Ready for the Turn? When You Know, Act

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When I first met Sonnet, she was at a rescue farm. Her body was back to a good weight and she was living with a group of about 60 horses on as many acres. I had been talking with the woman who started and ran the rescue (Brenda) about our project (later we would call it The Courage Herd). I was already 3 months into my equine learning certification, I had found the land we would live together on but had not yet moved the 500km to the farm. Echo had given me a strong nudge .. let’s start creating the herd.

When I went to meet Brenda and explore the first horse we would invite into our project, she had selected two horses that she thought might fit based on what I had described. One was a younger horse, tall, dark with a beautiful long mane. She caught my eye first as I entered the paddock Brenda had put them both in for my visit.

The tall, dark horse lavished my attention. I had brought a few brushes in with me and she was pretty clear that she welcomed being groomed. I stood and started speaking to her, but the conversation was awkward. You know like when you meet someone and it feels tough to create a spark.

I looked around for the other horse … a small brown mare with a flaxen mane and scares on her face from a halter that had been too tight for too long. She was pacing and anxious, eager to get back to her friends or just out of the small paddock. Something about her captured my attention. I asked Brenda if she would mind taking the black horse away so I could focus on the little brown one.

As I walked over to her, I stopped short about 20 feet away and started speaking to her. She was pacing quite a bit. I had no idea if she would even hear me. I talked about Echo and a vision of a herd living and working together, and about choice – hers. I let her know this was an invitation and she was free to say no, or yes. I would respect her either way. 

As I was talking her pacing had slowed and her ears turned to me. Then she stopped. I slowly walked closer, taking deep breaths and pausing when I felt she needed a bit of space. Gradually I came to stand beside her. I kept talking about the land and imagining Echo with us.

In no more than 15 minutes her anxious pacing had disappeared and everything in my body could feel her resounding YES, I’M IN! I was amazed!

Her body relaxed, I showed her one the brushes and asked if she would like to be groomed. She leaned closer and I continued to whisper the story of our vision. As we ended our time and I began walking back to the gate, she followed me. For 45 minutes she waited at the gate as I took a tour of the farm and talked with Brenda. I had to go back and let her know that I heard her YES, and I would come back to get her and bring her to where Echo was staying now.

We called her Sonnet because of that moment. In a sonnet, there is a certain cadence to the poem and at the end, the volta, or turn. By being given choice, being heard, and trusting what she was perceiving (not blind faith trust, but trust in what her body was saying, (we know horses perceive in very subtle and astute ways), Sonnet stepped into the ‘turn’ for her life.

So much of our current worldview, the way our culture operates through us, takes place in a mindset of dominance .. power over. This never feels open or inviting for anyone in the dance. So much of what I’ve learned from the herd is what it feels like when we work together in mutual regard or “power with”. And, a key component is choice – how we hold the offering of it in our bodies and hearts, how we engage in a conversation of choice, and how we acknowledge each other.

What choice is calling to your brave heart right now? Listen to your body … it KNOWS when a YES is ready to be put into action!


Christina Turner