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2Moons: Part 2



He stands before me again, 2Moons. His stocky frame fills my view, cast golden in the morning light but still and ponderous like a heathen god announcing his presence, convincingly albeit in silence. I try to be casual, exude an air of nonchalance as though this is an everyday affair. The horse looks at me almost curiously but without blinking. He is not convinced. I shall have to do better.

I seek the strength of the moment by looking to the source of the light. Through the window the leaves on the trees outside the building glisten bright. The sour odour of soiled bedding wafts in from the manure pile. A ruffle escapes from the lips of a horse in the stable adjacent to the picadero. And the chill of the early day gathers around my ears. I embrace them all, find my footing in them and turn again to the horse. Today we will come together, I am determined. It is a tempting thought but has no place in the moment. I consciously banish it from the here and now. But where to start?

It is Monday. Agathe has just left to return to the Netherlands. We have enjoyed an exhilarating weekend of excursions, reminiscences and gezelligheid, that word for which

Agathe and Andrew

Agathe and Andrew

so many European languages have an equivalent but English does not. The closest we manage is ‘conviviality’, ‘cosiness’ or ‘snugness’ but none of these quite captures that mix of ambience, décor, company, ritual, spontaneity and not to forget a good wine, which the Dutch term expresses so satisfactorily.

Although the weather seemed intent on doing all it could to confine us indoors, we steeled ourselves to brace that bone-wrenching combination of cold, wet and windy, as only the Dutch can cheerfully do and sallied forth on our search for hill-fringing fortified villages (bastides), medieval castles and elegant chateaux. Our first stop was the comprehensively restored fortified village of Pujols a short drive west from Petra Vlasblom’s 2Moons gite. Although small, it reminded me of one of the reasons why I appreciate Europe. It is not only the wilderness which draws gasps of appreciation. So too do so many of the structures erected by humans.

Bonaguil Castle

Bonaguil Castle

Pujols was the first of a number of appreciated tourist stops at bastides and other sights punctuating a route that took us north-east to Perigord Noir, an area of almost dramatic beauty, both natural and manmade. First stop en route was Monflanquin, a picturesque bastide featuring a 13th century church crowning a hill that offered delightful views of the surrounding countryside of the department of Lot et Garonne. Our path took us through the fortified village of Monpazier, the charming town of Belvès and on to Beynac-et-Cazenac on the Dordogne River. All of these places were once frontline defences of the Protestant English and Catholic French forces during the Hundred Years’ War (a series of separate but connected wars waged in France from roughly 1337 to 1453), often exchanging hands before their final lot was sealed with the expulsion of the English from French soil.

Vicki and Agathe in Beynac

Vicki and Agathe in Beynac

Beynac is worth a visit on its own. Situated on a hill at a spot where the river carves a big looping valley, the medieval castle on its peak offers spectacular views all around but especially along the water to the south-west in one direction and the south in the other. This view has come to be ornamented with several elegant chateaux adorning the forest-clad hills rising from the river. The town itself is as quaint as you might expect a romantic description of narrow-winding streets between stone houses would suggest. There is something about the combination of hills, forest and water that always has me sighing in appreciation. Add some of the charm that humans are sometimes able to create, and I am lost for words … well almost.

Sarlat is almost all that it is hyped up to be but not quite. It has yielded some of its charm to the monster that feeds it: fat-wallet tourism. The result is an old charming town reduced in part to a packaged mix of pleasant enough medieval streets and stately buildings interspersed with attractive restaurants and upmarket shops. Having said that, we did manage to find a tiny pub which was literally a hole in a medieval wall. Finding a decent pub in rural France is difficult enough. Discovering one worth mentioning is an event.

Upon our return we capped the day off with dinner in a readily forgotten restaurant in the old walled part of Penne d’Agenais.

The chateau in Saint-Astier

The chateau in Saint-Astier

The next day Vicki and I accompanied Agathe on a nostalgic trip to Perigord Blanc. Many years ago Agathe had worked with horses for a French woman on an estate just outside the village of Saint Astier about 25 km south of Périgueux. Being French, Monique would not speak a word of English even if she could, which she claimed we could not. Agathe acted as interpreter when necessary, although Vicki managed to communicate pretty well, while I followed most of what was said, or at least the gist of it. Lunch with Monique was followed by a walk through the countryside and a visit to another old acquaintance, an elderly Belgian artist living in an attractive home in the grounds of a chateau. We enjoyed a glass of nut wine with our host, who exhibited both an impeccable taste in interior decoration and a graphic memory, picking up effortlessly where his contact with Agathe had left off years ago.

Supper was a simple affair in preparation for an early rise in the morning to allow Agathe to catch her plane in Toulouse and us to venture into the picadero with the horses.

The weekend has left me relaxed and invigorated as I face 2Moons again. And it is this invigoration that has tempted me to seek a connection with the horse rather than simply focus on being the type of human he needs me to be. I manage to sink into the moment but find it difficult to maintain my focus. 2Moons senses it as we move around the picadero and plainly but unemotionally shows me that he does. We continue to move around the picadero and as we do I focus on his feet and on mine. The rhythm draws me in and I begin to settle in our newfound pace. We are moving faster now. There is the horse. See how he powers along. Then it happens. Not only do I see him move, I feel it in my belly. There is only the horse and the human, the light capturing our movements, the beat of music in the air. Now we are together twirling in a cocoon of sound, sense and motion. Nothing else exists. Now we can communicate. And we do.

The video depicts the moment of connection. Yes, there is technique involved and rewatching it, I know that I have yet to master it. Yet technique alone would yield a mechanical farce. It is the intuitive, focused use of it, the when and how dictated by gut, which connects horse and human bringing them alive as one. It is that which allows me to guide 2Moons through the madness of the party beat and whooping to flow from canter to trot, from trot to walk, and from walk to halt. And as he moves towards me and I then to him, exultation wells up through my core and I am engulfed by the joie de vivre that can only be generated by two species freely connecting across what on the surface seems to be an unbridgeable divide. I have offered 2Moons, that proud, strong, potentially dangerous horse, my leadership and he has freely accepted it in the absence of instruments of coercion and, above all to me, my bossiness. It is a victory over self and I have only 2Moons to thank for it. I am overwhelmed.

Rewatching the video of the quiet time that has followed our exertions, I am left with the sense that the horse is quietly tolerant, as though he means to say, ‘It’s alright. This is the way it is meant to be. You only have to make that choice yourself.’ The music for that special moment is from Arvo Pärt’s Spiegel im Spiegel. No prizes for guessing what motivated that choice apart from its tearing beauty.

Anaïs contemplating the snow in subzero temperatures

Anaïs contemplating the snow in subzero temperatures

Back in the Netherlands we are greeted almost prophetically by virgin snow. Fresh white fields stretch before us, inviting the beginnings of new imprints, a fitting metaphor for the new path we are embarked on. The temperature plummets below the freezing point, starting a big freeze from which we are yet to emerge. Anaïs is not overly impressed. Perhaps it is time for us to finally learn to dance with her.

Vicki in the snow outside our holiday cottage

Vicki in the snow outside our holiday cottage


4 Responses to “2Moons: Part 2”


    Dear Andrew, I loved the video.
    I have nothing with France. I just don’t but then I have never really stayed there long enough to get a feeling. The pictures, however, are wonderful and appealing!
    The above in capital letters popped out of me.
    I don’t know why.
    I don’t know what they mean. Perhaps they trigger something in you?!
    You know what is so funny. You mentioned your bossiness. I doubt whether it has anything to do with bossiness. I have the feeling you are just as insecure as most of us. Insecure what to do with the immense power we all have within. The inner strenght we are afraid to put to use. Accepting the inner strength puts us in a position that we have to take responbibility for everything happening in our lives. Picking up our own leadership. Being our own leader. Having our own wellbeing physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually as our most important goal.
    Only then and only then we can be a true leader for HORSESANDHUMANS. Only then do we really know but even better feel what someone else’s wellbeing is all about.

    Dear Andrew, this is just a theory. What/How does that make you feel??
    L&L, Geerteke

    • Andrew says:

      Dear Geerteke

      Thank you for your frankness.

      You are absolutely right: my body language falls far short of the ease with which I write.

      Your suggestion that I need to hide behind my words, is one I wish to take issue with. When and how to use body language is, as I imply, partly a question of intuition and focus. Technique is the other indispensable part of body language and I readily admit in my post that ‘I have yet to master it’. I would suggest that this is not an attempt to hide behind words. More tellingly, the inclusion of the video, which graphically depicts my shortcomings in this respect, utterly belies your suggestion. If I did indeed feel a need to hide behind my words, that video would never have seen the light of day.

      Many of the people who have responded to this blog either publicly or through private emails have urged me to learn from the horse, to observe what of me it is reflecting, to find the way forward in its response. Yes, we had a wild whooping party with 2Moons that Monday morning, like little kids without a care and I was in the very thick of it. Yes, it looks and sounds ridiculous, definitely not the kind of thing one should do with horses if one is really serious. But look at the horse, Geerteke. Look at 2Moons and tell me what you see. What is the horse telling us? What is it telling me?

      While we were at Petra’s 2Moons centre in France, we had occasion to watch several Monty Roberts videos (Join-Up, Load-Up and Dually). I myself have done Pat Parelli’s Level 1 (in a former life). At some stage in the past few months I also had the opportunity to view some Brent Branderup videos on YouTube. I look at the horses in those videos and they do what they are asked when they are asked without question. They do this after they are persuaded that it is in their best interests to do so by mauling them with savage halters, prodding them with cattle (or should that be ‘carrot’) sticks or reminding them of the great big leveraged bit in their tender mouths and the steel spurs close to their loins. Look at those horses too. Yes, they do everything so well and they do so on cue. But do they tell us the same or a different story from that of 2Moons on that Monday morning?

      I do not claim that the connection I enjoyed with 2Moons that morning was closer or more profound than the one Hempfling had with the lame grey stallion in Dancing with Horses or Ferdinand in his one-but-last YouTube video. Then again, I do not produce carefully crafted, meticulously edited videos to induce people to spend EUR 6500.00 for a 21-day course or EUR 93,000.00 for a one-year schooling programme. I am content to show myself warts and all as I have nothing to lose and nothing to gain by doing so. What I do claim though is that 2Moons told me a different story on that Monday morning from the one you imply. Turn off the sound, look at the horse and tell me if I am wrong.

      You are right about the insecurity but up to a point. Bossiness was my way of dealing with insecurity and horses showed me that. Inner strength is not something one is afraid to use. On the contrary, inner strength is something one is increasingly afraid not to acquire.

      I do love debating with you. Your challenges go the core and for that I am most grateful.

      Be well!

      • Dear Andrew, forgive me for saying but I had a good giggle. NOt because I am laughing at you. Purely because something in you got triggered. A button has been pushed. And that in itself means that something has been put into motion. Has been rocked. WHICH IS GOOD.
        At the same time I thank you for giving me the opportunity to follow my gut feeling without the fear of not being considered nice or thoughtful or any other negative feeling people have pasted on me for so many years and still in the not too distant past causing me to stop expressing my inner feelings. A result of that has been my latest accident.
        The broken bones are a metaphore for breaking open the beautiful shell that is not me but which I presented to the outside world most of the time. The shell that covered a number of layers of ‘dirt’.
        The ‘dirt’ consisting of all the convictions I was taught to believe as true starting with teachers like parents and after that the schoolteachers etc.
        The crack has also penetrated the layers of ´dirt´ and has put me in a position where I have been allowed to get a view of the LIGHT I really am. The true me being a FREE SPIRIT. The Free Spirit being the most powerful energy one can think of. The Free Spirit that is in all of us. The LIGHT is in all of us. We are already enlightened. This inner strength I mentioned and also your Nelson Mandela mentioned that in one of his wonderfully inspiring talks is what mankind is so very much afraid of acknowledging and accepting. It is not something we have to acquire. Or are afraid never to acquire. It is already there. Deep down inside of every human being. Covered with layers of whatever the layers may consist of.
        Here again this is just a theory that appeals to me.
        So for the time being in the absence of another theory that might appeal to me more, I stick to this one.

        QUOTE…..Yes, we had a wild whooping party with 2Moons that Monday morning, like little kids without a care and I was in the very thick of it. Yes, it looks and sounds ridiculous, definitely not the kind of thing one should do with horses if one is really serious…….. UNQUOTE

        Dear Andrew, is it not exactly that which the horses are trying to tell us time and again. To be like children. To trust and relax and enjoy. Be in the moment. Stay in the moment and think when you need to, but never leaving the moment as Eckhart says.
        If you have put another meaning into your ´serious´ I love to hear that.

        QUOTE…..But look at the horse, Geerteke. Look at 2Moons and tell me what you see. What is the horse telling us? What is it telling me?….UNQUOTE

        As you are asking these clear questions I will try and give clear answers. I watched your video without sound the first time. I had a wonderful feeling when watching the second part where you and 2Moons were standing next to eachother in a beautiful moment of peace and relaxation and enjoying eachothers company. Did I not mention something about relax & enjoy in the previous alinea?!
        When checking the energy of both of you, or actually I checked how the connection was, the connection was one of magical proportions. It was confirmed when at the end of the video you walk away from 2Moons and he immediately follows you. Without having any further questions as to your leadership. Superb, Andrew.
        I would love to hear from you how your feeling was in that moment of connection. Perhaps you called THAT your 2MOONSMOMENT???!!!

        The first part of the video I also, as I mentioned, watched without any sound. I had no idea there was any sound as I didnot have the earplugs in so I couldn´t hear anything. Either music or voices.
        My first impression was that there was a human pushing a horse a lot and making a lot of arm movements. If one would use that amount of movements when riding one would most likely make it very hard on the horse to find his balance with a rider on its back. Besides there are so many messages at once for the horse to be picked up and sorted out that the horse might decide to just freeze, start increasing its speed or just stop moving. The latter took place when 2Moons turned around to face you. Before turning the other way. It was not your choice to have 2Moons turn the other way. It was a decision you made that resulted from 2Moons stopping, facing you and so on. In this instance it was therefore the horse´s choice to go in another direction. The result of that sadly is that whatever connection you were about to establish in the moments preceding the turn will have evaporated.
        LESS IS MORE. An expression that one comes across in various therapies like the Bowen Technique. LESS IS MORE is also to be found in/on the road to more (spiritual) awareness. Do not try to do your best. The more one tries to do one´s best the more tension it will create the farther away one will get from what one is trying to achieve. Or rather ONE doesn´t get away from what one is trying to achieve (like wanting to become a true leader) but what one is trying to achieve drifts away from (wo)man because of the ripples or even the waves one creates by doing one´s best to achieve what one thinks needs to be achieved. The result then being more often than not trying even harder.

        WOW sorry Andrew this is a terrrible sentence I think. Take your time to read it. Peacefully, relaxed with a feeling of joy.
        And above all DO NOT TAKE IT PERSONALLY, please!! Just let it come to you, feel and let go if it doesn´t resonate. As simple as that.

        Then I did put my earplugs on as I suddenly realized a muffled noise/sound coming out of them while they were lying on top of the table where my laptop is situated.
        The music accompanying the second part of the video – the magical connection – is perfect.
        The music accompanying the first part of the video is perfect as well. It stimulates both horse and human to get in a rythm of forward movement.
        To become a bit more ´aggressive´ in pointing out what man wants to communicate with horse. It is better to be ´very aggressive´ once than´a little aggressive´ 2 or 3 or 4 times. With ´aggressive´ I mean the type of energy that is needed. Perhaps very assertive is a better word.
        With ´aggressive´ it is perhaps a bit more difficult to stay calm. But even then staying calm in any situation can be achieved by checking your breathing.

        At the end of the first part of the video your movements become more calm and assertive although the magical connection between 2Moons and yourself feels not there. However, 2Moons reacts to your energy slowing down. The/Your pushing becoming less and when the draw is there he feels free to come up to you. Then you walk up to him to ´say hello´….

        Please understand, Andrew, that I am not criticizing. As I mentioned earlier I hope you will not take things personally. However, if you do please ask yourself why you are doing that.
        I am solely expressing my feelings. And perhaps as I have tried to explain to others as well my native tongue is not English. I try and communicate from a loving inner world, but somehow that sometimes is not being picked up that way. That is a pity.
        So perhaps instead of assuming I must have meant something a certain way you can always ask me how I have meant it. Or check with me if you have understood correctly what I am or was trying to communicate.

        I like your comment QUOTE…..I do love debating with you. Your challenges go the core and for that I am most grateful. ….UNQUOTE My gratefulness is equal. Thank you. NAMASTÉ

        Take care, Geerteke

  2. Anne-Marie says:

    I love the conversation Geerteke and Andrew. Some great issues are being explored.