"To become a good horseman, one needs to be bold, agile, and relaxed," wrote Udo Burger, the renowned equine veterinarian. Horse lovers will tell you that this is because these keen and magnificent animals respond powerfully to the subtlest body language. How you approach the horse is a reflection of how you approach the world. Think bold, agile, and relaxed.
In "Zen and Horses," author Ingrid Soren shares the wealth of true-life lessons she learned as a beginning student of both horseback riding and Zen Buddhism. Looking to make a fresh start following the demise of a long-term relationship, she discovers a well of inner strength by overcoming her terror of horses, progressing slowly from inexperience in the saddle through frustration and humility to, eventually, exhilaration. "One great thing about riding," she writes, "is that it is a potent ego reducer."
Weaving her own vivid images of the English countryside with lines from Henry Miller, T. S. Eliot, Dogen, Buddha, and other writers and thinkers, Soren captures the essence of what captivates people so about horses-- physically, mentally, and spiritually. At the same time, she draws meaningful parallels between such concepts as being versus doing, the self versus the other, and endings and beginnings. Readers also come to know the personalities of Soren's many mounts-- Dulcie, PG, Rocky, Jade, Leo, and the others-- as each in turn becomes her Zen master.
Like "Zen in the Art of Archery," published nearly 50 years earlier, "Zen and Horses" shows that the challenges we face are finally met when we trust in the moment and, with grace, let go.