Wed. Feb 28th, 2024

Earlier this summer time I drove my 12-year-old daughter to a horseback using camp close to Missoula, Montana. However earlier than she was allowed to journey, the teacher needed to speak about how horses can assist folks heal from trauma. “Trauma is intergenerational,” the teacher instructed her. I turned the phrases over in my head as I stood by my automobile, carrying a pair of my grandmother’s cowgirl boots.
I considered my grandmother as a toddler in Iran, nuzzling a Caspian horse in a glen a number of miles from her dwelling, terrified and shaking, realizing that it wasn’t secure to return to her abusive father and the organized marriage that awaited her. I additionally considered her mom, my great-grandmother, showing as if out of a mirage to disclose that she, too, was a horsewoman, to share with my dumbstruck grandmother the legacy of fierce horsewomen of their household extending again to the times of The Persian Battle.

Rising up, a favourite e-book in our Iranian-American family was the Persian epic, the Shahnameh or “E book of Kings.” Penned by Ferdowsi in 977 BCE, the 50,000 phrase poem tells the story of the Persian Empire throughout hundreds of years. And whereas it focuses on lots of the nice male heroes of our tradition, my favourite tales had been of the ladies warriors. Specifically, I cherished the story of Gordafarid, the Persian princess who bested Sohrab, the strongest soldier within the Turanian military, whereas astride a robust Caspian horse. Her victory thwarted the Truanian troops marching on Persia.

Gordafarid fights Sohrab within the Shahnamehor, “E book of Kings.”

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My grandmother was the residing embodiment of Gordafarid. Born and raised on a farm close to the Caspian Sea, her life story was deeply intertwined with the legacy of the Caspian horse – the oldest residing breed of horses on the planet right now – in addition to, unusual as it could sound, the Battle on Terror. She didn’t reside to expertise that battle, however her life’s work impacted its trajectory many years later. Within the Nineteen Fifties my grandmother started serving to feminine survivors of home violence by smuggling them out of Iran and into Afghanistan on sure-footed and even-tempered Caspian horses. To calm the nerves of each riders and equines as they approached treacherous border crossings, my mom fed the horses home made spirits — whiskey or vodka — often slipping a number of sips to their frayed riders as properly. These ladies joined an all-female military within the caves of Northern Afghanistan.

The key to defending their homelands? The horses and their relationship with them. These horses had been constructed for the rocky terrain with shorter legs that may navigate the uneven terrain and sure-footed hooves to accommodate steep cliffs. The horsewomen constructed such a stable relationship that the equines that they might journey them fingers free, weapons drawn, and belief them to maintain them secure throughout battle in opposition to warlords in Afghanistan and Iran, in addition to Soviet invaders. Fifty years later, these horses can be utilized by American Inexperienced Berets as they fought alongside the ladies and men of Iran and Afghanistan in opposition to the Taliban within the months and years after 9/11.

When my grandmother spoke of those majestic animals, she spoke of freedom, focus, and power.
Like my ancestors earlier than me, the power and resilience I’ve present in my life to maneuver ahead whereas not forgetting my previous has come from the horses. And simply because it was for my grandmother and the handfuls of girls she helped rescue to construct an all-female military in Afghanistan, the horse for me additionally represents freedom, defiance, and a strong however quiet power. I do know that we reside with the intergenerational trauma of home violence, abuse, revolution, and battle. This is part of my historical past too. However with regards to horses and my grandmother’s legacy, it isn’t intergenerational trauma that involves thoughts, however intergenerational power. I solely met my grandmother as soon as, as a toddler. However her phrases reverberate in my bones to today: You’ve gotten the power of hundreds of years of girls warriors coursing by way of your veins. Always remember how sturdy you’re. 4 many years later, throughout continents and oceans, I hear my grandmother’s voice and the pounding of the hooves of these uncommon, good Caspian horses.

The creator using in Turkey seeking Turkish and Caspian horses with a bunch of horse fanatics in search of Noah’s Ark.

Courtesy Mahdavi

The creator’s upcoming e-book, E book of Queens.

“Mama! I! Am! Flying!” My ideas are interrupted by the sound of galloping hooves and shouts of pleasure. My daughter as soon as instructed me, “If I’m going to journey, Mother, I’m going to journey free.” Unknowingly, she was echoing the identical phrases I spoke the primary time I mounted a horse in my ancestral homeland some twenty years earlier. My first journey to Iran was as a journalist journeying dwelling to put in writing tales concerning the Iranian ladies’s motion. However that journey was additionally marked by falling in love with a tradition, a rustic, and a those that I had solely imagined rising up. It was additionally the primary time in my life I used to be in a position to join with horses and start to be taught the braided legacy of girls and horses that was a part of my story.

My kids, like me, see horses not as creatures to be dominated or as an animal to hold their trauma, however as extensions of themselves – variations of them who can fly freely. Whose majesty is a quiet energy, unyielding however steadying, free however centered. And the Caspian horse tells the story of our ancestors, of the Persian empire of girls who wouldn’t be dominated and who used their power to construct empires and legacies, and to hunt justice: Girls who knew methods to defend in opposition to a number of the world’s most elusive enemies, from Soviet armies to warlords to the Taliban. Girls who proceed to push again in opposition to oppression in all its kinds, regardless of the very actual risk of dying.

The blood of generations of horsewomen warriors programs by way of my veins and thru my kids’s. That is the legacy we inherited, and that we get to move on to the following era. It isn’t simply trauma we feature, however unbelievable power as properly.

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