Aikido Lessons From a Horse

feeder-headsThe story I’m about to write is so bizarre, that initially I wasn’t going to write about it – or perhaps just a simplified, more palatable version. I had only told a few people, in person, and I figured that’s probably where it would stay. However, the reaction to my previous post, The Lure Of Dominance, was so heartfelt – both privately and on social media – that I realized there are a whole lot more people than me who might benefit from learning this – and I mean the whole story. Or at the very least, knowing that it is possible.

Okay, enough of the cryptic stuff and let’s just get right in there!

This story starts back at the tail end of winter. I was in the barn filling the slow feeders with hay, with my Belgian/Fjord colt Montaro standing next to me, munching away on the hay. He shifted his weight from one hind leg to the other and I let out a strangled, “G-ahhhhh!!” and jumped sideways away from him, glaring at him bug-eyed. My heart was pounding and a boat load of adrenaline had just flooded my system. Montaro continued calmly eating his hay.

Somehow, my amygdala (primal brain) had decided that Montaro was about to kick me and had launched me into full flight/fight response. I wrote it off using a handful of excuses – jumpy today, short on sleep, stressed out, imagining things, etc.

After a couple more very similar instances over the next week or so, I started to wonder what was really going on here. I started watching Montaro closely. Just how was he able to scare the crap out of me by doing hardly anything?

Personal Power vs. Energy Expended

I observed him with the other horses. Now, in terms of who gets to ask others to move and must be obeyed, the pecking order goes like this:

1. Montaro
2. Audelina
3. Zorra
4. Jax
5. Juno (newest addition was still in utero at this point in the story)

I watched the way all of the horses asked each other to move and noticed a direct correlation between the amount of personal power and the effort expended to get another horse to listen.

For example, Zorra had been bullied in her previous 2 herds and had never been able to ask a horse to move – I had never even seen her try. But when she made me go get this semi-feral herd (that’s another story!) and bring them here, they began teaching her ‘normal’ herd behaviour. Over time, Zorra began to develop some personal power and confidence.

When Jax arrived as a yearling, Zorra started off being a protective mommy to him, then she started moving him around. And I tell you, it was almost funny to watch! She would lunge at him wildly with ears pinned, teeth bared and a great swinging neck.

move
Audelina moving Jax

The same ‘ask’ to move from Audelina would entail her neck jutting out a bit with ears back and lips ready to be bared. From Montaro it would be a flick of an ear on his slightly lowered head. The more personal power and confidence the horse had, the more subtle the ‘ask’ and the more speedily it was obeyed.

One day I watched Montaro from about 50 feet away, out in the field, lift up his head and look toward the 3 horses in the paddock. As he was lifting his foreleg, before he had even taken his first step, they were already dispersing to move out of his way. That’s when I realized, “Aha! He must be primarily using energy to move them. But how is he doing it? Is he sending an energy torpedo from that far away? Or what?? And again, how is he doing it?”

By this time I had figured out that when my body suddenly leaped away from Montaro, it was not because my mental brain thought he was going to kick me – that was the interpretation I layered on afterwards, so I didn’t look/feel like a total spazzoid. I realized that my adrenaline-fueled leaps were the result of him zapping me – like he had an energetic cattle prod.

To be honest, I kind of wondered if I was losing my marbles a bit – until I talked to a friend of mine and she told me he had done it to her too. She said, “Didn’t you see me? I must have jumped 5 feet sideways – bam! He scared the crap out of me!” BUT. She was the only other one he had zapped – no one else. Oh, now I was intrigued – just what was he trying to communicate, why was he doing this, and why only with me and her?

By this time it was spring turning gradually to summer and I was spending more time with the horses out in the field. I walked up to Montaro as he grazed beside a tree, stood beside him and put my palm on his back. I began deep breathing and letting my eyes go soft focus. As I dropped into meditative state, I asked Montaro, “Can you please tell me what you’re doing – I guess you’re zapping me because you’re trying to teach me something, but I need more information; I don’t even understand what you’re doing, let alone what it means, or what you want me to learn.” I waited for the pictures or thought-packages to arrive – which is what normally happens when I communicate with animals – and I just stayed open and peaceful, continuing my deep, meditative breaths.

montaro-jini-walk1
Me (Jini) and Montaro – 3 years old now – getting to be a big boy!

Instead of telling me what he was doing, Montaro scaled back the intensity of the zaps and just sent me really tiny ones. Oh! Okay, these ones didn’t make me lose my mind, so I was able to stay close to him, stay in a relaxed state and gradually feel into the quality and characteristics of what he was doing.

They felt like cylindrical shafts of a golden-colored energy. He didn’t need to send them out of a particular chakra, he could send them out from anywhere, any part of his body. And they did not require much energy or attention from him to send out either. Then he moved away from me as if to say, “That’s enough for now.”

Well that was certainly a whole lot more information and very interesting! I still didn’t know how he was sending the energy though, and I still didn’t know what I was supposed to do to either, but at least I was further along the path to knowing.

As Above So Below

A few days later I went out in the field with Montaro again and placed my hand along his spine to continue the conversation. I began to feel panicky, like he was dissolving me into a pile of jelly.

He said, “Remember what you learned about the tree roots.” This was a meditation a tree had given me last year. I opened the top of my head and brought in divine white-gold light, streamed it down my body, opened my heart chakra front and back, and then streamed the light down and out the soles of my feet, deep into Mother Earth. I kept sending the divine light down, down, down, until we connected with the tree root network.

That helped somewhat, but not nearly enough. Then he said, “Now bring the energy up.”

So I pulled energy up – from the magma at the center of the earth – up through the soles of my feet, up my body and out the top of my head in a rainbow shower of color that fell around me.

Still not helping enough. I still felt like he was dissolving, discombobulating me into quivering mush. It was very panicky and scary. He then said, “Do them both together.”

As I brought the white-gold light in through the top of my head, and the multi-colored prana (energy) up from the center of the earth, Montaro said, “Now mix them together in your center and send OM out from your chest.”

I was so distressed at this point – and it was challenging to hold all these visualizations at once – that I had to say the OM out loud. Here’s what it looked like:

montaro-clockwise-bright

Gradually the crazy, panicky, help-I’m-dissolving-into-a-pile-of-jello! feeling subsided and I felt my body becoming solid and grounded again. Huh. What the heck was this horse teaching me!?

As I worked with this technique over the next few weeks, I discovered a few things:

1. Swirling the energies counter-clockwise (i.e. if the circle starts at your right hip, it goes across to your left hip, up to your left shoulder, across to your right shoulder and down to your right hip) builds the energy and sends it OUT from your body. It is a protective, or pushing-away technique.

2. Swirling the energies clockwise increases and intensifies your internal energy, or ki/chi/prana. Very helpful to use during bodywork sessions, or when a part of your body needs healing – just send the swirl to the area of blockage or illness. Also very cool during sex. Seriously. Your partner will thank you.

montaro-jini-walk-verticalNote: If you’re confused about which way to swirl: You are behind the clock, with the clock-face pointing away (outward) from your body. Then swirl clockwise or counter-clockwise accordingly.

Montaro continued to drill me on this technique, so I had to start doing it the minute I stepped into the barn – otherwise he would zap me. But as long as I was running this technique I could hold his assaults at bay. Usually I would start by running it clockwise to build my internal ki and then run it counter-clockwise to ward off his blasts.

I developed a trigger-phrase for the technique: As above, so below.

As I practiced, I got to the place where just saying these words – out loud or in my head – would trigger the visioning and resulting sequence in my body.

Aikido Black Belt Test

Then Kesia came out to visit and hoof trim and I told her what had been happening with Montaro. I suggested she see if Montaro wanted to do any energy/ki play with her. Nope. Not a sausage. He just calmly went about his business.

Kesia was fascinated by what I described though, as a lot of it echoed what is taught in advanced Ki Aikido training (a martial art from Japan). Kesia is a 3rd Dan (3rd degree) Black Belt in Ki Aikido, so not only does she train in and teach the art, she has also passed sequential exams at each grade.

She said, “Okay let’s try this. I’m going to give you what we call third test, what you need to pass your 1st Dan Black Belt. So you’re going to think of your one-point or hara (energy center in the belly), and keep your eyes soft focus. I’m going to come at you with a ki test. You need to meet my ki with your ki and drop it to the ground in front of you. If you are too early, I will push you over. If you are too late, same thing. So you can’t anticipate the test. You have to send your ki to meet mine at the precise moment I initiate the test. Not when you see me move, but just before, as soon as you feel I have decided to move.”

So what did I do? I did As above, so below in the counter-clockwise direction! And at the precise moment I felt her ki coming I sent the energy out from my chest (which was resonating OM) to meet it and drop it to the ground.

Kesia started giggling and said, “Congratulations, you just passed a Ki Aikido Black Belt test!”

What the shizz? I had never trained Aikido in my life! I had only been trained by Montaro – and drilled by him until I was fluent.

So… I could train Aikido with a human sensei (teacher) for 10 years, OR, I could train with a horse for a month or two. Hello?? How are these things possible?

Another time, I was in a bodywork session with my therapist who is trained in about a bazillion techniques – including craniosacral, myofascial, visceral manipulation, reiki, etc – and she was working on my collarbone area. She said, “Something just doesn’t want to let go here… what would it take for you to let go?” So I did As above, so below – clockwise direction – and swirled the energies together at the collarbone. She leaped back from the table and flicked both her hands towards the floor, she said, “Gosh! Well that sure worked!”

Oh the blessedness of horses and the treasures they have to share with us.

And of course, this is the technique I told you about last week – the one that allowed me to hold firm and not dissolve into fear as Juno attacked me and triggered me to dance with my anger.

Montaro Sensei
Montaro Sensei

UPDATE: Yesterday, Montaro gave me another aspect to the As above, so below.

When you swirl it counter-clockwise, you can also drain all your shite energy out and down your legs into mother earth. Man does it work well! Then as I did my chores I could feel it building back up again, he said, “Do it again, just keep doing it whenever you feel the need to.” I must have done it 3 or 4 times over the next hour.

Then I’m standing next to him in the barn, with my hand on his spine, and the rest of the herd is on the other side of him. I felt myself exhale. And I felt, “Wow. This is great. I don’t have to worry one smidge about any of the other horses because there is ZERO chance they will push into or move Montaro, so I am 100% safe!” It was such a relief to put down the awareness/vigilance for a few minutes and just exhale in total relaxation.

Montaro says to me, “You see how great you feel right now? Imagine if your kids could feel this. You need to be/provide this for your kids.”

Oh Montaro Sensei – I’ll just never be out of the woods with you, will I?!!

Jini Patel Thompson is a natural health writer and Freedomite. She began riding at age 2 in Kenya, and got her first horse at age 8 in Alberta, and so continues a life-long journey and love affair with these amazing creatures.
Aikido Lessons From a Horse

14 thoughts on “Aikido Lessons From a Horse

    • August 21, 2016 at 11:35 am
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      Not to worry Rosemary – I’m sure the horses have LOTS more to say/teach. I’ll just keep sharing as it comes!

      Reply
  • August 20, 2016 at 11:42 am
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    Congratulations on passing your Aikido Black Belt test, as schooled by Montaro!!
    Brilliant energy work!

    Reply
  • August 21, 2016 at 11:11 am
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    Life: it’s all energy. I have traveled the world, worked and learned among shaman, all manner of critters, plants and human healers. Among the things I have learned are that somatic world works best. Horses are it’s most efficient, powerful and fun teachers/healers.

    Congratulations

    Reply
  • August 21, 2016 at 11:37 am
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    Thanks Pat and Diane! We are so privileged to be schooled by them. And in the meantime, like good Buddhists, we ‘chop wood and carry water’. Or in our case; poo, hay and water 🙂

    Reply
  • August 22, 2016 at 6:10 am
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    Beautiful!!! Thank you so much for sharing!

    Reply
  • August 22, 2016 at 6:12 am
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    Is it okay if I share this on Facebook? (my FB name is Marianne Eels)

    Reply
    • August 22, 2016 at 10:57 am
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      Glad you liked it Annemarie! And yes, please feel free to share anything you wish. When you paste the link it will automatically show a photo to go along with it.

      Reply
    • September 29, 2016 at 11:01 pm
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      Hey don’t encourage him! I’m enjoying my time out from the taskmaster! 😉

      Reply
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  • November 24, 2016 at 4:26 pm
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    Oh boyyyyy…your Montero is like my Soffio going on four y.o now. Same thing with him scaring the blip outta me every time he moves like a hard rock hitting stone. I will try your as above so below when I’m going back home Sunday… especially working with his front legs which he is spool not keen on lifting. He’s a sturdy Merens x and knows oh so well that he just needs to flinch an ear to shoosh me away meters!!! Thanks you!!!??

    Reply
    • November 26, 2016 at 8:32 pm
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      That’s very cool Emma! I just came back from a workshop with Linda Kohanov and she talked about this exact thing. She explained that a couple of her dominant Arabians will arrow their energy into you – like throwing a spear. And it makes you hold your breath and often you’ll get confused or hesitant. So to be aware and recognize that there’s nothing wrong with you – but THEY are doing it on purpose. Every time I think I’m the only one, spinning around out here in my nut-bar universe, others come forward with a “Me too!” It’s so great. 🙂

      Reply

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