Back to Back Issues Page
The Whole Horse No. 36 - Giving Is Receiving
March 31, 2014

Giving Is Receiving

Spotlight On Philosophy:

Intention is Everything

There are so many different ideas and methodologies surrounding working with horses, how can we really know whether we are hurting our horse or not?

Is there an absolute truth which can separate those who are capable of torture and cruelty and those who are not?

How do we know the line?

Some people believe that using draw-reins and riding their horses in Rollkür is not hurting them, and other people believe that using any mouthpiece is abusive.
Many people spend all their spare money and time on their horses, yet they keep them in a highly artificial environment, although they love them.
Other people keep their horses naturally, but they don't give them a lot of time, and they wouldn't say they love them - they are only animals after all.

In searching for answers to these issues, we came up against one question that has always been at the root of our philosophy, of our entire approach to keeping horses… who is it all for?

If we hadn't taken a spiritual path (although, as we see it, this is the path everyone is on, whether we are aware of it or not), we might not have been encouraged to explore this question so deeply in our horsemanship. After all, the bottom line of why human beings spend such a lot of time, money and effort on horses is for their own pleasure.

Looking at it honestly, we came to the realizations we have made in a back-to-front way.

Our passion has always been, above and beyond having horses around and being in their company, the physical connection - the development of that athletic, spiritual, energetic partnership which happens when we get on a horse.

We only have to see how the youngsters watch us riding the older horses in fascination, and with enthusiasm, to know that, for them there is also a magic seed of something they wish to explore.

So, in seeking the truth of this phenomenon of 'engagement' between human and horse, we discovered our first big truth. In a sense it encompasses everything, we discovered that Expectations Spoil Everything.

As soon as you have a 'want' or a goal, a judgement or a need in your mind and your body about a horse, any horse, it is the beginning of the end. You are collapsing what should be a vibrant network of buzzing possibilities and endless potential into one impossible place. This place, which only exists as a result of our ego, is the land of 'could be', 'should be' and 'I wish'. It is the bleakest place imaginable, because it doesn't exist. This is the land of expectations - a landscape of endless disappearing mirages.

Although it may have seemed before that it was our expectations that spurred us into action, in fact, as soon as we gave up the struggle of listening to this storyteller of lies, we experienced both an immensely motivational freedom, and a vast relief. We also understood, when the mist cleared, that we could see the absolute truth that lay beneath.

Giving Is Receiving

Everyone has to come to this realization sooner or later if they seek happiness. It is the Law of the Universe.

It binds everyone into one, and accepting it frees us to experience one-ness.

As soon as we could comprehend that what we loved, above-all, about our relationship with horses was giving them what makes them feel good, we experienced a kind of epiphany. All of the doubts and grievances either melted away or took on a different tone. The suffocating feeling of obligation lifted.

The new feeling of being able to offer something to the horses felt expansive and golden, like breathing fresh air at last.

And guess what? You don't end up with less when you do everything authentically for your horse - quite the opposite.

Although we gave up many of the conventional trappings of keeping horses - for example, the whole idea of shiny-coated animals waiting in their stables for you to come and tack them up - we discovered that we didn't need to give up riding. Even though it often is a form of exploitation, we knew that riding could also be the most valuable gift we had to offer horses. Bringing them into a different state of bodymind, it could give rise to a heightened reality which nourished them in a more profound way even than giving them the best, most 'natural' horse lifestyle we could create.

Everything we have come to understand so far about horses has been thanks to this one unassuming little phrase: Giving is Receiving. It has taken us from engagement to barefoot, through so many other areas of discovery, and we know it won't end here. The journey is as enriching for us as it is for the horses we take it with.

If we could give one gift to anyone who loves horses it would be these words. Peel it right down to the core, get as deep into you heart as possible, and ask yourself:

Who it is all for?

…you will never look back.

HHT's Try This At Home Tip

When you are in different situations with your horse/s, or even just when you think about them, try to think of asking yourself this simple but fundamental question:

Am I in a state of giving towards the horse, or am I in a mindset of taking?

The state of 'taking' can manifest in many ways - expectation is one of the most common, but it can also exist as anxiety, dominance, being demanding, aggressive, or taking things personally.

The state of giving, on the other hand, can be behind many different actions, but it always has, at root, a feeling of love, expansiveness, well-being and calm confidence. It is, by nature, a positive energetic state.

If you become aware of an underlying 'taking' feeling, see if you can make this shift in your state of being towards giving.

It might seem like quite an ethereal thing, but your horse will be well-aware of it, and it has the potential to improve everything about your relationship. You may well also find that it leads you towards a richer understanding of things, in whatever way is right for you to learn - whether that be from external sources of information, or from your own intuitive connection.

On the road to a deep, fulfilling relationship with your horse, this question is the signpost at every cross-road, capable of guiding you in the right direction.

Enjoy this newsletter? Click here to share it on Facebook:


Happy Horse Training now has Google +1 and Pinterest Pinit buttons! If you enjoy the site, please click to help us share it.

The HHT group on Facebook is growing, join in!

See and share topical news, info and photo's on the Happy Horse Training Facebook group. Once you join you can take part in lively, friendly discussion on subjects relevant to holistic equitation, and make contact with like-minded people all over the world.

Just Click here to go to the HHT group page, and then click on the 'join group' button at the top right of the page.

Sharing the Holistic Message

If you enjoy the Happy Horse Training website, and you find the information on it useful, please help us to share it by clicking on the Facebook 'like' and 'share' buttons that are on each page (you can also share this newsletter by clicking on the symbol above). Any other way you can pass the site on to friends and colleagues, for example via discussion forums, is also greatly appreciated.

You can also sign up to our RSS feed (blog) to be kept up to date with new ideas, pages and other information that we post there. Just click on the box that says 'subscribe to this site' at the left of each page.

The equestrian world is one dominated by traditionalist ideas and conventions, but we would like to help inform the growing minority of horse-owners who want to make their horses happier with progressive and holistic methods.

Happy Horse Training now has over 100 pages exploring many different areas of holistic equitation. Do have a look through our site plan to find the subjects and categories that interest you.

Available from HHT:

The Gymnastic Rider eBook

Available exclusively from HHT, a unique and comprehensive guide to practical rider biomechanics. This professionally produced eBook takes the rider through the process of developing their body in the specific way that brings the horse's movement into harmony and balance, without force and constraint.

The information in this book, including over 55 000 words, represents what we would normally pass on in a minimum of 12 specialist lunge lessons, focusing on each part of the position and its influence on the horse, with a value of at least €450. The Gymnastic Rider is available for only €29.99.

Click here for full details, and to download the 15-page introduction to the book for free.

How to Train a Horse Without Force eBook

The first part in HHT's Training series, this unusually profound and well-written e-book gives a unique holistic understanding of training horses, from the very first contact with a young horse, through to a thoroughly explained method of lunging, that is beneficial for any horse, not just in preparation for first riding, but at any stage of training.

With your purchase you will receive a free bonus supplement on Horse Trauma - cutting edge insights on this subject that up until now have mostly been applied only to human trauma. This supplement shows how to recognise, avoid and deal with horse trauma, which is much more common that we realise.

These two e-books - How to Train a Horse Without Force and Horse Trauma comprise more than 75 thousand words and are richly illustrated. They are available for only 19.99 Euros (around $26). Click here for more details.

Other HHT Products:

The Simple Seven-Step Natural Trim eBook

Learn how to perform the ideal barefoot trim with this comprehensive how-to guide.

Click here to visit Happy Horse Training

Back to Back Issues Page