When I’m trying to describe to someone why I enjoy my horses so much, I usually find myself describing the joy in the routine or simple tasks of feeding, grooming, or taking walks in the field. I think it’s because these are usually quiet times when I notice Jazz and Aura appreciate a few cups of grain or I can laugh at their enthusiasm over apples and carrots. They remind me that it’s the simple moments that bring so much pleasure for all of us. Take a moment today and share a few special moments with your horse.
A Valentine For Your Horse
There’s something mysterious about the horse and human bond. Whenever I try to describe what I experience when I am with my horses, what they mean to me or what they teach me, I can’t seem to find the perfect words. I treasure my experiences and am very aware that there are gifts in each one. I think the mystery of the horse and human bond is that it moves us to recognize much about ourselves. Horses never lose sight of what’s important. They know what matters most: safety, comfort, fairness, honesty. They live only in the present. In their own way and through their own sensitivities and intelligence, they remind us how good it feels and the difference we can make when we focus on what’s important, and how much life there is in each moment.
Many equine professionals and scientists are starting to study, write and speak about the capacity of horses as healers and teachers. So far, the data from scientific studies is validating what has been said about the wisdom of horses. We are also privileged to have gifted artists and storytellers bring the experience of the horse and human bond to life.
Through captivating light, sound images, and an endearing story, Mr. Spielberg invites us to experience the strength and depth of these bonds. In spite of all the tragedy and suffering of World War I, Joey teaches many about the mystery and capacity of the horse and human bond and what we can learn from it. Many moments in the film reveal the difference it can make in our lives. For the most meaningful impressions, the film was created and is intended to be seen on the full screen of a movie theatre. I hope you take some time to experience the movie.
War Horse Video Clips
I hope you enjoy a few video clips courtesy of Dreamworks and the creators of War Horse.
War Horse Questions and Answers
The creators of War Horse tell us about their own experiences while creating the film and working with the horses.
See War Horse and Enjoy the Wisdom of Horses
Happy Healthy Trails
To celebrate the season, I wanted to share a few of Canada’s Equine gifts.
We wish everyone a wonderful holiday.
Happy Healthy Trails
Vicki, Aura and Jazz
The Newfoundland Pony
As this horse nears extinction, several Newfoundlanders created the Newfoundland Pony Society to save the breed.
The Canadian - Canada’s National Horse
This beautiful, hardy and willing breed was recognized as Canada’s National Horse in 2002.
Visit the Canadian Horse Heritage & Preservation Society to learn more about the history of the Canadian.
One of Canada’s greatest racehorses and sires
Hickstead and Eric Lamaze Olympic Champions
Canada’s greatest showjumping partnership was Hickstead and Eric.
“I believe that every soldier who has anything to do with horse or mule has come to love them for what they are and the grand work they have done and are doing in and out of the death zones.” Captain Sidney Galtrey, autumn 1918
On November 11, most of my thoughts are of family members who fought in WWI and WWII. My Grandfather was a Corporal in the Fort Garry Horse, a division of the 6th Battalion Canadian Expeditionary Force in WWI. I remember, when I was young, asking him lots of questions about his time in France, but he never wanted to talk much about those days. However, he did often speak about his Mare and how fond he was of her. He owed her his life when she took the impact of artillery fire and died saving my Grandfather. Now my family includes Aura and Jazz, two beautiful Mares, so on November 11, I will remember ‘the forgotten army’, our equine friends who fought and still fight amidst all the muck, blood, and suffering of war.
Remember The War Horse
I’ve posted a few articles, videos and websites that only begin to tell and show us of horses’ contribution to events that changed our lives. These accounts are a tribute to all horses who served or serve in combat zones.
- Due to be released this December is a movie based on the famous novel and play ‘The War Horse’ by Michael Morpurgo. Read about how this story came to be and some of the experiences of the horses in the article: “The horses that won us the war: How a harrowing reality inspired Michael Morpugo’s classic novel”
- View the movie trailer of The War Horse and make plans to see the movie in December
- Read comments by Steven Spielberg and Dreamworks about the making of the film and awards from the American Humane Association. WAR HORSE
- Enjoy the novel “The War Horse” by Michael Morpurgo, first published in 1982 and now a movie and an award winning play.
- Enjoy stories of compassion and love and memoirs that tell us about the bonds between the soldier and their horse. In “The War Horses: The Tragic Fate of a Million Horses Sacrificed in the First World War”. By Simon Butler
Honor the Cavalry
The service of the horse is often not valued, given meagre attention, or forgotten entirely. The following videos give some enlightening real film footage of their service.
- WarHorse - The real war horse of World War I by Naomi Pugh
- World War II Cavalry
- Polish Cavalry September 1939
Veterinary Care and Services
Due to the overwhelming number of animals giving service in wars, most armies had and still have an Army Veterinary Corp. Remembrance and gratitude are due to the many Veterinarians and service men who did their best to care for these equine soldiers and other animals.
- To view several real video clips watch the Army Veterinary Corps Video Newsreel Film
- Learn about some of the illnesses and injuries horses suffered. View photographs of a wartime veterinary hospital in the Veterinary Corp Picture Album WWI
- Visit the Royal Army Veterinary Museum for a summary of their history.
War Memorials and Dedication
Despite the fact that horses and other animals are rarely remembered in big or small Remembrance Day services, there are some memorials to their service.
- Tour the “Animals in War Memorial” in London
- Sadly, Canada does not have a memorial to animals who served. Consider contributing to the Canadian “Animals in War Dedication Project”.
With respect and gratitude to every horse who unconditionally served, your strength, courage and loyalty is never forgotten.
Because of their service, may we all enjoy Happy Healthy Trails
How to be happy isn’t such a huge question with complicated answers. I’ve found that many of my happiest moments are when I’m with my horses spending some quiet time without expecting anything from them or from myself. We don’t have any agendas for the day other than to enjoy the moment and the good feelings that come with those moments. I guess it’s human nature to make happiness more complicated than it has to be. If left to be in their natural state, horses excel at being happy. It’s easy to follow their lead if we give our horses and ourselves the opportunities.
A recent article from Reuters, Want to live longer? Don’t worry, be happy, tells us that science supports what we know through intuition and common sense. The authors say: “A review of more than 160 studies on the connection between a positive state of mind and overall health and longevity has found “clear and compelling evidence: that happier people enjoy better health and longer lives”. If you want to learn more about the links between health and happiness, you can read the lengthy research article: Diener, E. & Chan, M.(2011). Happy People Live Longer: Subjective Well-Being Contributes to Health and Longevity, Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being. 3(1), 1–43. Or, if you are interested in the topic of how to be happy from a variety of perspectives such as philosophy, religion, economics or politics, you might enjoy Happiness: Lessons From a New Science. 2nd edition.
The link between health and happiness seems to be getting the attention of not only researchers, but also governments. Politicians in Japan, South Korea and Brazil included the right to happiness in their countries constitutions. And, in London this year, there was a movement launched called ‘Action for Happiness’.
How to be happy with horses?
It’s the simple steps you take to feel content and happy that make the biggest difference. Create these simple opportunities to feel content and happy with your horse:
- Practice Regular Quiet Time
2 to 3 times a week choose an hour or two that you can be with your horse without a lot of activity going on around you. Sit in the pasture or in the paddock where people or noise won’t disturb yours or your horse’s relaxed and calm feelings. If sitting and doing nothing is difficult, bring a book to read or a notepad to write or draw on.
- Come With No Expectations
Come to these times with your horse with only the intention of rest and relaxation. The great thing about these moments is that there’s nothing to accomplish, no chores, assignments, or deadlines for you or your horse. There is huge space created for great things to happen when you eliminate expectations.
Health and happiness is easy with horses!
Happy Healthy Trails
As a prey animal, a horse’s physiology functions to keep it safe from predators. A horse’s nervous system processes information received through the senses of sight, sound, smell and touch. All of this sensory information allows them to perceive others and their environment quickly and accurately. It’s the physiology of their sight, hearing, smell and touch and their unique processing that creates their high sensitivity and gives them an advantage. They are acutely aware of their surroundings. Like horses, many of us can be considered highly sensitive. Not that we have the same physiology as horses, but that some of us process sensory information differently than the majority of the population. This sensitivity is not an illness or defect, but is just a trait as are brown hair and blue eyes.
Dr. Elaine Aron has researched this trait since 1991 and has found that approximately 20% of the population can be considered highly sensitive persons. Like horses, highly sensitive persons have a unique way of processing sensory information which allows them to notice more than others and reflect on people and situations more deeply. However, like horses in new situations or in stressful or intense experiences, highly sensitive persons become overwhelmed. When overwhelmed, they stand back or retreat which is sometimes interpreted as shyness or a lack of self esteem.
What is a Highly Sensitive Person?
I am a highly sensitive person and after reading many of Dr. Aron’s books and articles, I discovered great insight into many of my life experiences and how I can live differently knowing my unique way of experiencing the world. I am grateful to her for uncovering this unique trait. If you have ever heard people tell you that you are too sensitive or too shy, or if you’ve ever wondered why you often seem to see things differently than others, I strongly recommend that you visit her website, take the test, and read her books. You might discover that you are a highly sensitive person.
You can visit Dr. Aron’s website for more information on the highly sensitive person.
Her book The Highly Sensitive Person is a clear and comprehensive review of her research and this trait.
Dr. Tom Boyce, a researcher from the University of British Columbia Child and Family Research Institute, has found similar traits in children. These children, with high sensitivity to their environment, are called Orchid children.
How Can Horses Help A Highly Sensitive Person?
- Being with horses provides the highly sensitive person with a much needed break from the constant stimulation of day to day activities. We usually spend time with horses in situations or places that are quiet, slow paced and peaceful, and surrounded with people who are calm. These kinds of environments allow the highly sensitive person time to recharge their highly tuned system, relax, rest and enjoy the atmosphere around them.
- Horses prefer to be around people who are confident, quiet and calm. Constant stimulation and deep reflection of their surroundings creates stress for highly sensitive people, and their subsequent inability to cope with many situations and people can cause them, overtime, to lack confidence. If the highly sensitive person wants to spend time with horses; they need to find ways that help them develop a sense of calm and confidence. Horses show the highly sensitive person what needs attention. As the highly sensitive person develops confidence and a sense of calm and quiet, horses are more likely to interact with them.
- Horses are highly perceptive, beautiful, strong animals with tremendous abilities. Knowing this and knowing also that horses are highly sensitive shows the highly sensitive person that their trait doesn’t need to be considered a disadvantage but can be seen as a valuable gift.
Enjoy the gift of sensitivity in horses and people.
Happy Healthy Trails
“Beauty has a way of teaching us what matters in life” Roberto Dutesco
Capturing our experiences with horses through art and stories is a way of expressing our appreciation of their beauty and a way to share the gifts and lessons horses offer. For thousands of years, people created countless examples of art and stories that expressed the meaning of their experiences with beautiful horses. It is not just the famous examples that capture our hearts, but it is the pictures and stories all of us capture of our personal, everyday experiences. Each photo, poem, story or Youtube video you take or write says that the beauty of horses captured your attention in a brief moment of appreciation or long enough to focus on what matters to you or what the inner nature of the horse stirred in you.
Horses in Art
A connection to our history with horses is captured in this show of ancient art and horses created on youtube by Phoenix Ancient Art.
The Art of Robert Vavra
Robert Vavra is considered by many to be one of the greatest equine artists. You can visit his gallery to view his amazing expression of the inner nature and the beauty of horses.
You can also preview his outstanding documentary Such Is The Real Nature of Horses
Choose an Artist You Love
There are too many fabulous equine artists to list here, but you might find one of your favorites in the magazine Horses in Art. This magazine features art for the horse lover.
Horse Stories in Novels, Movies and Plays
Horses in Novels
I was amazed at the number of novels about horses when I was looking for some to recommend. I stopped looking after 150. Here are a few stories I think you’d like.
National Velvet by Enid Bagnold
The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis
My Friend Flicka by Mary O’Hara
Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand
War Horse by Michael Morpurgo
The Red Pony by John Steinbeck
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot. James Herriot wrote several outstanding books suitable for children and adults that are full of short stories about horses and other animals.
Horses in Movies and Documentaries
A breathtaking exhibit and documentary about beautiful horses is the story of New York photographer Roberto Dutesco and his experience with the wild horses of Sable Island. The documentary is titled “Chasing Wild Horses”
Enjoy the following clip from the documentary.
For more information about the art exhibit you can visit the Wild Horses of Sable Island gallery.
Or you can enjoy several more clips of the documentary Chasing Wild Horses
Browse this website that has horse movies organized by decades.
The same website lists horse documentaries for you to browse.
Horses in Plays
This award winning international play based on the book War Horse is one I’d love to see.
Read more about the production of the play War Horse.
I hope you enjoyed some of the art and stories of the professionals. The best experience I think is to create your own art and stories everyday and to notice how the beautiful horses teach us about what matters in life.
Happy Healthy Trails
As the month of May rolls along and you find ways to appreciate horses and participate in the celebration of horses, you can notice and learn the gifts they have to offer. I believe that in our relationship with horses we experience our potential. When I’m with my horses, I often wonder about the possibilities, and I dream up different ways of interacting with them so that I learn from them. They never fail to show me something about myself or about experiences of day to day life. I also meet more and more people who have a deep fondness and respect for horses and are loyal advocates for their equine friends.
Spirituality and Horses
This weekend, several of us were fortunate to participate in a celebration of horses at an equine awareness event with Liz Mitten Ryan. She invited us to experience a connection with the land and her horses. This connection is based on knowing that all living things are inherently connected and the experience of oneness is available to us when we are open to possibilities. The connection and the experience of oneness is grounded in knowing that all matter (living and nonliving things) is energy expressed in different form. Over the past 60 years, the science of quantum physics supports this perspective of ourselves and our world, and affirms a perspective that great sages and prophets have spoken about for thousands of years.
During our stay at Gateway 2 Ranch and in the breathtaking and serene surroundings of the land, we experienced horses as healers and spiritual guides. It was a truly memorable experience and one that I plan to repeat. I am grateful to Liz, Kevin, Dave and Susan and the horses for their kindness and hospitality and for the opportunity to experience spirituality and horses.
I wrote this poem after my experience at Gateway 2 Ranch. The image captures a moment when I felt connected to one of the horses. Captivated by the eye of a mare, for a moment, I felt my experience as hers in the reflection of her eye.
Just lean against the fence awhile
and watch the other world,
the one behind her eyes so round,
so black, and so like glass.
I highly recommend one of Liz’s retreats for anyone. The following video is an example of what you will experience at Gateway 2 Ranch, or you can visit Liz Mitten Ryan website for more information about her retreats. You can also visit her new website Natural Horse Friendship to participate and experience ways in which we can promote better relationships and connection with horses.
Health and Healing With Horses
Equine experts and health professionals offer many different kinds of programs in which horses are central to learning and healing. You can find horses as healers and teachers in programs such as equine assisted therapy, hippotherapy, equine assisted psychotherapy, equine assisted re-connective therapy. The horses in these programs influence self improvement through physical, emotional and psychological growth, and they affect the development of leadership skills, and experiences in spiritual awareness. They are partners in our health and healing.
With a commitment to quality research, program standards and best practices, equine experts and health professionals support the growth of knowledge, experience and expertise in each of these programs.
Organizations such as North American Riding for the Handicapped Association (NARHA), European Association for Horse Assisted Education (EAHAE), Canadian Therapeutic Riding Association (CanTRA), and the Horses and Humans Research Foundation are key organizations in the development of research, standards and best practices.
Horses and People
Horses and people share a bond that has evolved through thousands of years. As we learn more about horses and the ways we interact and communicate with them, our relationship improves and the potential for greater connection, learning and growth is there for us.
In her documentary, “The Path of the Horse”, Stormy May explores the future of the horse and human relationship. In her documentary, equine practitioners, artists, and authors take a step beyond natural horsemanship and open a door to a better understanding of horses as healers and teachers and a deeper understanding of our relationship with horses. There are greater possibilities for horses and people.
I have watched this documentary a few times and I highly recommend it for those who want to understand horses, connect with horses, or for those who are curious about horses. If you are sensitive, there are a few parts of the film that are difficult to watch. Regardless, you will come away from the film with a different and potentially life changing perspective. You can learn more about Stormy May’s work or purchase the documentary through her website “The Path of the Horse”. This video is the trailer for the documentary.
Whether you experience health and healing with horses through equine assisted therapy, equine assisted psychotherapy, therapeutic riding, hippotherapy or through a spiritual retreat, I hope your passion for and understanding of horses grows as mine does everyday.
Happy Healthy Trails
“I am large, I contain multitudes” Walt Whitman
It never surprises me that horses have been granted mythical status throughout history. Given their natural characteristics of courage, strength, speed, flexibility, endurance, and ability to adapt to the harshest conditions, they earned this status. Their unique physical, emotional and intellectual abilities combined with their enduring spirit are a gift to anyone who has the pleasure of experiencing them. Even with a basic knowledge of their anatomy and physiology, and their emotional and intellectual abilities one can’t help but appreciate these beautiful beings.
Your fascination and appreciation of horses will expand with facts, diagrams and explanations about how they are put together. I know every time I learn something new about them I am amazed. They become more beautiful, and captivating.
Enjoy this free 12 part series on anatomy and physiology of the horse. The Horse.com, a companion website to The Horse magazine, presented this series of veterinarian approved articles.
With appreciation, comes the responsibility of caring for horses. Several authors from Purdue University and Michigan State University present this free article about basic assessment skills when caring for horses. In addition to assessment skills is information about horse anatomy and physiology.
Brady, C., Pajor, E., Sojka, J., Buck, N., Berends, J., & Russell,M. (2004). Assessing Health & Well-Being of Horses.
Or if you are looking for an authoritative text on the anatomy of a horse you can view or purchase this 5th edition text considered an essential resource for veterinary practitioners and horse lovers.
Budras, K., & Sack, W. (2010). Anatomy of the Horse.
Or if you want a different and fun way of learning anatomy, you can view or purchase this coloring atlas of horse anatomy.
Kainer, R., & McCracken, T. (1998). Horse Anatomy: A Coloring Atlas
Horses’ Behaviour: Horse Intelligence and Emotion
The subject of horse emotion and intelligence always comes up when people talk about horses behaviour and the many ways we train a horse. Recently, there has been more research done in this area and researchers are dispelling old myths and discovering many new aspects of horses that will assist us in our efforts to train a horse or to just give us a better understanding and appreciation for horses behaviour.
Dr. Evelyn Hanggi reviewed scientific literature and noted peoples’ practical experiences to describe cognition and perception in horses. Hanggi, D. (2005). The Thinking Horse: Cognition and Perception Reviewed. American Association of Equine Practitioners Proceedings.
For more information on how we can learn more about how horses think and horse behaviour, you can view or purchase this book by renown horse trainer and author, Cherry Hill.
Hill, C. (2006). How To Think Like A Horse.
Talking Horses: Discover The Intelligence of Horses
Often, the best way to appreciate the emotional and intellectual aspects of horses is to live with them, watch them, train them or to marvel in the experiences of others. The following two videos exemplify the capabilities of horses and what can happen when we appreciate their intelligence and are sensitive to their emotions.
Lukas The World’s Smartest Horse
Lukas is an 18 year old ex race horse and rescue horse. He is much more than a talking horse. The World’s Records Academy recognizes Lukas as the world’s smartest horse. Lucas can count, spell and discriminate and sort objects. He holds a world record and is amazing. Enjoy meeting Lukas and his owner and trainer Karen Murdock.
Please also visit Lukas’s website Play With Lukas to learn all about the world’s smartest horse.
Shag Ra A Singing and Trick Arabian Horse
This is a heartfelt story about Phyllis and Shag Ra. Through love and a strong bond, Shag Ra learned amazing tricks.
I hope you enjoy exploring the some of the ways horses earned their mythical status and how they are indeed large and contain multitudes.
Happy Healthy Trails
Anthropologists and archeologists tell us that the domestication of the horse was one of the single most important events that changed the course of our lives. Historically, horses have been partners in exploring new lands, and creating new settlements villages and cities. They were crucial in the development of farms, growing food, driving cattle and transporting goods to market. They were essential in constructing homes, schools, railways, highways and bridges, and they were heroes of war. As we benefited from our partnership with horses, we advanced. However, in our rush for progress, we often forget about the special relationship between horses and people. We underestimate and even overlook the significant contribution horses made to the civilization of mankind. In our advancement, we owe a great debt of gratitude to the horse.
How is Be Well With Horses Participating in the Celebration of the Horse?
Each week in the month of May, I’ll be highlighting one way in which horses have been or remain significant partners in our lives.
- May 1-8 features the history of horses
- May 9-15 features horse anatomy, physiology, and intelligence
- May 16-22 features our bond with horses and the horse as healer and teacher
- May 23-29 features the horse in art, drama, film, and literature
How Can You Participate in the Celebration of the Horse?
The more we know about something the more we tend to appreciate it and want to celebrate the many things it has to offer. When we know more about horses, we notice details and see how complex and magical horses are. We become interested in knowing more and are eager to celebrate their skill and beauty.
- Learn about horses and how they have contributed to our well-being and our advancement. Browse the many videos, books and websites that I will showcase over the next 4 weeks.
- Host your own Equine Awareness Day organized by Liz Mitten Ryan of Equinisity. Liz is an internationally known author, and artist and expert in horse herd language and behavior. She creates and offers equine retreats for anyone interested in a unique experience with horses that focuses on communication with horses and personal development. The event is also organized by Yvonne Allen who, through her website Voice For The Horse is an advocate for horses who suffer neglect and abuse and is a promoter of many horse related programs. Click here for more information about Equine Awareness Day and how you can host your own celebration of the horse while helping others learn about horses.
History of Horses
Because the evolution and the domestication of the horse is tied so closely to the history of mankind, its story is complex and extensive. I’ve chosen a few videos and websites that highlight this history of horses.
History of the Horse by horse trainer and T.V. host Dennis Brouse
This preview to a 6 part T.V. documentary explores our relationship with horses through history.
For more information on this 6 part documentary click here to go to Dennis Brouse’s website.
How The Horse Changed The History of Mankind: A Canadian Museum of Civilization Feature Exhibition
This 3 minute video highlights the tremendous impact that horses have had on mankind over thousands of years.
For more photos, videos and interactive presentations click here to browse the Canadian Museum of Civilization horse exhibition.
Dolly The Last Working Horse in Dublin
This 4 minute video highlights the end of an era in the contribution of horses to society and is directed and written by Elin Soderlund.
Robert Vavra’s Such is the Real Nature of Horses
Created by the renown artist and cinematographer Robert Vavra and known as “the most significant equine documentary ever filmed” click here to view previews of this beautiful documentary into the world of equine behavior, beauty and magic.
Click here to view or purchase the companion book Such is the Real Nature of Horses
I hope you enjoy the month of May in celebration of the horse. I’d be happy to hear about your participation in your own equine awareness day with Liz Mitten Ryan and Yvonne Allen.
Happy Healthy Trails