Today, the horses, actually one horse in particular, my friend Red would like me to recount an experience we shared. Often in my job, I have to ask a horse about their history…it helps explain behavioural issues that may be occurring. Listening to their experiences of abuse and mistreatment are something I must deal with on regular basis.
Fortuneately, the horses themselves have taught me a great deal about dealing with my reaction to my fellow human beings who are abusive. It has always amazed me that horses and animals, still love humans, are willing to trust us and have great compassion, after experiencing severe abuse. Their resilience, spirit and matter of fact attitude inspires me each day to approach this issue in the same manner. Red, in particular has taught me well, she is a Buddha of a horse, sometimes bossy and stubborn, but always generous in sharing her wisdom and experience.
I was visiting with her one day, doing an acupressure treatment on her back.
There were two horses in the barn who had arrived within the last year, who had been abused. Hit repeatedly with pitchforks and other metal objects. A woman who had helped rehabilitate these horses was also in the barn, cleaning out their stalls, she was in a foul, impatient mood. As she was mucking out the stalls, she kept brandishing the pitchfork at these horses, coming very close to hitting them. As I saw them cowering and becoming more and more agitated, my reaction was one of anger and judgement of the women’s actions. After several minutes of witnessing this, I had a very strong desire to storm over and quite forcefully tell the women off, stop her, soothe the horses and point out that what she was doing was wreaking havoc on the hours we had spent encouraging the horses to trust again and that she was doing the exact same thing as their previous abusive owners.
As my temper was ready to erupt and as I began to move in her direction…already ready to say something…I heard Red say…In her own indomitable way…
“Be silent. Stand still and mind your own business.”
Shocked, I looked at Red and demanded that she explain….this woman was doing damage to these horses, abusing and scaring them…it was up to me to make her aware of what she was doing and make her stop….
“Your reaction is full of anger and judgement…you were about to go say something in a very unkind tone to point out that her actions are wrong….you were about to use an abusive tone…you were just about to abuse her….she has just experience abuse at home by her husband. You were just about to continue the cycle. Be compassionate instead…send healing and love to this woman, this will help, not telling her off, anger against anger only leads to more anger. Be mindful and react with peace.”
It took me a few minutes to let go of my anger and actually listen to Red. Then I experienced an AHA moment, of course everything she said was true, I was fully aware that I had just been prevented from using abusive language towards someone who was only practicing what she knew in her environment, what she had been taught, what she herself was experiencing.
This experience has stayed with me, I often have an instant reaction to abusive people and want to condemn them and ostracize them…Luckily before I react, I still here Red’s words…’Be silent, stand still and mind your own business.’ Which I do, which gives me a moment to regroup and do my best to react with kindness, compassion and awareness.