By Hélène Gagnon
Translated by Marie Josée Marcoux
S'il vous plaît cliquer sur le lien pour ouvrir la version française de cet article
elow is an excerpt from my diary about when I experienced the magic of a session with horses. I related in this diary a lived moment about my participation at a workshop “À la rencontre du cheval, miroir de soi” given by my friend Sandra Villeneuve. This extract, dated summer 2012, describes my encounter with Sybelle, a little Haflinger mare who belonged to the "Espoir" herd. This mare allowed me to learn an important lesson that I want to share with you.
I needed to shed, especially in front of these sensitive animals. I didn’t want to cut myself from my sensations. We, the participants, were in the pasture, searching for an equine match. We had to spot three horses and then, had to choose one to work with, for the next exercise. I did not want to rush.
I as aware of my huge need for solitude. I felt that just observing the herd was all I needed! I didn't want to meet a horse… I saw myself in my shyness with people. My feeling was that all I needed was to be centred. I had to ground myself, to attract the right horse to me, but I wasn't there yet. I walked through the herd and the other women, without breathing correctly, deeply. My belly was compressed. What was causing me to be so uncomfortable? Perhaps, it was my thoughts and judgement about the women there? Or it was a judgement on myself?
rabesque draws my attention, a mare with a bump on one of her legs from a past accident. I was intrigued about her. I was searching for Malcolm, this young horse that I met before at my first session with Sandra. I lived a special moment with him. He reminds me of my son… a teenager! At that time, he came in my bubble but I managed to back him up and he responded gently to my request. This time, Malcolm did not come to invade me. I think I have worked hard to protect my space! Arabesque walked near me and I was taking the risk to approach Malcom who was grazing very quietly. I was squeezed between these two horses. I wasn't feeling at ease! By reflex, I put my left hand on Arabesque’s side and my right hand on Malcom’s back, and closed my eyes in an attempt to calm myself. After some breathing, I felt my left hand slipping off Arabesque’s body as he was moving away. Malcolm did not move.
I resumed my walk toward the top of the field where I could have a view of the whole herd. I turned myself toward the horses and I closed my eyes to breathe better. I was not able to relax my belly though. Then, for a while, I succeeded in feeling free with a totally laid-back attitude. Right at this moment, the little blond mare appeared to me. I opened my eyes and she was in front of me! Not imposing, nor intimidating. Very calm and patient. I allowed her to sniff my hand and I petted her. The meeting was initiated.
Then, I choose to work with Sybelle in the round pen. We, the participants, had to wait our turn to do the Body Scan exercise*. I followed the directives of our facilitator but I had some difficulty understanding my body messages. I was standing with my back to the round pen. Sybelle and Sandra were standing behind me in that pen. The fence separating us, I was alone, facing the wind, face to face with my ego. Again, I closed my eyes. I was trying to let the blazing sun warm me up. I was hearing the horses from away. I was feeling my uncomfortable belly. Stuck. A dominant feeling. I wished to retrieve the feeling of liberty I had when I was in the herd earlier this day!
ybelle was neighing at my back. Later, Sandra told me, with a moved look, “It looked like she was calling you”. While I tried to relax my belly, Sandra came to help me. She asked me to make a complete body scan and told me to turn myself towards the mare. “What is your belly sensation saying?” I asked my body what message it wanted to tell me. I understood: “Release”. OK, but release what??? Then it told me: “The Past” Release the past…
I shared it out loud with Sandra. As I was naming my feelings and letting go of my emotions, Sybelle started showing an interest in me. She came back to me, her ears listening. Tears came down my cheeks while I became conscious of what I was experiencing. “I know that I must let go of my past relationships but I'm resisting! Why so much restraint?” A part of me was so afraid.
The mare would be my helper. I walked into the round pen. I really felt the need to walk! I expressed this and started to walk. I walked along the fence. When I was walking, I focused on my breathing. I completely forgot the spectators who were observing. Sybelle joined me, adjusting her walk to mine, without overtaking me. She went with me. What presence! I could almost say that we walked “hand in hand” together. I was feeling that she supported my process, and at the same time, respected my pace. We made a complete circle around the round pen. I was walking in this comforting circle becoming more conscious about my personal power. When I stopped, Sybelle approached me. She wanted to give me a cuddle. I was ready to welcome her. I thanked her. The feeling in my belly was gone! This picture of me walking with a horse was carrying me for a long time. Free. No line. It is within vulnerability that I could make this possible.
Before I felt asleep that night, I scrolled in my head all the details about this amazing day. Awareness upset me again. Later, I discovered that the horses I had chosen to work initially were also very traumatized from their past. I resonated with animals that had a wounded soul... like me. I am so grateful that Sybelle chose me! She helped me recognize my old defence mechanisms. She lightened me up, and I gained a new understanding of myself. I didn't have to save others anymore. I had to simply… let go… and take care of myself.
It took more experiences like that to really understand the depth of this message, but it is Sybelle who ignited a spark. With her, I understood the importance to get out of my head and into my body. I had to experience it in order to integrate it. This was a wonderful healing experience.
When I returned home, I turned on my computer to see weekend pictures. I was surprised when I saw, at the centre of the screen, the cute little blond mare appearing to me! Such beautiful radiance. Thank you!
*Body scan: meditating exercise consisting of focusing on body sensations. Connecting to our body in thepresent moment , to feel our body parts, their weight, their position, the heat, the contacts…
© Hélène Gagnon, tous droits réservés, www.hgagnon.com