It’s a week later and because we got back late last week I decide to start our class with the journal reflection on Twisted Pine. We move the tables into a different orientation. I put the tablecloth on the round table and we light candles. We briefly discuss our research and then I read them a passage from The Tao of Equus.
“When I stopped treating horses as lesser beings, my perspective on life changed, irrevocably. In the process, I glimpsed the history of our species through equine eyes, and realized our colossal ability to manipulate the environment had been more of a curse than a blessing to these sensitive creatures. We planted our fields, fought our wars, and built our cities with the sweat and blood of countless horses.”
Someone asks about the word Tao and we get into eastern mysticism, Zen, Montessori, quantum physics, the sixties and its east/west synthesis. We get deeper into our research and focus on C who describes the extent of horse-human involvement – something he says surprised him. We do a stream of consciousness exercise as if we were a horse from anytime in history. The room becomes meditative – there is profound stillness as the pencils scratch and the candles flicker.
Student’s Journals: (Excerpts – Spontaneous Personas)
“…there were guns firing and swords swinging. It was all very hectic for me. The way I unwound was by the old man who cared for me. He was one of the people who understood us; he used to tell us of stories of the horses used by the Native people; he was a native, he had respect for the environment; he not only understood us but all creatures…” - C
“…I fell hard. There was no pain, no impact, just cold hard ground. Colours swam before my eyes…As I lay there on the ground, thrashing weakly on my back, that vision of the fields kept flying before my eyes, empowered by the sunrise and the wind on my skin. I kept seeing myself running, not out of fear or rage or anything of the kind – but instead alight with this profound kind of elegance…” - S
“…I loved my master, I was his only horse because he only ever wanted one horse. He put me back into my stall and walked away into his house, so he could let me get some sleep. I looked around, the barn was always clean and smelled fresh, I saw my water dish then sat down and went into a deep sleep.” – A.B.
“I am strong. My name is Aruba which means Worker in Latin…” - Q
“I am a Dawn Horse…Although I am quite small compared to some creatures I have bonded with a few of them. Like my friend Mr. Baboon, we have a good chat every day. He tells me how some of his friends are changing…I think we horses will change also. Maybe that’s why I am growing very fast!” -A.H.
A tail tales by me. Some of the students are finished in twenty minutes, others continue. We gather and share in depth our research while S and A continue to write. – We segue into our history project and cover gangs, tribes, groups, and cultural discipline. Fascinating questions erupt and then we move into drama. Using the convention of totem, chant, ritual, and stillness – the theme is tribe, herd, gang, group dynamics. We begin to unravel historical threads that bind us and Twisted Pine curves our relationship to history.
“As T.S. Eliot was moved to speak of “the eternal struggle between art and education,” I am moved to distinguish between education as coercion and…any other genuine kind of discipline.”
The Portfolios are materializing…The students have chosen; Horse Breeds, Anatomy, Nutrition, Psychology, Mythology, Vices, History, Evolution. As well as journals, each portfolio is an accumulation of work from September to March; Following the premise that, “continuity is more important than consistency.”
As the year progresses, we become part of Twisted Pine. We are accepted in the cultural function of work and our portfolios expand.
“The paradox of the third plane is that adolescents, as part of their development, have to undertake adult work (not because we say so, but because they’re driven to) even though they’re not yet developed adults.”
November 24, 2005
“…This field trip doesn’t only help me understand horses but it also helps me understand the people that I am around with. I thought that it brought out the good side of some people. Also my respect for animals has increased since I have gone to Twisted Pine. Working at the stable is fun but it requires hard work. It is the first place when hard work is actually really fun.” – A.H.
“…Rumble stared at me with his father’s same cool eyes. “ I was about fifteen then,” I said. Ten years had past since, and I was now coaching my new horse Rumble through the demise of his father, Pal. “And you never learn more than from tragedies you don’t expect. You just keep going,” I said, and for a second there, I felt Rumble really understood…” – S (from her short story)
“Interestingly enough, creative geniuses seem to think a lot more like horses do. These people also spend a rather large amount of time engaging in that favorite equine pastime: doing nothing. In his book Fire in the Crucible: The Alchemy of Creative Genius, John Briggs gathers numerous studies illustrating how artists and inventors keep their thoughts pulsating in a field of nuance associated with the limbic system.”
Things are revealed to ourselves through these relationships that have little to do with prescription. Sometimes we forget about riding and just work to be.
“Johnny - a figure of pure strength and fun. Standing there, innocent as can be, doing nothing but munching on his food. One single person just walks over – he springs to life.” - T
“…My favorite thing was walking around looking at the horses. I love just watching them run around and be themselves.” – K
“Last Twisted Pine we didn’t ride a horse. Instead we enjoyed the outdoor weather… It was amazing because the Twisted Pine land is huge…” - A
Thoreau advocated being a “saunterer” in the natural world. “In wildness is the preservation of the world,” he said.”
Imaginations are equi-vocally alert.
“Friendship, exciting, Dramatic, encouragement, Kindness, horses and people, Unity, bonding with horses…The horse that picked me and that I picked is named O.J. O.J. is a very nice horse. When we walked past him his head shot towards me.” - C
“Once I got to experience the horses and begin to relax with them I found peace. Like something just emerged from me that I didn’t even know I had. Everything around me morfed into Jell-o…It’s like walking into heaven, but with an awful smell and a lot of flies.” – A.B.
“Roman, Royal, C.d., soft, attentive, comforting, therapists, brown soft coats, mellow, feeling of belonging and contentment, cleaning, working and having fun all the while. Making animal friends and companions, grooming, brushes, combs and pics…just talking to Roman gave me such a feeling of contentment and it almost made me feel as if he was relieving my problems. That’s why I enjoyed the trip so much.” – A.M.
 Linda Kohanov, The Tao of Equus, 305.
 Aspects of culture can be distilled into these three forms: totem as resonant artifacts that awaken the symmetry between self and world; chant as linguistic groove; ritual as social memory.
 Students went on to create portfolios detailing political structure in world history.
 Hearne, Adam’s Task, 123.
 Tom Blue Wolf, “The Bardic Crossroads,” Mythic Imagination Conference, Atlanta Georgia, June, 2006.
 Baiba Krumins Grazzini, “The Role of the Specialist,” NAMTA Journal: The Third Adolescent Colloquium, Volume 31, Number 1, Winter 2006, 227.
 Linda Kohanov, The Tao of Equus, 162-63.
 As cited by Gerard Leonard, “Deepening Cosmic Education,” The NAMTA Journal, Volume 31, Number 2, Spring 2006, 130.