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The Peaceful War

David is a veteran. He served in Afghanistan and Iraq for the U.S. Marines as a soldier in combat. Sonja is a Norwegian Fjord pony. She works as a therapy horse at the Lazy J Ranch in Salisbury, Massachusetts.

The two met for the first time on a calm spring day. Neither asked questions about their history, where they have been, their training or their interests. They met each other at that moment. David and Sonja did not judge their past experiences. They only saw what they valued. Everything else was discarded.

The Peaceful War | Camron Adibi,

They entered an outdoor area with several instructors, a miniature horse, and two other participants. I was a participant and a witness. This odd couple sized each other up. This is a peaceful battle. There are no weapons, no camoflauge outfits, no commander, no ammunition and best of all, no opponent.

David and Sonja are on the same team, fighting not to laugh. Their mission is simple. They have an assignment to work through a circuit training obstacle course. David is leading Sonja, but Sonja is the teacher. If David tries to command Sonja, they will both lose. Horsemanship is not about force. It is about respect and communication.

Horses and humans have coexisted for centuries. Sonja, who has not seen combat, follows the footsteps of many horses before her. Sergeant Reckless, a Mongolian mare, served in the Korean War. She was used to transport supplies and evacuate injured soldiers in battle. She was injured twice, recovered, and went back to combat to carry supplies and people.

Marengo, an Arabian stallion, carried Napoleon through many battles between 1800 and 1815. He was Napoleon's favorite horse. Marengo was captured in the Battle of Waterloo and taken to England, where he lived until his death at age 38.

What do Sonja, Sergeant Reckless, and Marengo have in common? They want to serve and help humans. They are here for us! We are fools not to give them the same respect and love.

In two short hours, David and Sonja created this connection. With Sonja’s help, David learned that force does not equate to movement. With minimal pressure and release, David learned how to ask Sonja to move her legs.

David learned how to overcome barriers with patience and awareness. In the middle of an obstacle, Sonja decided to plant her feet and not move. She was waiting for clarity and direction. David observed this and instead of asking her to move forward, he asked her to step back. She complied. Mission accomplished!

This sounds simple. It is only when you are communicating with respect and not demanding or commanding the horse that there is ease.

Where in your life do you feel the need to control? We all do it. Horses have the gift of pointing out this defect.

David and Sonja learned the value of mutual trust and respect on this day. They were peaceful warriors remembering the truth that love conquers all. The war is over.

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