I love going to the barn during ‘nap time’ in the middle of the afternoon on a cool winter day when the horses are basking in the warmth of the sun. I enjoy joining them in rest by sitting down next to my horse often on those types of days and usually whatever my ‘plan’ was for the day goes out the window.
Now, most barns do not advocate for sitting on the ground with horses, and for good reason. Depending on the situation you can be asking for trouble sitting down or lying down in the pasture and this warning signal would always blare in my head when I went to lay in the field so I normally would sit, somewhat behind him so if he did decide he needed to stand up quickly I was out of the way of his hooves. I never considered this to be because of a lack of trust on my part but more that I tend to follow the rules, especially when safety is concerned.
But one day a few months ago, as I sat in the pasture during nap time I decided that I wanted to ask Bucket to lay completely flat next to me. I’ve never tried to teach him to lay down so I didn’t have a plan but I had an intention.
I decided to ask him to mirror my movements, so I laid down flat next to him with my arms behind my head.
I grounded myself in that moment and space by staring at the clouds making shapes in my mind, listening to the breeze ruffle the pines, feeling the warmth of the sun on my skin, and then as I was truly connecting to that moment, Bucket laid his head down right next to me. (Really it was a bit on top of my arm. I was a little caught off guard by his touch and flinched so he lifted his head, but after I moved my arm out of the way he laid back down.)
This moment in our relationship was an ah-ha moment for me.
I realized it wasn’t only that I needed to be grounded, have a plan, and a clear intention to ask for Bucket’s cooperation. I also needed trust. Not just his trust, a mutual trust. In order for him to trust me enough to completely lay down and relax, I realized I first had to open my own heart and trust that I could be safe lying down in his presence.
As humans we find vulnerability hard to accept and we can be greedy with ourselves, wanting to be trusted before we give away our own sacred trust. During Brené Brown’s ‘Anatomy of Trust’ talk she gave at a Super Soul Session, she quotes Charles Feltman saying he has the most beautiful definition of trust – “Trust is choosing to make something important to you vulnerable to the actions of someone else.” In this, I realize I must actually soften, surrender, and give of myself – in order to receive. I am grateful to horses for continuing to teach me these important lessons about life.