West Taylor Lends a Heroes & Horses Hand
We’ll be happy to see West Taylor talk about his science-based work at the Best Horse Practices Summit in October. In the meantime, here’s this update from the Utah horseman as he returns to Heroes & Horses, a Montana non-profit helping veterans. Earlier this year, Taylor started several wild horses for the organization. Read about the work.
West Taylor writes:
This week, I am volunteering at Heroes and Horses base camp, helping eight veterans as they embark on a soul-searching, life-altering, adventurous, 40-day backcountry pack trip. Most of them have no experience riding horses.
Meet Bill, he is also volunteering this week after completing a Heroes and Horses adventure last season.
Bill and I got to spend some time together, learning about each other. Bill shared with me that for the past 10 years since he has been home, living a life with NO EMOTIONAL connection with anyone.
His wife and children could hardly take anymore of his disconnected life. He found his way to the Heroes and Horses. The program provided the pressure and culture for Bill to connect with a horse and, in turn, connect with himself which then led him to reconnecting with his wife and children.
I asked Bill if he wanted to give me a hand with one of the mustangs from last year’s program. He quickly joined me at the round pen. The mustang was very fearful and full of tension, Bill could already start to see a reflection of himself. As I worked to get the mustang to lay down, Bill asked if I needed anything. As I paused to consider his question, intuition told me to invite Bill into the round pen and into the lay-down process with this mustang.
As Bill was assisting me, I could not help but notice that Bill and the horse were one in the same. This mustang was so tense and scared that he too had shut down all connection. Bill whispered quietly to me as he kneeled beside it. He said, ‘this guy just can’t relax, I know exactly how he feels! I felt this exact terror for 10 years.’
I coached Bill through my lay down process. It is all about “letting go of fears.” I asked Bill to get close, to touch his hand on the gelding’s shoulder, to feel the horses’ breath, to feel his heartbeat.
I looked closely at Bill’s eyes. The sun was just setting, I could hear the birds singing their last songs. Tears filled his eyes as he was feeling that connection, not just to the horse. He was also feeling the life energy pulse through his own body. Bill looked up at me “I am not afraid to cry anymore,” he said. “I now welcome my emotions. It’s one way that I know I am alive.”
I quietly left the round pen, leaving Bill and his mustang to heal each other. I’m writing with Bill’s permission. He said that if his experience can help others he was OK with me sharing.