Once In Love With A Horse, Always In Love With A Horse

“What if I fall?”

“Oh my darling, but what if you fly … ?”


Once upon a time, on a farm in the middle of nowhere – otherwise known as Bethel, outside a dorpie called Vryheid (Freedom) – lived a muddy princess that wore boots instead of glass slippers. After turning 6 years old her dad bought her a white Arabian cross mare named Mist. He picked her up and onto the mare’s bareback and she lived happily ever after!

Well, that is my version of the story. In my dad’s version he jokingly tells people that he used to have money, now he has daughters who ride. Three daughters that showjump and dressage. Advice to little girls – never settle for the haster!

It couldn’t be easy for the man, but what he gave us was something so much more than money. He gave us freedom.


Misty was an incredible horse. She was the matriarch of the herd until the day she drew her last breath. She taught me more about life than any human ever could. One of her many fouls, Venus, took over after she died and is still the leader of the herd today. Now that is women in leadership right there! I am dedicating this post to every horse I have ever owned and the top 3 life lessons they taught me.


1. The value of a still mind

You cannot approach a horse with a busy mind. The energy you bring to the relationship can be felt immediately.

I was a very hot-headed teenager and very rarely picked up on my own energy. That was until I walked into a herd of horses and they would scatter. Horses pick up on emotion like a language. Most of the time this frustrated me and the energy levels would just soar and there would be no way for me to get near a horse. Other times I would just go sit on the ground and still my thoughts.

Once your thoughts become still your mind becomes clear and you start to see a true reflection of what things really are. Once your mind is still your energy drops and the horses come to you.


2. It is a partnership, not a dictatorship

There is so much abuse going on in the equestrian world, especially when it comes to performing and correcting a horse for resisting or stepping out of line. As a child, I always had the relationship part of horsemanship nailed down, but when I started competing for that ribbon showmanship became more important.

I needed my partner back and so I started playing with liberty work and it bucked me right back to that childlike-wisdome and instinct of what a partnership is all about. When in doubt go back to groundwork. There is nothing quite like sitting on the bare back of a galloping horse without a bridle. It is the closest I have ever come to flying.

Allowing my horse the freedom to express himself taught me that it is okay to be in disagreement with him at times as long as it is done in a safe and free environment. By allowing my horse to dance with me, he allowed me to step into his world. He taught me the absolute power of connection and protection.


3. Be strong on the inside and soft on the outside

Developing softness comes from a place where you want to do no harm. We tend to train the softness out of horses and spend our lives trying to get it back. I sometimes think life does the same to us.

We should not allow life’s bucks to make us hard. It can make us strong, but never hard.

Horses are the most forgiving being in the world and we should learn the power of forgiveness from them. How to forgive others for injustice and how to forgive ourselves. How to live with intent and that it is enough to just be. Being in its essence is a complete thing. A thing where there can be no hardness, only a soft strength.


My dad realized very quickly that this was not just a phase, because let’s face it, no girl ever outgrows the love of horses. Today he is a proud dad of 3 equestrian gals, a cowboy son and a herd of horses bigger than his herd of cattle.


What is the lessons you have learned from your interactions with horses?


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