Dearest Helyn,

It is the desire of the members of IHTC to present you with a token of our appreciation for all that you do. With the input, in words and in energy, from the members, we commissioned the great Jennifer Vance to compose for you a tribute.  With no further ado, we present to you this story:

The Kingdom, the Woman, and the Truth, by Jennifer Vance

This story is about a Kingdom located, in the vernacular, in “East Jesus.”

This was a Kingdom of Knowledge, of Wisdom, of Kindness, of the best kind of Magic, and of Great Heart. The Creatures came and kept coming. First, there were the horses, then dogs, cats, chickens and others. Many had no other home, had been lost, broken, disheartened, or worse. But all who came were welcomed.  As the Man once said, “any animal flying, running, or crawling through the farm would be safe for life and would be well fed and taken care of.” The Kingdom had a 24/7/365 policy; essentially, if one could find the entrance, one found a home and a name. The chickens were so determined to arrive, they mail ordered themselves through the post. Even the snake, who mistook the pantry for the front door, found a place. (The Woman politely decreed that “place” would be outside.)

The Woman and the Man took great care of all of the Creatures; saw to their education and well-being. Although the horses were very important to the Philosophy of the Kingdom, every Creature had a Work to do: as Educators, Authors, Providers, and Humorists. As this was a kingdom that did not divide by Rulers and Subjects, all worked together in Humor and Harmony.

The teachings of the Kingdom were grounded in Scientific Fact, and they never lost sight of the Inner Nature of Things. Quietly, word began to spread of this Kingdom as a place of True Knowledge, not Fairy Tales. People began to travel to the Kingdom located in East Jesus, seeking a True Path.

This was all well and good and lovely. Dogs cavorted, horses snorted, and the hens laid eggs (Cassie occasionally brooded…).

And the Time would pass…

However (because every good story must have a “However”!), a pestilence was afoot in the rest of the world. Rigid adherence to Outdated and False Practices was destroying True Equitation, and many horses were suffering at the hands of those only fit to “ride a keyboard,” as the Man said.

This was a time of willful Ignorance steeped in a fetid brew of Antiquity. It was a poison, destroying Soundness throughout the lands, all in the name of Glory for the Rider. True Knowledge was desperately needed. Despite the Harmony and Humor of the Kingdom, there was battle to do.

The Woman and the Man began to make Record of the True Knowledge, and they enlisted the Enchanted Interwebs to reach far and wide. From the False came shaking of fists, drums in the night, torches, and cries of heresy. But the Man and the Woman persevered. Those Who Truly Sought, understood the Wisdom as clearly as La Resistance understood “John has a long mustache” and “The sobs of the violins of Autumn wound my heart with monotonous languor.”

The Man began traveling to distant lands in order to teach others so that they could learn to work with their horses with an educated sophistication that would efficiently and correctly prepare the horse for the athletic effort, while keeping them sound.

And the Time would pass…

Now pay close attention because this is an important part of the story…

While the Man traveled to distant lands, the Woman would stay in the Kingdom, as she had a Work to do. More precisely, she had many, many, Works to do, and she was known by many names. “She Who Gives Baths to the Mighty Muddy”, “She Who Monitors the Video Feed in the Barn”, “She Who Finds the Lost”, “She Who is Master of the Enchanted Interwebs”, “She Who is the Artist Preferring to Remain Behind the Lens”, “She Who Produces the Videos of the True Knowledge”, “She Who Organizes the Annual Faire of True Knowledge”, “She Who is Master of the Calendar and Schedule”, aaannnnd: “She Who Mails Many Packages.”

(It is widely known in many cultures that the number of names one acquires is a sign of status—and probably fatigue within a tribe.)

In the course of her many, many (did I mention many?!?) Works, she was content. She respected her Inner Nature and was well grounded. One day, as the Woman was going about her Works, she noticed a leaf on her shoulder. She did not think much about it and continued with her Works. A photograph of Chazot bathed in gold appeared on the Enchanted Interwebs. A miniature Kingdom was constructed for the Hens. Charlie was in need of a Physician. Then some time later, the Woman found twigs in her hair. But who has time for twigs – the eggs must be gathered, the videos must be edited, and the horses must be fed (five times a day, to be exact). When the Woman noticed how strong her arms and legs had become, she thought, “Who minds a little tree bark on your shin when have your Inner Nature to ground you?” (Besides, the Forum of Those Who Would Be Educated needed monitoring….)

The Woman had dreamed her painting, and in painting her dream, she put down roots. She began to branch out! As she had chosen not to leave, she began to leaf instead! Her roots grew down into the soil and her branches reached for the sky. The birds would nest among her leaves, the dogs would rest in her shade and the horses would wait for the carrots and apples to fall. So tall had the Woman grown, that the moon had but to lean down to whisper nighttime secrets of Tide and Time, imparting her silver glow to the Tree. When the Man would return from travel, he found shelter and partnership under the canopy of the ever more elegant stature of The Tree.

And Time would pass…

The Battle for Truth would continue; Noble Conquests are not won handily. The Man would continue to go forth and parry with the False and Ignorant, and the Woman continued to root deeply, branch widely, shelter and care generously. How long would this go on? It is not for this Story to say, as it is still a Work in progress. For those who Truly Seek, the numbers continue to grow. The House of Cards begins to shift and fold at the merest breath of contradiction, while the House founded on Science of Motion withstands the howling, huffing, and puffing of False Practices.

And that is our story.

The Beginning (one dare not say “The End” as there is no end to what is yet to come.)

Dearest Helyn,

You and Jean Luc are such a compatible pair that it is near impossible to separate one from the other in thought. Any attempt to compare or contrast the two of you is folly; you each bring talents and gifts to the program and our work – indeed many of those gifts overlap. The photograph of you and JLC walking, “In Hand” is evidence of a tremendous partnership.

We are grateful that you share the gift of JLC with us and with the wider world. It is certain that some would hoard such a treasure. Your generosity to allow that gift to go forth in the world shows a person of wisdom and grace.

As JLC was given a gift of Time in gratitude for how much he does for us and for our horses, we would now like to similarly celebrate you as well.

Helyn, you are fierce, you protect and shelter, and you care. You are brave (even if you may not care for snakes…). You know what must be done, and you dig in. You see the art in everything.

You are a Tree Full of Life; you are strong and you do not bend, but you give deeply. Your roots reach down, and your branches touch sky, while Diana spins her beams in your hair. You are well grounded, yet your spirit is free.

You watch over the kingdom, care for the beings who share it with you, and support the wider group of members who come into the fold of IHTC/SOM whether we arrive galloping, walking, hopping, flying, crawling or slithering; on two legs or four, on wings, or flat on our belly. Each one of us is a Friend in your branches. You make the SOM/IHTC experience that much richer and fuller for your efforts. We are your students as well.

Although your tree requires no adornment, this gift is a measure of gratitude from all of us. We are grateful for the gift of you.

With great affection,

The Students of SOM/IHTC

Ann Archibald (CT), Anne Strøm Prestvik (Norway), Annie Mason (United Kingdom), April Taylor (GA), Angela Peuker (Germany), Beth Davisson (NJ), Birgit Köhler (Germany), Breeya Barbree (NC), Devin Martin (NC), Carol-Anne Robinson (Canada), Christiane Ferland (MD), Christine Ingram (Australia), Claudine Erpelding Braga (Indonesia), Darlene Latshaw (PA), Diana Skibiel (CA) , Dixie Cowles (GA), Ebba Camitz (Sweeden), Florence Daviet (Canada), Gabrielle Adams (New Zealand), Irina Karvinen (Finland), Jennifer Vance (PA), Jodi Seaton (ID), Karen C Copeland (NC) , Karen Scott-Barrett (United Kingdom), Kristie Cotton (CO), Laura Huikko (Finland), Leslie Maynard (AZ), Leslie Ordal (Canada), Lilian Boon (Netherlands), Linda Mackinnon (CA), Maria Bucht (Sweeden), Mikaela Tapuska (Canada), Monica Gray (ID), Peggy Gower (IL), Petrina Clemons (Australia), Piroska Boros (Hungary), Ros Maindok (Australia), Rudolf Renna Naso Rosso (Italy), Ruthi Damman (Netherlands), Sarah Lindsay Miller (Canada), Sarah Williamson (United Kingdom), Sascha Yates (Australia), Sheryl Strathman (KS), Solo Hallé (Canada), Stacia Ekholm Russell (ME), Stacy Wilson (MD), Sue Francis (United Kingdom), Susan Hopf (NY), Tracey Yates (Australia), Tracy Bowles (Canada), Val Gilbert (AZ), Vicki Borrelli (CO), Victoria Canarelli (FL), Cricket Harvey(NM), Silvia Muller (Germany), Cherie Turner(VA), Mary Hartman (MN), Ronda Hanning (IN), Allyson Olm (MA), Sara Tardanico (FL), Dana Harrison (US), Paige LaBella (IA).

Last but not least, for you, a closing thought from Jean Luc: 

When one is on the stage, the other is behind the curtain, or in the circumstance, the computer, doing an enormous job. Without the one behind the computer, the other one could not succeed. I am so happy that Helyn's work is celebrated by members of the course. She is the essence of the SOM. Her knowledge, skill, class and passion are the success of everything we do. Being close to Helyn, I multiply every great comments by ten and add my love. Jean Luc

Jean Luc and Helyn in the beginning