MAGNIFICENCE & MINDFULNESS
I advocate for horses and nature and the peace and joy they inspire, through my art and children's books.
I started riding horses on family vacations whenever I could , deciding at 9 that I wanted my own horse.
I looked into all the horses' eyes before I rode them to see if they were happy or at least at peace, deep down. It was a huge concern because I didn’t want to ride a horse that didn't enjoy being ridden.
I still don’t. It has to be fun for both of us.
Forty-five years later, I found myself crying every time I passed a neighbor's orphaned foal along my dirt road leading to the street. He stood alone in knee-deep mud without shelter through a winter of terrible rainstorms. Evidence of water (a dog bowl) and hay bits (trampled in mud) was all that was needed to keep the county rescuers from coming to his rescue.
I realized I had to do something or move, so I asked a local horse trainer if he would knock on the owner's door and negotiate a price to make the horse mine. I paid a ridiculously high price but I had my first horse, fulfilling my decades-long dream.
The next several years were quite the eye opener for me. A variety of horse training methods that all relied on the typical horse's flight response and immediate response to pressure, weren't working well. My horse had more resistance and fight than he had flight and quick response in him, resulting in too much pressure being used to get any desired response.
Under training in arena work, he became resentful and minimally-compliant at best, mustering energy only to spook or buck. He wanted a say and he wasn't going to give up. On the trails, he seemed much happier and curious about traveling somewhere rather than simply going around in circles in an enclosed space.
I had to listen, because he reminded me of myself. I wouldn't make it in a walled dictatorship either.
Fortunately, I like to look for new approaches and naturally look at things from different angles and began to look for what was in it for him in my approach to training. I could only come up with peace, joy, curiosity and confidence in how he used his body to move.
My horse inspired me to listen to him and see him, as well as the environment we live in, differently. I use a camera for my art—not to take the "perfect photo"—but to take a shot I want to radically alter later (as opposed to “fix”). I want to add to the camera's version how I saw it in my heart.
My horse also inspired me to create a book that doesn't fit existing children's book genres—a highly visual, fictional-non-fiction, “tea table book" for kids to grow empathy for animals.
My horse and I aren't “typical," and I’m okay with that. I try to explain our relationship to people when asked, “What do you DO with your horse?" but my answer is too unusual for most. We share activities that satisfy our senses of curiosity and give us both peace and joy. Some day it might mean he'll ask me to get on his back again.
I hope you enjoy my “atypical" approach to art of horses, nature and children's books. I also hope it brings you peace and joy, deep down.