Susan Foster

What a Horse Taught a Left-Brain Skeptic (Me)

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Johnny Mack & Me

Johnny Mack & Me

Last November, I was at the end of my Master Certification Coaching Program—something I had been looking forward to. Not because I was ready to be finished—I had loved the learning and the facilitators and the people.

Most of all I wanted to go to the meet-up at Martha Beck’s ranch and attend Koelle Simpson’s horse workshop. People who don’t know coaching lingo call it “horse whispering.” If you haven’t heard of Koelle, she’s the real deal and you should check her out. (

All I knew was what I had heard: that it’s magical, that it shows you huge lessons about yourself, and that you can’t fool horses! Whatever your energy is, they can feel it and react accordingly.

I have never been around horses and don’t know a thing about them. The only time I tried riding, the horse (which was one step this side of being alive), just stopped on me in the middle of the ride (I didn’t know then that was just like my life—confused, and confusing!!!)

I am always the skeptic. I should have been from Missouri. I need to be shown.

The day finally came. I was beyond excited. But my logical, left-brain was still a little skeptical.

Our first exercise was to set our intention as to what we wanted the horse to do, and put that as a clear picture in our minds. We were also told that technical skill wasn’t important—that people with correct technical skills with horses had been unable to make the horse do anything. Conversely, they had also seen people with no technical skill who did everything wrong but the horse did exactly what they wanted.

As is my usual modus operandi, I watched first. We were given a long, leather strap with a metal end. When I asked why, I was told it was to “move the energy around.” (Yeah, right.)

Now I must say, this didn’t make a bit of sense to me.

But when I saw others throw it behind the horse, the horse galloped. When others “fanned” it excitedly the horse ran around excitedly. When others slowed down and got quiet, so did the horse.

It was my turn. My horse was Johnny Mack. Our facilitator asked me if she should come into the pen with me, and I told her no, I didn’t think so. I knew exactly what my intention was: I wanted him to calmly follow me around the ring. I also wondered: Was this “energy” stuff real? Could I communicate it to the horse?

I looked at the horse. It was instant love on my part. He was beautiful, a shiny black with red highlights, and a black mane. I swear he just stood there and looked at me soulfully.

I decided to go all in.

I got quiet, really quiet and breathed.

OK you left-brainers—you know this is hard!!! My monkey mind tends to go 100 miles an hour, listing another hundred things to do.

Then I invited the horse to follow me. Remember I am not talking out loud—I am saying all this in my head. I told him it was an invitation—he didn’t have to, but I’d love it if he would.

I started walking and was afraid to look back. But the next thing I knew, Johnny Mack was at my shoulder with his nose on me!! He followed me around the ring like that several times.

I was told during feedback that I was one of those people that did everything technically wrong, and still the horse followed me like we were best friends.

What did I learn?

  1. When we slow down and get quiet, only then can we get clear on our intentions.
  2. When we get all that crap out of our minds and invite an answer, we open ourselves up to listening and receiving what we need.
  3. Even if you don’t know technically how to solve an issue, if you use the right energy and heart, people who do know how to do it will show up and help you.
  4. When our energy is clear and our intentions good, those who we are meant to serve will follow.

And since scientists have proven that everything in life is energy, that makes sense to my left brain.

Woo-woo as though that may sound…..


5 Comments… add one

Lee Gaitan August 8, 2014, 12:18 am

This is wonderful, Susan. I think there are so many things that are not woo-woo, but that may be just a bit beyond the grasp of our rational minds. I love the lessons that came out of this for you–and for me! I especially relate because we just finished up working with a dog whisperer for our rescue lab mix with “issues.” It was all about changing OUR energy, which in turn he picked up on and thus changed his behavior accordingly. I am not kidding you, the whisperer had our dog walking calmly on a leash in about five minutes. My teeth almost fell out of my head. And, interestingly enough,it wasn’t by trying to dominate or muscle him into submission–it was by projecting a clam, assured energy and CLEARLY intending and communicating the behavior we wanted to see him exhibit. We can now take him to the dog park without fear and life is wonderful. That’s not woo-woo, honey, that’s WOOHOO! 🙂

Susan August 8, 2014, 1:21 am

Lee, I so agree. There is so much out there beyond our rational “thinking” minds. After all, our unconscious brain breathes for us, beats our heart, etc., and is many many times more powerful than our rational brain. Four years ago I could not have understood this whole energy discussion but now I do. I am so glad you were able to trust a dog whisperer!! Thanks for the discussion.

Debbie W. Wilson August 8, 2014, 1:31 pm

Loved this, Susan. What a great illustration of an amazing mystery.

Susan August 9, 2014, 12:32 am

Thank you Debbie!

Mary Lynn August 14, 2014, 10:50 am

Horses seem to me a lot like big dogs. The DO pick up on your intentions and read your non verbal cues – and NO you cant fool them. It is the chicken or the egg question – do I cause them to be calm? or do they cause me to be calm? Either way, it is a good thing.

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