This time of the year means many things to different people.
In addition to the usual end of year celebrations and traditions, I like to think of December-January as a time for reflection and planning. This is especially appropriate as we move into the second decade of this century. With the added twist of 2020 often being used to describe excellent vision, it's the perfect time to revise your dreams, plans and goals.
So, to inspire and crystallise your 2020 vision, I have created a downloadable calendar for the New Year. It's also a token of my appreciation for you being part of my wonderful online circle. Thank you!
The 2020 calendar features an iconic image of someone riding their horse along a beautiful beach, with their mirror image reflected in the wet sand. It could be at sunrise or sunset - both times of renewal and spiritual significance - combining dreams, intention and action. On the second page there is room for you to write down your top priorities. These are the things you want to get really clear on; the things you really want to manifest.
If you print your calendar on both sides of an A4 sheet of paper, write out your plans and then laminate the page, your intentions for the year ahead will be sealed and it will last well. Alternatively, you could pin or paste both pages on your dream board, along with some other images.
Need some ideas? Check out this article for some great ideas for transforming your New Year and your life!
Your 2020 New Year calendar is ready for immediate download here (or click on the picture above).
Please feel free to share on social media and with your friends, colleagues and students.
My very best wishes to you, your loved ones and your beloved horses for a merry Christmas and happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.
Joanne Verikios xx
The original version of this article by Joanne Verikios was published in Equestrian Country Magazine, Issue 7, Winter 2019
as "How To Prepare Your Horse For An Emergency".
My Country by Dorothea Mackellar is a stirring poem that shows an awed but philosophical acceptance of the beauty and terror of nature. As I write this, parts of Dorothea's country - my country - are again being wracked by floods, starved by drought and destroyed by bushfires. Australia has cyclones too; other parts of the world have tornadoes, typhoons and hurricanes. And then there are earthquakes, mudslides and avalanches.
In addition to what nature throws at us, we sometimes have to deal with disasters that result from human error, or crimes such as arson.
So my question for you is, how ready are you and your horse for an emergency?
This article sets out some simple skills and tactics that could save your horse's life... and your own.
My delightful guest journalist, Milly M, has contributed the following observations:
"Working and growing up with horses has taught me a lot over the years, learning about creating and forming relationships, responsibility and how we view ourselves as individuals. Having and being around horses teaches you many things, but many of us forget that they also bring us a huge amount of physical and emotional benefits too. It gives us purpose, teaches us patience and gives us something to be passionate about – the list goes on! Sometimes I think it’s good to reflect on what horses bring to our lives and why they make us happy. This infographic shows many of the health benefits that horses can bring us."
Back in February 2019, I was honoured and delighted to receive a request from a startup non-profit organisation called LOVE GROWS LOVE.
They asked if they could use my poem, "The Horse Is Not Here", because they thought it captured the essence of the “Power Tools For Living” program.
Of course I was happy to give them my blessing. I also greatly appreciated their courtesy in asking for permission and their professionalism in acknowledging my authorship of the poem.
And I love the image they have paired with it on Facebook! Hope you do too:
Their mission is to engage horses to help participants gain a deeper understanding of faith-based values, therefore improving their quality of life. EAL (Equine Assisted Learning) is an experiential approach to growth and learning in collaboration with horses which can be very powerful for participants from all walks of life.
Check out the Love Grows Love Animal Assisted Learning page on Facebook if you would like to learn more about their work.
By Joanne Verikios
Do you like folklore and fairytales?
I do too. In fact, once upon a very long time ago, the topic of my Bachelor of Arts Honours thesis was The Interplay of Realism and Expression in the Form and Technique of the Russian Folktale.
Anyway, given my lifelong love of (a) horses and (b) folklore, I was thrilled to discover a charming folktale while travelling in the northern Japanese prefecture of Iwate. The connection is no accident, because Iwate was the home of Japanese horse breeding back in the Samurai days and the quiet rural town of Tono is famous for stories and legends.
Tono has a very strong horse culture, as horses were vital to peoples livelihoods and - reminiscent of treasured Arabians who were brought into the tents of their Bedouin owners - slept inside with the family. Even the bus stops in Tono are shaped to remind us of the importance of horses!
Note the beautiful halter knotting and the detail in the horse shoes in the pictures below.
Tono also preserves some of the traditional L-shaped Magariya houses, where people lived once in the long side of the L and horses lived in the short side. The most famous of these, the Chiba / Chibaya House, was closed when we were there (in March 2019) but we found another example at the Densho-en cultural complex. This is the Kikuchi Family Magariya (pictured), which was built in the mid 1700s.
The horse accommodation is on the left (see the historic photo below).
It was at Densho-en that we encountered the story of #Oshirasama. According to legend, a poor farmer had no wife but he did have a beautiful daughter and one horse.
The daughter spent a great deal of time with the horse, even sleeping in his part of the house overnight. One thing led to another and horse and woman became husband and wife.
When the farmer found out, he killed the horse.
There are a number of gruesome versions of how he killed him and what happened next, including subsequent mutilation of the dead horse when the farmer saw his daughter grieving over the body, but they all end with the daughter flying into the sky, either clinging to her beloved horse's head or on his skin, whereupon she became Oshira-Sama a Kami (deity), patron of silk worms, agriculture and horses.
Oshira-sama also foretells both good and bad fortune for believers in dreams.
There is an amazing chamber in the Densho-en complex called Oshirado Hall, where you can write your wishes on a piece of cloth and spike it on one of the 1000 wooden figures carved to represent Oshirasama in both equine and human form. Thousands of visitors - not just from Japan but from all over the world - have taken the opportunity to have their heart's desires expedited by Oshirasama by adorning one of these statues.
Iwate Travel Notes
Where is Tono: Tono is located near the middle of the Iwate prefecture on the Pacific coast in the Tohoku Region of Honshu in north eastern Japan.
How we got there: Using Hyperdia to work out routes and timetables, we travelled from Sendai in the Miyagi prefecture by Shinkansen (bullet train) to Shin-Hanamaki, where we picked up a hire car from the Toyota Rent a Car depot just across the road from the station. We booked the car online before arrival. The roads are excellent, by the way, the drivers are competent and courteous and the countryside is very picturesque.
Navigating: The rental car came with a satnav system in English, but we preferred to use a combination of two phone apps: Waze (for the route) and Google Maps (for nearby cafes, restaurants and opening times). Yes, we bought a local SIM at the airport on arrival in Tokyo.
Accommodation: We stayed right on the coast of Ofunato Bay at the Ofunato Onsen, which is about 30kms from Tono. It was a great base for exploring the region, with excellent nearby restaurants and relaxing onsen (natural hotspring baths) overlooking the bay and out to the Pacific Ocean.
Refreshments: We really enjoyed our coffees and snacks in the On Cafe and the Noto General Store.
All photos by Joanne Verikios
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From a very early age I have been able to tune in to what horses and ponies were thinking and what they were likely to do next.