Two books recently found their way onto my desk, each with a unique yet complementary message. For anyone who treasures the bond between horses and humans, and especially anyone who is interested in nurturing that bond, these books are well worth your while.
One With The Herd
One With The Herd is a compilation of artist and author Liz Mitten Ryan’s six year spiritual journey that she describes as, “my adventures in HORSE. It is a revelation and a record of my discovery and spiritual evolution, secluded from the chatter of society, in the company of my horses, dogs and cats.”
On the surface, One With The Herd is a narrative of Liz’s life on the British Columbia ranch where she writes, paints and creates a life integrating humans, horses and nature in a unique way. But to say that one reads One With The Herd is misleading. It would be more accurate to say one experiences it through Liz’s journal entries. Her horses’ thoughts are channeled through Liz to the reader, and through Liz’s exquisite paintings and the photography of Liz and her friends.
Altogether, experiencing One With The Herd is to enter Liz’s world for a time, and like all good visits, to return again and again from the grind of daily life to immerse oneself in the world of horses for a few moments—or hours. It is the perfect antidote to the hassles in most of our lives.
Interwoven with Liz’s narrative, journal entries, poetry, breath-taking paintings and photographs of the natural beauty of her ranch, are channeled remarks from her herd of horses. Whether you believe that horses can channel their thoughts through humans, or not, there is much wisdom in her horses’ thoughts.
In the final pages of One With The Herd, Liz provides her mare Prima’s perspective on their journey together: “We have come a long way my friend, through uncertainty, confusion, misinterpretation; carried by the wings of love to a far greater understanding than we could have ever believed. Imagine a world where all minds are joined in the quest for greater understanding. You and I can change the world, one mind at a time. Imagine!”
Way Of The Horse
It is a vast understatement to call the Way Of The Horse: Equine Archetypes of Self-Discovery just a book. Written by Linda Kohanov, with illustrations by Kim McElroy, Way Of The Horse is also subtitled “a book of exploration and 40 cards.” It could as easily be called a book of wisdom that includes 40 cards that guide readers’ in applying that wisdom into their own lives. Way Of The Horse is a welcome addition to any horse lover’s library.
Each chapter begins with the card title, key phrases conveying the card’s concepts, and a discussion of the image depicted on the card, its meaning for the reader and its mythical/archetypal history. Each card features stunning artwork of an equine archetype.
There are many ways to access this information. You can shuffle the cards and draw one each day then read the corresponding chapter for its insights, or start reading chapter one and work your way through to chapter 40, enjoying the artwork of each chapter’s corresponding card. Now that I’ve been through all the chapters, I dip into the book at random or draw a card to see which chapter to open next.
You can be a staunch believer in divination cards, or a complete skeptic who merely reads the book and enjoys the artwork of the cards, however you experience Way Of The Horse you will emerge a wiser person and most likely a better horseperson.
Author Linda Kohanov is a familiar name to equestrian readers like yours truly from her previous books, The Tao of Equus: A Woman’s Journey of Healing and Transformation Through the Way of the Horse and Riding Between the Worlds: Expanding Our Potential through the Way of the Horse. Illustrator Kim McEvoy’s work will be familiar as well, from her stunning artwork on posters, prints and widely seen on cards distributed by Leanin’ Tree, among many other projects.
Together, Linda and Kim have created something that is bigger than a book or a deck of cards—they have created a way for anyone, mystic or skeptic, to access the wisdom of horses. That access, I’ve found, is a bit like peeling an onion: There’s layer after layer of meaning, interpretation and application contained in Way of the Horse. The beauty of it is, you can read it over and over and over and still learn more.
In her introduction Linda writes: “Answers to the questions that horses pose, silently, relentlessly, to the human soul have always hovered just outside the scope of reason.
“These animals mirror, and help us recover, the beauty, power, and nobility of our own spirit, that elusive Presence so easily lost in the frenzy and disconnection of civilized life. Now that horses are no longer obliged to work in our fields and carry us to war, they’re free to do something arguably more important: work on us. This time around, however, the hero’s journey involves stepping off our high horses, removing the armor, and letting these powerful yet sensitive beings lead us to greater physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual balance. This deck and the accompanying essays are designed to reveal the various lessons horses are available to teach.”
Happy Reading, Happy Riding
One with the Herd and Way of the Horse . . . I wish you and your horses the gift of their insight and wisdom, as well as the sheer joy of living with horses and all they embody. Happy reading and happy riding!