Los Angeles, California
''Horses are mirrors. They'll show you back whatever you show them. Watch a man with a horse, and you'll see what's inside his own self.'' - Mary Doria Russell
Back in the 60’s, our family of seven would cram into a rickety old station wagon, and head west for our annual cross country tour. I’ll never forget stopping in Estes Park, Colorado. To me, it was the most beautiful place on earth. Riding horses while overlooking the mountain tops, it felt straight out of The Sound of Music, and a fire was lit inside of me with a passion for these incredible animals.
Moving out west several years ago, and as part of my commitment to inner wellness, I began working with horses through the field of Equine Therapy. I worked with several Equine therapists in the LA area and I found it to be life changing. It also affirmed the deep connection I feel when I am with horses. Having had to put it aside while I was recovering from the darkest days of Lyme Disease, I was only recently able to return to working with my beloved horses. Saffyre Sanctuary is a horse rescue facility located on the outskirts of LA. It’s run by Esta Bernstein, a woman dedicated to rescuing horses that have been neglected, mistreated and abused. She has given her life to protecting these amazing animals and has a documentary feature in the works, called “Changing Horses.” Esta and my friend, Katie Neligan, an Equine-assisted Life Coach, created The Equalia Training Program to share what they have learned in their many years working with these animals.
Horses are prey animals and operate on pure energy. They’re incredibly sensitive and pick up on your energy long before you enter their environment. They are mirrors, as they have the uncanny ability to reflect your energy back to you in an instant. There’s no denying your personal vibration when you’re up against a horse. The beauty in this is that through your connection with the horse, you can train yourself to consciously shift your energy in real time and see the results instantly reflected back to you. On this day, I was working with the lovely Katie Neligan of @horsieselfie on Instagram. Katie is a doll, not to mention a real life horse whisperer. We always begin with a prayer and an intention for our session together. Energy operates via intention and setting an intention allows us to direct the energy and set a frame for our work.
Katie started by asking what was going on in my life and what I would like to achieve in our time together. We always start with clearing our energy and the energy around the horse. Then, I follow with making sure that my energy is grounded and I’m in the most peaceful place that I can be. I had been working on finding a new home, as well as working through some abundance issues, so we had a focus for our time together. Katie had me create something to represent abundance and I grabbed a green plastic tarp. I then added some cones to represent my new home and my life filled with abundance. One facet of Equine coaching is looking at everything as a metaphor. Therefore, what happens in the ring is a reflection of you and your energy. The goal for me was to ask the horse to enter my space with my energy. I was looking to direct the horse around the ring and into my new home.
Well, getting a horse to do exactly what you want isn’t always easy and can take some practice. In this exercise, I was working with Casey, who possesses stallion energy, and that says it all. Casey is a horse that challenges you. He pushes, rebels, nips, charges, and basically does pretty much what he wants and it takes every ounce of your energy to match his and become the one in charge. One of the most fascinating things to learn is when a horse comes on really strong, the best thing for you to do is to actually soften your energy but maintain your strength and purpose. Most of us instinctively will do just the opposite, both in the ring and the real world. It’s a process I’m learning about myself to soften in the face of adversity.
With peaceful thoughts and a conscious shifting from “my” house to a place where Casey was wanted and cherished, I succeeded in finally bringing Casey into my new home. Yes, there were some shenanigans going on as Casey kept challenging me and grabbing the green tarp in his mouth. I finally had to get serious with my energy and let him know that I meant business. I walked with purpose and intention and Casey followed suit. He was a dream guest for a short time before he turned back into a bull in a china shop!
Katie brought in Lindsey for the next exercise. Lindsey was a thoroughbred racehorse and dealing with some health issues. It can be difficult to get her to walk. It’s imperative for her health to keep her walking but she can have a lot of pain so it can be a challenge. My goal for this exercise was basically just to get Lindsey to move and that wasn’t going to be easy. I started by trying to direct my energy and give her a solid message to follow me. Lindsay stared off into the distance and ignored me. It was onto Plan B pretty quickly. Katie had me use a rod that would help me direct my energy in a more concerted way. I learned certain energy points that I could use to try and get Lindsey to move. My goal was to get her to relax into her daily exercise. It took a few tries to bond with Lindsey and “hook up” my energy with hers. She began slowly walking which turned into a slow trot and began running around the ring. Even Casey joined in! It’s always amazing to see what a shift in energy can bring. It’s a powerful way to connect with your intuition and to assist with fostering self trust.
The gift of the horse is the gift in seeing yourself clearly. A horse doesn’t lie. If you really want to see your true reflection, take some time to work with a horse. Katie Neligan is pretty special and always game to work with you to create your own personal experience. She can be found on Instagram @horsieselfie and on her Equine Coaching website. Esta Bernstein can be found @saffyresanctuary and is always looking for volunteers in the LA area.
My outfit was chosen for mobility and comfort as you have to move fast sometimes with horses! The denim shirt is unfortunately out of stock but the message is strong! I put it over a plain white tee with a great pair of Paige jeans. Riding boots are a must when working with horses as it’s dusty work and you will step in places you wish you hadn’t. Top it off with a great Michael Stars hat to keep the sun at bay and you are ready to roll. The finishing piece is a one of a kind horse lovers pendant from Trisha Dunn Jewelry. If you’d like a similar one personally made for you, send me an email! And be sure to sign up for my email list so you don’t miss a post. Thanks beauties!