• Kathryn Hulland

The Tinker Experience

A blog entry from May 2013 - this experience has always stayed with me.

As I've mentioned before I am currently reading the book The Tao of Equus by Linda Kohanov

It's an extraordinary book filled with many stories and insights. On Saturday I'd just read a chapter about a woman who was in the pen with some other people for a therapy session though she was extremely scared and so stood behind the instructor/therapist, the horse in the pen kept watching her, finally sniffed her and then just lay down next to her - this is a very very brief synopsis please do buy the book and read it fully it's well worth it. I was thinking how amazing to have this experience with an animal and for them to just lay down next to you. I've sat with horses before and approached them when they are already lying down, I've also sat in the field as the herd have started to lay down and fall asleep around me but I've never had one just plonk down almost on top of me.

So Sunday I decided to go up to the ponies, I wanted to experiment with a bit with intention of movement and general connection with them. I had in mind to see my old friend Gorse who is a little wary and who I've had quite a bond with in the past. On the drive up to the field I told myself not to have any expectations and not to feel disappointed if I didn't feel that "connection".

The first field is the field where the foals are, in there are the two mares and their foals who are under a week old, the acting stallion (gelding) Alfie who is herd protector, Bella a two year old filly and Tinker a filly and the foal of one of the mares from last year. I've not really met any of these ponies properly before other than Alfie and that was some years ago when he first came to us. Of course my initial interest was with the foals, I said hello to the filly first and we had a good scratching session, I then went to say hello to the colt Monday. He's so brave, too much so! He has no qualms about tramping all over you and rearing up at you. The experience with him certainly showed how intention makes such a difference in the movement, for example he was being bolshy so I waved my arms and he didn't move because inside me I'm thinking ahh he's so cute I can't really tell this adorable baby to go away, he then gets even more bolshy so I do it again with much more intention behind it and meaning it because I realise just how dangerous the behaviour is as they get older and off he ran back to mum, for a while....!

I said hello to Bella who I'd not met before, she was sniffing me with interest and stood away from us was Tinker. I went to say hello to Tinker and was stroking them both on the head then walked away whilst Tinker and Bella were still watching me. Tinker kept stepping around me initially (she's not unhandled and is very tame) so I took some more steps towards her and we had a good scratch, her skin is a bit scurfy so think she really enjoyed a good scratch. She was continually licking and chewing. Some of the others then came over including one of the foals and mum decided she needed to come over and remove the foal from our vicinity, obviously not happy with her filly's inquisitive nature! I moved away so as not to get caught in the middle of the skirmish. I decided to ask Tinker to come away from the herd a bit with me so we could have some space away from the others, I did this simply with body language and she followed me out a little way then stood and just laid down at my feet! This took me by surprise somewhat, and it was quite surreal having just read the chapter in the book about the horse that laid at the lady's feet and having that image in my mind. I crouched down and gave her another scratch and a bit of a massage under her mane, then the herd came back over, you will see the foal again sniffing her in the photo.

Of course mum then came back over again and Tinker got up so I asked her again to come away a little further with me which she did. I put my hand on her and gave her circular massages on her neck and her poll which she seemed to love, she kept leaning on me with her head. After a while I decided to sit down and she wanted to keep getting as close as she could, she was resting her head on my head and then my shoulder and shuffling her feet as close as possible stood directly above me. As adorable as this was it in one way isn't all that safe if something spooked the herd and she shot off so I wanted her to back up just slightly. I touched her very lightly with my hand on her shoulder and with my mind just asked her to back up a step, everso slowly her weight was going backwards until she took a step back, I was completely amazed by his, there had been no pressure on her from my hand it was the lightest of touches with the intention in my mind for her to back up and she did, slowly and calmly. Later she stepped forward again so I asked again in the same way and the same thing happened. She then decided to lay down next to me, I massaged her neck whilst she dosed and I copied her breathing which is very slow in a horse, lots of deep breaths.

I then laid back as my hips were hurting in the position I was in and she laid flat out with my hand touching her neck. She sat up a couple of times and then would lay flat again because I kept moving trying to get comfy! Once we were both comfy she was gone. What was also interesting is whilst she was laid there whenever I started to get uncomfy and feel a pain she would twitch too. After about 20 mins laid like this I had to get up, she was still flat out, Bella and Alfie were over enquiring what was going on and she wasn't moving! It's a good job this little filly has a owner at the moment as otherwise I may be after her!

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