The Head Collar Ceremony was a powerful cleansing of current pathways of control which opened space for new pathways to form. It came out of that special space of limitless potential which can seem so impossible when you have many routines and expectations. This is often the case for us with our horses, and the reason why it takes time to gently and compassionately disengage ourselves from everything that imposes control over our partnership.

Horses in the winter barn

Recently I was standing in my horses barn with Karen Bailey. We knew we wanted to connect with the horses, and that was our only intention. It was raining so we decided to go straight into the barn and connect with them at a distance. 

Without an agenda it is easier to wait and be until an idea comes, and the first idea that came to me was that we could engage more fully with the concept of doing something with the horses. Asking them to do something. How does that feel? 

When I think of this I feel a sense of pressure. It sits in my upper body and arms. It feels like an outward flow, and it feels like a need to control. Karen felt tension in it, and when we sensed down below the pressure, there was fear there. Maybe it was fear to make a mistake, fear of losing control, fear itself. Fear because this energy was not coming from the heart centre but from ego. The intellectual interpretation is fun, but it is not where the journey is, so we went back into the energy. 

Karen began to describe the feeling of being trapped in this place. Not being able to find a path out. Whirling around the same old circle. I felt us in a forest glade surrounded by brambles that we could never penetrate. There was no way out. 

Acknowledging this. Accepting it deeply…fully… Allowing the prison to be as it was. Suddenly I felt my heart centre. I remembered that this is the source of all truth and all that exists. It began to open  and then the realisation hit us, as it has before and will again, that the path goes within! The path is the path of the heart. The flow of love is limitless. 

Connecting this back with the original idea of doing something with a horse and suddenly the answer was there: Invite them inside!

Of course you can do with them, and this is the opposite of doing to them. As soon as we were experiencing the joy of this and the sense of energetic (spirit) horses diving happily into our space and dancing with us… of course the physical horses came pouring into the barn. All excited and serious too! “The humans are remembering. They are listening.”

It struck me that I had been thinking about the relationship back to front. That when we wish to connect with a horse, and influence them with our perspective, our ideas, our ‘training’ then we need not push outside of ourselves, but we can open ourselves up. The space of our influence is within us. Like our house, we open the doors and welcome the horses in.. if they wish to come. 

Listening to the horses is when the energy changes direction and we seek outside of ourselves to enter their space of wisdom. To learn humbly and openly from their knowledge and understanding. As soon as this crystallised in my mind, the last member of the herd entered the barn, Aimée, and the herd was complete. 

After a while of celebrating this is the physical presence of the horses, we turned our awareness to the head-collar. It was hanging up at the end of the barn. The head-collar has profound significance in the relationship we have with horses.

Allowing it to be the energetic focus, without associations, is a powerful exercise. Karen realised that it has an energy of its own. It neither belongs to us, nor the horse.

Head-collar Ceremony

In exploring what that means, our sense of what the head-collar represents began to shift. From hand-cuffs to a therapeutic tool. The joy of discovering that the head-collar can bring healing was like a refreshing wave breaking in our minds. Going deeper into this, instead of being a hard barrier between us, it can be the connecting membrane itself. The physical embodiment of trust and love and togetherness. And in following how to embrace that in a practical way, the requirement for reverence became clear.

The head-collar must be held with such love and graciousness, and presented to the horse as a gift of wonder and sacredness. 

Holistic Horse Herd

We went to bring the head collar to the centre of the barn, feeling the momentousness of the shift in perspective. The horses came to sniff it and explore the new energy, and Honey presented herself nearby. We could feel her diving deeply into the process, and we understood that she would be the carrier of the gift. The physical messenger and wearer of the head-collar.

Karen approached her and after some minutes, and a moment of hesitation which was embraced and accepted, Honey came right into Karen’s space and asked her to be dressed with the head-collar. The head-collar itself was vibrating with life and already I could feel the acupressure points in Honey’s face tingling and dancing with energy.

When she was wearing it, she stood for some time absorbing the healing and we started to become aware of the healing in the individual members of the herd and also in consciousness itself. It seemed that all the negative associations that were ever experienced in each horse were unfolding and unlocking.. releasing and re-patterning into joy and celebration. TMJ’s were loosening, throats opening, sinuses clearing. Necks were decompressing and jaws were releasing. Honey was yawning and stretching and processing so deeply it was a privilege to experience.

Eventually Honey was ready to relinquish, to give us back the gift, and she came close to Karen and brought her head close. The sacredness of these moments of physical connection could be felt so clearly. The gentleness and sensitivity required, the joy and celebration of it, the depth of the love for human and the depth of the love for horse. 

Gradually as Karen felt ready she began to take the head-collar round the herd. Bringing it into the physical space of the different horses and radiating the energy even more intensely. It felt like we were witnessing the re-writing of horse and human history. Watching layers of pain and disconnection dissipate forever. Karen felt the emotional aspect of the joy and love filling up the spaces where fear and doubt had been. 

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