When you first step foot on the land at The Way Station, a thirty-one acre horse ranch in Rainier, you may notice a palpable sense of peace. “There’s something mystical about this property,” says Mary Beth Meyers, a horse trainer and healer who conducts Harmonic Riding and Equine Integral Movement workshops. “When I saw this place, I knew that it would be something for the community. It just was logical to me, that this is a place for children, this is a place for education because it’s close to nature.” In the past year, Meyers has welcomed both individual students and entire classes from the Phoenix Rising School to her ranch, and co-produced a major benefit for the school in June, 2011.
Although she knew she wanted to do something with children once she moved to Rainier, she wasn’t sure exactly how or with whom. Then an experience at a Ramtha’s School of Enlightenment (RSE) event crystallized her intentions. “I saw the presentation that the Phoenix School did, and I said, ‘This is it.’” After the event, Myers got together with fashion boutique owner Giorda Elie to create a benefit for PRS that raised nearly $5,000.
Next, Meyers was approached about mentoring three students for two hours a week. One student, an eleven year old girl, wanted to be a veterinarian she grows up; another twelve year old boy had grown up on a working farm, and the third student was simply passionate about animals. “It was really great because the children seemed to sincerely want to know more about these majestic animals,” says Meyers. “They made a really wonderful connection. So for me it was an opportunity to share my experiences and what I know, and also to learn from them.”
Being around horses has beneficial effects on kids, Meyers has noticed. “The biggest effect is calming. It also teaches them more respect for nature, non-verbal communication and to see that there are things they don’t realize they’re projecting. They wonder why the animal behaves in a certain way, but it’s the animal communicating and mirroring back to them what they are and what they’re projecting. That helps them learn how to be with the animals, but it also helps them to be more pure in their observation – to see what’s in front of them, rather than just jumping in and wanting to interact with it. Maybe that thing doesn’t want to interact with them.”
Growing up as the daughter of a veterinarian, Meyers learned this lesson herself, along with many others. At the time, vets didn’t specialize in large or small animals, so her father handled whatever creature came his way. Myers and her siblings assisted with surgeries. “There were a lot of difficult things,” she says. “If there was a client that brought a dog in that needed to be put to sleep, my dad would try to find a home for them. But if not, we would have to hold them. That taught me a lot about life and death.”
Later, she completed her education at a specialized riding school, and became a certified riding teacher. But after several years of working at high end stables in California, she decided, “I would never compromise my principles again and work for someone else. [Ever since] I’ve always freelanced.”
Where Meyers parts company with most traditional trainers and healers is in how she views horses and her methods for treating them. As a student, “I always wanted to know why,” she explains. “I would drive the vets crazy, because I would say, ‘I can come in and fix this, but tell me how it happened. Why did this injury happen?’ ‘I don’t know – it just happens!’ They would either get irritated at me or ignore me.”
Understanding why became the basis of her practice with horses. “They only have so many ways of communicating that everything is okay,” she says. “If things are not okay, behaviors start to come out and people try to suppress the behavior because they say ‘It’s bad, the horse shouldn’t do that – just punish them, suppress them, don’t let them do it.’ They explain it away: He just has a bad attitude – we’re going to train it out of him.’” This often leads to very stressful workouts that put horses in positions of submission. Gradually, says Meyers, and sometimes not so gradually, ”Their spirit becomes diminished because they don’t get to express. Then it manifests out into disease – compromised immune system, mysterious illnesses, colic, injuries, things like that.”
According to Meyers, the people that bring their horses to her subconsciously know that something isn’t right. “They have to be willing to look at their horse,” she says, “but in the long term, they have to be willing to look at themselves. The horse is quite a runner to them about their own life and things they need to change. People come and they have an issue with their horse that’s very troubling – their spirit is diminishing, whether it’s lameness or other problems that traditional medicine can’t solve. They ask me to look at it from a different perspective, because they know that I do, that I can connect those dots, emotionally and physically, and find out what the fundamental source and root of the problem is.”
Along the way, Meyers has experienced healings that many might call miraculous, beginning with her own horse. Before she had fully acknowledged her own healing powers, many of her clients had noticed them and were urging her to step out and claim them. “I was pretty much in the closet,” she says. “So I had an experience.” One day six years ago, she took her horse down to the arena for a ride and as she was starting to get on, she noticed a huge swelling, right on top of his wither. She put her hand on it and found that it was very sensitive. “You could tell it was sore,” she says. “I found myself slipping into no time. I kept looking at it, and suddenly it just opened up, and it drained in front of me. I don’t know how long I sat there, just looking at it and observing, and it closed back up and the swelling went down. No redness. I just kept looking, and I put my hand on it. There was no more sensitivity.”
She went on with her ride, and returning to the barn, realized that a horse blanket had caused the sore. All that remained of it were a few small white hairs. “That was my runner from my own horse to say, ‘Look at what you did, just through observation,’” she explains. “I realized that I needed to step outside myself and accept.”
In another case, a horse had been diagnosed with Kissing Spine Disease. It had been through many different methods of traditional medicine, including injections on the spine, shock therapy and acupuncture, but the problem wasn’t resolved. Additionally, the horse had a hoof disease. Myers and her veterinarian “bumped heads,” as she puts it, over the appropriate treatment of the animal. “He said if I allowed the horse to have his foot care taken care of in my way, the horse would be crippled,” she says.
“I went home that night and said ‘I don’t accept that.’ I made a card on it, and focused on his feet. The owner called me up and was very distraught. She said, ‘I don’t know what to do. Can I trust you?’ When I went back out, the horse was entirely twisted in his front end. His feet had gone back to where the vet had said he would be. I was standing there having a conversation with her. She looked at his feet, and then she looked at me. As she was looking at his feet, his feet started to change, and to go back to where I had made the card of where his feet should be. Because of that change, the rest of his body was able to right itself. Because she was also open-minded and wanted to change, the horse was able to transform right in front of us.”
For Meyers, seeing the change in the owners is tremendously rewarding. “As the owner changes, it opens the door for the horse to heal. You can’t just bring the horse to me and say, ‘Here, fix it.’ It’s a reflection of where you are. So something has to change, and it’s not about the horse. It’s about the owner desiring that.” Once healing has occurred and the owners have made a shift, they generally stay on task, she says. “Either the horses are present or in the past. If the owner starts to represent the past, that’s when the horse goes there, they’ll start to go back to that lameness. They keep them honest. The mind and body come together as one, because they’ve been separate.”
In the future, Meyers would like to bring more children out to The Way Station and work with “the whole gamut of ages, from the younger kids to the older kids and give them the opportunity to learn about nature, the nature of the horse, and an opportunity to create a pathway of understanding non-verbal communication.” Several PRS students have begun riding classes at the Way Station, and more students will be participating in Core Connections this year, with Meyers as a mentor. From all of us at PRS, thank you Mary Beth for being such a staunch friend and supporter of our school.
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