I have been reading a few horse-related books lately.Â
Read Tom Dorrance's "True Unity: Willing Communication between horse and human", a few months ago, and can't actually remember much of what I read (or have already integrated the useful bits into my knowledge bank), but I remember that I really enjoyed it.Â
Then came Mark Rashid's "Considering the horse", which I mostly enjoyed, but felt a little uncomfortable about some parts (I had his first version without the notes that Volker mentioned), but again I really appreciated his honesty and openness, he even admits in some places things that he still doesn't understand. It is a nice book about his journey to that point.Â
The I read Ingrid Soren's "The Zen of Horseriding". This was just beautiful. It described being present with horses, being there, accepting, all these wonderful "life" concepts that come up so often in this book. So many wonderful Zen quotes. I wanted to note down many of then, I may even have to re-read it so I can take notes. Here are a few I can find while just flicking through:Â
"Teaching is in every moment, teaches Zen, and I was a novice taking my first steps in zazen, in sitting, but also (although I didn't see it that way at the time) in the Zen of horse-riding."
"Non-perfection, that was it. The acceptance of non-perfection is enlightenment. Aha. Finding perfection in things as they are and not as we think they should be! Finding perfect existence through imperfect existence, this is the teaching, perfection in my imperfection. "
"What I learned from that fleeting experience (I was not able to replicate it immediately) was to reconnect with how I must have done things as a child, before I 'knew' anything: because a child does something with it's whole being, it surrenders completely to what is in hand, it is fearless. Now I could understand the Zen adage that a great man retains a child's mind. The qualities required for good riding were those childlike qualities of absorbed readiness, alertness and responsiveness. "
"'In the heart of this moment is eternity' wrote the thirteenth century monk Meister Eckhart. Horse-riding was verifying this mystic experience for me. Riding seemed to be the ultimate in mindfulness, in absorption, in being present, being there. "
Ah so many more, but I would rather just suggest that it is a nice book worth reading. This coming from myself that has had a hard time morally accepting "riding" horses for the last few months. It helped me to remember how magical it can be, and that one day I do want to do it more again. But also, many of the things she spoke about, I feel just being and playing and running with the horses, but I have a better understanding and feeling about that intense intimacy you share with a horse when you are moving together, close contact, riding.Â
And last but not least (for now), I just finished reading Marthe Kiley-Worthington's "Equine Welfare". It gives a complete look at traditional horse-keeping practices, pulls it all apart, and puts it back together in a way that considers the horses mental, emotional and physical welfare, giving suggestions on how to evaluate the conditions under which your equine lives and how happy or unhappy they may be and why, and most importantly how to improve these practices (including breeding which I found really interesting). She is very honest and really tears some practices apart, but still writes the book as being aimed at those that do use more traditional horse management practices (like stabling, etc). Definitely worth at least flicking through.Â
Also some really good chapters on ethics, and whether it is cruel to keep and to USE equines. Again, from myself having trouble considering suggesting "work" for horses, I can see the benefits of giving horses a job to do as long as it is done with no harm to the horse in any way (as she states frequently).Â
Also forgot, chapters on the equine mind and learning, handling and teaching.
Anyway, now I have to try making my way through this list that everyone has suggested! Lucky I got a new job, now I can buy more books!
Jessie and Little Billy