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Monday, March 4, 2013

A Horse Tale

Soon after graduating from the spiritual direction program, Wellstreams, in January 2007, I came across the opportunity to participate in a three-day equine retreat for spiritual directors.  Before I go on to tell you how important this experience was and before I lose readers who do not consider themselves a "horse person," let me quickly tell you with 100% certainty, "I am not a horse person" by any stretch of the imagination.  My paternal grandfather lived in the country and was a veterinarian.  I would visit the dogs and cats in his vet office, but the farm visits with the large animals I left to my younger brother. Other than riding in a small cart pulled by a horse my grandparents owned for a short time, my horse experience was limited to carousel rides, and a memorable trek on horseback through Grand Teton National Park as a child that left me unable to walk or sit the following day.  

I am not sure what led me to register for this particular retreat decades later other than a temporary sense of being someone who wanted to explore uncharted territory and face her discomfort, if not fear of the unknown.  The smiling face you see below with "Lily" is authentic and the picture of a newly-minted, happy horse person from June 2007.  I share this with you because the woman who facilitated this event, Dottie Kluesener, has been so gracious to AWBA by offering equine-learning events for those impacted by chronic disease.   AWBA sponsored a group at her farm in Johnstown, Ohio last year.  This year we move to Gilgal Farm in Lancaster, Ohio on Saturday, May 18 where Dottie will serve us alongside Chris Harnden and Beckie Boger in facilitating a three-hour equine learning event for AWBA.

Judy and Lily, Sugar Lump Farm 2007

For myself, Dottie's skillful and gentle presence, the supportive community of other participants and horse handlers, and the wisdom of the three horses the group bonded with provided insight that continues to serve me today.  All of the exercises were done on the ground.  No riding was involved.   I experienced working in partnership with things that seem bigger than I, a willingness to try a different approach when the first attempt did not work, believing in my innate abilities, knowing what is mine to tend to and what is not, and sharing my burdens with another.  For those impacted by chronic disease, the diagnosis and all that goes with it can often feel like a large, lumbering animal that has more control over us than we do over it which is why we have partnered to bring this event to AWBA's clients.

I invite anyone with a chronic diagnosis, personal caregivers and professional caregivers to consider this unique experience.  The generosity of financial donors and our facilitators has allowed us to offer this event at a reduced rate of $35/person.  Space is limited to six people with limited additional space for a companion to accompany you at no charge as an observer and/or support person.  Those who utilize a wheelchair or other mobility aid are encouraged to participate as well.  Just let us know when you register.  Visit information to learn more about this event and feedback to read what some of last year's participants experienced that day.

I don't anticipate riding horseback anytime in the foreseeable future, but hugging a horse and gazing into those wise eyes is top on my list of life-giving opportunities.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for offering this opportunity. Looking at the picture of you with Lily - I am amazed by the deep compassion I see in Lily's eyes, and the depth of wisdom that is there. I wish I lived closer so that I could participate myself. I know those who participate this year will be truly blessed.