energy runaround activity of the whole group,
Vargas had taken up his customary "time out" spot - facing Reed and standing
immobile. Now, with the two younger geldings away from the group, the old
man was ready to frolic.
My heart sang with his every buck. He's feeling better. He's still
actively engaged in the antics of life. He remains serious about his food.
And alert to the human activity around him, as in his close observation of
our circle to square game in the barn isle.
As the second day's equine interactive exercises unfolded, Mom is paired
(no surprise) with Vargas. Maple and CC were not chosen and so returned to
their stalls. RAMA and Raine remained to co-facilitate with the help of
their safety support people. Me and Vargas go to work with Mom.
All the horses are wearing their halters with the lead lines wrapped once
around their necks. They stand facing the rail of the arena. They are not
tied. Imaginary lead line exercise is a practice for noticing how much we
depend on apparent "control" devices for what in reality is joint agreement.
The horses are spaced apart with enough room for groups of people to move
safely from one side to another and not feel crowded. The groom boxes are
on the outside of the fence where they won't be accidently stepped on by
human or horse. Participants are encouraged to use their hands first for an
energy exploration of the horse's body. Noticing the feedback from ears,
nostrils, tail, skin movements, participants explore with their individual
massage and touch techniques.
Mom had never felt a horse's legs. His tail hair. Or known his tail bone
went so far down into his tail. It felt good and fun for us to engage in
this mutual sharing exploration activity. I continued to learn more about
Mom's fears and hear new to me stories about her experiences as a young
girl. Back then, the only way to reach her family's summer home on Mount
Graham was to pack in the last ten miles on horseback. She grew up in an
era where horse's were transportation tools. The idea of them as
communicating Sentient beings is huge new conceptual framework. This idea
re-orients her reality base and effects her experience of horses
As we move into the walking portion of the exercise, Mom is busy talking to
Vargas about her fears. She asks him to go more slowly. She practices with
proper safe handling of the unfamiliar lead rope. We agree to leave her
cane parked on the fence line and have me act as support for walking next to
I ask does she want me between herself and him. She is emphatic about
feeling vulnerable to falling. We inch along towards the other side of the
arena. I'm surprised at the big V's cautious halting three legged walk.
There are men in the barn who will tell you to take care when walking
Vargas. He'll run you over.
Several times we stop to re-negotiate our routing. Mom and Vargas check in
with each other. So far so good. As we reach the letter E, Mom is done.
She's through. She's done more than she thought she would. OK, well, I'm
not sure Vargas is done I reply. "Well, I'm done", says Mom handing me the
lead rope. I flip it back up around his neck and turn to see Mom grasping
the fence as she chugs along in the deep sand towards the human gate.
A quick scan of the arena shows the other groups deep into the imaginary
portion of the lead line. Reed steps near Mom as she comes up the fence
line. I turn to see Vargas underway following Mom. "Mom, I think Vargas is
still wanting your attention", I say. She pauses to look behind her and
stops in surprise.
Vargas has moved half way up the fence and stopped at the groom box. He
carefully nuzzles through the tools. With his mobile lips he selects the
handle of the small shed out blade, he loves. The very tool Mom had been
using on him earlier. Reed reaches to keep him from moving towards Mom. I
signal Reed to allow him to proceed.
Vargas carries the shed out blade by the handle in his teeth as he three
legged walks deliberately towards Mom. Reaching her, he tosses it at her
feet. Then, he stares into her astonished eyes. "OH, MY! You're not done
yet! I'm not done yet!", exclaims Mom. There are tears in her eyes. Tears
in my eyes and hair up on my arms and neck. Quiet suffuses the arena.
Reed remarks, "Had I not seen that, I never ever would believe what just
Mom is patting the big V's huge Roman nose. "I'm not done yet! And
neither are you, Vargas! I'll be back to visit you again".
Later in the processing completion circle, Mom speaks of her fragility.
Her feelings of exhaustion and weakness. And she's not done. She's
definitely had her miracle encounter with the magic of horses. I'm feeling
suffused with gratitude. I'm conscious of the power inherent in Mom's
willingness to ask for what she wanted. It is my belief, Vargas accesses
the Big Teacher.
Barbara K. Rector
ADVENTURES IN AWARENESS