Horse Lessons from Bo

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I love diving deeply into the World of Horse.

Sitting on my porch this rainy morning with Stewie purring on my lap, I’m asking for clarity about what drew me into the web of horses.  At what point did I become a “Friend of Horses?”

Somehow I didn’t stick with the normal stuff like showing, training, etc. It felt like there was so much more to these animals.

Where was the fork in my path?  What is it about the relationship between me and a horse that is so attractive? How did the bond or the connection become so vital?

A rainy morning exploration with Stewie.


Going back to the feeling when I’m near horses, my senses are pleasantly overwhelmed!  My heart pumps blood full of warm peace, fueling my recollections.  My hands are sticky with sweat and horse hair and grime; the kind that sort of rolls off when you rub your fingers together.   The grassy air drifts from the horse’s muzzle and wafts into my nose.  The dirt melts into the soles of my feet, creating a bond between me and the Earth supporting both of us.

A huge 16-hand chestnut Tennessee Walking horse with a wide white blaze flashed in my mind’s eye. It’s Bo!

I was four years old at my grandparents’ farm, also Bo’s home.  My feet crunched the dry grass underneath them as they dodged fire ants and sticker burrs.  Grasshoppers tickled me behind my knees.  Sticky sweat between my skin and T-shirt reminded me of that summer.

Bo came into my life long before my parents gave me my first horse.  Choking up, I’m seeing the gifts that Bo gave me; my earliest foundation with horses.

Alligator tears stream down my cheeks.

Gratitude imbedded in saline forges a waterway down my face.   Flooded with thanks, I see that Bo started it all.  He offered a bond with his heart, sharing our love-language in common.  His gift was my earliest reference point for connecting with a horse.  Belonging to my Aunt Debbie and my grandmother, Bo always felt like my very own.

What do 5 year old girls talk to horses about? Bo never leaked my secrets.

Horses are a gift.

Most weekends my two younger brothers and I went to my grandparent’s Whippoorwill Hill Farm in Roundtop, TX, population 81. Even if the rest of the family couldn’t go, I went with my grandparents.  Being around horses was my medicine as a city kid.  Completely horse-crazy, but not in pink pony kind of way, Bo and I studied each other.

His head was longer than half my body.

My first love at age 4.  My brother Charlie is getting something good from Bo, too.

When I first saw Bo…

I was four years old.  It felt like he “knew” me. He did.  In utero. My parents visited the farm most weekends. long before my two feet were on the ground. Did we recognize each other’s energy from the very beginning at some karmic level?

Too nervous to touch him, I stood stock still in the humid air thick with mosquitoes. Shocked by his gargantuan stature and purposeful approach, my eyeballs rolled skyward and my neck bent backwards to get a full view.  I was in the presence of something VERY big.

He touched me first.

Bo sifted through my short brunette hair and tickled my sunburned cheeks with his coarse peach fuzz muzzle. I stroked his sticky sweaty neck towards his chest and watched his head drop and eyes glaze.  I rubbed the stray white hairs off of the margins of his blaze and breathed his breath.

They’ve always been my equals.

My dad taught me about the Golden Rule as a kid. Applying it to animals made my heart sing.  Lots of people do this as it isn’t anything new!

Recalling riding lessons, I remember loving just BEING with the horse. Riding was icing. I wanted to go deeper into the relationship with the horse as my friend and teacher.  I thought everyone felt this way.

Anything that could be uncomfortable to a horse made me nauseous.  I didn’t even like squeezing with my legs to ask the horse to move forward. I did it though because everyone told me that I needed to be “the boss” and that the horse had a job to do.  Talking to the horse about going forward as if he were my best friend always worked.

I slowed horses down by singing “Amazing Grace,” rather than pulling on the reins.  It calmed both of us down and led to a successful halt. Anything but pulling on the reins!

Horses gave me my early training as: a negotiator, a partner, a student, a listener and a ultimately as a communicator. Everything I did resulted in the horse and I remaining friends.

While there are people who spend the time to deeply bond with their horses, just because they love the relationship, it’s not as common as I once thought.

I wanted to bask in the horse’s presence and bring them the peace that they brought me.

More than anything I wanted to know what the world looked like from their eyes.  Later, I learned that I was studying the inner garden of their heart.  Funny enough, that’s the core of my current work; the basement layer of connection. Learning what made horses tick became my life-long project.

Totally content grooming them, watching them eat, taking care of them, nothing else mattered.  I felt what they felt. They wanted to feel as good as I did.

Anyone CAN do this!

I don’t recall the first time someone perched me atop Bo’s back.  What shines is the FEELING that Bo gave me over three decades ago while we were just BEING together.  I still get choked up while feeling those moments, before I knew anything else. I honestly didn’t even know what to do with a horse at that time in my life other than to just love and adore them.

Bo gave me the earliest kinesthetic memory with horses.  As if branded into my nervous system, it returns each time I connect with them.

Their purpose is greater than simply serving us. 

Many horses are happy to be of service and that includes being ridden. Taking the time to form a genuine connection with them so that they feel respected and appreciated for what they offer is the minimum agreement in my world.  Showing the horse that you care and that you’re willing to do your best to listen to him matters.

Intention trumps technique, even if you don’t get it right! 

Loving the adventure of it all, I realize that the relationship is more important than whatever job they can do.   Riding?  No riding?  I couldn’t care less.  Having a horse as my teacher, friend, equal and to help guide me?  Priceless.

Horses have such gifts to give if our eyes are open to see them!  Each horse carries their own “medicine.”  They generously share it  if our hearts are receptive.  It’s not about them working for us.  Top riders, horsemen and women know this.

I absolutely love helping people gain this type of relationship with their horses. No horsemanship. No tricks. Just creating understanding and compassion for the connection.

I’m inviting you to visit your early experiences with horses before you knew they could be “used” in some way.  Remember the time when you believed in your heart of hearts that this horse was your friend, your equal?  Has that changed?  Do you want a more heart-centered relationship with your horse?

As adults it’s easy to lose touch with the parts of horses that bring us so much joy.

If you’re looking to rekindle the core of your bond with your horse, I’d love to help you in that process.   Email me at: Lizzy@wholehorseconsulting.com and it’d be my honor to assist you.  Thanks for your thoughts on this topic and for your feedback left in the comments section below.

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Comments

  1. Karen Koehler says:

    Oh Lizzy, how beautiful. Your writing style and your story turn this blog into art. Thank you for the heartfelt memories and reminders. Gulliver and I will always be grateful.

    • Thank you Karen! These blogs are fodder for my book and I’m so glad to get your positive feedback. Thanks for being such a loyal reader and client. I am grateful for you and Gulliver in my life. Keep on loving….and you never know what you’ll receive in return…

  2. i LOVE BO!!!!

  3. …silouettes of L.E. and Crystal -that was a magical day! Checking Crystal tomorrow and Micah is bred! Sending lot’s of love and all of you reading this – Lizzy is amazing -she has saved my horses many a time xo Liz

  4. Hi Lizzy–
    This is so lovely and so very tender and true. Thank you for sharing your heart and reminding everyone that this connection is possible and lifesaving.
    Love,
    Connie

    • Oh Connie, of course! Thank you for your kind words. YOU have a wonderful connection with your horses and know exactly what I am talking about 🙂

      Much Love,
      Lizzy

  5. Beautiful! Because of your suggestion a long time ago to visit Equinisity – Lizzy – you helped me reconnect and remember all those whispers my horses whispered to me when I was young. Reading this reminded me of amazing Shami and Dobber that were in my life as a child along with many others. Thank you 💜💜💜

    • Thank you Angela.
      I’ve heard you talk about Dobber a lot and know he was a special horse. It takes special people to see how special their horses are!
      I appreciate your readership and support.

      Lizzy

  6. Wonderful writing! I absolutely love the pictures of you and Bo. My 2 horse frIends growing up– we used to sing to slow down or speed up. Thanks Lizzy!

    • Thank you so much, Laurie! The singing thing works! That’s a good image of you and your friends communicating with your horses that way. Way better than “kick to go and pull to whoa!” Glad you read this and thank you for your feedback! It always matters. 🙂

  7. I know you from Will Falconer’s blog. I believe I connected with you during one of his web courses. I was using the nickname Elle. Anyway I’ve always remembered you as a like-minded soul and was very impressed to find such a knowledgeable person on the same page with me.

    I have no childhood memories of horses but it sounds just incredible. My husband and I are going to adopt 4 rescue horses that seem healthy as well as lovely. We have a horse farm with no horses so we wanted to help theses horses out and we have big beautiful empty pastures (except for one of them where our two rescue cows, Daisy and Lily live). I would like to consult with you as we’re quite beginners at this. I don’t like the idea that the wonderful people at the rescue farm give all their horses multiple vaccinations each year. Maybe Thuja to mitigate some of the effects? I also want to keep conventional vets at bay but everyone who has horses seem to depend on them a great deal.

    So, your advice? Thanks!

    • Hi Elle aka Laine 🙂 I will send you an email about a consult. I cannot give you any veterinary advice but I am happy to share what works with regards to holistic management and horse care education! Bless you for taking on 4 rescue horses. I hope to be a part of your team! Thank you for taking the time to write!

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