This Sukkot season I had the pleasure of attending a clinic taught by Pippa Callanan. Going into the clinic, I had little knowledge of who Pippa was. I didn’t know where she was from, her background, even what she looked like. All I knew was some respected riders learned from her and Jeff Moore (equine physical therapist) said we were very similar in our love and respect for horses and that I should go, and that was enough reason for me.
One of the benefits to having the clinic near Sukkot time was the personal spiritual refinement I underwent just a couple days prior, which allowed me the gift to enter into it with a freshly humbled spirit, ready to be transparent and straight forward rather than I was before. This was a breath of fresh air and I was eager for the days ahead walking in this new light.
Pippa, likewise, was a breath of fresh air. The first evening we received a presentation opening up the picture of what she would be teaching on. It was described as French Classical Dressage, but because of her love and true passion for the horse as themselves, what I heard was a description on how to honor and love horses back to who they were created to be. Pippa described this as “making the horse appear” and that statement lit me up inside as I recalled the scripture in Job 19:39-25 describing how Yah created horses. I found myself tossing and turning in bed that night thinking of all of the connections and excited for the clinic ahead.
The next morning my excitement was met with challenge as I unwittingly put Shasta in a position where all of her confidence was lost. To me, this was a familiar sight and partly the reason for attending the clinic, but to others she looked unmanageable and the ride was understandably curtailed. Tears. It was a tough thing to encounter when I was anticipating being able to help mend these hurts with Shasta and instead they were blocking us from progressing at all. We managed later a decent enough ride, but it fell short of my ultimate goal of changing myself as a rider to better suit Shasta.
We celebrated the final day of Sukkot during the second day of the clinic, so I was only able to make it to the presentation that night after sundown. I again was refreshed with Pippa’s excellent presentation skills that really aren’t so much skill as passion brought forth for the horse.
The third and final day I was able to watch other riders and receive more clarity of the applications spoken of during the presentations. The concluding ride of the day was Shasta and I’s, and with a little planning and manipulation to keep her calmer for our lesson we were off to a much better start. Pippa asked what I would like to work on, and now having some background, I suggested the rein contact with the bit. Pippa was united in that thought, so away we went.
The lesson was a blur, but not in an out of focus way. It was more of a beautiful mural that wasn’t made up of distinct or sharp lines or colors, but a beautiful soft stroking that showed enough to make you linger and stare at the many pieces of it working together. This eased the answers out rather than showing them abruptly all at once. I can still feel the essence of each stroke that made that ride. It mattered little that Shasta and I didn’t know what the full picture held. Contrary to what that might seem, the ride was not slow or mundane; it was equally intense as it was soft. We covered a lot of ground together, but it wasn’t a stretch for anyone, and we each stepped up to the next challenge with a thirst for more. I believe this was a large part to a trust that somehow conjured up between the three of us; my trust in Pippa, Pippa’s trust in us as a team, my trust in Shasta, and Shasta’s growing trust in me and my hands. A complete circle, crediting the gentleness to the strokes of the ride. Alas, the ride ended. We were all satisfied, wanting more but feeling perfectly full. This is the ride I anticipated and I lost sleep over nights before.
Reflecting back, the lines to our mural are becoming more defined, but that’s not to say “harder.” I’m beginning to see that this clinic was not so much as just about my horse and I, but much deeper. As follows normal suit for me in my spiritual walk with our Creator (the Yah of Abraham, Issac and Jacob), my lessons in the arena are merely a picture of what He is working on in me with my relationship with Him. I entered in prepared to learn something great and new, but what I got instead was a restoration back to what I already knew. This restoration was that in order to know my horse, to honor my horse, to connect with my horse – I must look to the Creator of my horse and to my horse as a created being. I must take any training instruction and ideas back to my horses and allow them the question: is this truth or deception? Does this benefit you or is it seemingly more of a benefit to me? (“Seemingly” because a benefit to me that is not likewise to them, will not truly be a benefit to me. However, a benefit to them will always end in benefit to myself also.)
I can apply the lessons from the arena in all manners to taking in new spiritual information and bringing it back to the Word to verify. I can recognize and strip away any desires for what seems to be good and working for the outside world and instead keep my eyes and ears to my own self, my own horse and most of all, fixed on Yah.
I know the picture all too well that is made by the hard and abrupt strokes of a life looking to the ways of the world for growth and development. But now I can recognize that each soft stroke created by this way of living is what makes the beautiful mural our souls long to live in. This is my desire.
Thank you, Pippa, for remaining true to you and to the horse so much that Father was able to use this clinic to restore not only myself as a horsewoman, but most importantly myself as a child of the Most High Yah.
Nicole & Shasta
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