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Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling has gained international recognition as an expert on the body language of horses. His methods are deeply rooted within natural horsemanship, which emphasises a non-violent partnership between horses and humans. This is an increasingly popular training method among equestrians worldwide. In this lavishly illustrated book, Klaus explains his system of communicating naturally with the instincts and nature of horses. The reader follows the progress of Arab stallion Marouk, and Lusitano stallion Queijo, in discovering a confident and harmonious relationship with their rider. Giving comprehensive insight into Hempfling's methods, the horses' progress is documented step-by-step, uncovering old wounds in the process that have resulted in their difficult behaviour. Readers will discover the fascinating process of understanding horses through the fine art of body language.
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IT IS NOT IWHO SEEKTHE HORSE,
A book by
Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling
Copyright of the print edition© 2010 by Uitgeverij Rozhanitsa, Kampen, The Netherlands
Copyright of the English print edition © 2010 by Cadmos Publishing Ltd., London
English translation: Helen McKinnon
Title photograph: KFH Archive
Cover design: Ravenstein + Partner, Verden, Germany
Design and Layout of the print edition: Bert van het Ende, Uitgeverij Rozhanitsa, Kampen, The Netherlands
Photographs: KFH Archive, unless otherwise stated
Illustrations: Malene Lütken
Editorial: Christopher Long
Printed by: Grafisches Cetrum Cuno, Calbe
E-Book conversion: Satzweiss.com Print Web Software GmbH
All rights reserved: No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilized in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data catalogue record of this book is available from the British Library.
You’ve bought a horse - now what? The author was once confronted with this question. He began searching and found them, his answers, among the wild horses and the natural environment in which they live. Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling is now known throughout the international horse world as the master of body language. In this book, he gives the reader profound and easy-to-understand insights into his unique art - which can then be copied step-by-step.
The reader can learn to move confidently in this world, where clarity, trust and presence are shaped into such clear signals that our horses immediately react to them positively and with unprecedented spontaneity.
Following on from the author’s international bestseller “Dancing with horses”, now regarded as a cult classic all over the world, this book is the long-awaited practical continuation.
KLAUS FERDINAND HEMPFLING
is widely regarded as a master of equine body language. This book is the long-awaited follow up to the author’s international bestseller, Dancing with Horses, now regarded as a classic all over the world. In this long-awaited new groundbreaking book, he shares the foundation of his profound insights into his unique art.
Here, Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling takes the reader to the very heart of his world of understanding horses. Using detailed, step-by-step illustrations and photographs, he shows us the basics and the first moments of togetherness with a horse, as well as the various types of development that leads up to the very highest levels of riding.
The development of different horses has been captured in minutely detailed photographs, commissioned especially for this book. The result is a unique and intimate documentation of the work of this exceptional horseman’. (Horses for Life)
In his own words, Hempfling says: ‘I’ve ventured forward in many different respects with this book. In it, I write about lots of methods, emotions, states and practical experiences, for the first time. On a one-to-one basis, I describe how I come close to horses, how I lead them to themselves and persuade them to break out of their inner and outer shells, so that they may finally dance freely. It has really got it all.’
The book is a remarkably rich work, filled with practical, theoretical and spiritual references – a must for any rider or horse lover, whatever their discipline.
WORKING WITH HORSES USING KLAUS' METHODSnot only offers us the potential for a close relationship with the horse, it also offers us the key to unlock our inner depths, our intuition and our spirituality, to find our purpose, our peace.‘The Organic Equine’, New ZealandI HAVE NEVER SEEN A NATURLAT HORSEMAN LIKE HIM.Whether you appreciate or not what this man does with horses, you will leave his workshops with an incredible amount of food for thought and you will never approach horses in quite the same way again.‘Horses for LIFE’
Like a cloud falling from the sky
Shortly after I finished writing this book, 12-year-old PRE stallion Harmón came into my life.
A course participant brought him to one of my compact schoolings. This impressive being had grown apart from his owner and she subsequently handed him over to various professional trainers, leading to his psychological and spiritual death. The video clip Breeding Stallion Harmón Reborn tells us this story, but also about the horse that he became after I had worked with him for around 2 weeks. No more depression, no more sadness - but trust, happiness and exuberance instead. In that course I described the stallion as Pegasus, saying “This kind of horse is like a cloud that floats between heaven and earth, full of gentleness. There is power within him, strength and the potential to amass violently, but also the ability to simply disappear”. In my book, What horses reveal, I write that this kind of horse may simply evaporate if you do not understand how to live with the lightness of a cloud, with its freedom. The stallion came back to his owner. She tried and then she let the young horse cover a mare. Seconds later he fell down in front of her – dead. Like a cloud falling from the sky. It keeps appearing in my book – splendid, powerful, gentle. What does it tell us?
Foreword - The practical and spiritual foundations of Life with horses
About the structure of this book
Part of the problem or part of the solution?
Calling a spade a spade
Focus on practical work with horses
Scarcely perceptible traces
1 We are concerned with the horseBut the horse is concerned with the world and what goes on in it
Make a change?
About how we deal with animals, plants and the environment
Of skippers and knights
It is not I who seek the horse, the horse seeks me . . .
Riding as a holistic experience
2 Body language in detailAn initial approach with practical examples
What is body language?
Form is determined by precise, pared-down simplicity
Divorced from reality?
. . . a mystery?
Beginning, journey and destination –
3 The first decisionLook, look through, decide and distinguish
Please judge for yourself
An overview of the three ways of being with horses
When the soul dies. Rico’s day
The first decision
If the foundations are right, then little or no further training is required
4 Marouk’s long, yet short journeyA ‘royal child ’ finds his dignity
Marouk loses his fear of loading
Marouk’s essence and character
Marouk finds his expression . . .
The first parallelism
The magic of the moment in time and space
The backbone of togetherness with horses
Why I value fearfulness in horses
How do I do it?
Marouk becomes bombproof
On the third day of the correction period, the trailer comes into play
Loading: we are almost there
Loading: the last step
5 Body language in detailOut with the old
Opening up to reality
Adjusting your heartbeat
Escaping everyday stress
The beginnings and the chaos
Composure as an expression of readiness to act at any time
Instant success guaranteed?
Strengthen the foundations, examine the starting point
Communication – the essentials
Like a lump of clay or butter in the sun
Self-evidence always? Closeness always?
6 Through free expression to perfection Part 1
A brief preview
The perfected horse
The laughing horse
The moments of absolute composure – symbol of perfection, shape and power
The fundamental path
The basic position – the basic stance
Keep working from the back to the front
7 Creating a solid foundationThe art of natural lungeing
Do little, but make it precise, gentle, careful and clear
A surprisingly different picture
The start of harmony, from beginning to end
Practice makes perfect: following tracks like a train
Turning the horse away, in detail
Guiding the horse in, in detail
The benefit of moderation and reservation
Dancing the power
A drop of potassium permanganate
The rearing stallion and three broken vertebrae
What should be done?
Lots of noise, or subtle signs –
100 per cent –
The narcissistic rider, or the inability to allow closeness
About Bert, the absolute quiet and the archer
8 Through unfettered expression to perfectionPart 2
The golden platform
As light as a fly
A question of body language –pressure or freedom?
Fitness, stamina and artistry?
A continuous changing of direction and form, circumference, gait and tempo
Surprising and new:
The aim: self-carriage
Relaxation is still present in the collection. It facilitates the weight-bearing strength, expression and self-carriage
The whole spectrum
The dance begins –
Another important focus using the example of work with Xingu
9 Practice from the beginningAlways ‘embrace’ the whole horse
Practical experience based on the first level
How did it really happen with Naranjero?
Always ‘embrace’ the whole horse –
About our ‘vital circle’, the natural reference and the natural competition
‘Embracing’ the horse when leading
Come or don’t come –
About the power of pausing –
Pressure or stimulus
Our body language gives us a very conscious and important option: distance
A double dose of success –
The most important lessons concerning closeness and distance so far
A very natural process –
The invisible transitions between the gaits –
About changing gait smoothly
10 Now everything comes togetherBody language in detail 3
Memories of Gotland and the first moon landing –
Now everything comes together
Closeness, devotion and unity come from fighting, doubt and protest
Solving the problem ‘incidentally’
Winning, not fighting
Do what has to be done, even if you have never done it before
A few more observations from practical experience
11 The Magic Circle
The Magic Circle –
The Hilary revelation
A wonderful practical lesson –
What should you pay attention to, in particular?
An overview of the first possible exercises in the Magic Circle
Working with Jack in the Magic Circle
Jack and his owner go through their first task
The all-important – plan and programme or feeling and being?
Magic Circle highlights
12 Body language and biopositive riding
Riding – the basics
My world of riding
Riding – a gigantic iceberg
How the pictures compare
Translation, formula and code – or nature?
No time for physical – mental moulding?
An unreachable expectation?
Essential agreement –
The key aspects of biopositive weight and posture aids
Fascinating shoal of fish
Closeness to a horse never comes from the desire for closeness.
Closeness to a horse comes only from closeness to one’s inner self.
Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling
Two recent events form the practical backbone of this book. Both were captured in detailed photographs, to document and describe the essence of my work with horses more explicitly than ever before. Together, both events essentially form the entire foundations of my practical work with horses. The first event was the arrival of an Arab stallion, Marouk. He arrived exactly three days late, primarily because of one of his ‘problems’: he was difficult to load. This ‘problem’ was supposed to be, indeed had to be, solved urgently. After I had worked with the stallion six times for around 15–20 minutes each time over a period of three days, he followed me happily and confidently into the trailer with a rope loosely around his neck.
This story is essentially very short, but it is interesting because the horse actually had an abundance of behavioural patterns that all had to be resolved first. The result is an account of a short, yet long journey that takes us from discovery to solution, then to the next discovery and again on to the next solution. The dynamic that lies within these processes and that fundamentally characterises my work will become very clear in this example. The documentation of this process shows the basic path that I take to get closer and closer to horses precisely looking directly at their problems or injuries, one after the other, in their interests and in terms of their healing and growth, to ‘clean and heal’ them. Horses are considerably less complicated than people, so it is a very easy process, providing the conditions are right, namely the conditions within ourselves. I explain all of the practical and theoretical details in relation to this first key story, to further draw out the essentials in detail.
A second event forms the next important pillar as the book progresses: the arrival of the Lusitano stallion, Queijo. Naturally, I started off by getting to know him, in the same way as with Marouk. The photographs and illustrations in this book explain clearly the fundamental principle involved, and show how Queijo learnt to ‘dance’, his long journey to physical liberation and ‘rediscovery’ of himself. In essence, this is the foundation of my practical work with horses, from the ground up.
If you consider the whole, you are clearly not yet considering everything. I have included a brief chapter at the beginning of this book that describes the humans’ relationship to animals and the environment from two fundamentally different perspectives. I only added this chapter later on, and I have to admit I deliberated for a long time as to whether to include it at all. In the end, the balance was tipped by the era in which we currently live.
It’s spring 2009, the world is staggering under a global crisis, the like of which we have never experienced before, but what does this have to do with horses? A great deal, strangely enough, because, like no other important mythological figure, horses have always simultaneously represented man’s two paths: namely the path where man is part of the problem, and the path where man smoothly and simply becomes part of the solution, and then feels at home both with himself and in himself. In fact, that is the essence of the situation that occurs every time a person is confronted with a real live horse.
The rider is either part of the problem, or part of the solution. I have had to learn to be cautious with descriptions like this and wait carefully for the right moment. I hope that this is it.
This is also new. I will explicitly compare the three possible ways of being with horses in a later chapter. There are many variations, but fundamentally, three basic principles can be attributed to each of the ways. It seems to me that the time has come where I can no longer put off highlighting misunderstandings and mistakes that have caused a great deal of confusion, especially in recent years.
In the end, togetherness with horses is always a question of trust and dominance. In the book Dancing with Horses, I explicitly introduced this concept into the horse world and described the inner relationship between the two. But what is often the reality? Instead of dominance and trust, we often find different types of training that actually ‘bypass’ each of these qualities, creating a kind of pretence. And after all, pretence is how many a wolf has worn sheep’s clothing.
In my practical work, I now stick very closely to a didactic path which leads from ‘spiritual, holistic perception’ to the ‘physical’ consideration of the distinct authentic experience. Finally this leads to the question of how that can be expressed and used in encounters with horses. This book breathes that spirit, but it is still primarily focused on practical work with horses. More books are expected to follow that will explain the other areas in more detail.
Riding a horse has been presented as a very global quantity in this book. I did not want to go into things I have already written about, but having said that, I wanted to re-present the phenomenon of riding as an authentic, holistic experience. It is an attempt to bring a superordinate concept full circle and to go into the practical details in greater depth, at the same time.
The title of this book is obviously risky. For one thing, it is far too long, and it also runs the risk of appearing to depart from actual practical experience. Yet the complete opposite is true. It is practical experience, and being with these large, fast, powerful and potentially dangerous creatures, which means that this sentence is entirely born out of practice. Two or three books could be written about this sentence alone, but I will spare my readers that and stick to two or three pages, safe in the knowledge that we will agree about so many things at the end. In particular, I am sure we will agree about those scarcely perceptible traces that have not been covered by this book, but that can hopefully be read between the lines.
All that remains to be said is that this book can be understood as such and on its own. However, many of the technical principles about working in a Picadero, with and without ropes, and about the aids used in riding and communicating with the horse from the ground, are described in my first book, Dancing with Horses. You can find the basic principles for recognising the nature of a horse in the book, What Horses Reveal.
Looking back over nearly 20 years of teaching experience, I am doing what I can to pass on what I believe I know in this book. I do not hesitate to speak my mind, and on that note …
Klaus Ferdinand HempflingLyoe, Denmark, April 2010
We will meet Queijo (a ten-year-old Lusitano stallion) frequently throughout this book. He came to me for four weeks of training. I would like to use his example to illustrate the change that horses undergo when you give them both freedom and stability, then every horse will begin to dance – in his own unique way.
When the eight-year-old Arab stallion Marouk arrived at the training farm, he was very wild. His owner had had problems leading him, he had become aggressive and he was difficult to load. This book describes in detail the path that the author and the stallion travelled during their first three days together.
A few days ago a man from Austria sent me an e-mail in which he wrote ‘not losing optimism in the face of the realities of this world and all of the enormous global threats seems to me to be virtually impossible’. His letter continued, ‘You obviously seem to manage it, but if people no longer know who they really are, how can they possibly be in a position to change anything?’
When I talk about horses, I cannot ignore the world and the life that goes on in it. It is related to the actual behaviour of the horses, and at the same time, to their significance as an ancient symbol. To get a better understanding and to grasp the immediate and general world around me, I turned to horses, on the trail of myths and mythology, traditions and those dreams that once drew me as a child to the legends of our fathers and their heroes.
Today I know that really positive, authentic togetherness with a horse is always based on a positive, authentic approach to life. A horse can see through any mask. He can recognise sadness, despondency, fear and despair, but also inner strength, calmness and happiness, and he reacts accordingly.
If I am faced with a personal problem, I start by trying to find a structure, a kind of order.That is also of fundamental importance when dealing with horses. Working with horses really forces us to achieve the greatest possible clarity, otherwise things rapidly become problematic, annoying and frustrating, not to mention dangerous. The magic is lost. Working with horses forces us to look very closely. Every illusion, every deceptive facade and every falsification of reality has direct consequences that are reflected to us ad hoc. That is what is unique about working with horses, that you cannot hide anything from them. The precision with which they can reflect what is hidden in us, through their behaviour, in their own unique way, is unsurpassed. With horses, there is a very distinct line between illusion and reality.
Does it make sense to transfer these authentic qualities required by horses to life in general? Does it help us to separate things, which only reveal their true essence when they are separated and distinguished from each other, so that we can finally make them manageable? I am convinced that it does. To me, it seems that learning to differentiate personal states from historical and societal ones is particularly helpful. This is so important to me for the basic understanding of my work that I would like to go into it at least briefly in these first pages. That still leaves lots of space for purely practical experiences.
As a rule, a problem or a challenge represents a kind of overlap. Relating to existence itself, the overlap usually comes when personal perception, experience, hope and desire meet our communal, social, historical and political reality. However, how do you differentiate them today? Or, in the words of my correspondent, ‘Not losing optimism in the face of the realities of this world and all of the enormous global threats seems to me to be virtually impossible.’
Without basic trust in life, without optimism and without great joy in life, I could not go to the horses that I am called to. In order to achieve these things I first have to make some very precise differentiations. What is the world of horses or animals anyway? What is the modern world? What is the world of myths? What is my world? Using simple structures, I would like to illustrate how looking at conditions in an organising and relativising way opens up new approaches and new opportunities, however hopeless the endeavour may seem at first. If horses have taught me one thing, it is that there is always a way, always a solution – always. For as long as I live, there will also be an authentic place for me. That much is certain. The challenge is finding it.
A statement for the beginning
This is my opinion. It is based entirely on practical experiences with horses, on life in general and on concurrent traditions from a wide variety of cultures and their eras.
For the description, I am taking the concept of the so-called modern, ‘Western’ world. This Western world, in particular, forms a simple structure (diagram 1 here).
Humans are on the first level, and everything else – animals, plants and our environment as a whole – is on the level below. This model appears only too natural, if you simply take as its basis all of the skills that humans appear to possess and master, in contrast to animals or plants. However, if I follow this model myself, I cannot come up with a result that satisfies me, or horses.
Ancient cultures give a completely different picture (diagram 2 here).
Here, there are also two levels. However, the relationships are now the other way around. Here, humans are subordinate to everything else. At first glance it does seem quite strange, but our culture also contains references to this kind of view, for example in the Bible‘s Creation story, when God says to the animals:, ‘Let us make man.’
Ancient cultures differentiate the picture in another very interesting way (diagram 3 here).
According to this view, people are on the first level, along with animals and plants, at the moment of their birth and during their childhood. Is that why children generally get along so well with animals and seem to enjoy a more direct and intuitive approach to horses? This view pushes humans down to the lower levels almost automatically during their socialisation and maturation. They then lose their original, authentic connection with the natural world.
We can now complete the first level with the concept of authenticity (diagram 4 here).
Here, another concept is allocated to the second level: unconsciousness. We can now clearly illustrate what happens if human beings, or rather, archetypal, Western human beings, interact with animals, plants and the environment generally and fundamentally as the result of this view (diagram 5 here).
The ‘modern human’ as an archetype does indeed experience and feel himself consciously and unconsciously on the ‘first level’. Dealing with animals, plants and the environment means to him that he raises those structures to his level that, in his perception, are situated ‘below’ him, Consciously and subconsciously, he creates and ‘shapes’ a ‘new’, ‘higher’, ‘better’ order according to his own understanding. He imposes ‘order’ on the (original) world, ‘regulates’ the behavior and ‘sorts’ those natural structures that he perceives as little more than chaotic. We can still marvel at some of the excesses of the human mania for organisation and control, for example at the Palace of Versailles, residence of the Sun King, Louis XIV, where no blade of grass or tree branch would dare to grow out of place. Even ancient forms of human life were and are still this regimented today.
If we continue to follow the traditional archetypes, the exact opposite happens in reality. Man, having outgrown his childhood and thus been robbed of his authentic life form, believes that he is reorganising on a higher level, whereas in reality he is forcing the natural elements of his environment down to his own ‘lower level’. In the consequent belief that he is organising, refining and perfecting, he destroys the natural structures of order that he simply cannot comprehend and that, indeed, frighten him. The result is always and inevitably destruction, disorder and reduction of energy. Applied on a global scale, it will inevitably lead to global catastrophe. It is only a matter of time.
At least two different things happen on an individual level:
People feel greater or lesser degrees of alienation from all environments. They long for authenticity, for closeness to themselves and to their environment. However, the more effort people make, by using purely cognitive, human and uninspired principles as a basis, i.e. ‘organising’ in their limited sense, the more despairing they become, until resignation takes over. Even if this human principle of organisation is used ‘successfully’, the inner void, the inner loneliness, will come ever closer as a result. A vicious circle is created, socially, politically and individually.
If we believe these traditions, and all of my experiences confirm them to be correct, then there is a kind of order on the second level, i.e. on the level of the (unconscious) human, which is supported in two ways. On the one hand, the understanding of use and benefit, i.e. one thing is done so that the other results from it. These benefits are shaped by a kind of cognitive/logical sequence. As a result, the available elements and natural resources are also consistently subject to this principle of use and benefits. Now everything has a purpose, a benefit, and will also be used.
On the other hand, this thinking always follows a timeline. This person’s experience is orientated towards a benefit in terms of time, i.e. I do something today so that I can benefit from it tomorrow or next year.
Children do the exact opposite. They do not live and experience on a timeline, but in the present, and they do not see the benefit of things, but their holistic synergy, their interaction and the power and the magic, the mystic and the fairytale that are hidden inside – precisely the superordinate natural order that, in reality, connects everything. That is why they innately move in the natural world of animals and horses.
Now we have the opportunity to complete our ‘original diagram’ (diagram 6).
Now a meaning can be recognised in the long journey through life of any person, because they have the opportunity ‘to be like a child again’. If they become conscious of their true state and condition, they stop their ‘ordering’ activities and instead orientate themselves to their inner authentic roots. They can then become aware of another, much larger order structure and experience it directly. They experience inner growth, develop their very own meaning and, as a result, enter the level of the beings with which they now feel directly connected, instead of fighting and destroying them.
This has been the way of humans since time immemorial. They then become an authentic part of the whole. Meaning is no longer a question of benefit and logic, but of immediate experience. In our Western culture, this way was embodied and symbolised by the process of consciousness and nobility. The fusion of the spiritual in humans with the bestial in animals formed the image of St George on his horse, conqueror of the ‘dragon as a symbol of chaos’, patron saint of all knights and still a potent symbol and emblem in many parts of Europe today. The fact that the noble concepts of knight and knighthood were lost with the passage of time changes nothing about their origins in terms of history and content.
This ‘cycle’ has always been a firmly anchored part of human meaning. The path of man has been described in this way in all cultures. However, what differentiates us as modern people from our ancestors is a very simple fact. Nowadays, human life and experience on the ‘second level’ is desired, encouraged and the universally accepted norm. Our daily existence is based on this now socially legitimate fallacy. This has never happened before in the history of humanity. The outsider is not the person on the ‘second level’, who believes themselves to be enduring it. Instead, it’s the person who wants to develop inside. The person who destroys the rainforest does not have to justify himself, while the people who want to protect it arouse suspicion. People who torture scores of animals for breeding and slaughter do not have to justify themselves, but those who denounce these practices do. The person who tortures horses with bridle, spurs and whip is not the one who is chased through the village streets like a rabid dog, but it is the one who is able and willing to do without these things.
I have invested a great deal of time in examining the question of how our social structure and image of humanity could have developed historically in this way. The answers I found were surprising, but to describe and formulate them would require another book.
Nearly 20 years after the publication of my first book, the world looks different. It is in danger of breaking down. Nobody can ignore it any longer, not even the very ignorant. That may sound profane, but what happens on a small scale often happens on a large scale too. As long as somebody tries to dominate a horse on the ‘second level’, progressive alienation will keep happening. Now humans really are the problem itself. It is the same with the world as a whole. We try to meddle everywhere, whole or half-heartedly, but the more we try to fiddle on this ‘low’ level, the more of a mess we get into globally. On the whole, recognition of the modern world’s fundamental misconception would be the only way out. But that is not what we are concerned with at the moment.
Regarding our subject, we could say the following – when should we open up as individuals, in order to finally accept the gift of life, i.e. authenticity and closeness, if not when together with the horse, that ancient symbol of human, inner elevation and growth? In an authentic way of life, where feeling, thinking, acting and dreaming merge into a related experience, we do not need to worry about not being able to solve the problems that arise, because most of them will not occur at all.
The early human communities had surprisingly consistent structures and comparatively similar forms, despite existing in different times and regions. As an individual, each person experienced themselves firstly through the social structures in which they lived. The different coloured circles in diagram 1 represent people in this way of life, with varying skills, qualities and opportunities.
In this way of life, skills, talents and characteristics were exchanged and combined together. Depending on their personal situation, a person occupied either a prominent or a more background position. The bottom line was that the individual qualities were not judged, but merely noted. Threats from outside the community, disturbances or even attacks of any kind were faced by the community as a collective of individuals that manifested the true nature of their life’s reality only through their togetherness.
The reality of life in our modern world shows a picture that has mutated over the centuries, from extended family to nuclear family, and finally to singledom. As a pure fact we can establish that the development away from community has led to its endpoint today – the phenomenon of more and more people living alone. Now it is almost exclusively our own skin alone that forms the boundary against the outside, against external threats, disorder or attacks. To continue to survive successfully as a ‘closed organism’, many skills, indicated by the coloured circles, must more or less be combined in one single person (diagram 2). How’s that for a challenge?
Long before the author was interested in the nature of horses, he followed the traces of our ancestors. In the end, they led him not just to horses themselves, but straight to the kind of interaction with them to which he is dedicated today.
The author at one of his ‘Borderline’ events with horses that strongly resist human influence and are considered to be extremely difficult. His motto is: ‘In an authentic way of life, we don’t need to worry about not being able to solve problems that arise, because most of them won’t even occur at all.’
The associations above allow us to transfer this second component to the previous diagram showing the two levels (diagram 3).
For this diagram, I have selected terms relatively non-specifically and arranged them to show that, by way of an example, a fulfilled and happy farmer or craftsman ‘in an authentically harmonised way of life’ does not essentially require the awareness of a samurai or a medicine man or a knight, or the human reliability of a ship’s captain or a skipper etc. (which, of course, does not mean that he cannot develop them, and which is not supposed to mean that countless farmers, craftsmen and traders have not done so). All in all, however, the samurai would happily enjoy the farmer‘s products, and by the same token, the farmer would be happy to live under the protection of the samurai, and both would be thankful to hear the advice of the elders, the medicine men and the shamans. In brief, people have never been required to follow this steep and laborious path to consciousness to its greatest heights alone. It was only important that one knew the significance and the meaning contained, as an individual. Within an intact, authentic community and culture, each individual could add the energies and strengths particular to themselves, and automatically parti-cipate in the rewards. The group as a whole, and therefore to a certain extent each individual in it, was also connected on traditional spiritual levels and integrated into a natural cycle, through the sum of its members and their varied experiences.
Ways of life from ancient cultures, authentically harmonised with each other.
These structures have widely broken down and, where they still exist, they are mostly already in the process of collapse. I believe that being essentially connected with what I have described on these pages as the ‘first authentic level’ is crucial to being able to live and experience authentically. I have therefore come to the conclusion that each individual person would have to combine a great many of these qualities in themselves, especially within the structure of existence that we most commonly find today. As we know, this is not the case in the reality of our lives – quite the opposite. The consequence is a cultural and societal reality that is primarily characterised by the loss of consciousness, sensuality, naturalness, authenticity, basic sense of trust and relativised self-perception, on the broadest level. The horse world, as a relatively small part of current events, reflects this to the same extent as other areas. The shortcomings have now become so obvious that awareness of them has already reached many levels of society; indeed, fundamental knowledge about them has now reached almost everywhere.
All of this brings me to this very personal temporary conclusion. We live in a world that demands the absolute maximum from each individual. The external protective structures that have formed, with, rather than against, the principles of nature, over an inconceivably long period of time, have been largely destroyed and replaced by a system of use and benefits, of reduction and apparent order, that is now visibly collapsing for everyone. It may recover itself again, or its collapse may slow down, but the global impotence of these resource-devouring structures, at the expense of our own foundations for life and the sensitive structures of all natural processes, is becoming clear to everyone as never before.
The individual is no longer preserved and protected in an authentic, connected and natural-law structure. Each individual can now only connect to themselves and/or try to experience the appropriate exchange, support, contact and involvement by building a personal network structure of very superior quality. But that requires people to use their own initiative! The original structures and foundations for doing so, which had evolved culturally and historically, the expression of individual, ethnic peculiarities and formerly generally accessible knowledge about nature, have been almost completely destroyed.
We are concerned with the horse, but as a symbol the horse is concerned with the world and what goes on in it. In practical terms, the intrinsic training and moulding of a horse requires this inner resolution, this ‘consciousness’.
That is my view of the situation and the enormously exciting task facing people today, sketched out in a few words. Fundamentally, it is no different from the demands placed on our ancestors. People have always fought this crucial battle in and against themselves and followed the path to consciousness in their own way, but never before have they been so isolated and never before have they had to try so hard just to reach the start of the path, because the gate that leads to this path has never been as hidden as it is now.Yet the balance is within creation. But what could be in the tiny pan on the other side of the scales? What could possibly weigh so heavily? Us! Each individual who sets out in life.
GUIDING PRINCIPLES - HERE ARE A FEW MORE OF MY VERY PERSONAL GUIDING PRINCIPLES.
• Trust and belief can cross a boundary, beyond which they change into knowledge.
• Personal, inner development and the resulting inner enrichment and peace are always accompanied by stabilisation of external social contacts and structures. A friendship develops over years, but it can be destroyed in a single, careless moment.
• Fate can teach you or be your mentor. Solitude can teach you, togetherness and coexistence with people as well. Any moment can teach you and any person can be your teacher. People who ignore that tend to be one-sided and miss out on the richness of life, but we need this abundance and all of the facets of this world.
• Authentic experience is like hearing a beautiful melody that rings out deep inside you, but this melody is so quiet that you have to consciously listen for it all of the time. You should always be thinking of it.
• Spiritual and physical wellbeing is the basis of every authentic experience. You have to devote all of your attention to it – everything else should take second place.
• Our body is like a vast meeting place. We can only encounter nature, our spirituality, our fate and the powers of creation, through and within our bodies. It is essential that you know your body, so that you can trust it and be at home in it. Take lots of time to do this.
• The past is not static. The future is now. The past is what the present makes of it, so present is everything. That is why the times of human maturity and old age are so significant. It is only in old age that the past appears in its final meaning, it becomes clear and it is only in old age that fate reveals to us its plan. Do not allow early success to blind you – early failure and hardship should only make you stronger. Success that comes too early often turns out to be false, while apparent failure can turn into victory.
• People who judge and assess believe that they know everything, while people who do not judge at all do not worry about what they know or don’t know. They confine themselves to differentiating and discovering what belongs with what, so that everything can be allocated to its pre-determined place. Harmony can be created in this way. That is why judgement and assessment are always at the start of chaos and ignorance, while the ability to differentiate is always at the start of harmony and fulfilment.
Our topic is the horse - but the topic of the horse as a symbol is the world and its state of being. In practical terms, the intrinsic training and moulding of a horse requires this inner resolution, this ‘consciousness’.
Each individual can now only connect to themselves and/or try to experience the appropriate exchange, support, contact and involvement by building a personal network structure of very superior quality. But that requires people to use their own initiative!
When I write about my togetherness with horses today, I am writing about authenticity, about the home within myself and about the path that I have had to travel so far and that I must continue to travel.
My togetherness with horses can scarcely be understood and classified without fundamental understanding of the existence of this path.
… on which of the two levels? One is the superficial desire to act; the other is being ready, acting as a result of inspiration. One pursues the implementation of one’s own structures, one’s own will. The other rests in the devotion and in the deeper significance that one bestows upon oneself through inner dignity. One is the worry and the frenzy; the other one is the faith, the calmness and the knowledge that what is meant to come together will come together. If not today, then tomorrow. It is the unconditional respect for the inner and outer dignity of all beings, the recognition of a secret path in the existence of all creatures and the faith that these paths may intersect. Not following an order that appears absolutely stringent and logical to us humans, but following an order that teaches insight and wisdom.
One wants to be seen. The other one remains hidden, renounces external appearances, yet knows the inner forces that communicate with each other and attract each other even at great distances.
One seeks salvation in the detail. The other one sees the whole, the unifying qualities in even the smallest details. One rather wants to seduce, to manipulate, to control and to stack the odds in its favor, whenever possible. The other wants to run its course, wants to be a malleable material in the process of constant creation, of becoming and passing away.
One seeks stasis and mourns that which is transient; the other joins the forces of constant change and consequently becomes more and more a part of a perfect order. One wants power to cover up its own fears. The other wants strength in order to overcome its own fears. One seeks the development of superficial appearances in the world. The other develops itself. One observes external things. The other becomes a sensitive observer of its own life …
… One seeks the horse; the other lets the horse find them, because they:
set an example,
radiate inner confidence,
clear and unambiguous,
relaxed and quiet,
balanced and controlled.
And because they keep on testing themselves and find much that they do not like, but still remain cheerful and confident. Possibly because they never doubt that they ‘will fulfil the fateful meaning of their life.’
Summary and moving on to a slightly different way of being with horses
Like the eagle, the bear, or contrastingly, the snake, the horse is one of the most important symbolic animals in all ancient cultures – surprisingly even in those in which there were no horses.
Upon closer consideration, you could even describe the horse as the king of all symbols. Horses symbolise qualities of being, that in many respects, are directly opposed to those of our modern world, although according to anthropologists, our culture could never have existed without horses.
We can choose to look beyond the evolution of the horse as a partner for leisure and sport to discover a quite different, and indeed virtually boundless world. If we follow the trails of myths and the words of our ancestors, then authentic, natural handling of horses has never been a kind of sporting skill, but primarily a mental exercise whose aim is a form of spiritual meeting or encounter. This aspect gains a whole new significance, in all areas of the human being, especially in this time when violent threat is all around us.
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