Feed on

being-500Have you ever experienced it? You and your horse are walking side-by-side. It may be on a forest path, a hill track, anywhere. Your horse’s breath is raspy and warm against your forearm in the cool of the morning, comforting almost. You relax into an even stride. The four-beat rhythm of the hooves scuffing the dirt next to you hold your attention. You try and identify each foot as it hits the ground. It occurs to you that the rhythm of your stride is beginning to match that of your horse. And then it does. A bird calls in the distance. You smile. Why not quicken the pace? You thrust the base of your pelvis forward slightly and feel the energy course through your loins. Your horse responds. Now let us try to slow down. So you drop your energy and your equine friend slows as well. But what if you were to run? You feel the energy build up in your body as you prepare to do so. And suddenly your horse breaks into a trot well ahead of you. You almost halt in amazement but instinctively follow in a celebration of the power of shared being.


Please note that this is an unedited article which has since been revised and published in the book, When Horses Speak and Humans Listen. More information is available here: http://www.horsesandhumans.com/mainsite/whsahl.htm.



So what is this “being” of which I speak? And what power can it confer on you and anyone else who cares to embrace if? You are a human being. So am I. But what does this mean? Perhaps more importantly though, what could it mean if you or I were truly intent on living in full the life of a human being?

Here “human” is used to identify our species and to distinguish it from others. But what about “being”? It is a grammatical form which has the linguistic function of a thing, what grammar would call a noun, yet its structure is derived from a verb (an “action word”), namely “be”, but not just any form of it. “Being” is the form which we associate with the present continuous, a grammatical structure which denotes an ongoing action, such as “living”, “beating” and “breathing”. And it is in this notion of ongoing action that we can begin to discover the secret of “being”.


Stop for a moment and consider yourself. You are sitting still, doing nothing. Motionless, you may think you are but you are not, not if you are alive. Every single part of you is in motion, however minutely it may occur. Your heart is pumping, your blood is flowing, your lungs are bellowing, your cells are replenishing, and so the list goes on. Everything within you is in motion, even those parts of you which you may be tempted to feel are not, such as your bones. It is only the speed of that motion which varies.

Look around you. Perhaps this constant motion is only inside you. After all, you are seated and, as such, you certainly cannot be moving around. Really? Consider for a moment just where you really are while busy being you. All around you there are signs of movement. For instance, as I write this I can hear voices of people coming and going accompanied by the sound of a car door closing followed by a gate opening. In the distance I spy clouds swirling over hazy mountains in the distance, while the tantalising smell of lunch cooking wafts in from the kitchen. Simultaneously a breeze tugs at my hair and caresses my skin. Pause for a moment and sense the movement around you as you take a break from reading this. What can you hear, see, smell, touch, taste? You are influenced by this motion and perhaps influence it in turn.

Now let me help you extend your awareness of your ostensibly fixed position. You find yourself in a particular location on our planet. Although it may seem as though you are not moving, the Earth is spinning around on its axis at an average speed of approximately 1,674.4 kph (1,040.4 mph), taking us with it and allowing us to experience day and night. Simultaneously, we are hurtling through space in a rotating orbit around the sun at a velocity of 107,200 kph (66,600 mph) to give us the seasons. And at the same time our planet’s axis rotates at a tilt. As if that is not enough, our solar system, which we share with other planets, such as Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn, Jupiter and Pluto, is part of a gravitating galaxy of stars, planets and other celestial phenomena – the Milky Way – which in turn gravitates with other galaxies, which in turn…. And this is where it gets mind-boggling.

Suffice it to say that from its tiniest to is mightiest part, the universe’s normal state is one of movement. In this sense the objective nature of “being”, human or otherwise, is constant motion. It occurs before we exist as human beings, in the process of human conception, gestation, birth, life, death and decomposition, after we cease to exist, and both within and without our bodies while we exist. And where there is motion, there is energy.


Many humans have a tendency to feel very uncomfortable when presented with the concept of energy. They avert their face, cast a quizzical glance, raise their eyebrows or their eyes glaze over, as though they are having to contend with an interlocutor who has elected to dwell amongst the fairies. Yet energy has a sound scientific basis in Western society and acquired it during the twentieth century largely due to the work of a man to whom science owes much. By now you may realise that I am referring to Albert Einstein, he of the well-know equation, E=mc2, where “E” stands for energy, “m” for mass and “c” for the speed of light.

What this equation implies is that every physical body which has mass also contains energy and that the smaller the body, the larger its energy content is likely to be relative to its mass. Expressed in layman’s terms, this is a bit like saying, “Dynamite comes in small packages”.

Although Einstein is widely misquoted and quotes are imputed to him for which there is no evidential basis, especially in the New Age press and in social media, his discoveries and theories have gone a long way towards helping Western science understand the universe of which we are part. As such, there is an objective scientific basis for the concept of energy and its existence in every single life form, including ours. Put another way, in that Einstein and others recognised the essential nature of energy in material phenomena, Western science finally came to acknowledge what has been the accepted wisdom of Chinese teachings for thousands of years. What it is yet to do is understand and explain the fundamental role played by energy in living creatures along with their interaction with each other, and the importance of learning how to interpret and control it.


So why is energy so important? Quite simply, it is so because it is the key to communication between humans, and between us and other species, such as the horse. It is both the fuel which powers movement and resistance to it, and the medium through which we can sense or feel the energy coursing through ourselves as well as other creatures. And it is in this latter capacity that we experience energy through awareness.

Awareness, just what is it? Essentially, it is our conscious experience of being and, as such, it also involves the mind. Yet it does so in a way that is so natural as to seem alien to us, especially those of us who have a Western upbringing. To us the mind has acquired a life of its own. We use it to consider matters, as though it is a tool which is external to us rather than an integral part of our being. So divorced from us has our mind become that it is even capable of drawing our attention away from our life as beings interacting with other beings. How often do we not find ourselves – while sitting, standing or walking besides our partner, child, horse or dog, let alone while on our own – preoccupied with matters that are so utterly distant from where we are and what we are doing, as though we have a mind which seems to be completely alienated from our bodies?

How is it possible to be aware of our life as a being, if our mind has gone absent without leave? It is not. So should we block out our mind? Empty and silence it? Still the mind? There are some who claim that we should. Yet it seems to me that if we humans wish to become fully aware of ourselves as beings, creatures of an earth and universe whose constituent parts are constantly in motion interacting with each other at some point or another, the challenge lies not in quieting the mind but in drawing it back into service to ourselves. Yes, the mind is a great intellectual and analytical tool but when it begins to dictate the kind of life we lead, it becomes very much a tail that is trying to wag the dog. And if it is, then it is time for the dog to wag the tail again and for us to reassert control over our mind, not by docking it but rather by harnessing it in our efforts to become conscious humans, being who we are and aware of being so.

This we can do by first of all by focusing our mind on our body, becoming aware of its condition and helping it relax one part at a time. Once we have done this, we can direct our mind to use our senses to explore our immediate surroundings and the earth we stand on, until we are aware of our body as an integral part of that environment and the ground beneath our feet. When our mind becomes one with our body in this ongoing process and awareness of being, we will be in the moment that is always now: being. Yet, however much it may sound like it, the goal of becoming a conscious being is not some impractical, abstract pie-in-the-sky quest. It is a reality that you can learn to achieve through a simple exercise and, if you do it often enough, eventually at the drop of a hat, as it were.


Towards the power of being

Here I could start with an explanation of what I mean but, assuming that actions speak louder than words, as the familiar cliché insists, perhaps it is wiser to start with just such an action. So let me invite you to experience a fraction of the power of being first-hand. It all starts with the very foundation of life as we know it, with breathing and the ground we earthlings so rely on. It does not get more basic than this. And so we return to the earth and the air to find our core. Some call this process “centring”. I prefer the term, “grounding”, as it embodies both the firmness of the earth and the process of connecting or reconnecting to it and ultimately, through it to ourselves, the very core of our being. It is both a simple process but simultaneously a very demanding one, at least initially, for it requires that we harness the mind and return to the fundamental condition of simply being, with the mind restored to its primary task of nurturing awareness of this ongoing process.

Divorced from the flesh as a result of the extreme limitations of our educational system and our alienation from both self and nature, thought has come to live a life of its own within our body, asserting its control and influence over all that we do and feel. The dominance of thought over our bodies is perhaps most graphically illustrated in the way we allow the past and the future to prevent us from being fully present in the constant here and now. Past regrets and future fears cloud our sense of self in the present. The act of grounding is designed to allow us to reunite the mind with the body, to restore consciousness through all of our senses and to reunite feeling and thought in an experiential presence. And so we become again not a body dominating the mind or thought overriding the flesh but a being that is whole and aware of both itself and its immediate surroundings, authentic and congruent.

But let us experience it rather than merely talk about it. In the next minute you may take an initial step towards the intoxicating power of being by simply following these simple directions. And I would strongly urge you not to skip this section to read further. Instead, I would encourage you to follow the few simple steps below to experience just a very small part of the power of being, for it is only then that you will really begin to understand the words on these pages. Without such understanding, they are only words.

The ground position

The process of grounding starts with the ground position. It is designed to help you relax your body while simultaneously focusing your energy as you connect with the earth beneath your feet and everything within yourself and your immediate surroundings. To assume the ground position stand upright with your knees slightly bent. Spread your legs until your feet are roughly as far apart as the breadth of your shoulders and tilt your body slightly forward if you need to in order to ensure that it is straight. Shift your contact with the ground more emphatically to the balls of your feet. If possible and necessary, stand sideways before a mirror to check that your body is straight. Now place your hands on your hips and swivel the base of your pelvis forward and upward. In purely physical terms your body is now capable of moving in any direction at the drop of a hat, much like a horse. In time you will also learn to direct your energy accordingly, so as to be alert and responsive to every demand for movement, even more like a horse.

Being in the moment

To experience the power of being, even if ever so briefly, we also need to enter the moment in which living creatures, such as the horse, truly live their lives: the here and now. Some humans spend their lives trying to live like this all of the time. Conscious, they strive to be fully aware of themselves and their immediate surroundings continuously, just like the horse. Most of us have huge difficulties doing this for any length of time. No wonder other living creatures have difficulties understanding us. What follows is a quick and dirty way of moving into the moment at the drop of a hat. Let us try it before seeking to understand how it works. Just follow the steps. If you do this exercise properly, you will be fully in the moment by the end of it.

  1. Assume the ground position.
  2. Breathe slowly and consciously and, as you do, try and lower the location of your breathing from your chest to your belly. Try to relax your abdomen when you do this.
  3. Once you manage to do this, focus your awareness on your head. Is it relaxed? Is there any area of tension within it? If there is, focus on that area and consciously seek to relax it before moving on to your neck and doing the same. Once your neck is relaxed, move on to your shoulders and repeat the process. Then go to the next part of your body and do the same, and so on until you reach your feet and you are aware of your entire body and are relaxed.
  4. Now focus your attention on your connection to the earth. Your body is an extension of the earth. You are rooted to it, grounded.
  5. While retaining this awareness of your body and its connection to the earth, extend it to include your immediate surroundings, using all of your senses where possible.
  6. Now, as you sense yourself and your surroundings, try and feel into what you are sensing, so that you become what you are aware of. Do not try to analyse it but simply accept and appreciate it for what it is, for this is your authentic, conscious energy.

If you have done this correctly, you should end up in a position which resembles how you would sit on a horse with all your energy focused in your core (in your abdomen about a hand’s width below your belly button) and your upper body entirely relaxed. More importantly, you will be aware of nothing but your body and your immediate surroundings. You will be entirely relaxed and whenever anything occurs, either inside your body or in your immediate surroundings, it will immediately register its presence as a phenomenon of which you are conscious. And once you are conscious of it, you may choose to focus on it or not.

What this means is that you will be so immersed in the immediacy of every moment, that your mind will not have an opportunity to wonder, for it will be entirely engaged in regulating your awareness of yourself and your surroundings. You will not have any capacity available for irrelevant thought. And because it is thought, and only thought, that has the ability to generate doubt, fear, regret and all other adverse feelings in the absence of any immediate catastrophe, annoyance or other negative influence, you will find yourself free of those sensations in the absence of thought. In a word, you will experience a sense of wellbeing and calm contentment. It is now that other living creatures, such as the horse, will feel free to come to you. How do I know this? Because this what our horses have shown me and continue to do so every single day.

In the unlikely event that you have not experienced this sense of wellbeing and calm contentment after performing this exercise and you feel capable of putting any negative influence aside for the brief period of time involved, why not try it again? But this time try and focus all your energy as you go, from the top of your head to the tips of your toes and then including your immediate surroundings. If it still does not work, there is clearly something really bothering you. This is probably as good a reason as any to read what I have written, for I have been where you are along the path from there to here and, as I have moved forward, I have drawn many lessons from the horses.


The power of being

Assuming that the exercise has worked for you and you have arrived at the cusp of being and an intense awareness of it, consider for a moment just what this state of conscious being involves. Every single part of us, including our often wayward mind, is involved in being and in being aware of being. As such we are alert and attentive to everything which occurs within us and our immediate surroundings. This means that we are capable of responding and initiating in an instant. And because our mind is so involved in its role of conscious monitor and assessor of being, it has little or no capacity available for a rational assessment of any stimulus followed by the process of devising a response and then implementing it. Instead we are more likely to respond intuitively in the moment, spontaneously drawing on all the physical and mental resources that we have at our disposal. And this likelihood is heightened by the fact that the mind is so preoccupied with conscious living that there is no room for doubt, fear or a considered assessment of eventualities (what-if scenarios, if you like). Instead, the only constant is being.


Sixth sense

It is in this state of total awareness that we are now open to one of the greatest, relatively unexplored and largely undeveloped gifts that we have at our disposal. I am referring to our ability to sense energy, our own and that of others, to influence and be influenced by other sources of energy, especially those of living creatures such as the horse, and to do all of this consciously and intuitively.

If at this stage you are beginning to wonder whether I am not edging too far towards the mystical realm of the fairies, stop and consider your own experience and perhaps what you may have even encountered in popular media reports on scientific research. Who, for instance, has not heard of communication between humans being largely non-verbal? We may listen to someone speaking but how we respond is predominantly determined by our sense of them and how they communicate, and not so much what they say. Alternatively, you may find yourself in a situation in which your mind suggests a logical response but your “gut” prompts you to do the opposite. What about the times when you have instinctively known that a close friend is about to arrive or call and they do? Or when you sense the presence of someone well before your physical senses confirm this?

All of these are examples of heightened awareness which seem to be inexplicable coincidences. Yet they occur so often that it beggars belief to consider them as mere examples of chance occurrences. Indeed, they are so frequent that we have also invented a term to describe the faculty within us which is capable of experiencing such heightened awareness. We half-jokingly refer to it as our “sixth sense”. Yet what if it is not a joke or even half of one? What if we do have a sixth sense? What if it is one which we can explore, and even develop, nurture and use?

The good news is that we do, we can and it is not a joke. What our sixth sense detects is energy in some form or another, yes the very thing which Einstein claims is found in everything that has mass. But do not believe me. Consider your own experiences of this sixth sense. Speak to others and listen to theirs. Still not convinced? If you have access to a herd of horses, spend some time watching them communicate. We have learned that certain subtle movements mean certain things but do they really on their own? For instance, you are probably aware that when a horse moves its ears back, it may be giving a warning. Yet horses do the very same thing when they doze. Clearly the same sign has not only different but opposite meanings. So how do we know which one applies? The energy behind it, surely? But let me play devil’s advocate. It could be the context in which it occurs rather than the energy behind it, couldn’t it? After all, the dozing horse is calm, while the creature flashing a warning is strident. Yet is this not indicative of the energy behind the sign? After all, if the horse flashing a warning was not strident but instead exhibited the energy of dozing within the context of warning, would anyone really take that warning seriously?

It is often claimed that in order to communicate with horses, we need to interact with them, as they do with each other in the wild. In particular, we need to show them that we are their leader and to learn their body language so that we can use it to communicate with them. This approach is based on three assumptions, the first being that horses do this with each other in the wild, the second being that some horses act as leaders and the third that they communicate with each other using no more than body language, meaning that we need to learn to do the same, to communicate with them as horses do.

The problem with this approach is that all three assumptions are false. The horse’s primary concern is to feel safe, secure and comfortable, preferably with creatures whom they know, namely, other members of their species. The closest examples of leaders in popular horse culture are the “lead” mare, whom we are usually told is an older experienced member of the herd who responds first to any sign of danger and “leads” the other horses to safety, and the stallion who keeps the group together, rounding up stragglers and chasing off competitors. Of course, if we examine matters more closely, we realise that the “lead” mare, if there is one, does not guide anyone to safety but merely moves to a place they feel is secure and the other horses follow, and that some mares choose to abandon even the fiercest stallion in favour of a rival. Even the stallions choose to keep their harem bands with the herd and in this sense also follow. Put another way, horses are not leaders but followers in that they choose to follow rather than to lead, and the path they follow is that of safety, security and comfort, preferably with their own kind and, if possible, a friend (the intense bonding of pairs of horses is legendary, as is the closeness of a harem band). Are we humans much different in this respect? And if a human is capable of offering safety, security and comfort, what might a horse choose to do?

The assumption that the horse communicates using no more than body language is one that I have already shown to be false. After all, the energy with which the horse uses its body to communicate is equally essential, if not more so. How do we know this? Because there are times when a horse need not even move its ears back to issue a warning. A look may be enough. We know this too from our observations of horses. Again though, it is the energy that is communicated through the eyes, which “speak”, as it were.

So does the horse – or any other species for that matter – really want us to act like another of their kind and try to communicate with them in the same way? Can we really fool the horse that we are also equines by trying to act as a member of their species? Or does the horse decline to ask anything of us, simply leaving it up to us to find a way to them as the kind of creature whom we exactly are … human … being … human? And if we find the way to being human, to fully being the authentic, congruent human that we are capable of becoming, could we learn to exploit our sixth sense in the way that horses do?

Some of the ancient civilizations of Asia teach us humans that we are capable of controlling our energy in the moment, and by doing so, of influencing ourselves and those around us. Slowly, this knowledge is beginning to filter into the world of horses. Mark Rashid has introduced it through his practice of Aikido. Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling has implemented it in his body and spiritual awareness exercises, an influence taken up and amplified by his former students, Noora Ehnqvist and Jason Alexander Wauters. Michael Bevilacqua and Linda Kohanov have shared it with us through their insightful writings. Increasingly, a growing number of us are taking what we have learned from Tai Chi Chuan (Taijiquan) and Chi Kung (Qigong), and are implementing it in our daily lives and interaction with our horses. Humans throughout the horse world are beginning to discover the power of being and its potential for improving their lives, those of their horses and the interaction between the species, especially when the mix is extended to include calm, patience, intent, flexibility and pliant strength.

This is a movement that is still in its infancy. Yet it is one which holds great promise. And this promise is not something that is far-removed like the light at the end of the tunnel. It is here to be plucked and relished at any time of our choosing. We can start on this journey whenever we want to and enjoy some of its benefits almost immediately, if we have not yet already done so. The first step is to assume the ground position. The second you already know. We are embarked on the path to the horse through the power of being.

In the months that follow I intend to explore this path more consciously and fully than I have so far. It is likely to culminate in a book setting out what I have learned. The working title for that book is The Power of Being, a celebration of the journey down this path. I suspect that this will mean fewer blog posts or perhaps none at all for some time to come. What will be, will be. For the moment, I would like to thank you for accompanying me on my journey in search of the master who dances with horses and for the support and feedback that you have given me along the way. I have found that master. May he continue to live within me and every single human who chooses to discover the power of being with horses. Be well!


Coming Soon!



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3 Responses to “The Power of Being with Horses”

  1. Dear Andrew

    What a wonderful post again. I admire your way of finding words to draw a picture. I am looking forward to reading your new book.

    The path you describe is the one I pursue. Four years ago I found the program called Mastering Alchemy by Jim Self (http://masteringalchemy.com). It is a long and slow process to shift oneself into the here and now be fully aware. These are exactly the steps that you also take with the horses. For example, if I can hold an energy for myself, my horses are so quick to fall in line with that and you can tell they like it.

    One of the best feelings – alignment with yourself.

  2. Kris says:

    Excited for your book! You are an excellent writer & horseman.

  3. Dear Andrew,

    QUOTE… You are influenced by this motion and perhaps influence it in turn…. UNQUOTE

    It is not “perhaps” … it IS… how do I know…I just Know …as we are all connected …I have been given to understand that we influence the Universe…our expansion creating expansion within the Universe even though we think the Universe is infinite… in a way beyond growth … yet if the Universe would not be able to expand we would not be able to expand … and we would stay stuck with the question “Who do I think myself to be” … so allowing ourselves to be curious about the Universal question “Who do I know myself to be” deepens our Knowing… and as we are in movement constantly as opposed to being static, meaning dead physically, all else is in constant movement …

    Not wishing to get all caged by scientific phenomena… phenomena which do have a purpose though … even if it was only to convince those people who opposed and still oppose non-scientific approaches … at the same time the chances are that one can get caught up in the caged thinking science represents … and then the interesting thing happening that what has been spiritually known for such a long time (if time exists anyway) scientists in the end prove as being “true” as well… OK it gives them something to do…something to keep them at work … doesn’t it ?

    QUOTE… and when there is motion, there is energy ….UNQUOTE
    I understand what you mean, Andrew, and I agree .. yet I wish to turn it around as energy was and has always been there and will always be there first 🙂

    QUOTE… The act of grounding is designed to allow us to reunite the mind with the body, to restore consciousness through all of our senses and to reunite feeling and thought in an experiential presence. And so we become again not a body dominating the mind or thought overriding the flesh but a being that is whole and aware of both itself and its immediate surroundings, authentic and congruent…..UNQUOTE

    It may be or feel about reuniting the body and the mind or the mind with the body, Andrew, to me it is more than that … it is about REUNITING HUMAN AND SPIRIT … where the mind plays its role … absolutely … after all we are here on this planet to experience being human and life on this planet requires ‘mind’ too … our ultimate purpose on this planet being and living our life as our Soul’s reflection … if we achieve that in this lifetime depends upon the decisions we make….

    And I am given to understand that there are many more life experiences for us to come….just like we have had many life experiences before this life situation so why try and make jumps … people are still convinced they cannot fly… so jumping is a bit risky…step by step is OK too …

    QUOTE I have found that master. May he continue to live within me and every single human who chooses to discover the power of being with horses. UNQUOTE

    Yes, Andrew, it is all about coming home to Self … if you call it “the master within” that is perfect…someone else may call it differently …. this “home coming” or “finding the master within” generating a feeling of deep INNER PEACE… so when we experience this deep Inner Peace we experience presence … and our horses will respond accordingly ….

    Thank you Andrew for putting the above in words like you have …you are so good at that…thank you for allowing yourself to look with expanded eyes… I am feeling happy and content that another seed has been dropped into sufficiently fertile soil… a beautiful plant will surface in time….

    Lots of love, Geerteke