META, “higher, beyond,” from the Greek, meta (prep.) “in the midst of, among, with, after,” from PIE *me- “in the middle” (cf. Goth. miþ, O.E. mið “with, together with, among,” see mid). Notion of “changing places with” probably led to senses “change of place, order, or nature,” which was the principal meaning of the Greek word when used as a prefix. Third sense, “higher, beyond,” as “transcending physical science.”
METTA, from the Pāli (मेत्ता) Mettā or the Sanskrit maitrī (noun) has been translated as loving-kindness, benevolence, amity, good will, kindness, love, sympathy, empathy, and active interest in others. It is one of the ten pāramitās of the Theravāda school of Buddhism, and the first of the four Brahmavihāras. True metta is devoid of self-interest. Mettā signifies friendship and non-violence as well as “a strong wish for the happiness of others,” but also less obvious or direct qualities such as showing patience, receptivity, and appreciation. Mettā is a tool that permits one’s generosity and kindness to be applied to all beings and, as a consequence, one finds true happiness in another person’s happiness, no matter who the individual is.
Can you see the similarities? Enlightened Horsemanship Through Touch is a little of both.
In a previous era of my life, I was a career-minded professional. Educated in languages and linguistics, with a masters degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, I taught English to refugee children, college students and recent immigrants. When you teach someone something as profound as a language, you become more than a teacher, you become a guide. I found that I became my students’ advocate for medical needs, immigration problems, and navigation of daily life in a strange and foreign land. I believe this is the source of the compassion I later learned to apply to horses in my massage practice.
After a long stint as a teacher, I moved to editorial and writing in the field of ESL. I worked on the lower East side of Manhattan, and learned the fine art of survival in a foreign land myself. Now, back home in Virginia where I really belong, I am pursuing many of my dreams.
I come from a horsey family. In his youth, my father was a puissance jumper and professional rider. My sister excelled at the Pony Club and show jumping thing as a teenager. My family breeds award-winning race horses. My athletic talents lay elsewhere. I avoided horses (and unfortunately even my horsey-smelling sister) because as a child, I was severely allergic. Luckily, I grew out of it, and just in time.
I returned to horses in mid-life, when my daughter began hippotherapy after a series of strokes. From day one, we were both hooked. Horses are the gift that keeps on giving. They are remarkable animals. By virtue of their size and power, they are not compelled to give us their attention, their obedience, their trust. Yet they are often affectionate and eager to please. I have seen horses offer comfort, affection, patience and trust to children who know nothing of these things. I have received it from horses myself.
As a way of repaying the unfathomable debt owed to all horses who grace us with their gifts, I began a career as an equine massage therapist, in order to give relief and pleasure to every horse I can lay my hands on. I experienced excellent results with my clients’ horses. Areas of significant soreness, swelling, and lack of flexibility can all be alleviated using standard sports massage therapy. However, I soon began to notice that the aches and pains, stiffness and soreness I found in the horses seem to stem from habitual patterns of movement under saddle in and longeing. Hmmm…what causes horses to hold to habitual patterns of movement which cause them pain? Perhaps these issues could be prevented rather than treated? Moreover, I noticed that owners were relating complaints of undesirable behaviors exhibited by their horses as a result of soreness and lameness. Again, Hmmmmm….why wouldn’t a horse behave badly when in pain? Rather than discipline a horse for unwanted behaviors, why not seek out and eliminate the root of the behavior?
Formerly a proponent of Lord Admiral Nelson’s “Never mind maneuvers, always go straight at ’em” approach to life, recent years have seen a change in my world view. I have made a change in my life, in my riding, and in my career, from unexamined activity, traditional natural horsemanship, and the mechanical application of equine sports massage to a more mindful, holistic approach, tuning in with more awareness to locate and appreciate the roots of all experience. Not that I’ve taken up completely eliminated “maneuvers,” mind you, but I’m not going straight at ’em, anymore.
Through my desire to treat the root of pain-related behavior issues in horses, I met Linda Tellington-Jones, founder and creator of Tellington TTouch®. Thus began what I hope will be a lifelong cooperative project in extending the reach and power for change of her non-profit, Animal Ambassadors, Inc. My job entails locating funding for new projects and creating an environment in which people and animals learn to work together for a better world. It is immediately evident that animals have the power to radically change our lives when watching a group of at-risk children in Soweto learn to do the TTouch on rescue animals. Increased empathy, connection with their environment and one another, cooperation, and greater willingness to learn blossom before our very eyes. I write about this every day in one way or another.
At the moment I live on Hawaii’s Big Island, helping to help Linda fulfill her world-changing vision of the unity and interconnection of people and animals.
Reverent mindfulness, the awareness of the gifts that all animals bring us is what I wish to put forth in this blog.
Here in enlightened horsemanship through touch, I explore all these issues with an open heart and mind, with an eye toward offering relief and freedom to horses, who offer us so very much of themselves.
Welcome to enlightened horsemanship through touch. Thank you for taking the time and care to comment, ask questions, and add photos and videos. I appreciate your presence here more than you can imagine. Jump in!
I write articles for business websites, their blogs, and publications. Don’t hesitate to contact me if you would like to discuss a project.