Experiencing Ravenheart & the Horses
Wwoofer feedback from Wwoofer Norman (Scotland)
by Norman McIntyre
Before arriving at Ravenheart, where I would be volunteering, I had read on the website that EAL (Equine Assisted Learning) courses are offered there. I had worked with horses many years ago, albeit in a very simple way, and was intrigued to be volunteering at a location which offered EAL.
When I arrived, I was here for a few days, observing the horses, but not yet formally making their acquaintance – Carol had instructed me that this is a good experience, to observe the horses first, let them see me, see how I feel with each of them. The ‘getting to know each other’ would come later.
When I was introduced to the horses a few days later, it was an interesting experience. From my previous work with horses, I had learned that every horse (and also all other animals) has its own personality, just like a person. They have their own characteristics, likes and dislikes and, just like humans, may also have preconceptions and prejudices on account of negative experiences from their past.
Here are my impressions of the wonderful equine ladies at Ravenheart – Please note: Flicka & Freya belong to Saskia and Horses In Rhythm, but are very much part of our herd.
An important thing I learned from Sarah – no sudden hand movements, i.e. don’t stress. Take it easy. You can be a leader without getting stressed.
Mystic – Mystic is much smaller than the others. She lost her mother at a month old and the other horses took her under their wings, or rather manes, so to speak. Mystic has learned how to use her cuteness to get what she wants in life. That may sounds negative, but it is not meant that way. What she lacks in physical stature in comparison to the others, she more than makes up for it with her worldly attitude – Mystic is one street wise gal. She knows how to survive, despite her being the smallest in the herd. You can’t help falling in love with Mystic, getting mad at her persistence soon afterwards, then loving her to bits all over again for her just being who she is and the fact that she just sticks to that – being who she is. She is not intimidated by the other larger horses – she moves in her own space and does not let herself be pushed around. She is sometimes cheeky enough to push the others around. Mystic does not feel small and does not act small. A very important lesson for us humans! Especially for those of us who feel small or feel that we have nothing to offer in life.
Willow – She is a quiet, deep healer horse, who you may overlook at first because she does not draw attention to herself, but she is different in a very positive way. I came out of my cabin one morning to find Willow standing there, waiting for me and staring – I could feel that she knew I was not feeling too good that day and I knew she was supporting me and sending me healing. She keeps herself apart from the herd a lot, but usually near the others, but does not draw attention to herself. I took a bit longer to get to know Willow, and there is a lot which I will never know about her, but she is a peaceful rock of support. If you are ever feeling low, Willow will be more than willing to let you hug her and heal again. She is a true giver.
Flicka – She is everybody’s friend. She needs to come and check people out, she loves the company and is often first at hand when someone comes or the hay is being distributed. She is a loving horse, has a very loving nature and is always willing to please, but in a nice, comfortable way. Like Willow, she is a giver, she is always there for you if you need a hug. She has a pleasantly curious nature and is always upbeat. Being a very peaceful and calming character is another of her trademarks.
Note – pictured here are Freya and Flicka – owned by Saskia Dockrill. Flicka and Freya are excited to be spending their first winter with Saskia at their lovely acreage L Pine Meadow. Check out Saskia’s wonderful blog here: http://lpinemeadow.weebly.com/lpine-meadows-blog
Freya – is a beautiful animal. The way she gently walks, almost majestically. She has an attractively beautiful face and head. Surprisingly, she is close to the bottom of the pecking order among the horses – I have never seen Freya bully or nip another horse, ever. She takes time to warm to men, which I was told about at the beginning. It is tempting to want to go over to Freya and just shower her in hugs. But, as with humans, we have to respect the feelings and also fears of our fellow Earth inhabitants, be they two- or four-legged, so it is important to give Freya her space, especially as a man, so that she can get accustomed to you, feel your energy and notice that you mean her no harm. She may have had negative experience with a previous owner so it is important to respect her boundaries. Just because we want to hug her, it does not mean that it is reciprocal.
So here again the lesson is not to take it personally, respect other people’s boundaries and when Freya breaks the ice with you, you will be amazed what a loving and beautiful soul she is. After a few days of patience and leaving her to check me out, she started to approach me of her own accord. All I did was consciously send out my intent to connect with her, without any body language pressure for her to be intimidated by, and she accepted my invitation. She regularly approaches me, does not stay very long if I start to stroke her, but she still keeps on coming back. “Slowly, slowly, one step at a time” seems to be the message for us here.
Lacey (♥please note: colour is photo enhanced, not dye ♥) – Lacey is a Princess. She does things in her own time, when she wants to. And she does not come up to just anybody. She is a good teacher of the philosophy that even if someone does not always greet you, it does not mean they intend to harm you or that they do not like you. She just happens to be a princess and that is how princesses act. Princess-like. She does not look down on humans or treat them with contempt. She is just a princess and acts accordingly. You can take it personally, or you can just accept her the way she is. Here again, another valuable lesson for us humans. I’m ok, you’re ok.
Sugar – Last but by no means least, Sugar. One of the most loving, caring horses I have ever met, with such a beautiful energy around her. She is inquisitive in a healthy way, she will come up and check out what is going on (usually after Flicka has done some reconnaissance work!) and will gently nudge you or even, when she knows you, rub her head on your back or front. She has a big, strong, heavy head so you have to always be present and aware and focus when she is around you (and not only with her, with all the horses) because she means well, she likes people and she is always there for you to give her a hug, especially if you are having a down day – she will give you as much healing energy of hers as you need. If she moves away during that time, again, don’t take it personally. It is very easy to feel a special bond with Sugar.
One important lesson which I have learned from the horses is that they express their feelings as they come up. No sulking in the corner for hours, then coming out with the wrath of a twister to vent their feelings. If they are annoyed at another horse, they will show it. I have seen Sarah put Sugar down and nip her, only to be walking harmoniously along the field with her ten minutes later. No more aggression. They “say” what is on their minds, show it, then get over it. No sulking, no cunningly planning the next act of sabotage like us humans often do. They vent their feelings, don’t take it personally, they know there is always room to be buddies again.
The one incredibly moving factor about a day or a course at Ravenheart is that the animals surround you with so much unconditional love. This is great at the best of times, but especially if you are going through a crisis – small, medium or large – in your life. If that is the case, come to Ravenheart for healing – if one of the horses does not resonate with you, your feelings and your present state of mind, then sure as anything one of the others will. There is something truly moving and spiritual about sharing your sorrows with a horse, even if it is a teary encounter, and just letting the horse stand there and offer you its love and support.
And then there are also the two dogs and two cats, all four brimming over with their own unconditional love which they are more than happy to share with you. They never run out of it and are always near at hand to give you a real strong dose of TLC. All they ask in return is a tummy rub or a lap to sit on. Or even just a good gentle pat, if you would prefer that.
If you come to Ravenheart, I can assure you that you will leave happier and healthier than when you arrived. Some things in life are gradual and need time, so even if you do not leave Ravenheart again singing your heart out (which is also possible), the seed for your healing will have been planted in your subconscious. The animals, especially the horses, will have left their visiting card in your emotional makeup for you to discover, feel, enjoy and profit from in the near future. Believe me. I have experienced this. And it is wonderful.
Ravenheart is a truly wonderful experience which will help you heal, become whole again and grow spiritually and emotionally.