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Mom and Vargas

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 big horses.

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 observing closely.

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 disinterest.

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 differently.

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 Vargas.

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 happened!".

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.

Warmest HUGS,
Barbara K. Rector

Adventures in Awareness(TM)
Adventures In Awareness