Holiday Edition, 2008

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

Several people have recently asked about gift certificates for workshops, private sessions and extended stays at the Epona Center. We’re happy to oblige! Contact the Epona office at or 520-455-5908. Since workshop participants learn valuable life skills that lead to a more skillful, balanced approach to relationships, life and work, Epona gift certificates ultimately benefit the giver as well as the receiver! Our booking office staff can help you determine the best workshop or on-site service for the friend or family member you have in mind.

Horse Wisdom for the New Year

adapted from Way of the Horse by Linda Kohanov

As you make your New Year’s resolutions, consider injecting a bit of horse sense into your life. Horses have a sophisticated, yet straight-forward way of dealing with change. Humans have much to learn from these animals: their responses to stressful situations and their immense capacity for joy. The following elements of horse wisdom can easily be translated into advice for dealing more constructively with the people in your life. May you experience much joy, balance and success in 2009!

Horses don’t “run blind.” At a distance, they can sense whether a predator is on the prowl or simply passing through. In the former case, the herd races to safety without hesitation. In the latter, alert yet relatively relaxed horses will often continue grazing as the cat saunters through the field on his way to an afternoon nap.

Aggressive, alpha-style leadership is considered adolescent behavior. A flamboyant horse may win the right to drink first, but he effectively alienates the other horses, who gather around a calmer, more experienced herd member who leads by example, not by force. Equine wisdom recognizes that survival of the fittest requires a much more sophisticated approach to life than brute force. It involves the wisdom and poise to conserve energy for true emergencies.

Horses are masters of emotional agility. When trouble arises in the herd, they deal with it and move on. Rather than suppressing uncomfortable feelings or outlandishly expressing them, horses get the message behind the emotion, change something in response, and then they go back to grazing. If they’re afraid, they move to safety and enjoy the grass on the other side of the field. They don’t spend the afternoon complaining that they had to run from a predator, and they don’t stay up all night fretting about why God invented lions in the first place. (If they did engage in this counterproductive rumination, their minds would be so preoccupied with the past that the next predator could move much closer, undetected.)

Same with anger: Horses use this momentarily uncomfortable rise in emotional energy to help them set boundaries. A stallion may get a little feisty and try to push his mares around. If they’re not in the mood for his shenanigans, they’ll pin their ears and warn him to back off. If he doesn’t listen, they’ll become more emphatic, kicking out and squealing if necessary. Yet when he finally gives them space, they’ll relax and go back to grazing, joining him later for a nap under a favorite tree. These horses don’t need hours of counseling to work out their resentment and disappointment. Both offender and offended get the message behind the anger, change something in response, let the emotion go, and resume their enjoyment of life.

Horses are highly adaptable to changing conditions. They don’t fight over a modest piece of land, as many predators are known to do. They move to greener pastures without hesitation, knowing that come next spring, they may very well return to the same valley. They show incredible endurance migrating over vast distances precisely because they know how to enjoy, and be nourished by, the journey.

Horses are not afraid of the dark. They see quite well at night, and are often active after sunset, especially on moonlit nights. And they’re only alarmed by the big predators. Adult horses chase coyotes around for fun.

As non-predatory beings, horses model the strengths of feminine values: cooperation over competition, process over goal, relationship over territory. They’re immensely powerful and fast, yet patient and sensitive. They have much to teach humans who’ve been conditioned by a predatory society of territorial conquerors, helping us bring our lives back into balance. Trust in the universe flows through their veins. The world, after all, is a salad to them!

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