Tag Archives: awareness

I've Been Robbed!

The perpetrator? Wyatt Webb, author of It’s Not About the Horse.

Last night, Mr. Webb crept into my room and stole away three hours of my precious sleep by engaging me in one of the best books I’ve ever read. He’s the guy I’ve written about before who runs the Equine Experience™ at Miraval Resort and Spa in Arizona.

Here’s one of the ways he hooked me in:

To the core of my soul, I truly believe that the powerful combination of horse and human is an avenue to awareness.

On every single page of this book, Mr. Webb speaks to me of the ways horses offer themselves as agents of change for humans who seek greater contact with their lives and the people around them.

© 2009 enlightened horsemanship through touch and Kim Cox Carneal

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Verse Thursday + Completely Un-Horse-Related Ramblings of a Buddhist Nature

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
Some momentary awareness
Comes as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!…

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.


I lost my home internet connection while I was at the hospital. My best buddy Chris moved out of the guest house and took the internet with him. During my recuperation-that-is-not (more about which later), I had a tough time getting new internet installed. I lacked both the gumption and the funds.

So here I am now, back online.

Just in case you’re interested, let me tell you the story of my back surgery (“hysteria ensues”)….
All went well and according to plan. The surgeon told me there was major impingement on the left sciatic nerve. I still don’t have feeling in many parts of my left leg and foot, and much pain remains. I am told that will come in time.
The day after the surgery I was up and around and thought I had my old life back, no problem. I was elated.

Then the next day, doom.

The pain returned, full force, possibly worse than before the surgery. And it seemed to have made friends with my right side as well. What’s most disturbing is that now my right leg is terribly painful. I’m worried that what remains of the surgically altered disk has shifted too far to the right, now jumping all over my right sciatic nerve. I returned on a panic trip to the surgeon who told me there was nothing to worry about and that if the pain persisted until March, he’d do another scan. I was momentarily appeased. Long enough to get all the way home with a prescription of narcotics.

Then it hit me: another month of living like this? (panic!) Functional and relatively pain-free only when dosed up with drugs? Stuck at home alone with no contact with the outside world? I’ve been doing that since November. How much more can a person take? (the panic spreads!)

So here I sit, loaded with self-pity and Vicodin. Or rather I should say, sitting for twenty minutes, walking around the house for forty, lying down for a nap, repeat. All. Day. Long. For what seems like forever.

Before the surgery, I accepted my lot. It had been coming for a long time. I had time to deal with it and became intimate with its development, the way my body and my life changed along with the pain and the decreased mobility. Plus, I honestly believed there would be an end to it. I had ultimate faith in the results of surgery.

Now, I feel betrayed. I was supposed to be fixed, like the Bionic Woman! The day after surgery, I was supposed to be able to fox-hunt first field! I was supposed to be able to run the Charlottesville Women’s Four Miler and win! (No one says expectations have to be reasonable) But seriously, my expectations were that I would be relatively pain free and mobile. I could make my own bed. Clean my own house. Pick up my dogs and cats. I could drive to my physical therapy without being under the influence of narcotics (isn’t this illegal?) and get slowly better and better. Maybe eventually, contrary to what the surgeon told me, I could ride again. The degree of arthritis and number of bone spurs he found in my spine, evidence of an athletic life lived without caution…these things may have come back to haunt me like the punch-drunkenness of an old boxer.

Sooner or later, every human being encounters something like this. We all go through the same thing, right? I’m wondering how others deal with the pain and disappointment. Please let me know if you have a better plan for me and humankind.

So here’s what I’m thinking….I am in effect publishing here a kind of auto-therapeutic essay. Stop here if you’re not interested in essentially Buddhist psychology. I won’t hold it against you.
Read more…

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Everything But the Kitchen Sink: Maira's TTouch Prescription

Today in the TTEAM Training, it was time to round up our assessments of our horses. We discussed how to effect the necessary changes and encourage beneficial qualities in our horses. We spent a warm and breezy afternoon in the arena figuring out how to use some of the Tellington TTouch® ridden work in the Playground for Higher Learning, experimenting with TTEAM equipment, and getting sunburned.

After examining Maira thoroughly, Linda’s pronouncement confirmed some of my suspicions, but when she threw in everything but the kitchen sink, the diagnosis got a little alarming. I’ve got a lot of work to do.

Read more…

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Aching Bones, Expanding Mind

Aching Bones, Expanding Mind

TTouch® Practitioner-In-Training, TTouch thyself! This was the message from Linda Tellington-Jones as I moaned in a undignified way into her ear through the telephone.

To be honest, I was so disoriented after my accident that it did not even occur to me that I might help myself in any way at all until my friends and family insisted that I go to the doctor, which I waited three days to do. Apparently horse people can be quite stubborn about brushing off the effects of falls.

My doctor told me a joke of sorts. Doc: “How do you know when a horseback rider has really been hurt in a fall?” Kim: “I don’t know, doctor. Can I have that shot now?” Doc: “When the horseback rider doesn’t have a pulse.” Kim: “Why, what do you mean, doctor?” Doc: “If a horseback rider has a pulse, he doesn’t consider himself to be hurt.” That’s why we never see ’em in here. They only get the ‘hurt’ ones at the county morgue. OK, bend over, this might sting a little.” I guess there’s a lesson in this for me. It wasn’t a matter of playing tough, but of staying present with my body. Read more…

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My Friends Are Gone and My Hair Is Gray

and I ache in the places where I used to play…

When I first heard that line in the Leonard Cohen tune, The Tower of Song, I giggled a bit. After all, Mr. Cohen is upwards of seventy years old, I thought smugly, preening my forty-seven-year-old self.

Then God said, “Ha!,” and made me ache in all my places!
Last week I made an ill-advised decision on horseback and received a face full of dirt as my reward. “That’s nothing new,” you say, “I fall off all the time!” And like me you may even have broken a couple of ribs, bruised one entire side of your body, damaged subcutaneous nerves in your thigh, and nearly dislocated your shoulder, as I did. But this is about me!

As I sit, stand, lie, wander (whatever hurts less), my thighs tingling with the regeneration of those damaged nerves, able to take only the shallowest of breaths, wishing I had just bounced like I did all those years ago, I have the opportunity to examine the circumstances surrounding my accident, and to consider my options for preventing a reoccurrence.

Riding accidents happen both in a flash and in slow motion. As we take flight, we have the peculiar combination of acute awareness of our impending doom and no clue at all how it’s going to play out. The minute we hit the dirt (and after we catch our breath), we wonder, “How the heck did that happen?” yet we know. We know. We play the whole scene back in our minds in slow-mo, in our dreams, in the recounting to friends and the EMTs.

Usually you can chalk it up to a series of errors.
Not this time.

I think maybe all horse people have at least one extra risk-taking gene. I have two. This tendency toward a lack of good judgment diametrically opposes my efforts to be a more mindful person. In all areas of my life, the “risk-taking override” often kicks in when I should stop and take a moment to step out of automatic pilot, to exit “doing mode” and enter “being mode” to connect more deeply with the present moment.

My dust-eating face plant is a prime example, and one from which I want to extract every lesson I can.

I remind myself of Henry David Thoreau’s comments on this subject:

“I am alarmed when it happens that I have walked a mile into the woods bodily, without getting there in spirit… The thought of some work will run in my head, and I am not where my body is; I am out of my senses… What business have I in the woods, if I am thinking of something out of the woods?”

I have a young horse. A four-year-old Morgan/Percheron cross, not quite finished growing. Still a little “downhill.”
Maira is as sweet as a horse can be, with the conformation and personality one would expect from her breeding, and an extra dose of quiet bravery thrown in for good measure. I’m very fortunate to have her.

I consider myself especially lucky that she’s so willing, considering that I’m both a relatively novice rider and not in the best shape. I’m a fly on her back, but I’m a BIG, floppy fly. She tolerates me bouncing around up there like a sack of potatoes without batting a long black eyelash 99% of the time.

The 1% where something went wrong was my responsibility.

We had just come back from a long ride with a friend out in the hills and rivers of Free Union, Virginia. Maira and I had walked, trotted, and cantered in the woods, up hills, down hills, and out in the fields. Happily, we encountered none of the usual stealthy monsters: no deer, no hunters with shotguns, no Great Blue Herons. I figured (wrongly) that since she was pretty well worn out, we had nothing to lose by joining another friend for a final canter around the upper ring before heading back to the barn to cool off.

Two strides into what was a very poorly organized transition, Maira spooked. I must have pulled a sack-of-potatoes maneuver, because she dropped her inside shoulder (she must have lost her balance–I would have if I’d had me on my back!), and over I went.
*ugly sucking sounds*

It took me a few moments to get the breath working again, and poor Maira was so upset about dropping me that she ran around the ring several times, reins flapping. I remember feeling so bad that she was upset, but thoughts of Maira were crowded out of my head by pain and shock.
I needed help back to the barn, and eventually into my car, etc., after swearing on Xenophon’s grave that I didn’t need to go to the hospital. Turns out I did, but anyway

I never did get back on.

I have no idea which of my kind friends untacked her, wiped her down, soothed her in her upset, and put her in her stall for the night. I am sorry that it was not me. It was our first trying experience together, and it would have been better for me to see it through to the end. Young horses are so impressionable, and I hate for her to have this experience.

In the end, I think it all came down to a simple lack of mindfulness on my part:
• I didn’t realize that, even though we’d worked in that ring the day before, it had been her first time there. So it was still a new place for her.
• I didn’t think to pause at the gate, show her the ring, introduce her to the horse who was already working there, and allow her to consider our entering to work a bit.
• I didn’t walk her around the ring a few times in each direction to re-familiarize her with the area.
• I didn’t make a careful, planned transition from walk to canter, and her spook set me off balance, which set her off balance, which set the whole ugly mess in motion.
• I never saw what it was that spooked her.

This has been as good a lesson for me as it has been a bad one for Maira: Awareness of surroundings, the mind-set of my horse, my own preparation (or the lack thereof) are all basics of horseback riding. And if you don’t remember the basics, you’re sporting ice packs and singing a sad song.

Now that I’ve determined what I need to do to avoid similar rodeos in the future, I need to explore how I can help Maira do the same.
After I go ease myself into a tub of ice, I’ll write more about how I plan to use Tellington TTouch® and Tellington Equine Awareness Methods to deepen our partnership and overcome the future possibility of Maira’s spooking.

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