Friday, July 17, 2009

Study show cats can manipulate us... hmmm

Have a look at this BBC article reporting a study that shows how cats use different purring sound to manipulate us. It is so interesting and absolutely true. I've heard it said that feral cats don't purr. It's something that domesticated cats do because we've taught them to interact using vocal sounds. So this study is taking that knowledge even further. I think it's neat that this type of research is being done! We need more information about these animals that occupy so many of our homes!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

More on Boundaries

So the question came up the other day regarding unconditional love and boundaries. We were talking about the ideal of loving unconditionally which implies acceptance of everything without judgement or criticism. How do we do that and stay safe around horses - and as someone said, children and other intimidating creatures! The answer is boundaries.

But then, if you are setting boundaries, aren't you setting conditions? Great question. I think we would agree that boundaries are important in relationships. Are we saying, "I love you, but only if you stay over there"? And so we had a conversation about this the other day and decided (at least for the time-being) that the definition of boundary really is clarity in communication. The image of a wall comes to mind when we think of boundaries. However, in relationships, putting up walls isn't what it's all about. It's about the dance as we've heard before. Negotiating clearly what our needs are, give and take, exploring together the "to and fro" of being in relationship. Each being is equal and a language is established over time that facilitates clear communication - hopefully!

Naturally, listening is a key component of the dance. This is something the horses are desperately trying to show me lately. The impression I'm getting is that I'm great at talking to them and asking but I'm not so good at listening to the answer. And so my challenge is to talk, ask and then listen and it's in those few seconds of open-hearted waiting following the question that is important. Take the time to listen and trust fully what you hear. That's my mission.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Horses and dogs - and probably most living things - can teach us about boundaries. My dog Clifford, a beautiful, joyful, large-headed, 9 year-old Lab thinks that everyone loves him. He knows this because when he butts them with his head, they invariably pat him. When they stop, he butts them again and they resume patting. Makes sense that he would think they love him. In reality, they might love him more if he wasn't so darned demanding! Are people just being polite? Why do they let him do that? Horses can also push our boundaries physically - and emotionally. We sometimes need to get angry in order to say, "Hey! that's too much!" Conversely, we as humans often push the boundaries of animals. Diva, my horse, is a perfect example. I thought the pinning of the ears and narking were her attempts to be rude to me. In fact, she is telling me, "Hey, that's too much!" I have learned that she has a bubble and I am one of the honoured ones allowed into her bubble but only if I'm polite about it. It's not rudeness. It's her comfort zone. How long has she been misunderstood? Now, she is soft and friendly and much more compliant.

Boundaries are what keep us safe. They are not rigid. Potentially, they are movable as our comfort level changes. They need to be honoured. They challenge us to be clear and to listen.

And so, the negotiation of boundaries can be like a dance where one approaches, then listens. The other responds. And so on it goes. If you've read any of Linda Kohanov's writings on boundaries and horses, you will be enlightened on this most beautiful and yet challenging of concepts.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Retreating to Ravenheart Farms

In the middle of nowhere is a warm place with horses and wide open space - and snow and wind!