• Mary Berkery

Three Lessons from the Herd in Three Days


There have been times as a facilitator with Equine Assisted Learning when I stand in an arena or field with a client and horse, and my mind kicks in when it seems nothing seems to be happening. I want to interject and say something. I want to fill the silence with action or words. I know not to , to stay on that edge of the unknown and trust in what happening and in the wisdom between horse and human.


This week I was at the receiving end of equine wisdom when I got triggered by a situation where I live when someone who I had supported very much seemed to turn on me and also spin a story to someone else about me. I was hurt and angry and felt betrayed. I found myself creating a story about it all with my mind spinning into past similar situations and concerned as to how we will be together going forwards.


I go each evening to my horses. That particular evening in my upset, one of the horses walked up to me a stood in front of me. She seemed to be attacked by flies, especially around her eyes, and yet stood there unperturbed by these invasive insects, to give me full attention. She stood perfectly still looking at me. As she did I was brought into a present moment feeling in my mind and body. Then it seemed she was saying with those wise old fly overrun eyes “ Be present, All is perfect in its imperfection, we are happy even if imperfect’ I stood there bathing in her calm and presence. I saw the flies as a reflection of my own invasive spinney thoughts. I do not need to give my thoughts so much attention and stay in the now. As I walked away from the field I felt lighter and brighter and easier in mind and body.


The following evening I went to the horses again. I was still a little out of sorts with what had happened with this person and was carrying residual hurt and resentment from it and was not fully back in my own flow with life again. The same horse walked over to me and smelt my heart and belly area and then walked off and grazed. It felt like a nurse was checking my “ temperature “ and knew I was on the mend. There is a saying in our training “ back to grazing “ Horses can get easily frighted and upset by situations. They feel it fully and show it clearly and when it is sorted and they have processed it, they then go back to grazing. They do not hold on to grievances and quickly come into the present moment and their life. It was as if she said after her check on me“ you are fine again, go back to your life now”. As I walked back that evening I felt realigned again to my life and work and all I had to do. The residual effect of the let-down was gone and I could let this person go with grace. In fact the following, morning the person came to me and offered me a hug and thanked me for my care, stating that we are learning about each other and our styles.


The third evening I had the final lesson. I went, as usual, and the same horse came up to me when another horse from the herd came up from behind and pushed her away. I corrected the one who pushed her away with a reprimanding voice and then went over to the first horse who just walked away from me. I realized in her walking away and not wanting to be with me after I correcting the horse, that It is not my business to manage the relationship she has with this horse. When I did by saying you cannot push another horse like that, the very horse I was protecting would not then come back to me or even stand when I walked to her.

I realized that some of the caregiving of this person who I felt hurt by, was also not my business. I was caretaking her and advising her re a situation where she felt she was been bullied and perhaps okay at the start to offer support, but as time went on I allowing her to sort out some of her own issues with others. It was insightful and not in any judgmental way.


It confirmed once again how much equines see, feel, and hear what is happening for each being who comes to into their space. In uncanny ways, insights happen and lessons are learned in living, felt, and experiential ways. I was reminded of such lessons over three evenings. Again I saw that there is no requirement to interrupt with words, what could be happening in the silence between and horse and human, to trust their wisdom in this amazing work. They have been on the earth longer than humans hey.




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