Not Being Heard


During my recent workshop, Horses and the Mystical Journey, an issue came up with the human participants regarding “not being heard.” This topic had also been a major issue for me in earlier years, and is especially common among females. In the past as a child and young adult I used to have an excruciating and repetitive dream in which I was screaming for help and could see my father but he could not hear me. I would awaken drenched in despair and the feeling would impact me for the rest of the day. As the symbolism was addressed and the healing took place, that dream subsided.

However, in more recent years I experienced a different level of it as I sat in a small claims court room. The other party blatantly lied about me and the actual circumstances as he spun a captivating story to make himself look good. I was so shocked and taken aback that someone would do that and especially under oath, that I did not speak up with the truth. The real reason besides the shock was that I didn’t expect to be heard and it was my word against his and I assumed the judge would not believe me. I looked at the judge in helpless despair and said nothing. All because I didn’t think I would be heard. The judge, of course, ruled in favor of the one who lied. It was a searing moment for me, but one that awakened me to deal with the absurdity of that situation. The horses in their dramatic style  launched me out of my silent and protective cocoon where I had been cloistered for most of my life.

There are, of course, many reasons for not being heard depending on an individual’s own story. One possibility might be having experienced a trauma in the past and no one was there to answer the heart wrenching cry for help. We become stuck in that emotional place and the pattern perpetuates throughout life in varying scenarios. Other reasons have to do with our not listening to ourselves, our calling, our intuition, the deeper desires of our hearts, etc. In that case, if we aren’t listening, no one else will.

After this subject came up in class, I went to the horses who are prone to theatrics as one of their ways of communication, and asked what response I could offer to the class on the topic of not being heard. One horse answered my request. Amoura, who represents love. It was meal time. The herd was snacking on hay while I was preparing soft foods for their dinner. Amoura walked away from them and came to the gate of the corral where I was inside the gate preparing their supplement. She started banging against the gate quite aggressively somewhat out of character for her since this was excessive and was the first in a long time. Assuming she was being impatient, I was annoyed and asked her to stop. She continued. Suddenly I realized she was doing theatrics, and I had to smile inside because she wasn’t very good at acting out the message. She was rather awkward. In my story mind, I surmised she had reluctantly volunteered for the job on behalf of the herd.

I described the story to the class, suggesting they look at it as dream symbols. One member gave this response (with permission): “Amoura and the question of not being heard (herd). In my imaginary dream I am the one behind the closed gate, love is trying to get through my barriers but I am annoyed and connecting on only a lower level. Perhaps if I really wanted to be heard I could make a ruckus like Amoura did, but normally I am not heard because I am unsure of myself so I come across too quietly. Maybe if I loved myself, and let love (Amoura) in, I would project that love outward in a loud and clear voice that would be heard.

I too, had a love issue. Only months ago, I had just opened to new understandings and experiences of love awakened by the horses. I was on a honeymoon with love, feeling it for everyone and everything, sending it, and receiving it, learning new expressions of it, noticing that some unseen barrier had been removed, and a new gift of healing was manifesting. I was living high on the mystical life. Then, my horse died. Dollar. The one who had jumpstarted me. In self-protection I slammed the gate closed. On love. On Dollar. I became disconnected from the life I had been experiencing. Stopped listening, feeling, and believing in the new part of that mystical reality.

When I re-opened the gate, there was a flicker of light as I let Dollar back into my life as a new expression of love as he merges with the whole herd, and me.

A Sprinkling of Magical Moments: The Language of Horses

There was still a little light left in the sky when feeding and clean up were done, unusual for my time schedule. I had spent the day with the horses for hoof trims, untangling Kaheka’s mane, grooming and de-ticking the 5, and wanted to have some conversation and quiet time with them before going home. I called it a conference. Some were already standing in the community “hall,” but one was missing. Amoura. Not surprising for this stand-offish mare.

After turning the water off at the faucet, and locking up the pasture gate, I headed for the horses in the barn. As I walked past Amoura, I sent her a casual invitation in my mind to join us. In concert with my thought, she nickered. I responded, “Ah ho! That was fun!”

By the time I arrived at the stall with the horses that were waiting for me, Amoura had already arrived to complete the count at 5 horses! She came! Nice! I was surprised!

Here I was in the presence of the wisdom of all 5 horses. I could feel it. I bared my soul with them as I downloaded some perplexing and unresolved issues. Better than paying a therapist! I also talked about their teeth since they are an eldering herd, and mentioned my secret wish for a miracle! Why not?!!

While I was talking, Mariah started opening her mouth wide and contorting her jaw in different directions while stretching her head up, down, and to the side. Definitely a distraction at this serious moment! At first, I just assumed she was zoned out with some issue in her mouth. A few minutes later I realized I had been talking about their teeth, and Mariah started doing her theatrics with her mouth.

It took me back to being a teacher in the classroom when a wise cracking student would do something funny during a serious lesson to make everyone laugh. Mariah is our equine comedienne, and there was significant comedy in what she was doing but her confirming action of the topic infused with her humor passed me by until later. Slow to get it sometimes, but when I do, laughter rolls out from deep inside.

Mariah reminds me of a teenage dancer. She is in command of her body and is given to being impulsive. Sometimes she responds to some irresistible urge to move quickly away from a pile of hay with food still hanging out of her mouth as she heads for the herd like a vivacious teenager out the door to meet her friends still chewing the remainder of a peanut butter and jam sandwich. Both are onto the social business at hand!

True to her whimsical nature, Mariah threw hay one time on a 4 year old child causing him and the rest of us to laugh heartily as the hay slowly dripped off his beaming face. Another time, she sauntered up to me when I was doing a charcoal sketch of Shaman and acted interested in what I was doing. I was intrigued. Suddenly she proceeded to erase the sketch away with her very nimble muzzle. We laughed and Shaman got better.

I nicknamed her flower child because of the time I was sketching her, and she dropped a mouthful of green grass on the sketch, then threw her head as in “mission accomplished” and walked away. On closer look she had left me a miniature bouquet of flowering grasses!

Thanks to Amoura and Mariah for contributing to these sprinklings of magic and whimsy which are sometimes too easy to slip by us. When I catch it, I love the surprise along with the surge of joy these moments evoke. Lingering in it sets the stage for more to come!

Playful healing:
Four-legged Flower Child: short Or short link:

Goofy Mariah, Divine Comedienne:

Deeper Work:
There Is A Reason:

30 Years to Learn the Equine Art of Healing

Psst! It took us 30 years but she finally got it!

Dollar, my elderly quarter horse, developed a series of colic episodes within a month or so, each time with a different known cause. To you who are unfamiliar with the horse world, “colic” is a potentially life threatening tummy ache having multiple causes but is usually, but not always, indicated by a blockage in the digestive tract. In most cases, it is treatable by a vet. Usually the horse will turn and bite at his or her side, and will want to lie down and roll which can be dangerous in some cases causing a twisting of the gut which is alleviated either by death or a $10,000 surgery, or in some cases, thankfully, a miracle. In any case, it is not something to take lightly.

The first occasion with Dollar I saw coming early in the afternoon. My horses do not colic often but after purchasing my first horse years ago I was trained in the different acupressure points for use when a horse colics. I have used it successfully over the years I have worked with horses, even with horses that were not my own. I have never needed a vet for colic with my own horses.

But this time nothing worked. And the vet was hours away. I tried various things with Dollar but he continued to worsen until it was extremely unsafe to be in the corral with him. He was flailing, throwing himself to the ground or against the fence, pulling himself up to a standing position just in time to crumple to the earth again and again. He is in human years 90-100 years old and I could see his energy waning. I surrendered to the inevitable. My guy was leaving us. We just needed to wait it out as I sent him as much love and compassion as I possibly could, and thanked him for all that he had given to me and taught me, and all that he had suffered on my behalf. There seemed to be no connection with him.

I have learned over the 30 years of being taught by my horses, that when I am presented a challenge by them, there is something for me to learn from a spiritual perspective. I spent far too much time trying the conventional or even alternative approach which in the past had always been effective, but as I entered a new phase on my journey, those methods no longer brought the needed results. I was being nudged to move beyond even alternative ways. One of the things the horses have taught me is that when I touch in at the spiritual or mystical place, the horses move through their discomfort quickly. But this night, it seemed not even that was working.

To get some space for myself and my spirit, I went inside the barn for awhile. When I checked a little while later, I found Dollar lying quietly asleep. Although I was happy, I considered that it was pure exhaustion that had quieted him.

There was a slight drizzle and I wanted to throw a cover over him while he slept, but did not want to risk awakening him to his driving pain again. I tip toed to my car parked nearby and I too slept. When I woke before the sun crested the hill, with somber resignation I looked for Dollar’s silent carcass. What I found instead was Dollar standing calmly nibbling at food as if nothing had happened the night before, and a small pile of poop nearby, that magical sign we all await when a horse colics. It is an indicator that that things are moving again in the gut and, in most cases, all is well.

A week later, tummy ache again, this time it was mild. I spent the day with him expecting things to work out. By late afternoon, there was no change, neither better nor worse. Easy enough just to keep waiting and hoping until approaching nightfall joggled me into action. Because of my history with the horses, I knew that often when I sketched the horses, they got better. The thought kept nagging at me and I kept putting it off feeling I had no energy for it. That skeptic voice wanted me to believe that it was just wishful thinking anyway. Even after the many years of experience to the contrary, the skeptic continued to win. Since there had been no improvement with Dollar, I finally overrode its voice, and reluctantly got my sketch pad and charcoals. As an uninspired effort, I made a couple of sketches of Dollar, then put the pad away and went on to other chores. About 15 minutes later, I happened to notice that Dollar was eating and then, since I was paying attention, he pooped in front of me. Hmmm. Okay. Great! He was okay again!

Over the next couple of weeks, Dollar showed signs of colic 2 more times. The first of the two, I was still being stalked by the persistent and convincing skeptic. Again, I reluctantly got my sketch pad, sighed, then haphazardly sketched Dollar as if by rote. I was sure the statute of limitations had kicked in and I would be left with disappointment and Dollar still in discomfort. However, to my amazement, his colic symptoms reversed within minutes. He was eating and he pooped.

With his final colic, there was no hesitation on my part. Sidestepping the skeptic , I immediately grabbed my charcoals, sketching pad, a bucket to turn upside down for a stool, and headed out to the nearby pasture where Dollar was lying down restlessly and pointing to his side. I had settled in with a good start on a very pleasing sketch of him when he abruptly got up and walked away. Simultaneously, I received an important phone call and completely forgot to observe him. Ten or fifteen minutes later, I found him at his food bucket and was feeling satisfied with that manifestation when he stepped away from his food, lifted his tail and pooped. With that exclamation point, I could only laugh heartily that he had not only recovered from his colic once again, but he had waited until I was watching to do his final pooping magic. Such is the language of horses! I was finally getting the amazing lesson.

It wasn’t until then that I remembered that the night of his first colic when he was in such violent pain, and just before I’d found him quiet and asleep, I had sat on the steps inside the barn and sketched him. I had not put that together at that time. I had finally realized the connection between my sketching him and the reversal of his colic.

It took 30 years of pieces, parts, and inklings but the whispering equines finally got it across to me, the equine art of healing: There is more to our physical talents and gifts than we realize. They have gathered me up, challenged me, taught me, healed me and taken me with them on an amazing mystical journey.

And well done, Dollar! He has been stronger than ever, and no colic has occurred since.

What My Horse Taught Me Today

Kaheka Boy

Tonight I tangled with Kaheka Boy. Again. Every evening I put the halter on him before turning him out into the interim pasture to eat his supplement. Every night he throws his head at the very last minute just as I am buckling the halter, jerking it right out of my hands and propelling it to the ground. Each night I yell at him, “Every goddamn night you do this!” all the while I’m cringing inside with poisonous shame and guilt. I knew I was being a bitch and not solving the problem even a little bit. Even though I knew there was a better way, taking the easier road, I persisted in my reactionary response.

My goal for the past 20 years has been to work cooperatively with horses. But I still forget. Tonight, I not only yelled but I picked up his halter from the ground and threw it back down. Hard! I don’t think I could ever hit this horse but throwing the halter on the ground like I did felt like the same harsh energy. Even though he is in his 20’s, an older guy by now, he has a youthful innocence. Like a teenager, he can be challenging but endearing at the same time, and extremely sensitive. In this instance, he simply rolled his eyes, turned his head and looked around as if embarrassed, to see if anyone was watching my foolishness, then patronized me with a “guru” type superior nod as he patiently observed my childish tantrum.

When the halter hit the ground in a puff of dust, I wondered at how I had regressed. It seems the closer I get to responding to ordinary behavioral issues in nontraditional ways, I backslide more ruthlessly into the very tradition I am hoping to abandon. But all was not lost.

In my efforts to work cooperatively with horses, Kaheka communicated to me now that I was listening with intent to learn from him. He had been throwing his head nightly when I haltered him because he was nervous about the other horses nearby. When I started buckling the halter, he felt constricted and more confined. Instinct for flight overtook him and he threw his head ready to flee. As he explained what was going on with him, I began to feel compassion and understanding. I instinctively lowered my voice, reassuring him that he was safe. “You’re okay, Kaheka, you are okay,” I was reminding him that all was well. And it was! We breezed through haltering him that night.

The next time, he threw his head again! My heart sank after thinking we had found a solution. “Wait,” he said, “This is a process. Don’t give up on me.” He meant don’t give up on yourself! I took a deep breath, let it out slowly, then, spoke softly again and reminded him to try to keep his head down, and that he was safe. After more coaching from him, I gave him space to stand in a position that helped him feel more confidant, where he could see the other horses. I whispered reminders to keep his head down, and to reassure him. All has gone smoothly since.

We are now both getting what we want. I get to buckle him without hassle, and he gets to feel confident and safe. I can feel him still on the alert, but putting every effort into keeping his head from flinging upward. He gets buckled more quickly, and then gets to his food sooner. There is a new camaraderie between us instead of antagonism.

In addition Kaheka also has shown me how I do the same thing in my own life. Throwing my head when I’m starting to feel constricted and unsafe, and slowing the process of forward movement by giving into my fears. That is his “guru” lesson for me.

Gratefully, the connection and the cooperation between Kaheka and me has grown deeper and at the same time more transcendent. It is another step forward on our horse and human journey, to work together in cooperation.


Bad Behavior or Wiser Than We?


Kaheka, my leggy thoroughbred, was getting pushy. He was shoving me with a hint of aggression, definitely not a soft and gentle affirmative nudge that the horses offer me when I “get it right.” Feeling vulnerable and small, I got big and authoritative. I surprised myself with a husky voice that emerged from my lungs trying to overpower him with volume and crisp diction. He needed to know that pushing me wasn’t allowed! He did it again! That sure worked.

Not given to impulsive whacking here at this safe haven where horses have come to escape abuse, again I puffed up big and started to reprimand him in a more forceful voice. A reminder found its way like a meandering ribbon into my menagerie of thoughts and surly emotions that held me earthbound to my old habits. Like a friendly whirlwind the remembrance lifted me into that place of clarity that reflects the freshness of the blue sky above.

The questions were whispered, “What was Kaheka mirroring to me? Who am I pushing around or what is pushing me?” The answer came as quickly as the questions. I was letting life push me around. I was being overly complacent and allowing life to batter and taunt. This was one of my deeply ingrained behaviors that kept me chained to the obsolete patterns of abuse. I no longer needed to swallow what life was bringing me. [The Horse That Couldn’t Swallow] While in some situations, acceptance is what is needed, it was not for me.

Kaheka was calling my divine self to take charge…not of him in the usual way, but of life. His “shoving” theatrics were waking me up to take action and to make my life happen the way I wanted. It was time for me to embrace with determination, the divinely-planted desires deep in my heart. They needed to be watered, weeded, and the fruit eaten with joy. Timely, I thought to myself. He affirmed with a lick and chew…and I think I saw a knowing wink. His pushiness stopped.

The Horse Who Couldn’t Swallow, Part IV


As I lingered in my joy of release, I noticed all six of the horses standing at attention along with my dog, Henii, looking intently up the steep hill above the pasture. I followed their gaze upward. There among the dried blonde grasses was a very large and a very black mama bear with two black cubs playing nearby. Their dark coats and loose jointed bodies created an intriguing mystique that spoke of boldness and carefree freedom. They looked so clumsy it was hard to take them seriously, but in reality, they moved with amazing grace and finesse. That is what greeted my eyes. What greeted my heart were the words, “Coming out of hibernation.”

I thought back to the king snake I had seen earlier in the day. It was lying on the steps of my cabin as the protector from rattlesnakes and from that which would poison my spirit. It offered the promise of a safe and peaceful respite in the warmth of the sun penetrating deeply into my soul. And the star that streaked powerfully across the sky that first night while Dollar simultaneously swallowed initiated the dance that was to unfold. It took 3 days to manifest in my experience, but when it happened, my true self and the joy that empowers me was resurrected.

Since that day, my life has been turning around like a ship in the water, slowly, but majestically as I learn new ways of responding to life. Dollar’s three-day metaphor was the beginning of my journey out of patterns of abuse including self-inflicted abuse that comes with low self esteem, negative thought patterns and self-negligence. Instead of bracing for the worst and settling for less, I’m learning to “expect the best,” and now that I’ve been freed, that is what I am starting to get.

Perhaps, instead of the horse who “couldn’t” swallow, Dollar was the horse who “wouldn’t” swallow, as he mirrored a deeper healing that has transformed my life. He has led me, at age 70, to the realization that it’s never too late to become what you thought was impossible.

The Horse That Whispers Back: A Little History

A Little History:
Many years ago I received the guidance to take my notebook and pen to the pasture, and to sit with my horse and write. I had no idea what. I started by asking questions of him and was surprised at the responses I seemed to be getting.

That was a new beginning for Apolinaire and me. I pulled him out of “training” for the 3rd and final time, and he and I embarked on a path that took us into uncharted territory. I was without traditional horse training, and he, fortunately was fed up with that world. He became my whisperer, and I learned from him on our spiritual journey together.

As we’ve evolved over the past 25 years, he has drawn 8 other horses into our lives, each with their own unique story to share. Through years of observation and personal experience, I have learned that these horses engage in personalized theatrics which not only give information in the way that dream symbols might, but literally change us as we allow.

One time, a friend visited who had just lost her husband. Apolinaire, stepped up and greeted her across the fence. Her energy was very intense and I could see Apolinaire wince when she touched his head. I asked him to show her where he’d rather be touched. Immediately he moved forward and I expected him to stop where she could stroke his side or rear end which would be less sensitive. Instead he kept moving in a beautiful choreographed swirl and gently nudged another horse into place next to her. It was Shaman Tal. He is a giant-sized teddy-bear horse who presents himself when someone is grieving or is needing to be calmed. The perfect choice for this woman. Apolinaire then stepped away and positioned himself in a way to block another horse, a thoroughbred, whose energy would have been too much for our friend. Tal did his comforting work which helped her to become more peaceful. She shared later that her depression had lifted, she had relaxed and slept well that night.

Purpose of the Herd:
The horses will respond to what is going on with us in the moment as shared in the story above, but some of their most profound work which prompts more complex theatrics, happens when they are taking us deeper into ourselves to the core of who we are as spiritual beings. They not only bring clarity to our purpose or calling but beckon us to follow it, reveal our own unique spiritual gifts and talents we didn’t realize we had, help sharpen our intuition, and move us through blockages to our spirit. This ultimately immerses us in the refreshing pools of our own authenticity and vitality. They not only reveal but also release that which entangles us, taming our fears and setting our spirits free.
See also:
More vignettes…
The Horse That Whispers Back: Sessions

Standing in Our Own S*** Collects Painful Rocks: Lesson From Shaman Tal

What, me?

On Tal’s road to recovery, he had a little set back today with his sensitive hooves. Or maybe it was not a set back at all but pageantry to get a point across to me. If so, it worked. Just before my fears had a chance to take hold, I had an intuition that I needed to clean Tal’s hooves. Sure enough, when he lifted each one, I found them impacted with his manure and a ton of rocks!

He’s been mirroring me lately by standing in his own manure even though there were plenty of clean places all around for his hooves. This is out of character for any of my horses. But I learned from Tal that I’ve been standing in my own muck for years without realizing it, and collecting painful rocks. All I felt were the continuous jagged and sharp edges that hurt, and didn’t notice the s*** that was drawing them and holding them in my life. For me it was imprinted patterns from an undealt-with childhood abuse. Just the revelation of that and my choice to step out of it, led me simultaneously to a beautiful and gentle experience of forgiveness. Standing now where there are plenty of clean places, I’m viewing life from a new perspective. No more s***, no more impacted rocks to painfully distract me from the life I intend to live.

As I left for the day, Shaman Tal and his buddy horse were massaging each other over the back fence, a synchronous reassurance that all was well. He was free of his own muck and has been freeing me of mine. I rather like the imagery he presented as I left, a picture of pure pleasure and delight. A breath of heaven!

Goofy Mariah: Divine Comedienne

“Goofy Mariah” charcoal/watercolor by bev

The other day I decided to do a charcoal sketch of Tal as he stood in his shelter. He’s been having sore feet again lately, more about that in another post, so he is off pasture during the daytime and confined in a spacious paddock area. I set up “shop” with an old barn stool to sit on, put my sketch pad on my lap, and placed a plastic bin filled with assorted charcoal pieces on the ground beside me.

As I got started, Mariah walked in. I haven’t written much about her probably because she lives in another dimension most of the time, a bit beyond me, and is typically very aloof in the conventional sense. Mariah often stays with Tal so he won’t be alone, the one horse who seems especially fond of him and behaves like a big sister. Most often, it is Mariah who stands at the gate to come in the paddock with Tal.

Today, she became a goofball! She walked up to me in the shelter with Tal and put her head almost in my face. So much for a prim and proper horse who honors my space! Thank goodness! (Or there’d be no more story to tell.) She started playfully harassing me, bonking me, grabbing at my hair, and at the charcoal in my hand, trying to snatch my sketch pad away, and making a general nuisance of herself. I was amused by her unusual lighthearted games and began to laugh as I tried to sketch. Giggles continued to bubble up as I continued working. She finally gave me a break while she took a short nap, and I was able to finish.

Synchronicities can be so uncanny with these animals. No sooner than I’d had the thought that I was finished, Mariah was at my elbow again hanging her head over my drawing with her mouth pressed against the paper. She then proceeded to push her lips back and forth, back and forth over the whole drawing as if she were blending the charcoal as she has seen me do many times before (but not with my mouth!). I threw my head back and let the laughter roll through my being and out into the barnyard and around Tal who was standing nearby in front of me. What delight!

This sketch was no human masterpiece to be saved, but now it had all the touches of an equine with a sacred mission. Creating laughter and healing! Mariah had gotten me to lighten up and laugh, and Tal to feel better.

I finally became aware that Tal had not been rocking from one foot to another which he does when his feet hurt, and he did a lot of licking and chewing, a signal that things were feeling good to him. This was all strong feedback that he was comfortable. He had been touched by the amazing gift of laughter that Mariah had initiated as she stepped into her role as divine comedienne.

Out of the Doldrums

photo image by Chandra Smith

This evening Apolinaire surprised me. Usually reserved and aloof, my endearing horse reversed roles and intercepted my own aloofness. I was trying desperately to keep my troubled spirit in check and absentmindedly went about my business picking up supplement feeders that had been licked clean, and simultaneously greeting each horse, albeit half heartedly.

Unbeknownst to me, Apolinaire, whom I had assumed was sleeping peacefully, was instead standing quietly on full alert like a giant cat ready to pounce as he waited until I came within range. I was merely passing by him and giving a token acknowledgement on the run when he unexpectedly reached out and grabbed my hand with his nose. He threw it into the air, over and over again, up and down, up and down. Having initially been caught off guard, I recovered from my astonishment and began giggling in relief, and then engaged in laughing myself full heartedly right out of the doldrums!

Once back in my joy, my eyes drifted to a problem with his front hooves and I started to feel troubled again. Forgetting my delight from a few seconds earlier, like eating an ice cream cone and not fully tasting it, I jumped back into my head and shifted my focus to doing energetic work to support his healing. Instantly, he interrupted me and captured my hand again and threw it in the air saying, “Don’t go there. Linger in your joy. All is well.”

It’s a little game we’ve played over the years always initiated by him, usually when I’m feeling sad or troubled in some way. It is kind of like tickling me, his way of telling me “no need to worry,” and reminding me what is real.