By: Deb Kitchenmaster

Horses are especially good at jump-starting intuition in human beings. Another word for intuition is “perception,” and perception requires imagination, as well as creativity and reflection.

For the first time since founding Abba’s Lad Riding Camp, to offering ‘one-on-one’ sessions and round-pen group sessions, through creating Corral Connections, I have not once had the idea that came to me a few weeks ago, prior to a horse session with one of our younger handlers. I chose to go with the flow of this idea, and I’m sure glad I did.

So, what was this idea? I was to select five different books I had in my library, put them in a bag, and let the handler choose a book to read during some point in our session. After encouraging “connecting” moments between horse and human in the round pen (involving varied groundwork communications), we headed outside the round pen to a chair located under the branches of an outstretched shade tree. Out of the books, You’re Here For A Reason by Nancy Tillman was the first choice. Dropping the lead rope to the ground so both hands could hold and turn the pages to her book, what happened with the horse and human connection was absolutely beautiful to witness. The horse, as you will see in the pictures, was all about being close as she read: “A piece of the world that is precious and dear would surely be missing if you weren’t here. If not for your smile and your laugh and your heart, this place we call home would be minus a part. Thank goodness you’re here! Thank goodness times two! I just can’t imagine a world without you.”

We transitioned from the chair to the back of the horse where exercises (breathing and physical) were practiced. I so enjoy working with this young leader. The two horses she has connected with listen quite intently to her. Who needs cable TV, right? So, being the “what if-type” of person I am, after riding, I asked the handler to return to the chair and select one more book to read out loud. Since this was the first time this horse had EVER been read to, I thought perhaps all interest would be gone and the horse would chose to wander off. Not so! The second book chosen was God Is Really Good, by Bill Johnson with Seth Dahl and Lamont Hunt. Sparrow, squirrel, owl, puppy, goat, and cat hear what Lily (an actual lily in the garden) has to say about the goodness of God. Her message brings a letting go of worries that have been held on to. A song fills the air from sparrow about how GOOD, GOD REALLY IS! The horse was REALLY into this story also! What fun!

It was obvious this young reader was reading from her heart or what is referred to as HeartMath, (IMH) where extensive studies on cardio-electromagnetic communication have been done. The heart’s electrical field is about sixty times greater than the electrical activity generated by the brain. The magnetic field produced by the heart is more than five thousand times stronger than the brain’s magnetic field and can be detected a number of feet away from the body in all directions. When you’re communicating with others, particularly non-verbally, you’re broadcasting a stronger signal through your heart than your head.

I am aware of dog therapy where children, in particular, read to a dog to build self-esteem, confidence, and relaxation in reading out loud in an environment that does not mock, taunt, shame, or judge. Needless to say, that would be more than likely a human-free environment, right? It’s quite effective. I was not aware of horses being read to until after that session, and I went online out of curiosity. I came across a program called R.E.A.D. It talks about the benefits of reading to animals. Do you remember The Black Stallion series by Walter Farley? The first book was called The Black Stallion; the second was called The Black Stallion Returns (1945). Mr. Farley’s son created a reading program where his dad’s books are read to a horse. The youngster will read about grooming a horse, the autonomy of a horse, and other topics pertaining to horses. How cool is that!

Do the math. Open your heart and let the unforced rhythms of grace electrify your surroundings.

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