Such a lovely word. Most of you reading this will already have reacted in some way as soon as you saw it…
Touch can mean so many things: the brush of a snowflake on your skin, the breath of a feather from your pillow against your face in the morning, the warmth of a friend’s hand through your shirtsleeve.
Touch is healing. Massage heals physically and emotionally, it has been proven as a therapy for newborns and the elderly – and all of us inbetween.
Few of us doubt the value of touch.
What is the softest, most welcome touch you can think of? That you can remember? That you can imagine?
And now think of the touch you offer your horse……
Every time we are with our horses we are telling them something about ourselves.
A friend of mine used to find Gracie, my chestnut TB mare, aloof and stand-offish. He would come to me after spending time with her and say once again, with sadness, that she had walked away from him when all he wanted to do was let her know how wonderful he thought she was.
We talked about touch.
About the difference between “grabbing” and “touching”….
If you walk up to a horse, lift your hand and pat them without thinking – how do you think that feels to a horse? I have seen people pat horses the same way they pat the fence when they are bored – with stiff hands, hands that are saying “I am going to pat you and that’s it”.
Even without the pat, how many times have you seen people reach out and touch their horse with a stiff hand, without mindfulness, and the horse moves away from the touch?
My friend and I discussed touch.
The difference between someone touching you to get your attention, to tell you something – and touching you to send a feeling of love and warmth.
The difference between someone touching you to ask you to do something, to move or talk – and touching you to say hello, I am here and I love you
The difference between someone touching you to say “Here I am!” and touching you to say “ahhhh, THERE you are…..”
He went back to the field. He walked in among the horses and walked near Gracie. He held out his hand, and thought of how lovely she was, how warm, soft and loving she was – and then slowly, gently he rested his hand on her skin. As his hand crossed that last millimetre between them, Gracie started to stiffen, expecting what had happened before – but when his hand touched her, she melted into it.
They stood, touching, for several minutes. He slowly rubbed his and back and forth and she was relaxed and happy.
When he came back out of the field, he was smiling. “Who knew something as simple as that would make such a HUGE difference?” he said.
I have written before about armouring and melting – about how if we expect a roughness in a touch, we brace against it, put our armour on to protect ourselves and stay safe. And with armour, nothing can be graceful, or beautiful, or soft.
It’s hard to feel touch through armour. And touching armour isn’t pleasant either – it’s cold, and hard – and hard for us to stay soft and inviting in our own hands.
Until the armour is gone, there can be no touch. Nothing can be felt. Or returned.
Touch can melt the armour……change the harsh cold metal for warm inviting skin…..
And once we have that warmth, that softness – now we have a language.
Now we have communication.
And if my touch is of the truest quality, my horse will want it. Will seek it. So in that last millimetre as my hand fills with love and warmth – my horse will move TOWARDS my hand, seeking that touch, as a friend will seek me out for conversation, my horse will seek me out for my touch, for our conversation.
So if I stand by my horse, and touch her, and send my honest love through my hand, my horse will want that touch so much, and enjoy that conversation so much, that she will want it to continue. And she will put effort into continuing it.
And so when I move my hand slightly, she will follow, to maintain that touch. And when she moves away I will follow, to maintain that touch – and so we begin to develop that harmony based on touch.
When we have touch, then we have lightness, softness – we have harmony.
If I build this language of touch with my hand, then I can continue it with anything – my legs, seat, reins….and the whole time my horse will be seeking out the touch because we are in harmony and conversation…
How much confidence does a conversation like this give you?
It gives me endless confidence: with connection and harmony, anything is possible because we are working together, conversing together – and anything else is just window dressing.
So, share with me – how do you touch your horse?
Yours, in confidence,
PS a friend shared this link in her comment and I thought it was so interesting I would put it in here too for people to find:
There were some articles recently about scientist discovering skin receptors that specifically register stroking as a pleasurable sensationhttp://www.nature.com/news/mice-have-massage-neurons-1.12331 Thought it was interesting. They also believe they are present in all mammals, including humans