IMAGES WORTH 1,000 WORDS…OF PEACE & JOY
Editing everyday moments to reveal what my heart sees.
Instructions for living a life.
Tell about it.
― Mary Oliver, poet
Horses astonished me from an early age. I paid such close attention to them…their energy, their movements, their coat variations, their manes and tails…and how their eyes drew me in.
I begged to ride a horse on every family vacation. I was sure I wanted one of my own but by the age of 9, I was already clear about the likelihood of that.
I looked into all the horses’ eyes before I got on one, to see if he or she was happy. I didn’t want to ride a horse that didn't enjoy being ridden. I wanted us to be in synch.
I still do. It has to be fun for both of us.
Decades later, I found myself crying every time I passed my neighbor's orphaned Paint horse foal. He stood alone in knee-deep mud without shelter through a winter of constant rain. Evidence of water (a dog bowl) and bits of hay trampled in the mud was all the county required to keep from coming to his rescue. If I walked by, he eagerly came to the fence, and to this day, there’s no doubt in my mind it was his idea for me to get him out of there; I had long ago given up my dream of ever owning a horse.
I was compelled to rescue him. Either that or move. I couldn’t bear to watch him get any thinner or colder so I asked a local horse trainer if he would negotiate a price and my long-ago dream finally came true.
The next several years and variety of horse training methods—all based on a foal’s critical imprinting of a flight instinct by its mother—frustrated trainers and reaped few results; my horse’s natural response to training was to resist, then fight. Fortunately, though, he had a natural curiosity and willingness if something was in it for him.
Eventually, he accepted being ridden, but moving on cue in circles at different speeds in an arena made no sense to him. Give him a ball to kick or a gate to open and close and a trail to explore, and he was happy. Perfecting cues and gaits in an arena, not so much.
When riding lessons felt like I was just picking a fight, I stopped. I didn’t rescue a horse to turn him into the recreational vehicle he didn’t want to be.
Instead, I found a home with enough land to build a barn, get him a buddy, and bring him home. No more arenas; no more lessons; no more riding. Just liberty work, agility games, and groundwork. Stuff he could choose to do or not.
I breathe more. He seeks praise. He knows my safety boundaries and respects them. He loves to see me.
This was the peace and joy I wanted all along with horses—to be in synch.
This is what inspired me to take my fine art degree and 30+ year career in graphic and web design to share what astonishes me about horses and nature through my images and children’s books. I hope they bring you meditative moments with feelings of being in synch. Each of my images are carefully edited to bring out the peace or joy my heart felt in the moment I took the photo (before and after examples).
My picture books for all ages are written from the perspective of my horse. This highly visual, fictional/non-fiction, “tea table book” for kids has been a hit in middle school Language Arts classes I’ve visited to talk about creative writing from the point of view of a pet. Kids love getting inside their pets’ heads and hearts!