Over the past few years, the way that I honor Epona has evolved from being in front of the altar to being in the saddle. I have focused on having a connection to Her through my connection with horses. Standing in front of my altar, I feel Her strength and calm at the core of my being. That same core has become central to riding and connecting with my horses.
There have been times when I’ve put my foot in the stirrup and known I shouldn’t ride. I’ve felt that nagging anger that rises and spills over for seeming no apparent reason. It means my inner self is in turmoil and I have no business being on a horse. It’s not always a dramatic feeling. Sometimes it’s a little thing, like getting irritated when the halter clip doesn’t come undone or my mare’s tail swats me in the face one too many times.
These are all things that should just roll off and be let go. They shouldn’t nag at me like some three-year-old kid asking for the eight time for some candy at a checkout line.
It’s more than just being centered and grounded. It’s about being fully in the present with my horse. Fully with her and aware. Letting go of what happened at work (or recognizing when I am too wound to let those things go) and enjoying the connection with my girl.
That’s what is at the core of it. Recognizing when the mood is there and we are good to work — both for me and for her. She has days when she’s had that same look in her eye that I get when I just had a crappy day. We do something else on those days. Sometimes we don’t ride. Other times we go on a trail ride, or set up obstacles in the ring and have fun playing with pool noodles.
When you commune with a deity, you don’t force the connection. You ground, center, and let go into the presence of your god(s). It’s like releasing into yourself to connect to the divine by traveling through your perceptions: a reaching in to reach out to Her.
It’s the same with riding. You have to listen to where you are emotionally and physically, and pay the same attention to your horse’s state as well. When you do, then it’s like magic because you work together, you connect and things that seemed more difficult because of poor communication are within reach.
This past year my mare and I have made more progress than we have in the past three years combined. We had a lesson a few weeks back and my girl suddenly started engaging her hindquarters so her impulsion increased. Her trot went from silky smooth to feeling like a bouncing ball.
And I laughed for the sheer joy of feeling her move and how we could work as a team. How we could be connected.
It was a ridden prayer to Her.