Updated: Mar 1, 2019
This may come across as a crazy question to ask yourself, but it is in fact very central to the philosophy of The Gift of The Horse.
Many people will come to the horse asking "How can you be of service to me?" or asked in a different way "I need you to do this for me or that for me."
During The Gift of The Horse Foundation Course we dive pretty deeply into this question. A great yogi once told me: "To ask the question is enough." We do not need to come up immediately with the answer. Asking the question and sitting with it, begins a subtle and sometimes great shift in perception, which will lead you on a path to greater awareness.
For centuries we have unquestionably viewed the horse as a work animal, an animal that exists to serve the human, whether that be in competition, trail riding or even personal advancement through a structured training program.
At The Gift of The Horse we look at how we, in our unconscious perception, have crafted and projected a purpose of our own for the horse to fulfill. And we look at the horse through this very lens and through this lens only. He is a show jumper (because I have decided it is so and therefore, all training, daily routines and feeding will be centred around this human created purpose.)
Once we begin to recognise and acknowledge that we have put our own projection onto the horse, based on our unconscious perception of what he is here to do and who he is here to be, we have in reality taken the first steps towards a spiritual practice of creating a space. A space between what we perceive to be true and what actually is true. This space which we have created, also gives us an opportunity to detach from our strong identification with what we perceive. We've taken a moment to recognise that our thoughts about the horse, are only thoughts and nothing more.
Slowly, we start to see and notice these projections and mind identifications for what they actually are - the human ego.
From this place, were we have created space, we can begin the practice of seeing the horse as he actually IS and not how we used to perceive him. We no longer identify so strongly with what we need from the him, (and we no longer become so upset when the does not fulfil these needs!). Through letting go of the idea that the horse is here to serve us, we make space for a beautiful new idea to come forward. The idea that we are here to be of service, not only to the horse, but to every being we encounter from a place of pure love and nothing more. If you are in the act of service, but still expecting to gain something in return, this is not true service. Whether we feel we need something back from giving, like a material reward, an acknowledgement, likes on Facebook for our advertised acts of service - then we are truly not in the act of service. The key to serving from a place of love, is serving with no expectation of receiving anything in return. Serving others does not imply allowing others to become disempowered by your service. Picking up your children's clothes off the floor, is not an act of service. This is taking away an opportunity for your little ones to learn the skills of caring for their belongings.
The true GIFT that we receive through this practice of being in the act of service is that it takes us up to one of the highest vibrations we could possibly be in. Do you leave the stables feeling like you took away from your horse in some way? Physically, emotionally, spiritually? Or did you give to the horse in some way? Did you care for her feet, did you take her to her favourite place to graze, did you take the time to just BE.
I would like to address the common resistance I often hear from horse owners when this topic arises. Many have told me that they are giving to the horse through their training with the horse. That the horse becomes safer, more physically able to carry a human and adept at coping in the domesticated world. At the Gift of The Horse we believe that all horses should be trained to be safe around humans. This training is extremely mindful and conscious towards the horse. However we believe that once the horse is safe and understands the "rules" (I use this term lightly!) of the human world, we leave it at that and only refine if we notice that a safety reminder is needed. No drilling, receptive training, or endless circles forcing the horse into a frame is considered. Once the horse has understood what it means to be safe in the human world, we are free to enjoy one another out in nature, side by side. (see link for blog posts on this topic)
Cultivating the spiritual practice of being in the act of service, with no expectation of receiving anything in return can begin with the horse. Every moment that we are with the horse she gives us an opportunity to practice the act of being in service and to grow moment by moment, as humans. We can then take this practice outside of the stables and put it to work in our daily lives. How can you serve the lady at the checkout counter? How can you serve the angry guy in traffic? How can you serve your neighbour? And can you do it without needing recognition, praise or reward?
I hope this blog post served you! May Your Heart Be Light. May Your Practice Be Joyful. And may you be in the act of service as you go about your day. Namaste.