Heart of the Horse

Her name was Ruby. She was a striking, powerfully-built black and white horse known as a “Gypsy Vanner”. Her ancestors pulled the colorful wagons that gypsies lived in, bringing to mind my own Bohemian ancestors. Although I had some experience with horses, Ruby and her two stable mates were the first Gypsy Vanner horses I had ever met. I immediately felt a strong connection to Ruby.  She was solidly built, sturdy. When she looked me directly in the eye, I knew right away that she had a message for me. I just didn’t know yet what it was.

I met Ruby at a Wisdom Horse Coaching Workshop called “Challenges and Changes”. Wisdom Horse Coaching uses equine-guided education to help people discover things about themselves. Horses are highly intuitive herd animals who need their acute awareness of their environment to survive. At Wisdom Horse Coaching, we let the horses’ intuition guide us and reflect back information about ourselves.

At the “Challenges and Changes” workshop, I was concerned with the new book I was writing and developing. The book was designed to keep all the important records for your dog in one place, and also had a resources section with information on how to keep your dog safe, how to prepare for a disaster, and more. I felt that creating this book was a calling for me. It was important for me to share what I had learned from my post-Katrina animal rescue experience, to help dog lovers organize their dogs’ records and prepare to keep their dogs safe in any situation. The book had a journal-like format, with photo pages, a sealed pocket for records, and tabbed index pages to mark important sections. Developing it had turned out to be like managing an engineering project. I had been told that it couldn’t be done, that the only place I might be able to get such a book made was in China. That seemed silly to me when so many people in the United States were out of work. So I stubbornly searched until I found a way to make the book entirely in the U.S.A. My concern though was that I myself was out of work. Money was tight and I was trying to find a way to produce this book without going broke. I was very excited about the content and the design, but I had concerns about my ability to complete the book without getting myself in financial trouble. I arrived at the workshop with questions like, “Do I need to find a job right away?”, “Will I be able to finish this book?”, and “Am I on the right track?”

The three horses at the workshop were named Petal, Ruby, and Zanna. Our group began the workshop with questions or concerns in mind that we each wanted to present to the horses for feedback. The group sat in chairs on one end of the indoor arena. We took turns working with the horses, with three people going out at a time, each approaching one of the horses. As I waited my turn, I figured that I would work with Ruby. I had a very strong feeling that she had something to tell me.

I was one of the last two people to work with the horses. The other woman announced right away that she wanted to work with Ruby and went right over to her. So I approached the other two horses. Petal was most receptive to me. Through my thoughts, I asked her if I was on the right track. I got the message back from her to “just keep doing what you’re doing and quit questioning yourself”. When I asked her if I should find a job right away (which would slow down my progress on the book), she ground her teeth! When I asked her if I should create a similar book for horses, she actually nodded her head. Petal was very sweet and relaxed, and seemed tuned in to me. But I still wondered what Ruby had to say.

Jenny with Petal

We returned to our seats and began to discuss our experiences. After I sat down, I noticed Ruby walking in my direction. One of the handlers held her lead rope, trying to keep her from standing too close to the seated participants. But Ruby seemed determined to keep moving in my direction. I knew then that she had a message for me that she still needed to deliver. I watched as she continued to try to get to me. At the same time, the woman who had tried to work with Ruby during our session stated that when she approached Ruby, the horse hadn’t seemed interested and tried to move away. That sounded curious, like perhaps Ruby had felt that she should be working with me too. As we spoke about our experiences, Ruby kept pulling the handler toward me. She wasn’t allowed to approach from the front because they were concerned about her stepping on someone’s feet. But she kept insisting on moving in my direction, and eventually came around behind me and placed her head on my shoulder. I felt her warm horse breath as her handler remarked on how Ruby had insisted on getting to me. There Ruby held her head and I stroked her while I finally understood her message: “Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something”.

As soon as I met Ruby, I knew with my whole being that she had a message for me. I didn’t do anything special; I just remained open and receptive. The fact that I didn’t doubt my intuition or doubt Ruby for a minute helped me to be open to her message. When she was trying to make her way over to me, I knew long before anyone else exactly what she was trying to do. By the time she reached me, her handler realized it too. Ruby was a very determined horse with a very important message that she acted out that day. “Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something”. Message understood. Thanks Ruby. The Bohemian in me is dancing.

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