To the Horses I Go…


Back to the Horses I go…  (as seen on the Parelli website)

It’s trail riding time again in Montana and I can’t wait to get back to this thing that I so love.  I used to do it for the lakes and forests, the runs across meadows of wildflowers, the swimming in the river bareback, the sacred time with my horse of 12 years.  But this season, I’m doing it with a different set of needs and dreams.  In the last three years I went from having no career, to having a bigger career than I’d ever imagined.  I went from being an unpublished author of fourteen book babies…to a New York Times bestselling author with a book published in nine countries.  I’ve been on the road for the most part of the last two years, doing book tours, major national and international television and radio, speaking engagements, teaching, workshops, book fairs.  It’s been quite a ride, not unlike galloping across a meadow– fear of falling and all.

It’s taken its toll.

I recently treated myself to a Thai massage at a wellness center where I was giving a keynote speech.  It was the day after I’d spoken to a large group of people, under a lot of pressure to perform and to hopefully help change lives with my story and my message about empowerment.  Thai massages go very deep.  The practitioner crawls all over you, walks on you, stretches you like nothing I’d ever experienced.  And I started to weep.  The practitioner said, “That’s okay.  It happens a lot.  Out of curiosity, are you going through a major life change?  Your muscles are like armor.”

“Uh, I guess I am.”  And I explained what has become my sudden new reality, adding, “I’ve had to be so focused and intense all the time.  A lot of people reach out to me for advice and sharing since my book is so vulnerable and raw.  I struggle with boundaries.  I just want to help people.  Maybe I’ve built an armor I didn’t know about in some sort of attempt at self-preservation.”

“Very definitely, you’ve built an armor.  I’m going to ask you a question:  can you do what you do without being so (in your words) focused and intense?”

It floored me.  Because it dawned on me that at the beginning of this whole published author journey, I’d made a Statement of Purpose—or a mantra if you will.  I wrote:
“I give myself permission to be exactly who I am and have it be easy.”  And then a year in, I’d added to it, “And have it be fun.”  I’d totally lost sight of this mantra.  Easy?  Fun?
Exactly who I am?  I wiped my tears and I told her, “I used to have a life in balance.  I used to work with horses.  They were my grounding and ballast and teachers.  I haven’t seen my horse in
months.  And a brutal Montana winter is no excuse.  I board him only three miles down the road where there’s a heated arena.  I miss him.  I miss who I am when I’m with him.”

And I realized right then and there, lying on that massage mat, that I needed to overhaul my entire relationship with my work, my mind, body, soul– and fast!  I don’t need to be sitting at my computer twenty-four seven answering emails, social networking, simultaneously writing a novel and another memoir, taking speaking gigs, running to the airport to catch planes to my next gig.  It’s my work and I love it, but I need to stop.  Breathe a little.  Just…be.  If even for a few hours a couple days a week.  I need to shed this “armor” and get back in my body again.

So it’s to the horses I will go this season to find that “play” again.  They will sense my armor immediately and they will not trust it, being the prey that they are to my predator…and they will teach me moment-by-moment that it doesn’t serve me one bit.  They will help me return to myself, as I shed that armor, and as they feel the way my body moves softer and softer on their back and on the ground.  They will help me to go “with” life instead of muscling it.  And if I pay attention and receive what they have to teach me, they will help me to re-set my intentions, gather my awareness, get in tune with my instincts.  I simply cannot wait.



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12 Responses to To the Horses I Go…

  1. Susan

    Easy Munson….what a great nickname! My name was BooBoo as a child. What’s your horse’s name? I will lift a quiet prayer to celebrate your reconnection. Love that you are willing to share your vulnerabilites with us. Happy Trails, Susan

  2. Heather

    Laura, I LOVED this! I just reposted it to my FaceBook wall because I believe that everyone needs their grounding place! I used to live in Jackson, WY. I thought the mountains were my grounding place – and they were for 4 years. Now I live by the ocean and I KNOW that it’s here by the sea. Bless you for your words, vulnerability and obvious LOVE of your life/craft/groundingness….

    • lauramunson

      Isn’t so interesting that when we are vulnerable, we create community? Thank you, Heather. yrs. Laura

  3. Melissa Nickert

    Know I know even deeper why your book came into my life when it did … I finished your book in December .. in the midst of the hardest year in my life .. a lot of armor hanging off me for certain. In January an angel came into my life and sensed I needed to reconnect with my roots .. my four legged sacred sanctuary called horses!! (20 plus years ago I was a 3 day event rider with out any fear of gallping across meadows or going over fences.) A beautiful and big chestnut entered my life named Tao!! Like you – I am re-learning t”the way” of dropping some of that armor, getting grounded and trusting in the process of the equine ! Not to mention the smile that wont leave my face after a ride!! No matter how tough we have to be in “real life” – it’s the softness that matter on the back of a horse. I will stay true like you with the gentle pressence of trust at the other end of those reins. What a pleasure it is to know another soul out there “gets it” too ! Bless you for your words and reminder!! Enjoy the ride!

  4. I can’t thank you enough for this. I am in the process of learning these same things, and the correspondent lessons have been freeing. But until you used the word ‘armor’, I couldn’t have adequately described it.

    You’re right: when my world fell apart, I became tougher — made of armor. And since then I’ve been doing my damnedest to stay tough and keep it all together. But armor is only necessary in the middle of a battle; when the battle has ended, the armor is less help than hindrance. We have to decide that it is okay to be ourselves again — to be vulnerable again. We need to stop putting ourselves under so much pressure…

    Thank you again.

  5. Sally LaBonte

    Laura I just love what you wrote about your horse, your journey, and your souls need to be back in the saddle. There is no truer place for me then when I am on my horses back, breathing in my surroundings and getting back to what matters most. Horses are such special animals and are nurtured by us as we are by them. My riding has been my “therapy ” and escape for a long time. There is nothing as humbling, satisfying, and peaceful as connecting with your horse and horse and rider coming together as one, as you already know.
    Enjoy your ride and ride and ride………….

    • lauramunson

      I wonder sometimes why it’s such a hard thing to get out there and be with them? I hereby commit to a summer of horse. Thanks, Sally! yrs. Laura

  6. Ride, Laura, ride! Sending you light and love.

  7. I want the world to know about hippotherapy, the use of horses in a therapeutic reltionship. What a natural connection, yes?
    I remember reading that Sheryl Crow turned to her horse for comfort through her previous cancer treatment and I have no doubt she’ll be doing the same now.
    I love that your writing retreat includes the option for horseback riding lessons. It proves the perfect means to come out of the mind and into the shared physical/emotional experience.
    It is my dream to highlight this very valuable relationship between human and horse before it is too late. I fear that America’s remaining horses will be sold as slaughter for food and I am continually horrified at the treatment they receive in the few Hollywood productions in which they are still featured.
    With a warm heart and large horsey teeth, I say thanks to you for sharing your solace and joy with us.

  8. Claire

    I’m a former Parelli Professional and I am now writing my first book. I remember reading about you some time ago and being impressed by your story.

    My book is about advocating for the horse and good horsemanship within the therapeutic riding and equine facilitated therapy industry.

    I get to visit Montana for the first time in August and I can’t wait. I will definitely take your book with me to read on the plane!

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