If you missed the Introduction to this 12-part blog series, here’s a quick run down. In February 2016, my beloved horse Jove died. He was my best friend and my teacher, and he helped change many people’s lives. To honor his memory and teachings, I am writing this series, Lessons from Jove. You can read the introduction to the series here.
At the beginning of every powerful relationship I’ve ever been in, there was a period of time where I was SO wrapped up in the other person (and vice versa in most cases) that I lost myself. I could no longer tell where I stopped and the other person began. Every waking moment was spent with that person or thinking about that person, which left little room for anything else in my life.
In some ways, it was a good thing, because it gave me the opportunity to really connect with this new man on a deep level with no distractions. But obviously there was a downside to this kind of all-consuming infatuation: it fades, as all powerful emotions eventually do, and then I was left with the realization that my romantic partner had become my everything and I had become reliant on him to meet all my needs.
Jove actually taught me—along with many of my clients throughout the years—about connecting in a healthier way…one in which I didn’t have to lose all my other interests in order for my new relationship to flourish.
When I first met Jove, I was instantly smitten. I had never had my own horse before, so his presence in my life took on a near-mythical quality.
He, on the other hand, couldn’t have cared less about me. You can even see in the very first picture of the two of us how this dynamic was playing out:
Unrequited love’s a bitch, but it sure can teach us a lot.
From the moment he arrived in Asheville, I dove right into my typical “new relationship” pattern: everything in my life began to center around the other “person”.
When I wasn’t at the barn riding, grooming, or hanging out with him, I was researching nutrition, riding techniques, groundwork programs, and grooming tools. He literally took over my space, both mentally and physically, and everything else in my world took a back seat, including my husband, family, and friends.
(I’m fairly certain my husband regretted his decision to bring me back into the horse world after a hiatus by buying me riding lessons for my birthday one year.)
But as much time and energy as I focused on Jove, he still displayed very little interest in me. He certainly didn’t fulfill my childhood fantasy of my handsome blood bay steed galloping to greet me when I came to the barn. There were no soft nickers and warm embraces in those early years. In fact, when I would try to hug him, he would pull away. No matter how much I did, I couldn’t create that magical connection I wanted with him.
As an older horse who’d had a long and taxing early career as a racehorse, Jove had developed arthritis in his legs. In my quest to offer him as much healing as possible, I learned equine massage therapy, then Reiki, and then Equine Facilitated Experiential Learning.
In doing so, I was exposed to this whole world of people who recognized horses as spiritual guides rather than sports equipment, and that message resonated so strongly for me. I realized I’d been focused on what owning a horse was supposed to look like (all the external stuff) and in the process, I’d skipped over the “building a relationship” part.
Instead of going out to the barn and finding things to “do” with Jove, I started just being with him. Sometimes touching him or chatting with him, sometimes playing together, and sometimes just sitting on the grass daydreaming or reading while he grazed in his pasture.
The change in our relationship didn’t happen instantly, but that was the turning point to a real, genuine, authentic connection. I was no longer dependent on his behaving in a certain way to be happy or to feel safe and calm. I was starting to learn how to be independent, while being connected with another.
And, wow, I have to tell you…that was some powerful shit. I found myself thinking a lot about my past relationships and what I’d felt compelled to sacrifice in my own life for the sake of connection. A pattern I realized ultimately hadn’t worked for me.
I am so grateful to those human mentors for opening my eyes to a new way of being with horses. And, of course, to Jove — being the wise teacher that he was — for showing me a new way of being in life. He demonstrated that it was not only possible to be independent and deeply connected to another, but that the richest and most fulfilling connections required a dedication to both.
Stay tuned for the next Lessons from Jove on Monday, August 1st. You can subscribe here to make sure you receive every blog in this series directly to your inbox, and feel free to share it far and wide. I’m so excited to bring you these stories so you can experience the benefits of Jove’s messages and wisdom for yourself.