Day 1

With my hypothesis in mind, I woke up early this morning ready to do some checking in with Rio.

I sat down to meditate, I’m not much of a meditator, and my favorite quote to help me get in the right frame of mind is from Hugh Milne: ‘first let your own dust settle, then there can be no mistakes.’

I love this image of letting my dust settle and after spending yesterday with Mom I’m feeling pretty amped up. It’s hard to get grounded. I can’t find my roots. So I sit and breathe and wait for my dust to settle. I finally remember an exercise where I imagine my heart resting against my spine, this place of deep ease knowing my heart is protected and has a place to rest. Then all the connections I’ve been seeking lock into place. I feel myself being filled up by Source, I feel my roots expand out through my feet and extend toward my elm trees. They are sitting at my back as I sit on the couch, just outside the window. I love my elm trees.

The elm trees send me this: “calm down, patience.” Then they give me this deep sense of peaceful strength, rooted and strong as a tree. My body as the trunk of the tree - that much solidity to my presence. It is difficult to put this feeling into words. So much grounded, peaceful, strength.

Now I felt present enough to reach my roots out to Rio. It felt like a rushing together of our hearts. He’s all in on this heart level! But he shows me some trepidation buzzing in shoulders, tingling and ungrounded feeling through his front legs. I experience this as a flush of sensations in my own body, beginning in my shoulders, then moving through my legs - now my throat - ense, worried. This all feels like stuff from his past.

As all of these sensations settle out we both feel grounded and rooted.

REALIZATION: This calm presence is key. There can be no connection without that, everything feels like too much…


*At lunch feeding Rio seemed calm and centered. Can’t wait to go work with him in person to check in more deeply.

My goals for the afternoon session:

  1. To connect or re-connect with Rio

  2. To mutually define our goal

Historically Rio has been iffy about being caught. He sees me approaching with the halter and walks away. Even if he is easy to catch he plants his front feet, refusing to move. I always by-passed this by carrying a whip or using the swinging end of the rope to encourage him to come along.

Today he met me at the gate, put his head in the halter and seemed keen to participate! This felt so validating of the concept of checking in in the morning and setting a mutual intention. i could not be happier! He only planted his feet momentarily outside the gate. I explained to him what I wanted to do (verbally) and he followed along eagerly.

I put all the horses in their pens so we could have the run of the place. We went into the arena area and he proceeded to take me on a walk about, sniffing every poop pile he could find, heading north along the fenceline to visit with the other horses and ultimately taking me out to the north pasture where he spent 40 minutes investigating from one end of the pasture and back again.

This is significant because Rio has not always been the most adventurous guy. He’s struggled mightily with seperation anxiety and would normally get a ways out and then panic when he discovered he was on his own. Not today. No sign of anxiety at all. Rivaldo, his paddock mate, even whinnied a few times - no response from Rio.

My goal for this first day was simply to follow him along. One of the things Rio mentioned in the morning meditation is that he wondered if I would be capable of allowing him to take the lead once in a while. I was honest with him, that’s hard for me. It makes me feel a bit out of control and that’s scary, but I would try. This walk about seemed the perfect opportunity to prove to him that I could follow his lead once in a while so I did my best to follow him along and not get in his face at all. We went where he wanted to go, stopped when he wanted to stop and walked when he wanted to walk.

Finally, after 40 minutes I realized I needed us to work our way back toward his paddock as it was close to feeding time. With only a small amount of negotiation (ala the invitation to dance) Rio agreed to follow me back to his pen. It was so much fun to spend this time with him! And so validating to have him be so keen, so different from how he has been in the past.

Plan for next session:

Check in from a distance again (aka morning meditation with Rio) and ask about exploring the bridle. Consider some bodywork and maybe take the bridle with if he seems amenable in the morning meditation.