Saturday, July 28, 2018

The Grazing Principle

The Grazing Principle

I grew up on a farm in Iowa, Cedar County, Sugar Creek Township, nine miles north of Wilton. It was 160 acres, a quarter section, with the north side of the farm bordering the Bennet Sunbury road. The Sugar Creek Presbyterian Church is on the north west corner of the farm. My great grandparents gave the land for the church.
 don’t know the longitude or latitude to locate more precisely.

The farm, the animals, the vegetation, and climate and environment all become my teachers. There are yearly patterns to be studied in this changing scene. No two years are ever alike.

Today I want to say something about horses and the grazing principle.

I became aware of this early since the horse pasture was on the other side of the lane off our front porch. I had watched the horses many times as their long necks bent over to eat the grass with their front legs apart as if to take the next step. It wasn’t until a number of years later in New York City of all places, in an Adlerian therapy session, that my New Hampshire therapist named the action more precisely: The Grazing Principle. That was it.

The horse starts at one end of the field, one clump of grass at a time, one step at a time, gradually making their way to the other end of the pasture. There is no rush to get to the other end of the field. To start with you have no idea the horse knows that is where they are going. Each clump is chewed before the next is found for the same process. It must come as a surprise to the horse to realize they are at the other end of the pasture. It is at that point that I lose track. I don’t know if they turned around and did the same thing coming back.

The point the therapist made was to concentrate on the present and do the task at hand. Thinking you have to devour all the clumps of grass In a day only generates an overwhelming anxiety you don’t need. You contaminate and jeopardies what you are doing in the present.

This truth about horses is true for farm work horses and saddle horses alike. My early observation was with farm work horses since we farmed with horses. This was before tractors became the power source.  And believe it or not, there are more horses in American today than when we farmed with horses, the saddle horses are more plentiful. You see horse trailers parked in many a farm lot ready to transport them to a trail some place. But when they are out to pasture they will be following the grazing principle. The outcome: the grazing principles is being followed more than ever before, at least by horses.

I suggest we apply some beneficial horse sense to our daily routine.

Marlin Whitmer
You can take the boy off the farm but you can’t get the farm out of the boy.

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