Riding and honoring Her

Deity, Horses, Personal practice No Comments »

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.

Happy Eponalia!

Horses 2 Comments »

Happy Eponalia! Every year I try to do something on December 18th to honor Epona. Whether it’s fixing a special meal, leaving offerings on the altar, or going out to the barn to visit with the mares, this day is my major holiday of the year.

To celebrate Her feast day, I had a friend over and we cooked several recipes we found online and in the book Classical Living. We made cucumeres, soft boiled eggs with pine nut sauce, shrimp with scallions, and an incredible apple cake (from the book Classical Living). This was my friend’s first time celebrating Eponalia. We cooked the meal together and talked about deity, horses, and how the relationship with each is similar. After dinner, we went to my altar and lit incense as an offering.

It was wonderful evening. I’ll have to find the apple cake recipe and post it here. It was scrumptious.


Summer of the Mares

Deity, Horses, Processing 2 Comments »

My calf injury seems to be a way of slowing me down — as if to say, hey you need to look at this other thing… Instead of always being the one putting out energy, I should let my own energy be replenished by the horses

Suddenly I find myself with five mares to play with. So this summer, my horses are my teachers. I have these gifts in the pastures and they are my opportunity to learn more.

I started reading again. I’m several chapters into Zen Mind, Zen Horse. It is so nice to feel excited about reading and learning and knowing I have this great adventure awaiting me this summer.

This summer of the Mares.

Insights when gimpy

Deity, Horses, Processing No Comments »

I had a very interesting discussion with the barn owner last night. I explained how I felt about teaching and that I felt conflicted because I want my former students to have the training they deserve (even if I’m really not the right person to teach them any more).

The barn owner kept me company while I was treating my mare’s back for the nasty case of rain rot she had. Because I injured my calf a few weeks back, I was gimping around and my poor mare was cringing from me washing her back.

The barn owner noted that she thought that there was a connection between my calf injury (which inhibits my mobility and causes me to slow down), what was happening with the horses (which means I can’t ride or do much with them), and what was happening in NorthWind.

She said that she felt that I needed to focus on the horses. I suddenly have Mom’s mares at the barn plus my own. And that I needed to enjoy the energy of my horses and let them replenish me.

I can be so stubborn some times that I don’t always hear the message She is giving me. It takes talking to someone and hearing another perspective for the light to click on.

And the light did click on in a big way. I’ve had this large stack of books to read but haven’t started reading. It was as if I was blocked from reading, like I didn’t want to take on another project.

It’s coming together for me now. I am blessed with three of my own mares and two additional gorgeous mares to learn from this summer.

By the end of the evening at the barn, I hadn’t worked any of my girls, I had only tended to their rain rot and talked with a friend. I felt refreshed and like a weight had been lifted.

That night, I read several chapters in Zen Mind, Zen Horse.

Hoof to the rump

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Some times things happen happen and you wonder if it is another Message from deity to get your attention. I have been trying to listen more and be more attentive at my altar. It’s not always easy to stop everything and listen. It’s easier to leave an offering of incense or carrots, say a thank you, and then continue into the day.

I try to be good but some times there has been a stack of issues that make it easier to not have to deal with them. It’s like looking at mirror and ignoring the reflection. In the past year, I’ve lost three family members who were major influences in my life. My horse-crazy Aunt, who understood all of my calls about horse tales and cat stories. When my aunt passed, my sister and I tried to get hold of our father’s brother, only to find out that he had died shortly after our aunt.

Six months later, my entire world shattered when my horse died. She had had many medical issues, but she was a huge part of my life for 18 years. A friend of mine commented that for me, losing my mare was the equivalent of losing a child. She meant the world to me and left a huge void by her absence. My younger mare has not filled that void, but instead has shifted the universe to her realm.

I miss my girl with all my heart. She is with my deity now: I felt her go. I have felt my mare’s presence with Her. It’s almost a year now since I lost my girl. With a loss like this, it’s something you process in in chunks. It comes back and comes up in places you don’t expect it. (More on that in another post.)

When my 6 year old and 27 year old mares both ended up with injuries today, I took it as a definite message. Focus. Listen. My old girl had an abscess that was lanced today and the youngster cut open her shoulder. Neither one is serious, but it’s a wake up call.



Density and listening

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When I get stressed, I often forget to listen to a lot of internal voices: intuition, connection with horses, connection with deity, etc. It’s as if the stress of whatever the situation is causes me to become disconnected, unrooted. My energy bottles safely in my throat / heart / solar plexus chakras and doesn’t reach out.

My deity is patient. This situation comes up every now and then. Most of the time, I realize what is happening, analyze my reactions, and take steps to remove myself from the stress or work through it. Resolving the stress lets me reground and reconnect — and listen.

In those instances when I am either slow in recognizing I’ve fallen in the stress-unground-head-up-butt pattern, She lets me know with subtle hints at first, finally escalating to hoof-to-butt bruises. (Nothing will dislodge head-from-butt faster than an appropriately placed hoof.)

A few weeks ago, I was in a serious rut. There had been some major stresses, one after the other, and I hadn’t caught the stress cycle in time. I was making daily offerings in the morning, but I wasn’t really listening to what She had to say. Instead, I was leaving an offering and then quickly going about the business of getting ready for work.  The normal reminders weren’t getting through: minor car issue, horse having minor issue, recognizing that connection with my horse wasn’t as clear as it should be, etc.

What final message knocked me about the head enough that I realized what was going on? I fell and twisted my ankle. A few days later, my mare had a windpuff and was lame — back right foot, just like my right ankle. Talk about a wake up call. (My mare was fine after a few days. The swelling went down immediately.) At some point, you realize that the stupid little things that have been happening aren’t just stupid little things… they are an escalating series meant to get your attention.

I’m dense, so in this case, I had to be physically stopped and forced to work from home where I had to have my leg up. Working from my bed in sight of my altar every morning.

Hello, clue phone, I finally heard you.