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  • Writer's pictureNancy Proulx


Many of you who know my story have read about the early days I had with my soul horse, Charisma. These early years were filled with frustration when it came to the connection under saddle. She was the most remarkable and naturally talented Morgan Park Horse any amateur rider could have. There were so many times people would approach me at a show and ask me if I would consider selling her or a trainer would ask me if I would like to be part of their show string. I had always self trained all my horses and now I had the best and by God I was going to do this myself. The truth was I found myself struggling to harness her power. We had a LOT of bad moments and miscommunication. At one point I had almost given up on her and sent her off to another state to be sold.

While Charisma was for sale I never once had an offer on her. She was a very intelligent horse and would figure the rider’s weakness out in a matter of minutes. After nine months, the trainer was at a loss and so was I. She suggested we send her to an auction to sell. That was unacceptable to me. I chose to follow my heart and I brought her home. What happened next changed my relationship with Charisma and every horse I interacted with after. I chose to focus on the relationship verses the training. I accepted Charisma as my teacher and intuitively knew I had something more to learn from her. One of the many things I learned is that there is a mental and emotional component to connecting with horses that especially affects our saddle work.

I became aware that horses could read our minds and our bodies as well.

They tune into our energy to read whether we are a predator or a friend. I realized that my early days of training horses were driven hard by my perfectionism. This intent felt predatory to my horse because I was filled with so much adrenaline and drive. I also had a lot of unconscious noise in my mind and body. I was so singularly focused on sitting perfect in the saddle or whether my horse was in a perfect frame that I forgot to check in with my horse and how her personality was handling my agenda.

This roadblock forced me to learn to read a horse.

I first started to practice slowing down and becoming more aware of my surroundings. I would walk into the barn with less talking and more feeling. I learned to open up a two-way channel of communication with my horse by becoming more observant of my horse’s subtlest reaction to my request. I practiced body awareness and how my tightness or relaxation affected my horse. I studied in the field of self-awareness recognizing that my thoughts and my personal agenda directly affected my horse. Now I have the most wonderful intuitive connection with my mare Charisma. We are so connected it’s as if she is reading my mind. I really enjoy this level of connection in the saddle because our rides are so effortless. It’s as if I’m riding her with a thought. I use little aid if any to cue her for a gait change. If I want to trot or canter I just think it and she responds. It’s as if we are one entity, one mind. This was quite a journey and it is such an honor to help guide other horsewomen who wants this same connection with their horse.

If you’re curious about this subject here are a few suggestions:

• Become of aware of your story. Discover what your motivation and agenda is. • Replace perfectionism with success. • Notice your self-talk. The voice of voice of doubt or criticism does registered in your horse’s body. • Practice quieting your mind and body and feel into your horse.

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