In Spanish, “bondad” describes the natural inclination to do good and be kind. It’s a word that resonates with BONDAD boutique founder, Kristie Lara, and her sentiments toward the equestrian world. Through her products, Kristie offers the modern horse lover equine tees and art, essential oil candles, organic skincare and more that honor the special relationship between women and the equestrian world.
But this is only the beginning! BONDAD is also a community aimed at creating friendships across continents and disciplines focused on art, beauty and transformation through relationships with horses. In fact, Kristie regularly engages in interviews with equestrians from the art studio to the dressage arena for her blog.
Today, we’d like to share with you a portion the interview Kristie did with artist and proud mustang owner, Court McCracken. For the full article and access to the BONDAD shop, please jump to the BONDAD blog here: Falling In Love With A Wild Horse, Interview With Court McCracken.
And for this week only, enter to win the beautiful t-shirt pictured above on Horse Collaborative here: 7 Days Of Giveaways.
FALLING IN LOVE WITH A WILD HORSE
INTERVIEW WITH COURT MCCRACKEN
By Kristie Lara for BONDAD
Court McCracken confessed to me that she has been, in certain circles, the “talk of the town”. “Who does she think she is to adopt and train a mustang with hardly any experience with horses?” That has been the typical response from many people who have heard about what she has done. Ultimately Court’s story has been a true testament to trusting our intuition and living from a place of listening to our “true nature”. In the end we are all free to create our own unique story and this one is truly inspiring.
I heard about your story. I thought of the idea that sometimes our animals choose us. How did you fall in love with a mustang? It is a really wild story, which I suppose fits my beautiful wild horse! I became good friends with Rebecca Stares, who ran an EFP (Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy) practice with her three therapy horses. She was doing all kinds of really beautiful workshops and sessions with them. As I am a painter and a creativity coach, she asked me if I would be interested in somehow combining the work we did. So we began running workshops together and they were really powerful and beautiful and it was great for me to get to be around the horses again. Through her, I met another woman, Chelsea Cloutier, who was doing equine yoga workshops and who also was in the process of founding the Appalachian Center for Wild Horses. Chelsea began talking with me about her dream to adopt mustangs from the BLM program and begin gentling them and find them forever homes. She asked if I would like to volunteer with her program for the first group of mustangs she was bringing in…well, of course I said yes!
How did your life experience or perspective come into play in your relationship with your horse? Tell us about training a mustang!! Well, training a mustang is pretty awesome. It can be wild at times, but overall it is incredibly rewarding. I find Ashe to be incredibly curious and intelligent and willing. That is what makes training her such a joy. I feel like patience has been a huge part of our process. We weren’t instant best friends. I had to really show her I was there for her. There were times when I would just walk out into the pasture with her and stand with her for an hour or so. When she saw that sometimes I just wanted to be with her, that I wasn’t always making her work or making her do things, then I found she wanted to be with me more and it made her more excited to learn new things. When I began setting healthy boundaries with her and taught her how to stand still for getting the halter on and how to lead nicely without walking faster than me or pushing through the gate first, we started to establish some nice mutual respect. I have had a lot of support from really great friends who have helped me lots along the way, keeping me encouraged and moving in the right direction with her.
A big thing we have spent a lot of time on is gentling, so exposing her to those “spooky” things that horses are not fans of like tarps, noises, sudden movement, things touching them all over, etc. All of that time has helped her so much in her process.
I think back on how she used to run away from being haltered and I laugh now when she sees my car pull up she instantly meets me at the gate of her pasture. She knows my whistle and my voice and responds to it from far away. I never knew I could have a connection with a horse like this and I am deeply grateful for the trust that she puts in me when we work together and I consider it an honor and a responsibility as well.
What has Ashe taught you? I have definitely grown as a person working with Ashe. She has taught me so much about patience, staying calm, moving forward even when things seem scary or difficult. I definitely come face to face with myself and the boundaries or walls I set up within myself. Every time we push through to a new level in our work together, there is always this moment where I ask myself, “Can I really do this?” and I know it’s going to be tough, but after a couple of weeks of practicing our new thing (whatever it happens to be at the time) she has come so far and I have come so far, that I know that the challenge was completely worth it all.
It’s incredibly healing working with horses. Ashe has taught me so much and given me so much when it comes to self-esteem and self-confidence and presence. She brings me into the present moment like no other. I really can’t worry or think about anything else off topic when I am working with her. She is a clear communicator, even though she doesn’t use words. I definitely have much more emotional regulation in my own life because of my work with her and I love sharing that powerful experience with others too.
Tell us about your development as an artist and how that might have come into play in your relationship with your horse. Perhaps you had a different way of seeing the possibilities of relationship? A different point of view or perspective? For me as an artist, everything is about process. You have to show up to the process and fully engage while you are there. You have to be present in the process and the work doesn’t emerge from a vacuum. It is a constant informing and responding, shifting and reworking. Especially when I do the larger paintings or the intricate yarn sculptures. The whole of the piece is made out of so many singular moments of showing up. I feel like that commitment to process is definitely a theme in my work with Ashe as well. Just a little bit here, just a little more there. Everything you do with your horse is teaching them something. Especially when working with a young mustang who hasn’t worked with any other humans before, her entire education is happening always. Commitment, dedication, and process are vital to me. I also like to have fun with the process and dance with it and play with it a lot. I’m not always serious. Some of the stuff I do I do with a lot of laughter and joy in my heart. Sometimes I laugh at myself too! I did a demonstration for an animal psychology class recently, where I joked about how I was a bit of a clumsy cowgirl. Then I proceeded to drop the lead line, my horse stepped on it, but responded calmly and removed her foot and I picked it right back up. I laughed at myself and said that was how I made her a better and more steady horse, by her having to put up with me and my clumsy ways!
Again, For the full article and access to the BONDAD shop, please jump to the BONDAD blog here: Falling In Love With A Wild Horse, Interview With Court McCracken.