“I had a dream”. Anna wonders how many times Martin Luther King has been misquoted. I had a dream suggests something finished. Either the dream has been realised or not, but the dream itself is past tense. “I have a dream” is so much more powerful. Something is being created in the now. When Anna was a young girl, she had a dream. There were variations that ranged from Olympic Glory to living on the vast plains of some unnamed country sat bared legged, almost centaur like, on a wiry little pony. No matter the setting the heart of the dream was always anchored in the connection between her and her horse. The link that bound them together and surmounted difficulties like language and species.
Of course that was a little girls dream.
Boarding school, University, marriage, a corporate career, all the usual mundane tasks filled Anna’s days for years. Horses were always a part of it, sometimes fleetingly, a stolen glance when driving past a paddock full, sitting glued to the TV in the early hours of the morning watching others sail over fences or dance around the arena in Top hat and Tails. Then more permanently culminating in the founding of her own small horse stud.
But there was something missing.
During her career seemingly chained to her desk, Anna’s horses were her solace. Whilst she was careful not to go straight from a particularly frustrating day, the sort that left her angry and brittle, to the horses, she found that once she had taken the edge off herself with something physical, just by spending time with them it calmed her and enabled her to think more clearly. The refrain from “Drift Away” played in her head but it wasn’t just the beat of a rock and roll tune that could carry her away it was also the beat of galloping hooves and the strong hearts of her horses.
Day after day I’m more confused;
I look for the light in the pouring rain.
You know that’s a game that I hate to lose.
I’m feelin’ the strain; ain’t it a shame?
Oh, give me the beat, boys, and free my soul;
I want to get lost in your rock and roll and drift away.
Give me the beat, boys, to soothe my soul;
I want to get lost in your rock and roll and drift away.
“Drift Away” by Mentor Williams, 1970
I need something different she had thought, something more. Something where I can really make a difference not this endless round of petty politics, pressure to produce without the proper resources or structure to support us. I feel trapped in a box I can’t break out of and its walls are getting closer and closer, squeezing me. What a relief it was then when Anna’s company launched into a coaching and development process. Anna’s mind latched on to this, for her, new field like a magnet, irresistibly drawn. Ever the researcher, the seeker she decided to take the jump out of her well-worn groove and take up a new career.
But still there was something missing.
A chance meeting with Lex changed all that. They met because of a horse Anna had for sale and as she was checking Lex out to see if she was a suitable candidate to take on a young horse, Anna discovered Lex was a gifted development coach of many years’ experience and part of her motivation in bringing horses back into her own life was her interest in the developing field of Horse Assisted Education and Leadership Development. It was one of those moments where you feel a jolt. This is “it”. It wasn’t the first time Anna had come across the field, but she wasn’t ready for it at that time. She was only newly out of her old career and feeling vulnerable, not ready to take her relationship with her horses out of the private realm and turn it into to something shared. Sure she bred and sold horses but that was a completely different dynamic.
Hunter wickers softly, waiting for the answering calls. The sun is starting to creep above the horizon and the small herd is restless, waiting for a sign the humans are one the move and soon to deliver the morning feeds. One of the youngsters, impatient, starts to bang a stable door with a hoof, while the broodmares jiggle the gate of their paddock. Foals, oblivious to the timing of delivered feed, are content to butt their dams in the flank to get the milk flowing more freely.
Anna works her way efficiently through the morning routine. Everyone standing on 4 legs? Check. Pump not running constantly. Check. Everyone fed. Check.
The mixed herd to be used for the days’ workshop are given a quick brush and then let back out in to the holding paddock. They bicker a little amongst themselves. Ostara, always the bully makes her presence felt, but knows better than to take on the patriarch, Hunter. He may not throw his weight around the way she does, but she won’t mess with him. Funny how despite his higher position in the herd pecking order than her own, the young ones are content to hang around with him but give her a wide berth.
Most of Anna’s clients are not horse people and Ostara is only used in the initial observation exercise, but occasionally there is someone who has a lot of expertise with horses and runs through the basic exercises with ease so Ostara is a useful to offer them a bit of a challenge and get them out of the “horse person” space.
Anna turns her mind to the day’s workshop. She met with Lex, Andrew and Brendon a month ago to work out the general plan for the day. She has been working with Andrew for a while and knows he is well versed as to when a client is ready for this type of work. There needs to be an openness and awareness though there is nothing wrong with a bit of skepticism. Until people have actually worked with the horses it is difficult to conceive how the process works. Brendon came across as a force of nature. Elemental even within his sombre business suit. He was enthusiastic about the work he and his team have been doing with Andrew but Anna could feel his energy beating at her in waves, much like a young colt bouncing around on the end of a rope. As Andrew was describing some of the issues in his team Anna could already see how that intenseness could be felt as intimidating by some, despite its positive intent.
She gives Jelani and Khan a quick stroke as she passes them and holds her hand out to Hunter, who drops his heads and rests it against her chest and she tips her head so they are forehead to forehead. Drawing on the peace of that moments she centers herself, ready for the day ahead.