05/07/2014 10:18 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The Thing About Horses

2014-05-05-IMG_2088.jpg I have always been crazy about horses. When I was a little girl, my parents used to take me for pony rides on Sundays. It was my favorite thing to do, and I remember, at 3 years old, saying over and over, "Just one more ride -- please?" Even at 3, I loved it when I got to canter the pony.

There are some memories that never go away, and the pony rides are some of them. Another occurred when I was 8. I was at a birthday party, and there was a palm reader there. My question to her as she looked at my palm was, "Will I ever live on a ranch with horses?"

"No," she said.

I was devastated -- my dream shattered. Even though I believed her, something inside never gave up.

I'm very happy to tell you that she was wrong! It took another 62 years, but my dream did manifest.

Four years ago, I finally got my own horse, and I now live on a beautiful 35-acre ranch with horses. I get to ride my wonderful Arabian, Stryder, whenever I want -- cantering across the hay fields to my heart's content.

If you are not a horse person, it might be hard to understand why some people love their horses so much.

Horses are amazing animals -- very different from dogs and cats. Both dogs and cats are predators, while horses are prey animals -- and that makes a huge difference. Once they feel safe with you and accept you as part of their herd -- or as their herd leader -- they love you with a love that is indescribable. Dogs love in a very sweet, happy, tail-wagging way. Cats love in a soft, independent way. But horses love in a deep, profound, heart-opening way that moves your soul when you let them in.

There is something about a horse's energy that creates a powerful shift in me. Whenever I'm at all tense, I have only to hug Stryder and I can feel my whole system coming into alignment. His heartbeat slows my heartbeat until the stress completely leaves my body. His soft eyes bring me into the present moment and I can barely contain the love I feel. Sometimes it's almost overwhelming -- this feeling of love. He has learned to respond to my heart-felt kisses with his own, slurping me with his big tongue across my cheek!

Horses are natural healers. The movement from their walking gait is like having a cranial adjustment -- it balances out the body. They are literally a hundred times more emotional and sensitive than people, which is why they are so great for therapeutic experiences. It's also why it's important to treat them with the utmost of love and train them with natural horsemanship. When you treat them with love and respect, they will be partners with you for life, even risking their life for you.

Unfortunately, the old-fashioned cowboys, who "break" horses when they train them, don't understand this. They see them as "dumb" animals or treat them like lawn furniture. Horses are herd animals and need to be with other horses. It's cruel to them to not have at least one other horse with them. This was Stryder's situation before we got him, and he was ill and lame as a result. We rescued him when his owner didn't want him anymore. With lots of love and organic food, he is now wonderfully healthy -- and charming, funny, and extremely reliable when he carries me or others, especially children.

Horses need to move, and they need to be free to graze. There are horse owners near us who don't understand this. Instead of fencing off part of their hay field as a pasture for their horses, they keep them in a small paddock until after the first hay cutting. The hay is more important to them than their horses. When horses are treated like this, they go inward to be able to deal with the cruelty. Our hearts break when we drive by these sad, hurting horses.

Next time you are around horses, breathe deeply and get quiet inside. Tune in to them from your heart and you will feel the depth of these magnificent animals. If you open your heart and soul, you will understand why some of us have a thing about horses.

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