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Zen Mind, Zen HorseFull-color; photographs and illustrations throughout320 pages; 7 x 10Paper:$24.95 US / $29.95 CANISBN: 978-1-60342-565-0No. 62565eBook Available Available August 2011

Transcript of Zen Mind, Zen Horse BLAD

These deceptively simple techniques embody a powerful set of spiritual teachings. andrew weil, m.d.

z e n N M I n D z e n h o r s e

The Science and Spirituality of Working with Horses

a lla n j. h a milton, m.d.au thor of t he sc alpel and t he soulforewords by mont y roberts and robert m. miller, d.v.m.


vi 1 11 22 46 74 108


day s o f t h u n d e r

th e t w o s i d e s o f me ch i gr o o m i n g


eq u u s

33 65

as a

t ea c er emo n y

se a r c h i n g fo r c h i

g r o o m i n g a s an a c t o f lo ve th e m agic do g pr e y , p r e d at o r



th e r u les o f lear n in g

pat ien c e

124 134 152 156 178 184 197

le a d i n g t h e way no w


th e o c ean li n er

ti n y b u b b les o f c h i pi c k i n g u p t h e pa c e

m i n d i n g y o u r man n er s se n d i n g o u t

& &

ba c k i n g u p

te n d i n g t o h o r s e s si d e passi n g

215 228 244 269 278

ju mp in g

co m e t o me


fr o m sa c k t o s a d d l e a l eg u p sto p p i n g



sp o o k in g

tr a i l e r i n g



286 289 297

twenty exercises acknowledgments bibliography index



Text Allan J. Hamilton, m.d. Illustrations Elayne Sears

A Letter from the AuthorDear Bookseller: Zen Mind, Zen Horse: The Science and Spirituality of Working with Horses is a primer on spirituality, brain function, and the bonds between the equine and human species. It is written from my unique perspective as a Harvard-trained brain surgeon and an experienced horse trainer. It is both a technical manual for training horses and a guide to extracting the deeper, spiritual lessons we can learn from these animals and applying them in our daily lives. It looks at horsemanship as a spiritual journey, open to anyone, at any level of expertise, and at any stage in their lives. Ground work with horses provides a vital tool for humans from a complete novice to an accomplished horse trainer to reawaken and strengthen the capacity of our dormant right brain. With the lessons in Zen Mind, Zen Horse, we can discover a reliable way to silence our inner voice. We can move from an isolated, self-absorbed me to a connected, interactive we. Developing a partnership with a horse teaches us to summon and focus our own vital energy, the non-verbal life force of chi, in our interactions with others. Zen Mind, Zen Horse is not just for those who feel the deep tug of affection for horses; it is also for anyone who has the spiritual itch to become a better, happier, more fulfilled individual, and wonders where to start and how to accomplish it. No horse experience is needed to make these lessons work. How often do we attempt to adopt spiritual principles without any way of understanding them or seeing them in action? Zen Mind, Zen Horse uses the exceptional powers of horses to demonstrate dozens of such principles in action and then allows us to decide for ourselves which ones we need most in our own lives: clearing our mind; focusing our intention; adopting the infinite patience of a fencepost; living in the moment; forging partnerships based on integrity, not ambition; earning the responsibility of leadership. Anatole France wrote: Until one has loved an animal a part of ones soul remains unawakened. This book addresses how each of us can undertake this vital step to enhance our self-awareness. Sincerely,

Allan J. Hamilton, m.d.

chap ter t wo

the two sides of me

The education system and modern society generally (with its very heavy emphasis on communication and on early training in the three Rs) discriminates against one whole half of the brain.Dr. Roger Sperry, winner of the Nobel Prize for his work on right- and left-hemispheric brain function



has developed along two divergent themes. The first is my profession as a brain surgeon; the second, my avocation as a horse trainer. For four decades I have pursued these two seemingly contradictory callings. The first finds me in an operating theater dominated by stainless steel and digital monitors. The second places me in wide open spaces, in the embrace of earth and sky (see figure 2.1 ). One, all sutures and antiseptics, belongs to science; the other, with its dust and sweat, to nature. It might seem as though theres an irreconcilable tension between the two. Neurosurgery requires a surreal ability to maintain focus, what Sir William Osler, a nineteenth-century physician, called . . . coolness and presence of mind under all circumstances, calmness amid storm, clearness of judgment in moments of grave peril . . . . For brain surgeons to reach the heights of their technical abilities, they must learn to suppress any interference from their own emotions. Horsemanship, on the other hand, relies primarily on personal insight and intuitive assessment. Its practitioners must plumb their own emotional depths. And mastery does not come from personal sublimation but rather through intimate transformation.y own life

out of my right mind

This schism that runs through my life represents more than a mere opposition of profession and hobby. It contrasts two different approaches to being me. One way, by imposing an unwavering dedication to technique, requires suppression of the ego in order to perfect surgical method until it becomes its own form of expression.

2.1 The high-tech neurosurgical operating room (opposite) depends largely on

cognitive, logical, and mathematical left-hemispheric functions. Working with horses in the round pen (above) depends largely on empathetic, emotional functions housed in the right hemisphere of the human brain.the two sides of me


The Four Aspects of the Round Pens o m e n u m b e r s j u s t f i t s n u g ly . Four is one of them. Its the first composite number, meaning its the first number that can be created by multiplying numbers other than itself. The simplest geometric solid, a tetrahedron, must have four sides. There are four seasons and four primary elements. Time is the fourth dimension. And there are four directions. To me, looking at the round pen encircling my horse and me, it seemed only natural to amplify my groundwork by attaching specific concepts relating to each of the four cardinal directions on its circumference (see figure 7.7 ). These four directions are assigned colors in the Native American tradition. Traditionally these four colors, all pigments found in the natural environment, also representing the four races of humanity, were assigned as follows: black for the North, white for the East, yellow for the South, and red for the West.

the north

North, associated with the color black, embodies the concept of empathy. Derived from the Greek empathe s (from em- + pathos, feelings, emotion), empathy is defined as the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experiences of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experiences fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner. It is epitomized by the expression seeing the world from someone elses perspective. North represents the direction of the leader, the alpha mare the one who takes responsibility for the group. It is also the embodiment of the Golden Rule: namely, Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. North is the faithful, invariant direction upon which we depend for our moral compass, to show us the way when we are lost, to help guide our next steps when we wonder where to go: to make sure we do the right thing. Why black? Yes, it is the color of darkness and shadows, but it is also the color painted under the hunters eyes so hes not inadvertently blinded by the sun or the snow. It is the color of charcoal whats left after everything is burned, consumed by fire. It is the color of death. Grief implies empathy, the ability to see loss and comprehend the world through the suffering of others. Empathy is a fundamental ingredient of compassionate leadership.

the magic dog



colors of the round pennorth color: Black concept: Empathy role: Leader additional: The Golden Rule south color: Yellow concept: Intention role: Visionary, entrepreneur additional: The archer is one with the target, seeing the end before beginning. west color: Red concept: Wisdom role: Shaman, elder additional: Walking the red road

east color: White concept: Learning, illumination role: Teacher additional: Imprinting, ritual

n w s e

The north is the leader, responsible for the herd or group. The east is the educator, the teacher, and stands for illumination and knowledge. The south is the visionary, the one who sees the goal, the objective. The west is the shaman, the individual responsible for bridging what is physical to what is not, for lending meaning to the existential struggle.the t a o s eg t h e m wg i c i d os o f m e


wiTH emoTion, inTuiTion, and TranscendenceA new road to training horses and a new journey toward self-awarenessZen Mind, Zen HorseFull-color; photographs and illustrations throughout 320 pages; 7 x 10 Paper: $24.95 US / $29.95 CAN ISBN: 978-1-60342-565-0 No. 62565 eBook Available

H o r s e T r ainin g

Combining brain science, horse sense, and fine storytelling, this spiritual handbook points toward a special and completely real form of enlightenment.

zen mind zen horse z e n m i n d ,,,, z e n h o r s e mind mind horse horse

stephen kiesling