I am reminded of a connection that I was fortunate enough to experience. One of life’s precious moments, and one that goes into my category of a “best-life-experience-ever”.
Struggling with, and stressing about the barrage of University papers in 2001, I would ride Count, a Dressage Grand-School-Master. On his days off from dressage training, I would ride him around the local village, or through the local paddocks that surrounded the Stud where he was stabled. It was part of his on-going educational training, enabling him to view the “outside” world and one far away from his training arena – a relaxing ride for horse and rider.
The day I reflect on, is when returning to his stable, I took off his kit (saddle, reins, and leg boots) and hung them over his stable door, before taking them to the tack room. Engrossed in my own stresses, and feeling relaxed after this short ride, I rested my arms on his open window, feeling overwhelmed at the enormousness of my educational tasks – getting a degree. I stared aimlessly at his view. I stood there for a very long time.
Quietly, and with a deep level of unspoken equine empathy, I felt Count come up behind me, and rested his nose on the front part of my shoulder. He just stood there, alongside me for ages – maybe 5 minutes, but felt like 30. I didn’t move, I didn’t want this to end – EVER! The level of our mutual connection is difficult to describe in words – he taught me a lot about how I am as a person, he was a great ‘leveler’, teaching me a lot about patience, empathy, love, respect and trust, he sensed my every emotion well before I knew some of them for myself. All this he did without words. I am constantly reminded of his exquisite, powerful and calm presence. He has been my greatest educator, this AMAZING horse.
To be deeply present and empathic for another, without words is something I have learned throughout my life – his example of his quiet empathy is one that lights my heart when I reflect on him. What a gift it is, to be on the receiving end, and in the presence of such congruence, empathic quality of unconditional positive regard.