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March 24, 2015: The Heart and the Mind

Maria Wulf is an upstate New York fiber artist. She and I have recently had a very brief horse-related conversation. Much to our collective chagrin, she’s recently become horse obsessed. She has figured out that both big and small horses have the same nobility of spirit. She wrote “I’m intrigued by the idea of preserving that spirit. My mind asks why but my heart already understands.”

I was blown away by her response. And further, it got me to thinking hard about the heart-mind relationship as this relates to horses. My emerging perspective is that both are equally important. An example centers around

my beliefs as to what constitutes good writing. Good writing has to have both – the mind wants specific details, a logical structure, and a comprehensible story line. And it should have heart, which is a concern for the horse and/or human condition.

I recently read a book entitled Trust not Dominance, and was very disappointed because the writer chatted on, aimlessly, and in the end said little at all. And I just got another book entitled Breathe Life into your Riding, which is a book in which the writer pretty much does the same thing. These books lack mind and heart.

I want, in reading, to be saying “yes, yes, yes” I am one with the narrator and all the characters. I don’t have to like either, but this doesn’t mean that I can’t be one with them. Falling for Eli, Nancy Shulin’s book, keeps my attention in this way. She was infertile and subsequently purchased a horse. However, she never figured out or explained to us why she needed to have something in her life that she could love unconditionally.

I’m beating around the bush here. I’d like to think that I’m now a proponent of heart-based reasoning. An example – I can put heart based reasoning into practice by listening to what all our animals are attempting to tell me. For instance, this morning Ryder jumped up on me as I was putting on my boots. I pretty quickly figured out that she was telling me that she wanted to go out with me and hang out while I tended to the horses. So I took into account what she was saying and took her with, rather than the goats, which I usually let out of the pen. The goats then told me that they were most interested in eating. And it didn’t matter to them if they got out, just so long as they were fed. So I tossed some hay into their outside box, and they were just fine.

Heart based reasoning involves doing by example. What humans need to do is emulate the best attributes of our animals – particularly when they exhibit kindness, loyalty, and respect – all things that are essential to our forging relationships with themselves and one another. As I’ve discovered, insisting that any creature, human or otherwise, do something, never works. You may get them to do what you want, but their being grudging about it means that you, in all respects, have failed miserably.

Last night I found the February agility scores. Yes, Raudi and I placed first in the starter pony division with a score of 98 out of 100. I then found the March first level pony course. Oh my – I then realized that Raudi and I moved up a notch. This month’s course is going to be tougher. And we only have until the end of March to get er done. My first thought was that we can’t do this in a week. Then I thought, wait, yes we can. My mind is telling me that we can do this if we use our time well. And my heart is telling me that we can continue to have fun.

And so what if we don’t get things right? So what if she refuses to trot when I ask her to do so? So what? I am not going to fret about these things. Rather, I’m just going to enjoy being with my absolutely wonderful mare, who I love to pieces. And by example, our resultant video will show us having a good time.

Heart-mind based reasoning. I like it. I’m going to go far with this one.

Next: 78. 3/25/15: Setting Up the Agility Course

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