Horses, Spas, and Inner Peace

When I think of a spa, I think massages, facials, cucumber on the eyes.... Now the Miraval Spa and Resort is incorporating "inner peace" treatments with equine therapy.  Makes me think of my character Mariposa's journey in my novel The Butterfly's Daughter.  Though Mariposa, broke and broken, could never afford to check into the luxury Miraval Spa. 

I am intrigued by this.  I love horses.  I find them elegant, noble creatures. As a young girl, a favorite book was Black Beauty.  And who doesn't love horse films?  I love them all: Seabiscuit, War Horse, Into the West, Black Beauty, and my all time favorite, The Black Stallion. 

BUT I confess I'm a little afraid of horses. A lot afraid, actually.  I do not enjoy horseback riding.  When I was a little girl, I had the traumatic experience of a horse--an enormous horse named Big Jack-- running away with me off into a field.  This enormous beast tried to get rid of the skinny 8 year old like a pesky fly, rubbing against a tree and a barbed wire fence! I was finally rescued, too scared to even cry, holding tight to the horse's mane.  My parents insisted all their children learn how to ride so every week I had to take English riding lessons.  I got sick to my stomach every time we drove into the stable.  Even though they always gave me the "gentlest horse" (which usually meant the oldest one that could barely walk) I cringed when they said to me, "Don't show them you're afraid."  Really?  The minute I got on a horse and put my boots in the stirrups that horse would swing its head around and I could see the big eye giving me the once over.  It would then turn away with a snort and my heart sank because I knew that horse had my number.  In truth, my favorite part of riding lessons was getting dressed in the clothing.  I loved the jodhpurs, long black leather boots, and that adorable helmet. 

My father once purchased a gorgeous, chestnut brown horse, a thoroughbred, he called Renrew (the reverse of his name, Werner).  The horse was nuts. Really wild.  Only my father could ride him.  Now I ask you...  What compelled a man with ten children, a pediatrician, to purchase a high strung ex-race horse?  I was afraid to even go near Renrew's stall.  One day Renrew escaped from  his stall and went charging out of the stable and raced down the interstate.  I heard tales of how he bucked and farted for miles along I 95.  Miraculously he didn't get hit and Daddy sold Renrew shortly afterward.

That era was the last time I rode a horse.  Today I still love the idea of riding a horse.  There is nothing is more majestic than watching a horse run across a field or a beach (which is probably why I love the movie The Black Stallion so much.  The film was low on dialogue but high on beautiful, emotional viewing.)

So I'm wondering if I shouldn't book myself into the Miravel Spa and try some Equine Therapy.  The instructor, Wyatt Webb, uses horses to teach people how to break out of negative patterns and to live instead in “present moment time.” 

I studied Equine Therapy when I wrote The Butterfly's Daughter.  It is an effective, unique treatment program that provides the opportunity to care for and work closely with horses.  In doing so, it addresses issues of trust, commitment, self confidence and more necessary for recovery.  A person, especially a manipulative one like Mariposa, might be able to fool another human, but she can't fool a horse.  They're tuned in to our energy.  A trust must be established and it is this deep connection that is often a first step toward the patient's emotional growth and recovery.  Equine Therapy's been around for a long while and has proven helpful for those suffering substance abuse, eating disorders, mood disorders and other psychiatric and addictive issues.  The therapy proved powerful in the context of my novel. 

Yet I'd never considered the benefits of equine therapy for my fear of horses.  Now I wonder if perhaps I can overcome the trauma caused by Big Jack and Renrew? Maybe I should check into the Miraval Spa so that at last I can ride a horse and get in touch with my inner peace?  I sincerely want to try.

And if it doesn't work for me, I am, after all, at the luxurious Miraval Spa. I can still get that massage.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, Mary Alice, I just finished reading your book
    "The butterfly's daughter", I have to tell you, I haven't enjoyed a book as much as that one in a long time! It is a beautiful story, one that has me looking forward to summer so that I can once again enjoy the Monarch's short visits to my garden. Thank you for the "vacation" from everyday life your book allowed me!



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All the best,
Mary Alice