Moonsong Highlight: Sharing!!


“If you are really thankful, what do you do? You share.”
― 
W. Clement Stone

 


Hello, Moonsong Friends!!                                       

It’s been a while since the last blog post…because…I’ve been studying! I’ve been dedicating any free time lately to improving my work, either through direct physical practice or gaining new knowledge (or both). And as always, the horses are my greatest teachers!!

I’d like to share some resources with you, and I’d love to hear about your favorites, too! This is an ever-growing list that does NOT include so many additional, helpful tools (that unfortunately can’t be categorized this way).

PLEASE…if you would like to contribute something bodywork-related that has helped your horse (or your relationship with him or her), email me and I will add it here and on the Moonsong Facebook page!

Spring is coming and we have so much to look forward to. Thank you all, and thanks to your beautiful horses, for continuing to be my inspiration!!

Yours truly,

Leigh  

 


*Recommended Bodywork Resources*

 

Websites and Apps:


Animal Reiki Alliance: www.animalreikialliance.com

Days End Farm Horse Rescue: www.defhr.org

Equine AcuPoints (app): www.play.google.com

Equine Hanna Somatics: www.equinehannasomatics.com

Equinology Institute: www.equinologyinstitute.com

Equissage: www.equissage.com

Heart Math Institute: www.heartmath.org

Horse Anatomy: Equine 3D (app): www.play.google.com

International Center for Reiki Training: www.reiki.org

Lameness Trainer: www.lamenesstrainer.com

Maryland Pet Gazette: www.mdpetgazette.com

Masterson Method: www.mastersonmethod.com

Melissa Shelton (“Oily Vet”): www.oilyvet.com

Multi Radiance Medical (ActiVet Pro Laser and My Pet Laser): www.multiradiance.com

PATH International: www.pathintl.org

Science of Motion: www.scienceofmotion.com

Tallgrass Animal Acupressure Institute: www.animalacupressure.com

Tellington TTouch Training: www.ttouch.com

Upledger Institute International (craniosacral therapy): www.upledger.com

 


Books and DVDs:


55 Corrective Exercises for Horses (Jec Aristotle Ballou)

101 Arena Exercises for Horse and Rider (Cherry Hill)

ABC of the Horse Atlas (Pauli Gronberg)

ABC of the Horse Biomechanics (Pauli Gronberg)

Activate Your Horse’s Core (Stubbs/Clayton)

Acu-Horse: A Guide to Equine Acupressure (Nancy Zidonis and Amy Snow)

Acupressure for Horses: Hands-on Techniques (Ina Gosmeier)

Adam’s Lameness in Horses (Ted Stashak)

Anatomy of Equine Bodywork: the Equinology Approach (Pattillo et. al)

Animal Desk Reference: Essential Oils for Animals (Melissa Shelton)

Beyond Horse Massage (Jim Masterson w/Stefanie Reinhold)

Biomechanics and Physical Training of the Horse (Jean-Marie Denoix)

Clinical Equine Anatomy and Common Disorders of the Horse (Riegel DVM and Hakola)

Craniosacral Therapy: what it is, how it works (John Upledger)

Equine Applied and Clinical Nutrition (Raymond Geor)

Equine Hanna Somatics (Alissa Mayer and Eleanor Criswell Hanna)

Equine Massage: A Practical Guide (Jean-Pierre Hourdebaigt)

Equine Massage for Performance horses (DVD) (Jim Masterson)

Getting in TTouch with your Horse (Linda Tellington-Jones)

Healing Hands: First Aid Equine Acupressure (Dominique Giniaux)

The Horse Anatomy Workbook (coloring book) (Maggie Raynor)

The Horse Conformation Handbook (Heather Smith Thomas)

Horse Conformation: Structure, Soundness, and Performance (Equine Research)

How Your Horse Moves (Gillian Higgins)

Physical Therapy and Massage for the Horse (Denoix/Pailloux)

Posture and Performance (Gillian Higgins)

Reiki: The Healing Touch (William Lee Rand)

Sacred Spaces: Communion with the horse thorugh science and spirit (Susan D. Fay)

Sports Massage for the Equine Athlete (Mary Schreiber)

The Ultimate Horse Behavior and Training Book (Linda Tellington-Jones)

The Well Adjusted Horse: Equine Chiropractic Methods (Daniel Kamen)

Where Does My Horse Hurt? (Renee Tucker)

 


Facebook Pages:


Bionic Pets

Centaur Biomechanics

Chiltern Vet Physio

DynaPhysio

Equine Anatomy in Layers

Equine Biomechanics, Massage, and Chiropractic

Equine Hanna Somatics

Equine Massage Network

Equine Sports Massage Association

Equine Wellness Magazine

Equinity

Equitopia Center

Equus Magazine

Equissage

Fox Run Equine Center

Gillian Higgins – Horses Inside out

Heart Math Institute

Holistic Horse Media

Horse Physio

Horse Side Vet Guide

Justine Harrison – Equine Behaviourist

Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling – official page

Les Sabots Du Coeur

Maryland Equine Transition Service

Maryland Fund for Horses

Maryland Horse Council

Maryland Horsepeople

Midwest Natural Healing for Animals

Multi Radiance Veterinary

Murdoch Method LLC

PATH International

The Equine Documentalist

The Horse.com

The Mindful Horse

The Osteopathic Vet

Specialized Pet Solutions LLC

Sound Body Products

Sporthorse Apothecary

Students of the Masterson Method

Tellington TTouch World

Upledger Institute International

Vet Physio Phyle

Where Does My Horse Hurt?

 

            I leave you with that for now…see you soon!!  💜 


 
                                 

Moonsong Highlight: Jesse (Happy New Year)


Something’s set to start,

there’s a meadow-music in the dark

and the clouds that shroud the mountain

slowly, softly start to part.

-From Poem for a New Year by Matt Goodfellow



Jesse and I usually see each other twice a week, on Mondays and Fridays, for a combination of manual work and cold laser therapy. I wasn’t able to see him last week, and I really missed him. I thought of him through the day, wondered what he was up to, how he was feeling. He’s become a fixture in my routine. His well-being contributes to mine (and vice-versa, I hope). He is truly, deeply loved and cared for by his owner Becky, who provides for him in every way…from her investment in his training and specific boarding and turnout situation at Walnut Pond Farm, to his frequent veterinary and care and farriery, medications, collection of blankets and halters, regular bodywork, and his very favorite: his beloved, sugar-free peppermints.


Caring for Jesse isn’t easy. His physical issues are complex and range from everything from kissing spine to Cushing’s syndrome, allergies and skin sensitivities, GI woes, navicular changes, and intermittent lameness due to inflammation and pain in the carpal canal (below the knee). I could write about each of these issues in detail, which would make for a very academic post. But, that’s not what comes to mind (or heart) on this New Year’s Day, as I sit here thinking of him, and of all of the other animals and people that complete my life.


You see, Jesse can be a saint, but he can also be a curmudgeon. If there’s one thing everyone can say for him, it’s that he is a great communicator, HA! Sometimes he tries to bite me. Sometimes he tries to kick me. Sometimes he tries to bite me and kick me at the same time, and even body slam me against a trash can. But my oh my…at other times, he turns to look me in the eyes, or licks and chews, has a big sigh, paws for a treat, or (if I’m really lucky) lets me take his cheeks in my hands and kiss him on the nose. Does he correct himself when I ask him to? Yes. I feel special in those moments.


Jesse messes up sometimes, but I love him anyway. He doesn't need to earn his keep. At his age, and after so many years of being a very successful school horse, he absolutely knows better than to misbehave. Basic rules and boundaries are not new to him. But, he is doing the very best he can given the circumstances, both within himself and in his ever-changing environment. It’s up to me to manage my reactions to him, and to remember that tolerance, acceptance, and forgiveness are three very different things. Combined, however, they create the puzzle that we share.



Isn’t this where we all are right now, in the winter of 2020-2021? We are all making mistakes, and we are all doing our best, all at the same time. It’s messy! We’re floating along in uncharted territory, using familiar tools to (try to) adapt to an unfamiliar environment. We seek connection and reassurance now more than ever, but we can’t have it the way we’d like…and if we find it somehow, we’re like bumbling idiots with each other, totally out of practice. We say things we don’t mean. We mean things we don’t say. We blame and shame, and we laugh and love, and we don’t always know why…and it’s ok!!


In my own life, I’ve noticed people (and animals) coming out of the woodwork recently. Maybe it’s the season, the holidays, this surreal time. They emerge and disappear, with what seems like no rhyme or reason. Perhaps I do the same. It’s like a kaleidoscope: sometimes we overlap, sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we hang around for a while, as a new color, together. Sometimes we slide right past each other. Sometimes we don’t even notice who’s beside us, because we’re blinded by the light that lets us be colors in the first place.


There are horses I see once in a lifetime, because that was the original agreement, or things got fixed, or I couldn’t help, or it wasn’t practical to meet again. There are others I’ve known for years, and (like with Jesse), we’ve developed a weathered intimacy that belongs only to us. Some relationships are superficial, others are deep. Some are fleeting, others last forever. They can be simple or complicated, tangible or intangible, frustrating or inspiring. Many are depleting and sorrowful. A few are enlightening and full of love.


The same goes for people: it takes two to tango. No matter what, we meet, we do our best, and we learn.


We affect each other in ways we will never know. The only control we have, now and always, is to stay openhearted…towards ourselves and to each other. Happy New Year, everyone! Thank you for bumbling along with me!



Moonsong Highlight: Thanksgiving

 “Gratitude turns what we have into enough.” – Aesop



Thanksgiving represents different things to different people. For some, it’s a time of gathering. For others, it kicks off a spending spree. It’s a chance to honestly review our country’s true history. It may be a significant reminder of the season, or of anniversaries, or memorials. It’s often nostalgic. The sights, the smells, the sounds…they take us back in a heartbeat.

For me, it’s literal: Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks. Simple as that. Every day can be Thanksgiving. Right now, in November 2020, it is so important to acknowledge the gifts we receive...even when times are hard.

As I sit here this morning, I think of my life as its own microcosm, and I sense its place within an infinite universe. How amazing, that our own lives can be so important to us, and that we can feel such vast and dynamic emotions, and yet…we are such tiny specks! We view the world through our extremely limited experiences, but somehow we are capable of empathizing with others. Wow.

I often think about how lucky I am, to live freely, as a woman, in this part of the world, and in this day in age…making my own choices, forging a path, having a say…with a roof over my head, water to drink, food to eat, access to medical care, the ability to communicate, support of my family, a network of friends, and of course the love of my beautiful animals.

I am thankful for this life. Is it always good? No. Sometimes it feels horrible. But today, you and I, we are lucky to be here.

Horses allow me to bring peace to my life and to those around me. They have given me the greatest gift of all, in that.

They require us to be present in the moment, in our bodies, and in our lives. They respond to aggression and violence, yes. But they will not connect without stillness and kindness. They remind us that communication requires safety, that respect requires reciprocation, and that love requires vulnerability.

They teach me these lessons every single day. I make mistakes and I learn through their forgiveness.

They instill in me a constantly evolving vocabulary, and they give me permission to share it with others. The people I meet take it to their horses, or translate it and give it back to me, distilled. We witness each others’ experiences and we carry them into our interactions with other animals…or, with other humans!

These encounters live in our hearts forever. They become more beautifully complex with us. As we grow, they take on new meanings, until they inform our very way of being.

We can look to the horses as teachers. We can humble ourselves to their lessons:

We can be genuine. We can be kind. We can be fair.
We can be available. We can be accountable.
We can ask for help. We can forgive.
We can be peaceful.
We can love. We can receive love.
We can give thanks.

Happy Thanksgiving, to all of you, and to your perfect animals!



Moonsong Highlight: Friend

                 

 He said, “I am the Smokey Mirror, because I am looking at myself in all of you, but we don’t recognize each other because of the smoke in-between us. The smoke is the dream, and the mirror is you, the dreamer.”



This past Monday, I was at a foxhunting facility that is usually very busy. For whatever reason, it happened to be quiet that afternoon. It was a nice surprise. I was thankful for the chance to share some peaceful time with the horse I’d come to see. He and I have known each other for a long time!

His body’s conformation is unusual and requires significant upkeep, but he is a remarkably talented athlete and a real charmer, to boot. His sessions almost always involve a combination of manual therapy, proprioceptive exercises, cold laser, and energy work. This day was no different, except we were wrapped in the gift of quiet, together. I couldn’t help noticing how comforted we both felt. It’s amazing how stillness never feels lonely, when we realize we’re always sharing it with someone or something else.   

 He looked at the stars again, and he realized that it’s not the stars that create light, but rather light that creates the stars. “Everything is made of light,” he said, “and the space in-between isn’t empty.”

I was standing on my stepstool, in order to effectively reach the top of his body. I had my back to the barn aisle. I heard a soft nicker, and then an even softer female voice: “Hi, Friend!” said the voice, “Hi!! Hi, Friend!” I could tell from her tone that she was smiling as she said it. Out of curiosity, I peeked over my shoulder.

I saw an owner I’d never seen there before. She was probably 55-60 years old. Her unkempt bob-cut hair swung a little as she ambled up to her horse’s stall. Her glasses sat a bit crooked on her face. She wore a bright orange polo shirt that was tucked into her khaki Carhartt pants, which were tucked into her knee-high muck boots. Her belt matched her shirt. She carried a herringbone purse in one hand and a grooming box in the other. She smiled like a little girl.

Her horse looked like some type of Saddlebred cross, sway-backed in his old age. He was a lovely liver chestnut color. There was some gray in his face. His ears sat close together and were perked completely forward, at her. His eyes sparkled. He arched his neck and marched in place in his stall, pushing his nose between the bars of the door, licking his lips. As she hastened towards him, he looked to the horses on either side as if to say, “You see her? That’s my best friend! She’s mine! She’s here for ME!!”

They were mesmerized by each other. It was as if they hadn’t seen each other in a million years. And yet, it was easy to tell they are together every single day.

                    “The real us is pure love, pure light,” he said.

Like a fly on the wall, I witnessed their caring interactions. Her sole purpose for the visit was to groom him, talk to him, touch him, give him occasional treats. I overheard her asking him questions he couldn’t answer, reassuring him when he became excited about the goings-on outside, giggling at antics she’s probably managed for years, thanking him for everything under the sun. His eyes followed her everywhere. He hung on every one of her gentle, whimsical words.

I thought about introducing myself, maybe asking to take their picture, making some chit-chat, learning their story. But there was no need. I snuck out quietly, without either of them ever knowing I was there.

Witnessing a love like that was a blessing. It was also a reminder: horses have served us for thousands of years, and still do, in spades. But there is no reason our relationships with them need ever be utilitarian. We owe them and all other living things our gratitude…not only for what they’ve done for us, but for who they are, and for the life we know only through each other.  

   He looked at his hands, he felt his body, and he heard his own voice say, “I am made of light; I am made of stars.”

 He saw himself in everything – in every human, in every animal, in every tree, in the water, in the rain, in the clouds, in the earth.

 He was very excited, and his heart was filled with peace.

 -excerpts from The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

Moonsong Highlight: Mattering

"What matters to you defines your mattering." - John Green


I’m sitting here in my safe little house, writing about my safe little life, where I live autonomously and don’t really have to worry about exposure to the virus, or any kind of persecution, or violence. I’ve been torn about whether to post lately, in light of all that’s going on.

But here goes:

What does “matter” mean?

Recently, I asked someone if I mattered to him. I expected a yes or no. Instead, his reply was, “What does ‘matter’ mean?”. I was unable to answer, although I knew what I meant. I couldn’t rationalize an idea that lives in the heart.

It didn’t feel necessary, fair, or even possible to me, to define a state of being that is both intangible and real. After all, logic isn’t a prerequisite for connection. Horses teach me that every day! Our analytical minds protect us, but they can inhibit us as well, from embracing what we feel and know is true.

Ironically, we may “matter” most not when we are acknowledged, but when we choose to acknowledge someone else. We exist and function in relation to others. Responsibility to ourselves is paramount, of course; but the content and quality of our interactions give meaning to our lives.

Last week, I used a broom to shoo an angry 8-foot black snake away from a young off-the-track filly during her bodywork session. That seemed important. I coddled horses in the ends of their lives. I taught babies at the beginning of theirs. Horses rested their chins on my head. They breathed in my ear. They nickered at me and wrapped me in their necks. They also kicked at me, leaned on me, bit me, stomped on me, and ignored me. At times I felt successful and strong. At times I felt inadequate and weak.

Do you know when I felt like I mattered most? When it wasn’t about me at all.

A dear friend and mentor of mine lost her husband a couple of weeks ago. You can imagine how the implications of this were compounded, during such restrictive times. We couldn't be together, so I went to see her horse. I knew how he was missing her. I thought of her as I touched him. I remembered how she’s been there for me, and for him, and for so many others: consistently, unconditionally, benevolently.

When we finally were able to meet, in the midst of her grief, she asked me about my life. And even then, she remembered every detail. I thought I was there for her…but suddenly I mattered too, in the most tender and humbling way. 

I can’t help but treat others better because of how she treated me.

We are living in a time when these concepts must be at the forefront of our consciousness: for ourselves, for other people, for animals, and for the future quality of life on this planet. What does “matter” mean? When and why do we matter to others? When and why do they matter to us? How do we know, and how can we show?

It is important to be able to distill our beliefs, particularly before we impose expectations onto someone else; the better we explain, the clearer our communication, and the healthier our relationships. But we must allow the heart to inform the mind, and listen to its wisdom:

We are enough when we are alone.
We matter when we are together.
We are loved in all ways, always.

The Pandemic

Absence makes the heart grow fonder. - Proverb


What a time this is!

I’ve been deliberating over what to write about, and when…hoping for clarity or conviction…waiting for the dust to settle, so that ideas might be received as intended. Adjusting to a slower pace. Yearning for momentum again. Facing our surreal reality, and managing its effects.

Reflecting, reorganizing, receiving. Knowing the fullness in the space.

I turned 40 the day things shut down here in Maryland. It was such a beautiful day outside. Since then, sentiments around “distancing” have flooded our collective consciousness. It is easy to feel agitated, or restless, or stuck. It’s natural to feel lonely. It’s okay to be afraid.

In the midst of this turmoil, we have been given the gift of renewal. It may not be pretty (in fact, we all know it won’t). But our future depends on how we choose to handle discomfort. What is mine? What is yours? What is ours to share?

The only truth within uncertainty is love. The only way to find it is through connection.

We connect most deeply with each other during times of vulnerability and surrender. We can meet in places even more beautiful than our imaginations can paint.

Many of you have expressed to me the heartache you feel, in being separated from your horses. What is it that you miss? Environment and routine? Camaraderie? Physicality and pursuit? Sensory experiences? Sure, yes. All of the above.

But what we miss the most is what we love the most: a union built on trust and reinforced through reciprocation; needs met through honest communication; authenticity; affection; strength and freedom; tenderness and beauty.

We may feel fragile and helpless, but we are alive and resilient. We have the chance now to honor every moment.

We can gaze at our fears as we would into the eyes of our horses. We can cradle our anger as we would their heads in our arms. We can speak to each other as we would to them: softly, gently, with adoring words of gratitude. And we should.

Horses are prey animals that dance gracefully to a predator’s tune, simply because they are patient and brave enough to listen. 

Perhaps our greatest tribute to them, until we meet again, is to live like that ourselves.  ❤

Moonsong Highlight: My Library

"Life is a book, and there are a thousand pages I have not yet read." - Cassandra Clare



Suzy Q, Celeste, Doodle, Matilda, Hermes, Faustine, Bump, Jose, Pocket, Owen, Harry, HR, Bella, Lilly, Magic, and Chance. Sixteen horses and their loving owners made a recent trip to upstate New York one of the most memorable experiences of my life. So did other footloose travelers along the way, friendly locals at every stop, and openhearted hosts and animals that shared their spaces so hospitably. Those at home were never far from my mind. 

It’s been a while since I’ve traveled for more than just a few days. Alone but never lonely, I carry with me (as we always do) the library of my life: every book another living being whose presence has informed my heart. What gratitude I have for my beautiful library! How I will never realize its depths.

How I long for enough time to hold every book in my hands a thousand times, to live by the lessons hidden in each page. I bow my head to read and remember…


There are those people and animals I’ve known most or all of my life. Their stories live in weathered, complex volumes whose meanings evolve with me. Rows and rows belong to them.

There are those I’ve met just in passing, but whose gesture or kind deed redirected a moment, a day, the dynamic web we all navigate together. They are picture books with few pages. Their covers are soft and pliable. I can slide them in anywhere along a shelf; their simple lessons always apply.

There are alarmingly magnetic books that sparkle and draw my eye. I reach for them quickly and without thinking, for they are irresistible! In my haste, those nearby tip and fall. Some tidying ensues, some apology, some reflection, but never any shame; we wrote a story together and it was important.

There are people and animals so solid that their sole function is to stabilize an entire row of other, less organized, less substantial beings. Unassuming, they’ve offered themselves and never held a grudge. I regret leaning on them without really knowing their stories.

There are comic strips, soft and worn from so much handling. I place them gingerly atop a shelf, as I’ll need to look at them often and giggle. Preserving them is the essence of lightheartedness.  

There are simple postcards, sent from afar. Their handwritten notes invite a sigh, a tilt of the head, a softening of the eye, a flutter of the heart. I touch the words just as I touched the creases of their aging faces, their hands or paws, their backs, their soft bellies. I remember the physicality of loving and being loved by them.

There are those that selflessly left pages blank for me. They held space for me when I was a tornado. I tossed them sideways onto a shelf and bent their pages in my carelessness. I couldn’t bear to read my own story in the context of theirs. Still, they wait patiently in my library.

There are those written in unknown languages. They have mismatched covers and are printed upside down. They don’t fit anywhere. They are the most painful, the most misunderstood, the most impossibly tortured and beautiful. They are perfect. I don’t need to read them. I cradle them in my hands, pull them to my heart, press them against my cheek, kiss their covers and smell their pages. We rock and sway together, humming the only song we were born knowing. Through each other, we find ourselves. We are safe together here, in the library.

Thank you, all of you, for your stories and lessons. You’ll never know what you mean to me. You’ll never know how many libraries you inhabit. Just by being who you are, you live forever. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.