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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

She Flies Without Wings - How Horses Touch a Woman's Soul by Mary D. Midkiff

Excerpts: -A horse's acceptance remains one of my earliest memories of belonging. While I struggled to find who I was and would be as a person, horses gave me my first intimation of what acceptance and belonging could feel like.
- When I was a girl of six, I thought I was the only girl-horse in the land. Now I know horses touch the souls of many women.
- Horses are giant yet generous with their strength, their power, and their gentle affection. By their very nature, they embody and resolve the contradictions we all struggle with: They are strong and soft, calm and driven, wild and manageable, needy and independent. In the presence of horses, our impulses of nurturing and our urgent needs of support, strength and confidence come together, live together and express themselves together without the noise of intellectualism. We see that the horse lives its own life, speaks in its own way, moves where it needs to go. Its directness and simplicity offer a thousand-pound counterpoint to our own complicated and often less honest human interactions. The horse shows us how to be complete.
-When a woman first meets the horse, she feels fear and awe, respect and caution, excitement and reserve. She reaches out to stroke the horse's side and remembers the first touch of a lover's hand. The soothing warmth of connecting with another spirit with its own power and its own passion washes over her. She runs her fingers through the horse's mane and looks into his eyes, finding there a companion who says "Let's go places together. Everything is better with me." As she strokes the velvet muzzle, he licks her fingers and softens his gaze, lowering his head and extending himself to her in a way that makes her heart swell and race at the same time.
Later she questions the encounter. She puzzles over the tangle of fear and inspiration-even euphoria-the moment brought her and wonders if she could have only imagined a connection with this great and elusive animal. From unfamiliar recesses of her being, new longings push into her consciousness. She imagines being lifted to the horse's back and carried to far-off places. She is tempted. She must see the horse again.
And she does. The next time she approaches with her hand held out in a tentative gesture of greeting, and he reciprocates by pointing his ears toward her and nosing at her fingers. He has smelled this hand before but he checks once again, just to be sure. She responds by stepping closer, running her hand up his nose and gently scratching between his eyes.
He lowers his head, blinks. He is saying "All right. I'll let you into my world". She steps around to his side and moves his mane out of the way to stroke his neck. As it did the first time, the warmth of connection washes over her. She feels the definition of the muscular yet swan-like neck. He's enjoying this too; she knows because he doesn't turn away.
She begins to think of the horse more personally. She notices the variety of colors in his coat hairs and how they sparkle in the sunlight, the texture of his mane and how the threads taper down his neck perfectly to shield him from the weather when he is still but lift and float to add symmetry to his shape when he begins to run. She sees fluff inside his ears and is surprised to discover that each ear swivels independently of the other but that both follow her body and her noises, as do those great liquid eyes, which track her every step. Even his breathing matches hers, speeding up and slowing down with her own.
In the horse, she glimpses a model for escaping everyday stress and releasing everyday pressures. She feels a sense of wellness she can take back into her hectic life. Her emotions stir, her instincts are fed, she draws nearer to her own sensual self. A horse's home environment gives the woman sanctuary where she can experience each moment of life in its singular perfection or imperfection. She believes the horse will lead her to a peaceful place within herself.
This is enough for now. It is enough for her to know the first encounter was not a dream. On her way home, she decides she could never live life without revisiting and reinvestigating these insights. It is as if her life started when she met the horse. Before that it was all just practice.


  1. This may be the most beautiful post I have ever read. Yeah, I'm sure of it.

  2. @eloh, this is just the beginning of the book. There's much more. In addition, this photo is of Nacho, the school-horse I have been riding. His look is the epitome of acceptance and generosity of spirit. I do indeed take this sense of wellness, garnered from proximity to horses, with me into every day life.

  3. Thanks so much for the reference, will have to track a copy down for my daughter... these excerpts are good...

  4. That's so beautiful, thank you!!

  5. Just spreading The Word. Glad you like it.

  6. :-D
    Girls and horses! It is all these things and more... It's the riding off into the sun, the throwing the reins away, the laying against a horses sleeping body..... and it's the mopping up of your own blood when they dump you in that ditch, the running about the field where all the grass is at one in the morning to save them from imminant laminitis... and the tears... endless tears.. of pure frustration because the scabby pony has Thelwell'ed you off... AGAIN...... :-)

  7. Hey Watercats, sounds like you have a horse-book in you too. There was nothing as embarassing as being "bolted" with at the walk, by iron-mouthed King Alfred the Great. Humility learned!

  8. Beautiful indeed. It surely does sum up the incredible bond of horse and me.

    Nacho is one handsome fellow. He has a truly kind eye and a very intelligent expression. He looks to be a grand school master. Lucky you.

  9. I'm so tempted...perhaps in the Autumn I'll give it a go,


  10. GG, I hope you find the same joy and inspiration that we "horsey girls" do. The great thing is that it can be found at any level of competence. Just the interaction whilst grooming, or beginning to learn to ride can truly transport you to a different world.
    A side-bar advantage is that horses are a great equalizer. May we look forward to a future post wherein you recount what happened when some of your sleazier, yet so self-important, family members were encouraged to "master" a horse.

  11. I agree, you have a book here! Beautiful.
    HAve a great weekend.

  12. Hi Rider; was just reading with great amusement your comment over at Joanna Dover's about skunks ! What fun it must be to have a skunked dog ! Is there any truth to the folk tale that says tomato juice helps get rid of the skunk stink ? And do horses ever get skunked, or are they smart enough to stay away from them ?

    I left this comment at Joanna's :

    I didn't know there were skunks in California... but that's just my ignorance showing. There were lots of them in South Jersey, near Atlantic City, where my grandparents lived. Even on the road you had to be careful not to run over a dead one, because then the car would stink for long after. Amazing how pungent ant potent the smell is... and it does stink badly, even for a natural odor... not one of Nature's kinder developments. Perhaps you are familiar with the Loudon Wainwright song : Dead Skunk In the Middle of the Road ??? It can be found on YouTube...

    If you haven't heard that tune before, it's worth a good laugh !

  13. You are so right about horses touching your soul. A lot of years ago, in a distance marriage, my wife and I took up horse riding lessons at a local stables. I did not want to do it at first, but after the first ride, I was hooked. There were 2 horses in particular that we rode and I loved them both. I would spend as long in the stable as I did on the horse. She was such a gentle creature and I really felt like I connected with her. Of course, apples and carrots helped with that!

  14. Owen, no Tomato juice doesn't do anything. I just read your beautiful poem between two islands. Is that spot to be found near South Jersey, Atlantic City?
    Dave, so you too speak horse. Good to know.

  15. Happily, we have no "putois" skunks in France to the best of my knowledge, so I guess I'll drink the tomato juice instead... maybe with a bit of vodka in it ?

    Right you are, South Jersey it is, where there are huge stretches of relatively pristine marshlands, which stay that way because basically no one wants to go muck around in them... between the marsh and the pine barrens, there are alot of surprisingly beautiful places in South Jersey...