Imagine for a moment that you are walking towards a barn. It’s a big barn and as you step from sunny outside into the deeply shaded wide aisle you stop to let your eyes adjust and get your bearings.
Suddenly you realize that all of your senses are engaged.
For a moment you don’t know where to focus so you take a breath and through your nose, all kinds of wondrous scents float into you. Hay, dust, faint hints of manure and leather. Your sense of smell is working overtime and for some reason, you want to put your nose into the neck of a horse because that smell, that warm horse scent is intoxicating.
You move towards a stall and realize suddenly that you have to use your full body weight to slide that heavy wooden stall door open. Trepidation swells when you see how truly large that horse is but you step in any way because you really want this experience and you heave again to slide the stall door closed behind you.
You stand perfectly still then, taking in the fact you are in a contained area with a 1200 lb animal. He seems oblivious to you at first but you notice he is alert and so are you. Your skin tingles, your senses are getting sharper. You step closer. He lets you and now you are nearly shoulder to shoulder.
You lean into that horse to take a deep breath of horse scent, raise your arms up to encircle the horse’s neck, or at least place your hands on this massive animal. The hair is flat and fine beneath your fingers. You can feel the muscles as you move your hands up to the mane and touch the coarse hair there. So you keep moving your hands and body, you can feel the energy of the horse wafting into you as you caress the long face and lightly touch the soft and rubbery equine lips.
Speaking of lips, you now lick your lips and realize they hold tiny bits of dust and particles of horse dander you loosened as you stroked this beast. It tastes right, natural, and earthy. You can taste this experience even more since your nose is so close to the animal and you can hardly get close enough to satisfy this feeling you’re having.
It must be working for the horse as well because you hear the animal sigh. It lets out a deep breath of contentment from being stroked and appreciated. So you listen deeper and you can now hear the subtle movements of other horses. Munching, stamping, swishing of tails and of water being gulped, or splashed or buckets being jostled. You can also hear boots walking down the aisle, wheelbarrows being filled, soft cooing to other horses in other stalls. It sounds so calm, so peaceful.
And then you look, really look into the eye that is closest to you. The one in that long powerful face that is taking you in just as you are taking him in. It’s dark and warm and brilliant. You see through this eye to the soul of this gigantic animal and know there is no reason to fear.
You pull yourself back to take in the majesty of its full being. The massive back, strong shoulders and thighs, thin legs ending in hooves that you know can strike and kick but not today, not at you.
Just looking at this horse is shifting you, allowing you to feel smaller, weaker, and yet a part of him and this experience of living. And because it’s overwhelmingly beautiful, you shut your eyes, lean your head against that shoulder and feel the horse connecting with you again.
This moment. Where your breath movement matches his, your body is still as you breath and feel and listen is supreme. You realize you are happy, content, joyous really and so you lift your head, open your eyes, and stroke that horse one more time as you leave his stall to head out into your day, knowing that you are totally alive and every sense is magically transformed.
The question for you today: Where and when are you engaging all five of your senses?
If you want the horse experience I’ve described, most people with horses would gladly help you, if you want to improve your perception skills, I have some open slots.