• VOLUME 41 • © HORSES For LIFE™ Magazine
HFL: I'm so looking forward to talking to you.
Sherry: Likewise. I love your magazine.
HFL: Thank you, you're so sweet.
Sherry: Beautiful. It's very aesthetic. It's very tasteful.
HFL: I just feel very blessed with the kind of people who are contributing to the magazine, and the people who are enjoying it. It has been a wonderful experience. It really has. But, I have to say I really enjoyed your book, too.
Sherry: Excellent. I'm so happy to hear that.
HFL: I understand that this is its second publishing.
Sherry: It is. I published it in 1997 and my feeling in retrospect is that there were probably people ready, at that time, to hear the message, but we weren't in the same place, culturally, as we are now. And probably it was way ahead of its time.
HFL: I think that's very true. We're in a very different place now, aren't we?
Sherry: I think Linda, in the Forward, said it really well when she said "When the book came out, at that time, anybody that made that kind of claim was looked at as though they were quite eccentric." And that it was quite an unusual idea. Whereas, now people take that idea and they resonant with it.
HFL: And it seems to be an almost worldwide movement right now, isn't it?
Sherry: Little things, like you go in the bookstore and ten years ago on the New Age shelf or Eastern Philosophy shelf, there were very, very few books. But now it's exploding.
HFL: And it's very mainstream. You look at Eckhart Tolle's book, New Earth, being shown on Oprah, it is as if we're almost being raised to a new consciousness level as a group.
Sherry: If you look at all the mystical traditions, they all say this. They all say that whether it's the yogas from Vedanta Hinduism or the Mayans, whatever map we use to look at the territory, they all say that we move through these cycles of time and that we're in a bit of an iron age or dark age, but that bifurcates out into a Golden Age, into an age of light and I think we're right there on that portal.
I think it's an exciting time to be alive. One of the things for me that's so interesting is as a small child, very small, like 3 or 4 years old, I saw this very clearly in a vision. I saw, but I didn't know the words then. Now, I know that what I saw was consciousness shifting. I just knew that the world-view of my parents (I was born in 1950), was an Ozzie & Harriet world view. That world-view was going to end on something much more inclusive. I remember my parents, particularly one parent, being, for example, a racist ,and I remember as a child thinking that that wasn't what we would call now, that was not a sustainable viewpoint. I knew that would go away and it would be replaced with a consciousness of inclusion. I didn't know all those words when I was a kid. But that's what I saw in that vision. And I also knew as a kid that I would live it. It's pretty wonderful.
The first time I published Dressage in the Fourth Dimension, it definitely had a very strong response. People (I was living in Vermont) contacted me and they were excited and they said "Oh my God, you just told my life story." It's the hero's journey, it's the story we all need to live. That was definitely the response. But then there were also people who just said "I just don't get it, Sherry, what are you talking about? This doesn't make any sense."
HFL: Absolutely. Just as an introduction to the interview, because I think we're already into some of the things that I do want to talk about with you, but for those people who haven't read your book and don't have a clue what we're talking about right now, Sherry, could you do a bit of an introduction just talking about what the book is about?
Sherry: Certainly. To me what the book is about, I think it's a very existential book. I think that from what I hear from readers, different people take away different things. So different people interface with it differently.
In general, it's a book about the potentiality of any art. And in this particular case, the art in question is dressage. But any particular art that when the practitioner enters into it deeply enough, not for reasons that are external such as winning prizes, or ribbons or awards, but strictly as Egon von Neindorf used to say, art for the sake of art, that there's an absolute possibility, probability, likelihood that that individual will experience incredible transformation. But the art itself, we could even take the word "the" out, that art itself is in and of itself, a catalyst for human transformation.
HFL: Many of the masters talk about that, actually, and you have Winston Churchill saying "The outside of a horse being good for the inside of man." That's been referred to through the centuries, time and time again, in different ways.
Sherry: In my life, I don't think there were any mistakes. I think the sacredness of this played out perfectly because two of the principle shakers and movers, one was definitely Egon von Neindorf and the other Henry van Schaik and I can remember Egon von Neindorf just railing "art for the sake of art, art for the sake of art." And I can remember, Nadja, of course he only spoke German, the translation would be roughly that "where art ends, violence begins." Violence begins rather where knowledge ends. I remember this crisis, in the book I call it the dressage crisis - in my own life because I worked, I was introduced to Herr von Neindorf's work and I went there and studied with him in 1972, and always thereafter. But, 1972 was my first introduction and then when I came back to the States, I asked him, I said, where do I continue? And he told me about his colleague, Dr. van Schaik, which is how I ended up in Vermont. Those two gentlemen in the 70's were imprinting this on my mind about dressage.
But yet what was happening, if you think back into the mainstream in America, what was happening during that period was that America was incrementally becoming more interested in competition. We were babies; we were dressage babies, infants, but we were incrementally becoming more and more interested in competition. We fell more and more away from thinking of dressage as an art and more and more toward competitive dressage until, of course, there evolved a bit of a schism, a bit of some discomfort between what we call the classical and the competitive schools.
And I'm not certain that, that antagonism is always healthy. I have my own thoughts about how we could better handle that and dialogue more effectively to get a better synthesis and less feelings of alienation there. That schism definitely grew up during that time and I remember being very confused