The things that I remember the most clearly about my childhood are my relationship with animals and my relationship with magic. We had no neighbors close by, so I spent a lot of time playing by myself. I played with the horses in the field, I drank from the stream and licked the salt blocks with them. I tried to eat grass but found only green clover to be palatable. When I wasn’t playing horse, I was playing duck or dog or deer. I was enamored with all the wildlife that was ever-present on a farm. If I had to be indoors, I was up in my room holding seances and practicing the ESP and clairvoyance skills I wanted so badly to have. If I couldn’t be a horse, I thought maybe I could be a good witch.
My favorite book was called No Such Thing as a Witch, by Ruth Chew. Two children lived next door to an eccentric lady whose house was filled with all kinds of animals. She would bake magic fudge… one piece made you love animals, two pieces made you able to talk to animals, three pieces made you start acting like an animal, and four pieces made you turn into an animal altogether! I spent years sampling every piece of fudge I could get my hands on, always hoping it would be magic.
It wasn’t until many years later that I recognized the connection between horses and magic. In 2010, during my Equine Guided Education certification class, I was in the round pen in “inquiry” with a horse – this is an exercise in equine guided work where a person has an opportunity to explore a question or an unresolved feeling or issue in their life. When a person begins to talk about something and feel into it on a deeper level, the energy of the related emotion will arise and the horse picks up on that energy and responds to the emotions. It is in these responses that we are able to gain feedback that can help us gain clarity, as well as make choices and changes to move through the issue or question.
It already seems like magic, right? You don’t even need to eat magic fudge, and somehow, there you are, talking to a horse about your problems and the horse is answering you.
On this particular occasion, the horse inside the round pen was calmly and consistently listening and slowly inching around the space, moving to the next best bite of short, nubby grass. I was talking about my fear of leaving my husband… I was so afraid that he would not be okay without me. Our marriage had not been working for several years; I wanted to move to California and he did not, I wanted an almost entirely different life and he did not, yet I was still putting his happiness and well-being in front of my own at every turn and I couldn’t see how I could change that pattern. I didn’t want to hurt him. I was crying, feeling the pain of being stuck.
The horse began to reach her muzzle underneath the fence panels, eating the sparse grass outside of the pen. The facilitator, Ariana Strozzi, asked me what I thought the horse was trying to tell me. “Look outside. Stretch outside of my current thinking…” is what came to me. Then she directed me to look around. There was a small, mostly white, paint mare standing stock still about twenty yards outside of the round pen. “She’s been there the whole time,” Ariana noted. She went on to explain that horses sense shifts in energy up to miles away, and that the distance was nothing to that horse… she could easily be picking up on something and working to help me find resolution and balance.
I started to focus on this little mare named Lottie. Even though I was in a round pen in front of some fifteen people watching, I forgot about everyone else and found myself listening to Lottie. I could hear my mother’s voice. She said, “Ashley, I am here for you. I will always be here for you. And you’ve got to take care of yourself. Even if you can’t believe it right now, he will be fine. You can do this. You are stronger than you think.”
My mother had died in 1998. I had only felt her presence briefly twice, soon after her death, and seen her a few times in dreams. But I heard her voice. Now, whether this horse actually channeled my mother or not is unimportant. What was important was the strength it gave me to move forward and start to see new possibilities about my situation. For the first time, I could see how I was assuming that he was not capable of moving on, being safe and secure, finding happiness without me. Not only was I holding myself back from what I really wanted and cared about, I was holding him back as well.
Merriam-Webster defines magic as: an extraordinary power or influence seemingly from a supernatural source. Everything outside of that which seems logical, reasonable or provable by science could then be magic… and if the world is full of magic, then I wanted to experience more.
Not only did I get divorced, move to California and remain good friends with my ex-husband, but he soon after found lasting love with a new partner and is very much fine without me. And I chose to dedicate my life to bringing more magic to people through horses.
The next opportunities to join in the magic of equine guided work are:
September 14th in Woodside, CA
October 5th in Sparks, MD
Details and Registration: SUSTAIN THE CHANGE 1-DAY PROGRAM