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“The Tao of Equus” by Linda Kohanov

A Woman’s Journey of Healing & Transformation through the Way of the Horse

In The Tao of Equus, author Linda Kohanov intertwines the story of how she awakened to the spiritual presence of horses with compelling mythology, neurological research, and per-sonal anecdotes. The result is an extraordinary story of healing and communication that turns conventional understandings of these amazing creatures upside down.
A horse trainer and equine-facilitated therapy practitioner, Kohanov first began exploring the horse-human connection in the early 1990s. When her black mare, Rasa, became lame, Kohanov was plagued by a series of sinister dreams and premonitions. Finally, prompted by her dreams, she canceled a chancy surgery to save Rasa’s potential career in competitive rid-ing. To relate to the injured horse outside conventional equestrian pursuits, Kohanov im-mersed herself in the day-to-day activities of the herd.
In the process, she discovered that horses are intensely emotional, intuitive, intelligent be-ings. They are true reflections of our deepest souls. Over time, she discovered their extraor-dinary ability to awaken intuition in humans, while mirroring the authentic feelings people try to hide, makes these animals powerful therapeutic teachers. Kohanov describes the sub-tle emotional and even clairsentient cues she tapped into after time spent interacting with her herd. And she details the techniques she developed to help students strengthen mind-body awareness and access their own extrasensory abilities through the way of the horse.
For Kohanov, it’s no mistake that many who feel alienated from modern society — women in particular — find themselves mysteriously drawn to these magnificent animals. She delves into the spiritual processes behind the magical connections riders sometimes stumble onto inadvertently and skillfully explores the subtle behavioral nuances horses detect and reflect. She reveals a potent feminine perspective in horses and shows how this equine-based wisdom can help people heal and empower themselves.
Blending her provocative story of prescient dreams and ancestral communication with a wide-ranging exploration of equine-facilitated therapy practices, Kohanov delivers an ex-traordinary work sure to interest both longtime riders and readers interested in exploring the deepest reaches of the bonds between species.

    Quotes from The Tao of Equus:

The piece that really stood out is the piece about the horse’s eye…the Secret Spring by The Black Horse Speaks:

Secret Springs
There is a pool in the heart of the desert. The surface is as quiet as glass, though its waters are nour-ished by a mountain stream rushing endlessly underground. When the sun speaks in tongues and chases the clouds away for months, rivers turn to dust, dry grasses hiss tributes to the wind, eagles perch wings outstretched on columns of rising air, and the pond reflects it all in a luminous reverie that has never known stagnation. This is the spring that lives behind the black horse’s eyes.
I am content to sit at the edge and toss thoughts like pebbles into its depths, watching the ripples ex-pand in all directions. To the black horse, the human mind looks jagged, as if the roundness of experi-ence has been cut up by ruthless lasers and most of it discarded in a great heap underground. Still, she embraces my saw-toothed ways, for in the mirror of her lake, they are no less beautiful than flowers blooming or vultures preening after a good meal.
— from The Black Horse Speaks

  • Carl Jung aptly describes the implications of this aquatic wisdom as it relates to the soul’s journey: “Whoever looks into the mirror of the water will see first of all his own face. The mirror does not flatter, it faithfully shows whatever looks into it; namely the face we never show to the world because we cover it with the persona, the mask of the actor. But the mirror lies behind the mask and shows the true face. This confrontation is the first test of courage on the inner way, a test sufficient to frighten off most people, for the meeting with ourselves belongs to the more unpleasant things that can be avoided so long as we can pro-ject everything negative into the environment. But if we are able to see our own shadow and can bear knowing about it, then a small part of the problem has already been solved.”
  • In its supreme equanimity, the lake behind the black horse’s eyes contained the healing waters of transformation, its fluid vision embracing flowers blooming, vultures preening, and my won jagged, self-indulgent though processes. The spring-fed pond simply reflected what was, providing me with an oasis of clarity and peace in which to expand my awareness. The millisecond my behaviour began to change, the reflection portrayed the more sensitive, empathic, creative person I was becoming, with no attachment to the past or projection into the future. Entering the rarefied reality my horses shared was like finding a watering hole in the desert.
  • We have created a culture in which the nourishing, life-giving water of emotion, empa-thy, sensory awareness, gut feelings, and other forms of nonverbal awareness have dried up in the heat of our obsessive reliance on all that is light and logical and conscious enough to be mapped, explained, and controlled. I was a desert dweller in more ways than one before I gazed into the lake behind the black horse’s eyes.
  • As women, we needed to resurrect this “wisdom of the prey” for our own protection. I related my image of the lake behind the black horse’s eyes to a mindset she would learn to access trough this work.
    “Think of the region just behind your eyes as a crystal-clear pool capable of reflecting everything around you,” I said as we headed toward a corral containing four of Epona’s therapy horses. “This spring is fed by an underground river that allows all your subcon-scious emotions, intuitions, and bodily sensations to bubble up and rise to the surface of your mind. Don’t reject anything that comes up. Try not to judge anything as good or bad; just let it tell you why it’s there, what it means. And don’t worry about being ‘wrong’ about anything. The wrong interpretation will still give you useful information — it will reveal a thought pattern or preconceived notion you hold that distorts reality. In order to change those patterns, you first have to be aware they exist.”
  • I found myself staring into the lake behind my eyes, the same horse-inspired mental state I’d been urging Joy to adopt in assessing the messages behind disruptive feelings.
    • Quotes from the Introduction:

  • The Tao of Equus essentially translates as “the way of the horse”, while emphasizing the healing and transformational qualities of this path. Interacting with these animals can be immensely therapeutic physically, mentally, and spiritually, helping people reawaken long-forgotten abilities that are capable of healing the imbalances of modern life.
  • The Tao of Equus is about horse therapy, horse training, and horse behaviour, but it’s mostly about what these magnificent creatures are ceaselessly, patiently teaching us. It’s about the courage and humility, focus and flexibility it takes for a human being to listen to those mes-sages. It’s about the quiet pools of reflection we experience in their presence. It’s about the transformations that await us when we embrace our seemingly irrational sufferings with the same grace and dignity that horses exhibit in the face of adversity.
  • A spirited stallion ten times the size of the average human being inspires feelings of awe and even fear in observers, but first impressions can be deceiving. This kind of horsepower is not effectively tamed through intimidation or coercion. A hundred-pound woman can suc-cessfully train an unruly mustang with methods that aren’t nearly as flamboyant or forceful as those a burly, six-foot-tall cowboy might employ, yet the horse will respect her more, not less, for her gentle, collaborative spirit.
  • …horses are more intelligent than we give them credit for, …a lot more intelligent. When allowed to exist in a relatively stress-free environment, a horse’s mind is literally swirling with the nuance common in creative geniuses.
  • They say an elephant never forgets. The same is true of horses, which is why it’s impor-tant to treat them with the utmost sensitivity, and above all, to strive to do things right the first time.
  • “It is upon disaster that good fortune rests.” –Lao-tzu

    • Websites:

    Epona Equestrian Services: http://eponaquest.com/

    Horse Conscious – Linda Kohanov: http://www.horseconscious.com/teachers/linda-kohanov

    “Life Without Limits” by Nick Vujicic

    Nick Vujicic (pronounced “voy-a-chich”) was born without any arms or legs. And, in the beginning, he really struggled with being different and wondered how he’d ever live a fulfilling life with such a glaring disability.
    But, Nick’s story is one of hope… of learning that, even with such difficulties, life can be filled with utter joy and hope.

    This book is very down-to-earth in its writing style, and Nick is extremely encouraging and uplifting. His whole message is one of hope and inspiration. I liked that he always reminded you –the reader– that God won’t give up on you, so you shouldn’t give up, either.

    Nick shares how he eventually came to find his purpose in life, and how it has introduced him to a great many people around the world. He now has his own company, called “Attitude is Altitude”, and he says he named it that because “without a positive attitude, [he] never would have been able to rise above [his] disabilities to reach so many people” (from pg. 91 of the book). This is basically Nick’s outlook, and what he bases this book on.

    Definitely recommended.

    http://shouldbereading.wordpress.com/2011/01/16/review-life-without-limits-by-nick-vujicic/
    http://www.lifewithoutlimbs.org/