With Michelle Mantor

PetTalk Editor’s Costa Rica Equine Adventure – Day 2.1

IMG_1151Let me just start by saying Savina got the job! I’m very happy for her because she is meant for Leaves & Lizards and vice versa. She is quite wise for her 28 years and having learned to heal herself, she will be perfect for healing others through her yoga, massage and energy.

This morning, we started the day with yoga once again, led by our teacher for the week, Francesca. A very soothing person, Francesca led us through Iyengar yoga, a form of yoga that focuses on alignment. Our session went from Yoga to Doga as Tootsie joined in helping us with our poses (see pic). Tootsie is the biggest personality I’ve seen in a 4 lb. body!


Now into day 2, I’m approaching my first horse experience. Debbie takes me to the a barn-like area that is specifically for feeding the horses, hosing them down, etc. What is different about this set-up that I haven’t seen before is that the grass/feed is in a middle section that a human can walk through but the horses can only get their head into this “trough” to eat. Talk about trial by fire! I’m here to overcome a fear of horses and my first experience is to enter their feeding area, walking past head after head after head, wondering if they will bite me. The fear of being bitten is coming from the only experience I have – canines – who are food protective and walking through their food source would be potentially dangerous. I walk through with a false bravado figuring they will see this as strength but as the day goes on, I quickly learn that horses see our real self; there is no hiding truth from them.

DSC7896I move through about 10 head of horses, each nudging or touching me in some way. At the end of the trough, we walk into a larger area where Debbie sits down and starts to explain horse behavior, the holy grail of why I’m here. She sits on the side of a watering station and describes how horses are prey animals in constant worry of predators which defines their pack behavior, social structure and basically their entire existence for millions of years.

As prey animals, horses exist in herds to protect themselves and ward off danger. They have perfected their communication skills and roles within the herd for survival. Debbie explains the roles that horses play within the herd, often changing their role as necessary: The roles are:

  • Leader
  • Dominant
  • Sentinel
  • Nurturer/companion
  • Predator

More to come on this tomorrow. Next, Debbie also explains how to have a respectful relationship with horses. She demonstrates by showing us that the horse next to her, which is about 2 feet away, is being polite by not entering her personal space. She says he is wanting a drink of water and she is sitting on the side of the water station. She gets up, moves away and the horse moves in to drink. I didn’t even notice the horse waiting patiently next to her proving that this is going to be a truly interesting experience – testing my awareness, my ability to be in the moment, my ability to read the subtleties of the equine world but even more difficult than learning the equine communication will be my own willingness to be my authentic self, showing vulnerabilities to both the horses and the group that’s arriving tomorrow.

As I’m watching this horse drink water, another horse comes up and sniff’s at my head. “He just invaded your personal space and you allowed it. He’s testing you. If you don’t stand up for yourself, the horse will continue to try and dominate you, possibly ending up biting you” says Debbie. What?? Ok, I need to learn this personal space thing quickly! I’m thinking I don’t want to strike a horse to make it back off and this kind of dominance is not comfortable for me but I say nothing. Thankfully, Debbie’s method and the Eponoquest way of communication with the horses is not about physical power but more about energy. She shows me how I can draw from my energy, stand tall, and mentally tell the horse to back off…and he does! This is like magic!

That little success made me even more excited to get going with the program. Far from being a horse whisperer, I’m seeing this ray of beautiful sunshine peak through the clouds of doubt and fear in my mind. This is going to be transformative in more ways than just learning how to care for and understand horses.

We head off to lunch with the promise of some “ring work” afterward…more to come in part 2 of Day 2.