What Is Met(t)a Horsemanship?
META, “higher, beyond,” from the Greek, meta (prep.) “in the midst of, among, with, after,” from PIE *me- “in the middle” (cf. Goth. miþ, O.E. mið “with, together with, among,” see mid). Notion of “changing places with” probably led to senses “change of place, order, or nature,” which was the principal meaning of the Greek word when used as a prefix. Third sense, “higher, beyond,” as “transcending physical science.”
METTA, from the Pāli (मेत्ता) Mettā or the Sanskrit maitrī (noun) has been translated as loving-kindness, benevolence, amity, good will, kindness, love, sympathy, empathy, and active interest in others. It is one of the ten pāramitās of the Theravāda school of Buddhism, and the first of the four Brahmavihāras. True metta is devoid of self-interest. Mettā signifies friendship and non-violence as well as “a strong wish for the happiness of others,” but also less obvious or direct qualities such as showing patience, receptivity, and appreciation. Mettā is a tool that permits one’s generosity and kindness to be applied to all beings and, as a consequence, one finds true happiness in another person’s happiness, no matter who the individual is.
See the similarities? Enlightened Horsemanship Through Touch is a little of both.
I come from a horsey family. But as a child I was severely allergic. Being the snuffling sneezing black sheep of the family was pretty unhappy for me. Luckily, I found other athletic pursuits. I returned to horses in mid-life as so many women do, when my daughter began hippotherapy after a series of strokes. I discovered that horses are the gift that keeps on giving. They are remarkable animals. By virtue of their size and power, they are not compelled to give us their attention, their obedience, their trust. Yet they are often affectionate and eager to please. I have seen horses offer comfort, affection, patience and trust to children who know nothing of these things. I have received it from horses myself.
As a way of repaying the unfathomable debt owed to all horses who grace us with their gifts, I began a career as an equine massage therapist, in order to give relief and pleasure to every horse I could lay my hands on. I experienced excellent results with my clients’ horses. Areas of significant soreness, swelling, and lack of flexibility can all be alleviated using standard sports massage therapy. However, I soon began to notice that the aches and pains, stiffness and soreness I found in the horses seemed to stem from habitual patterns of movement under saddle in and longeing.
Hmmm…what causes horses to hold to habitual patterns of movement which cause them pain? Perhaps these issues could be prevented rather than treated? Moreover, I noticed that owners were relating complaints of undesirable behaviors exhibited by their horses as a result of soreness and lameness. Again, Hmmmmm….why wouldn’t a horse behave badly when in pain? Rather than discipline a horse for unwanted behaviors, why not seek out and eliminate the root of the behavior?
Through my desire to investigate the root of pain-related behavior issues in horses, I began what I hope will be a lifelong cooperative project in writing about the intersection of the human mind, the equine mind, the sense of touch, and the art of riding.
Reverent mindfulness, the awareness of the gifts that all animals bring us is what I wish to put forth in this blog.
Here in enlightened horsemanship through touch, I explore all these issues with an open heart and mind, with an eye toward offering relief and freedom to horses, who offer us so very much of themselves.
I appreciate your presence here more than you can imagine. I welcome comments, questions, and challenges of all kinds. I am not here on the internet to pontificate or preen. I am here to research, think, muse and share. I hope my readers will do the same. With an emphasis on share. All comments are welcome here. So grab another cup of coffee and limber up your fingers.
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I write articles for business websites, their blogs, and publications. Don’t hesitate to contact me if you would like to discuss a project.
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