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On Top of the Mountain

Anaïs before her healing

Anaïs before her healing

Yesterday Anaïs came down with a light form of colic and I am overjoyed. How can this be? Her digestive tract was partially compromised on the left. Naturally, I have been concerned. Vicki is away visiting friends in England after attending another animal communication course. If her beloved mare was to go belly up, while in her husband’s care, why, he would be next, wouldn’t he? Such is love, isn’t it? Apart from a healthy respect for my wellbeing, my concern is predominantly fuelled by a genuine commitment to hers. You see, I am on top of the mountain and Anaïs has been instrumental in getting me there. The utter dismay that I experience when anything dulls her eye is simply the flip side of my elevated status. There is no joy to be had with another living creature in the absence of a commitment to risk hurt and disappointment – an undertaking to be vulnerable – in relation to that creature. Put another way, there is no top to the mountain if it has no bottom.

So what is this top of the mountain that I refer to? And how can a horse be instrumental in helping you reach it? There is a man who lives on a small island off the south coast of Denmark who once remarked in a YouTube video: ‘If you achieve this, if you recognise the horse and you have the chance to connect immediately, then something very important, very nice is occurring…. You are on top of the mountain’. In between he mentions ‘happiness’: being on top of the mountain refers to a human’s ability to make a horse happy, and in giving the human receives without asking or expecting.

There is a lesson to be learned from Anaïs’ brush with colic. The herd of which she is part had been moved to a fresh paddock and she had been allowed to remain in it for up to eight hours straightaway. Apparently, there are also acorns to be had in it and she has shown herself to be an acorn junkie. It must be the pig in her that is evident whenever she is put out to pasture or before a bin of feed: she tucks in as though every meal is the one she requires to survive a lengthy period of hibernation. I sense that Anaïs lives very much for today.

Yesterday evening we needed to give the horse a laxative, a word which always takes me back to a childhood memory. It may have been a radio commercial, something to the effect of: ‘Is the bottom falling out of your world? Take [a specified laxative] and let the world fall out of your bottom’. Ultimately, I did not quite want the world to fall out of Anaïs’ bottom: a little bit of pasture would do. The vet suggested that he stick a tube up one of her nostril’s and keep pushing until the thing enters her gullet and finally her stomach, so he can pump paraffin into her to lubricate the channels, as it were. I suggested that a dose of slippery elm in the mouth would do just as well, thank you very much. Oh but try and get it into her.

After a number of unsuccessful attempts to bypass Anaïs’ natural reluctance to consume anything which she clearly showed to be as vile as paraffin, I settled on the more straightforward but more seemingly difficult strategy of tackling it head on. I loaded a syringe full of slippery elm diluted in water and asked her to take it, because, I suggested, it would be beneficial for her. Resisting the temptation to insist, to demand, to force, I gently but firmly made it clear that it was really essential for her to take the remedy. I chuckled when she grimaced, stroked her neck in encouragement, praised her when she took the plunge. She took four large syringes of the solution. This morning she did the same again. It took her a great deal of effort to conquer her distaste. And she did it, I can only imagine, because she had such utter trust in the commitment I was so intent on communicating to her: a commitment to helping her but simultaneously to accepting her refusal if that was what she wanted. And so we connected again, and again I was on top of the mountain.

The YouTube video which I have mentioned is the second of two entitled Immediate Connecting with Horses, in which Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling explains what is entailed in a human connecting with a horse and doing so immediately. They are the same videos we showed to the people who attended the second Body Awareness clinic given by KFH’s only Senior Body Awareness Instructor, Jo Ross, in our home in Bellingen, Australia, the month before we left the country to move to Europe with Anaïs and our dog, Dubu, with the intention of attending KFH’s one-year course. In fact, that Body Awareness course and the one which we hosted at the end of November, when we decided to attend KFH’s one-year course, were instrumental in launching Jo’s career as a KFH Body Awareness instructor. Indeed, she and others who are currently studying with the master who dances with horses on the island of Lyö were guests in our home for either or both of those Body Awareness weekends (you can find out more about these Body Awareness weekends here and here). When they read this, I hope they will look back fondly on the community that we shared with each other during those very special times, a stepping stone towards the one we had hoped to share  in KFH’s Akedah School. In particular, I sincerely hope that they will recognise in the two YouTube videos which I am linking to here the goal of the magical connection with horses to which we all aspired at the time and still do: the desire to help our horses be happy with the knowledge that, if we managed to do that, we would be on top of the mountain.

Immediate Connecting with Horses, Part 1

Immediate Connecting with Horses, Part 2

For your convenience I have prepared a transcript of these two videos. You can access it here.

September, which was supposed to be the first of the twelve months during which I hoped to learn how to achieve a magical connection with horses from KFH himself, turned out to be more than I could have hoped it would in this respect. It was the month during which I actually first managed to arrive on the top of the world. The experience was brief and momentary but it has since begun to occur more frequently and increasingly of longer duration.

A photo from before the healing but a treasured one

A photo from before the healing but a treasured one

And I must confess that without KFH I would probably not have managed to achieve the magical connection with a horse which can put a human on top of the mountain. Urged on in part by the challenging comments of other humans, such as Lynne Gerard over at the Journal of Ravenseyrie, I extended my study of KFH’s teachings to include their implementation along with tips provided by commentators such as Imke Spilker and Michael Bevilacqua. The results have been awesome (I use the term advisedly). In fact, I have been so chuffed by it all that I have written about the experience in a document which I have appropriately entitled On Top of the Mountain: Achieving a Magical Connection with Your Horse. You can download it here.

By early October my enthusiasm had developed to the extent that I started speaking to Vicki about the possibility of getting my own horse. Yet I was reluctant to start searching

Vicki and Joep, the Fyord gelding

Vicki and Joep, the Fjord gelding

for one. I instinctively sensed very strongly that, if I was ready for a horse, it would appear in one form or another. It did, within a week or so, and it did so in stereo. There are two of them, a Fjord called Joep and a Welsh cob dubbed Furian. Both are geldings owned by Wilma, an endearing woman who only manages to get to the stable about once a week, which is not often enough to ensure that any horse of pony size or close will avoid health-related problems brought about by lack of movement (or any horse for that matter).

Andrew and Furian, the Welsh cob

Andrew and Furian, the Welsh cob

Vicki and I have been offered the opportunity to exercise these horses on a daily basis as we see fit having regard to their owner’s requirements. Because the routine was to commence at almost the same time as Vicki headed off to attend her training with Marta Williams, I found myself solely responsible for its implementation during the first week. Acting on a hunch, I decided to keep a log of my first few days with these horses, something which I have never done before. You can download a copy of it here. I would really be interested to know if anyone else is doing something similar with their horses and whether they think it is a worthwhile activity.

What was also of interest to me was the question as to whether I would also be capable of establishing a magical connection with Joep and Furian. There have been moments when I feel that I have, especially with Furian, to whom I am intuitively drawn. He has something which is at once so vulnerable and yet so compelling, that I feel there is a horse in there that is chomping at the bit – as it were – to come out and reveal itself. Both Joep and Furian are ridden by others at times during the week, either in riding lessons or out on the trail. Vicki and I do not ride them.

Ineke called late last night (I am not used to such a level of care from a service provider) to say that Anaïs was calm and that the laxative seemed to have done its job. I resisted the temptation to view this as a cheap lesson: there is no need to hit the shit out of your horse: a laxative will do. By this afternoon Anaïs was showing signs of the rejuvenated horse that has returned to us from the alternative vet clinic. Earlier this evening I tucked her in for the night. She should be on top of the mountain tomorrow. Which is when Vicki returns. Anaïs, my princess, sleep well tonight. If happiness is being on top of the mountain, then it is there that I shall rendezvous with you and your mistress in my dreams tonight.



On Top of the Mountain – A Postscript
29 October 2011

Yesterday I took Anaïs for a walk in the forest, her first time out since recovering from her mild colic attack. It was a glorious autumn day. The temperature had leapt to a thankfully unseasonal 20°C and the sun glowed bronze and golden on the trees shedding their leaves to create a flecked carpet of copper-tone shades around their trunks. Horse and human quickly found a shared step in their stride along the sun-strewn paths under a brightly lit sky. We were celebrating life together again from one sunlit moment to the next, when two facets of awareness suddenly impressed themselves upon my consciousness.

The sun glowed bronze and golden

The sun glowed bronze and golden

The first was an unexpected realisation of the obvious. Together in the moment there was only Anaïs and myself along with all that we sensed in and around us. It was then that I suddenly recalled what Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling has listed on the front page of his website: ‘Classical European Horse Meditation’. And it occurred to me that this must be what he means when he refers to ‘horse meditation’: active meditation with a horse in the here and now in the absence of anything capable of disturbing it.

The second instance of awareness took the form of a sudden realisation that I had forgotten to mention an incident in my blog which relates directly to the theme of being on top of the mountain. It had happened almost exactly a week before. Anaïs and I had been walking in another part of the forest, me to her right, when suddenly a cyclist on a mountain bike emerged from a narrow path partly hidden by the foliage immediately behind her and to the left. I did not realise that anything was amiss until she abruptly darted forward. Instinctively I moved with her but she accelerated so rapidly that I could not keep up, so I let the lead slip from my hands rather than try and wrench her head off.

Still not aware of anything other than the horse being free to go where she pleased in flight, I had momentary visions of her arriving at the stable without me, which made me realise that there was absolutely nothing I could do. So I did exactly that: nothing. I stopped moving and relaxed totally. At that very moment Anaïs came to an abrupt halt and turned to me expectantly, the lead trailing from her head to the ground. It was only then that I became aware of the cyclist, who after having stopped was now immediately behind me and to the left. I turned to him and asked him not to move. Then, calmly and unhurriedly, I walked up to Anaïs stroked her neck, gathered up the lead and chuckled while she simply looked to me for guidance.

When I turned to thank the cyclist, he was already cycling off in the opposite direction. We then resumed our walk. I recall feeling enormous relief and unbridled joy, as I became intensely aware of what Michael Bevilacqua has written about the bond between horse and human, if it is the magical one that we aspire to: it is a ‘connection stronger than any rope or bridle’.

Anaïs, my meditation muse in autumn

Anaïs, my meditation muse in autumn

5 Responses to “On Top of the Mountain”

  1. My first reaction is :: a beautiful story Andrew, I can fully relate to that. I have a similar experience when giving homeopathic mls using the syringe and my horse(s) (now and in the past) experiencing that though the liquid has alcohol in it and can give a prickly sensation on the tongue it is our joke that “it is time for their cocktail” and they do not turn there head away anymore. They even open their mouth.

    I will read your document and your journal and then come back to you if that’s okay:-))
    Warmly, Geerteke

  2. Dear Andrew,
    The journal. Valuable reading material. Thank you for sharing!!!! He is a clever fellow, that Joep, isn’t he?!. Trying to escape from human intervention and then realizing that he is allowed to say NO. That must have been an awe-inspiring experience. I would not be surpised if it is going to change his life’s perspective tremendously. Thanks to you. Thanks to KFH for not allowing you to attend the one-year schooling. So perhaps indirectly KFH via you (or vice versa which one you prefer) is on his way to heal yet another horse. And also very much so you healing yourself at the same time. You getting more and more immersed in KFH’s teachings becoming KFH’s energy. And as Neale Donald Walsh says “There is only one person in this room”.
    Perhaps and I wouldn’t be surprisd if this is going to happen eventually you becoming the teacher of your fellow human beings. NAMASTE…….

    YOur document
    I am reading this book written by Robin Sharma. A number of acronyms are being used. One of them being IMAGE.
    I stands for being Innovative – alsways using your creative powers
    M stands for Mastery – mastering all the things you are doing – becoming a Master in everything you are doing – even if it is cleaning the floor or mucking out if we talk horse
    A stands for Authenticity – always being authentic – even though most people do not know how to deal with authenticity – speak wat you feel
    G stands for Guts – guts is what we need as the world is the way it is with human behaviour the way it very often is
    E stands for Ethics – be ethical in everything you undertake

    This acronym very well suits me.

    And the beautiful thing is that when reading your document I constantly stumble upon words and senterncvers and feelings that relate to this acronym. What do you think, Andrew.

    • Andrew says:

      Dear Geerteke

      Robin Sharma’s IMAGE acronym does resonate to some extent, although I must confess to having some difficulty with a number of his concepts and with his omission of others. I particularly applaud the recommendation of innovation. ‘Ethics’ goes in the right direction, although I feel it lends itself more readily to ambiguous interpretation than ‘acting in line with the wellbeing of your fellow creatures’. ‘Guts’, I feel, is something we wouldn’t need, if we had the self-confidence that should preclude such need, and trying to master all we do could get in the way of really living, I suspect. ‘Authenticity’ as you define it (‘speak what you feel’) would appear to put the cart before the horse. As I understand it ‘authenticity’ refers to the ability to be oneself and to act accordingly (congruence) but not just any unprincipled self. Rather, it is a self that is committed to ‘acting in line with the wellbeing of one’s fellow creatures’. In this sense perhaps we need to focus more on feeling before we actually speak what we feel. More than anything though, I miss any mention of joy. Without joy what have we got to offer anyone?

      Perhaps these gaps are filled in by Sharma in his book, which I must confess to not having read.

      During one of my telephone calls with Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling he surprised me by mentioning that, although I was supposed to be attending his one-year course in order to learn from him, he would definitely also learn something from me. I suspect that he was referring to the ability that all of us have to learn from each other irrespective of our position in relation to each other. In this sense I hope others do have something to learn from me as much as I would hope that I have something to learn from them.

      I do so appreciate your ideas. Please keep them coming!

      And take care.

  3. My comment was not yet finished. Somehow my computer or perhaps some ‘forces’ thought it time for me to send it to you.
    I will wait for your comment and then perhaps get a little deeper into your document and this acronym.
    Love Geerteke

  4. Very nice Andrew. Thanks again for sharing.
    It makes me think of the experience I have when Leading from Behind and then stopping. Marcelo whom I have been leading and has been walking in front of me at a distance of a couplep metres stops and starts grazing. At another moment when I have done that ‘exercise’ a couple of times he stops and turns around. From there on we often continue in a Companion Walk. So it is very recognizable. However, having this ‘magical connection’ in a controlled environment like a meadow or as in KFH’s case his (if I have understood correctly) property where a horse cannot get away is somwhat different to having it in nature where the horse can go any direction as the situation you and Anaiis were in. Fantastic that you could stay in the moment and the fEeling of NOTHING.

    Reading your postscript about the European Horse Meditation:: it makes me wonder . When having Marcello on a long leadline grazing, as the horses are not allowed on the field anymore here after beginning October, it is a beautiful moment that usually lasts 1 hour where I practice staying in the moment, being aware of what takes place in and outside, noticing Marcello is constantly keeping an eye on me, having is focus on me and at the same time being aware of his surroundings, Marcello observing my movements and then all of a sudden deciding to walk up to me touching my right arm when that arm had apparently been moving when I put my hand in the pocket of my jacket and he thought it sufficiently attractive to come and investigate as that is the same place the treats come from, me then taking my hand out of my pocket with indeed a piece of carrot but offering Marcello the back of my hand and when he turns his head away I turn the palm of my hand towards him open my hand and offer him my gift which he takes politely and then returns to his grazing. All this taking place in a sphere of relaxation, total being there with him and the noise of the swans flying over in their V-shaped form, on their way to their homes where they will stay during the winterperiod, hearing them breathing in and breathing out and at the same time making this wonderful singing sound, their long elegant necks moving rythmically up and down in harmony with the movement of their powerful wings…….
    Warmly, Geerteke