LTYH Podcast: Horse Journeys and an Exploration of Riding

You asked for it, so we’ve created it! Here is the very first episode of the Listen To Your Horse Podcast with me (Jini Patel Thompson), Kesia Nagata, and Güliz Ünlü. Since many have already heard my story from my interview on Come Along For The Ride, I wanted to focus on Kesia and Güliz’s stories for this first episode.

Kesia talks about how she focused on the idea of love and connection with horses, but hated the traditional western aspects of whipping, riding, jamming spurs into a horse’s side, and (from personal experience) seeing someone ripping a horse’s mouth on a bit until it bled. For her, it felt like a horror show. As time and experiences accrued, she moved into energy work, healing, and alternative ways to spend time with horses. Her favourite horse-time activity? Just being – seeing what happens, exploring the depth of relationship, daring it to go deeper or wider. Also being surprised, being together, being with all that they are – and learning more about who they are and why they have chosen to be here with us.

Kesia and I fell into the Listen to Your Horse universe when we boarded our two horses together on the same property, five years ago. We were always that loving, outside eye to each other as we experimented and learned with each other.

Güliz’s journey with horses began, as she says, outside of her control – things have just happened. She feels, and things come to her. She started vaulting at 5, which taught her balance and body connection. She always felt the odd one out in training and competitions, as she would receive trophies but never wanted to claim them. She looked around and realized there was no actual connection involved in the traditional methods of riding and training horses. The final straw was her training a beautiful 4 year old mare as a jumper for an older woman, and upon bringing another trainer (her coach) in to assist – she got fired on the spot. While this broke her heart, as she and the horse had a beautiful connection, it brought her to energy healing, massage therapy, and bodywork.

Güliz and I then met after she studied animal communication and certified in BodyTalk therapy. She left a comment on my blog post where I outlined the “As above, so below” method Montaro had taught me. I then hired her to work with my cat Stitch and our friendship grew from there.

Both Kesia and Güliz’s histories naturally led into a discussion of riding horses. We discuss where we all came from, how we viewed horses when we were younger, and the aspects we’re each navigating now.

Whether you’ve given up riding horses, or you still think it’s a good thing, or you’re in uncharted territory feeling your way along… no doubt you’ll resonate with some of perspectives and stories in this podcast. You can listen to the first episode below, or access the Podcast Page here.

LTYH Podcast: Horse Journeys and an Exploration of Riding

15 thoughts on “LTYH Podcast: Horse Journeys and an Exploration of Riding

  • August 18, 2019 at 6:45 am
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    Listening to this magnificent podcast after the spirited conversation I had last night is priceless and uncannily timely since It covers everything my friend and I talked of.
    Once again I resonate with all of it and each of you, SO MUCH!! : )))
    That’s the shortest way of expressing it; but somewhere in me (and I’ve said it before….!!) is the impulse to express much more but unlike you three, who commit to writing and getting it out there, so beautifully, I still hold back…
    This produces a heart-bursting sensation.
    Anyway, the first edition was fantastic and as ever, all my thanks, gratitude and love!! xxxxxxx

    Reply
    • August 19, 2019 at 10:47 am
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      Don’t you love the way timing seems to work? 🙂

      I feel I want to encourage you to express yourself more thoroughly – because look at the resonance that is created when we do! The more of us take up this conversation and discuss it with heart and intelligence and openness, the bigger the conversation can grow. I think the beauty of sharing is that we don’t need to be forcing a change, but we can create the conditions for change to thrive – in ourselves and in the larger world.

      If your heart is bursting, let us know in the comments here, or in an email, whatever takes the pressure off. I for one would love to know more about your story and how you’ve come to your current state – like how have you ended up having these conversations with your friends even as we are having them in other parts of the world??

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  • August 18, 2019 at 12:57 pm
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    Loved hearing about your journeys! Everyone has such an interesting story to tell–humans and horses. One thing that I noticed in the telling of your stories is that the element of spontaneous fun marked the happiest interactions. In working with horses, dogs, people, and anything else living, I’ve noticed that if the intention to have fun/be happy is uppermost and that everything else is secondary or non-existent (no agenda), the best possible interaction is going to take place. I’ve also noticed that our animal friends haul around way less baggage than we humans do. We remember their pasts, our pasts, and every time we do that, we bring that energy back to life, and into our combined now. It seems that our animal friends are much more adept at letting now be more important. . .so if now is fun, happy, and feels safe, they look to the next interaction for more of that. And by choosing our emotional intention, or feeling-place, in advance, it’s kind of like setting a radio dial for a particular frequency. There is more room for happy and fun if there is no competing energy set on remembering past uncomfortable experiences and distorting a good, clear signal. Does this make sense? Also, trust. We ask our horses to trust us, that we are always trying our very best to do right by them. . .so, we have to do the same. If Taro tells you he will get you safely out of the woods, even though you’ve never ridden him like that before, trust him–he’s not kidding! Just as we are thrilled when our animal friends actively show us that they trust us, they feel similarly when we return the favor.

    It has been very refreshing to me to have found this blog! It is becoming more common to find other people who are at this stage of having relationships with their horses that are more than analogies to sporting equipment or work implements. . .but not so common that I take it for granted! Cheers to us, for being who we are; to the universe who loves us no matter what; and to technology for bringing us so close even though the miles are many!!

    Much love and happiness!
    ‘Becca Ashley

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    • August 19, 2019 at 10:54 am
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      Likewise Becca it is so fun to meet people who have come to the same or similar conclusions, and the very fact that we’re finding each other is phenomenal (and largely due to Jini’s Internet Skills, haha). Where are you based? Who are the horses in your life?

      I completely agree that the spontaneity is the best part. Just like with any other interaction I have; the spontaneous connection between souls, for a moment or for a sustained time, is maybe the whole point of being alive, or at least that’s what I’ve been telling myself since I was a young girl. When I can’t make sense of anything at all, I can believe that we are on earth to connect. So setting up circumstances to nurture and welcome spontaneous connection and fun – that’s the method to the madness. And it can take a lot of de-conditioning and letting go.

      Having my horses essentially unbeholden to me now that we have enough space for them and I don’t have to commute to be with them has given me the chance to completely exhale my expectations and live (at least, in relation to them) in a space of eerie calm. What will be born from that, I can’t know yet! But my hope is for ever more of that delicious spontaneity and opportunities to grow as individuals and a collective. Yum.

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      • August 20, 2019 at 1:41 pm
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        I am so happy for you that ‘horse time’ is now whenever the time is right–instead of having to wedge it in, whether it fits or not. So great! And you know, you get what you wish for. . .it’s going to be a good ride (whether on a horse or off)!

        Our horse and dog family is now Ajax, a black straight Egyptian Arab gelding of 13 years who was never trained to ride–shown in halter by previous keepers and now showing exclusively in his home pasture!–but is entirely agreeable to being ridden; Trixie–another black SE–mare of 10 years who was a brood mare, never trained to ride but also agreeable to toting a rider around occasionally; and Trixie’s last filly, Belle–another black SE Arab–who at just 4 years old is, in my opinion, still too young to be ridden. I do ground work with all, mainly in the form of just messing around and playing, and we go for trail rides occasionally around the property–it’s 140 acres, so there’s plenty of fenced-in terrain for all to come along, if they want to. I got all three horses at the same time, decided I was not even going to consider riding for about a year because I wanted to establish good, solid ground relationships first. . .and then I got a vertebral compression fracture (nope, not horse-related) that became a bit of a problem for awhile–!. . .so the trail rides are a fairly new convention. I don’t even own a saddle, and Ajax and Trixie are fine with the bitless bridles or neckreins. We sound like a bunch of hillbillies, don’t we?! Gosh. . .well. . .maybe we are–this is a tiny dot in Western North Carolina on top of a mountain! That’s home, but a few times a month I travel back to Kansas City for work-related matters. It’s a pretty good life! And it’s about to get a little more exciting–I am in the process of importing five Icelandic horses from their native country. . .two mares, their yearling offspring (one colt, one filly), and a gelding who would have been devastated by the loss of his best friend (one of the mares). I am glad there is plenty of real estate to go around even if some of the newcomers and the old-timers don’t become instant (or ever) friends. My ever-present dogs are Atlas, a great, big, handsome Malamute boy; Swiss, a smaller, white Siberian Husky female (and the love of my life!); and Ruthie, another smaller, seal black-and-white Siberian female. They are not a good direct mix with the horses–they try to herd anything that they can’t catch and eat, and the horses don’t really appreciate that. Everyone gets along very well. . .thanks to the fence! In this case, it really does make for good neighbors (neigh-bors? ha ha ha!). As for myself, as a kid, I got into eventing. . .mainly because ‘riding with a purpose’ was the norm, with showing being the natural progression of proficiency. I. Hated. It. Just like you, Kesia, I felt like none of that seemed like much of a consenting partnership with the horses. It felt more like using them as sporting goods equipment, and it wasn’t fun. I just liked bumming around with them, and did that as much as possible. . .til daddy made an ultimatum that I either needed to make more of an effort to show and win, or that the ‘expensive hayburners’ would be finding new homes. I let them go. Now I’m a big girl, and I get to say how I want to relate to my horses! It’s taken a few decades, but all very worth it. I would not change a thing.

        Cheers to you, and another day in paradise!
        ‘Becca Ashley

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        • August 22, 2019 at 1:55 pm
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          Becca thank you for this lovely colourful window into your lovely colourful life! Now we are big girls and we get to say how we want to relate to our horses…and everything else. Your riding system sounds like an ideal for many of us here. “Never trained to ride” can also mean never forced and traumatized into riding, and therefore not too bothered either way! Brilliant. I’d happily hike along with you all too.

          Funny about the dogs. My husky mix is a compulsive horse chaser, but they kind of figure it out between them. He wants to PLAY and they think he’s just the worst but sometimes it seems like they all can use a good rip and he’s a wonderful excuse. In any case nobody has been harmed (amazingly). But I can understand your use of fences to keep border relations civil. Louka the dog leaps clean over anything so the fences aren’t much use here. Currently he is taking up the whole couch, snoring, not looking like a fence-jumping horse chaser at all.

          And I am SO excited by your Icelandic adventure! How did you come by this little herd? It will be so interesting to see how and if they integrate with your Arabs.

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          • August 23, 2019 at 11:44 am
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            I was happy to learn that neither Ajax nor Trixie had ever been so much as saddled up–because you’re right, no experience means no re-writing over old scripts. However. Ajax was shown in halter, and was a breeding stallion, and used to being kept in a stall. . .so he associated a halter (and people in general) with getting all played up (putting it mildly)–either because of ‘encouragement’ (showing) or sheer excitement of getting out of his enclosure to go do something he regarded as fun (breeding or turnout to exercise). So, he was the stereotypical ‘crazy, unpredictable’ Arab when we first met. After some big changes regarding diet, environment, and physical conditions, he’s not recognizable as the horse he used to be. And that’s a good thing! He’s a very contented, happy horse now, and I love that.

            Siberians seem to have gotten a similar reputation as Arabs as being ‘crazy’ and hyper. Mine are not. Is yours? (doesn’t sound like it! snoring away on the couch!!) I am curious, because the ones that get labeled as such usually live with families who keep them as a single dog/a crated dog/an isolated dog. It has long been my feeling that they have received the stigma that they need miles and miles of exercise because that is one way they can burn off the stress of being kept in living conditions that make them uncomfortable. All of mine have been/are kind of couch potatoes to some degree. Not to imply that they don’t love an adventure and are less than 100% ready to have one when invited. . .but none have been destructive terrors that need to be crated to preserve fixtures and furnishings. When Jini spoke about the trail horses, and how they actually relished the work of carrying a rider because it meant a respite from the boredom and stagnation of standing still, I thought immediately of the competitive sled dogs–sure, they love to run! Otherwise, they are tethered shortly to their shelters or are in small runs, same as the trail horses. I don’t think Siberians would run any more than Shih tzus if we hadn’t selectively bred that trait into them and then reinforced it by keeping them bored unless they were doing their ‘job’.

            Ha ha, oh gosh. . .the ‘foreigners’! For my 5th birthday, I received the pony I had been asking for since I was two, and he was an Icelandic horse. We had to go to Iceland to choose him, because this was about a million years ago, so pre-Internet, and possibly before they had attained even the degree of popularity in this country that they hold today. I had so many fun times with Stjarna (Icelandic for star), so this is really just kind of a nostalgia trip for me. I meant to get three (a mare, her filly, and the second mare), but I learned that the second mare’s colt was still very attached to her and not so much to any other horses, and that the gelding was very attached to her as well. . .and I have the means and the space to keep them all, so I figured why not. I didn’t like the notion of breaking up strong emotional ties over something as flimsy as initial plans, so five it is! Funny–as a kid rider, I always wanted an Arab, but they are not usually the best choice for an eventing horse, so I never got one. Fast-forward to big-girl status, I got the Arabs, and I love them to bits! Icelandics are very different in emotional behavior (you’d say ‘personality’, if they were persons), and I miss that. So, I dunno. . .creating emotional balance, or simply fulfilling childhood wishes and dreams? Doesn’t matter–it’s fun! And, if they do blend well, that’ll be super, but if not, there’s plenty of elbow room for each group to basically forget that the other exists.

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          • August 23, 2019 at 9:23 pm
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            Becca have you read: “A Good Horse Has No Color: Searching Iceland for the Perfect Horse”? A fabulous read, I thoroughly enjoyed it! And the place where I learned that Icelandic breeders do not TOUCH their horses until age 4 – they run wild with their mums/herd. They say it takes away something vital from the horse – that cannot be put back – if they are touched or handled before then.

            I tried to leave my foals alone based on this concept… but they wouldn’t have it. I guess you actually need to have wild land (LOTS of it) for this concept to work.

            Anyway, very exciting – maybe you can write a post for us about your Icelandic adventure? 🙂

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    • August 26, 2019 at 6:57 am
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      Love this Becca…so agree…fun intentions really do rule/fuel the interaction in such a fantastic way! When I think about the best easiest peaceful times with the horses this is always the common thread! Your comment puts it so wonderfully and I just wanted to say that to you! ✌🏼❤️🐴

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  • August 18, 2019 at 3:43 pm
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    This is AWESOME!!! Thanks so much guys!! And bonus our internet lets me listen to podcasts!

    As I move forward in my situation which is so very different to yours, I constantly remind myself to keep an open mind. I have a very good exercise for myself right now in connecting with a 2.5 year old filly that has been running wild here since she was born and the owner wants shot. Of course I won’t be doing that! Already it has been very interesting working with her. I made a decision to work without force or using traditional methods and already what has struck me is how quickly she has responded in some ways and yet not in all ways, it’s a curiosity for me! I actually have very little formal training, but I have had a lot of bad experiences, like our horses have had, being forced into situations that were terrifying and often resulted in me getting hurt. So, I promised her that we would not be doing that. I mostly feel completely out of my depth, but here’s the thing I have found with all the horses I have worked with, if you are humble, have pure intentions and willing to look in different ways at their feed back and not be reactive, they are so generous in their offerings to us! I am humbled every single day!!

    And about the topic of riding, I agree that we are evolving and the very fabric of how we live and exist is changing and I think that we are all evolving to the point where our world will be unrecognisable – and our horses through their example and our constantly growing desire for connection with them and each other on the most organic level will drive us all until we have a planet wide existence where total mutual respect is all that is. Until then, our horses will continue to show those of us who ask, the way – one by one.

    Thank you so much for sharing, I look forward to the next podcast.
    Xxoo Tam

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    • August 19, 2019 at 11:03 am
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      Thanks for your incredible words, Tam. We are so happy to have you here contributing and though your situation is different right now, the principles carry through. That’s the beauty, that we can support each other and bring new insights from our different lenses. Jini, Guliz and I all have very different backgrounds and the ways in which we challenge each other and the ideas we bring are constantly evolving. Likewise the greater herd of us (readers and contributors) bring far more questions and experiences to the table to constantly keep our minds nimble and our hearts open.

      There is this concept of staying light on your feet that I take from my Aikido practice and try to remember in other aspects of life. It’s not about knowing the answer or being ready for particular outcomes. It’s about staying alert and calm at the same time, so that we can hear the quieter languages that our bodies and our animal friends speak with. It’s about constantly learning and adding to that toolbox, making mistakes and thanking them for teaching us more. And it’s about doing what we can within the unique circumstances that we find ourselves in. That’s the challenge!

      I am so intrigued by your connection with this filly. The owner wants her shot – how have you managed to intervene and become the one trying to communicate with her? What is she responding to and not responding to? I love your willingness and humbleness (I know the real word is humility but somehow it doesn’t feel like the right word here), that you are stepping in with a quiet confidence despite feeling “out of your depth” (how else would we learn to swim?!).

      Right on, Tamara!

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  • August 24, 2019 at 3:32 pm
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    I absolutely adore your talk in here! It just opens my mind to so many things!

    I’m a kid, who have been in love with horses, but in a way, that is actually hard to call “being in love”. They are incredible animals, but it’s like getting to know a person – I didn’t have enough time to meet any of them truly, as you are doing. But I’ve always seek to do this. The thing is that most of the stables don’t offer such thing, you have to stay there for a while, and I wasn’t ready, I’m probably still not ready to give as much to the people running the stables, so I could be around horses more. There was time, my friend had a horse, for a year, but she’s still young. lives in mountains, so she felt like not giving him enough time, training, and all off that stuff, so she sold him. And with him went my opportunity to just be around, and explore horses nature, slowly, and kindly.

    I would have to try again, and again, as I’m completly amazed by the undestanding another being, so diffrent, yet simular to us. I actually started my intrest years ago reading the book series Heartland. The ideas they had in there, the way horses where treated, it just got me. So now as I’m growing, I can learn from actual, real situations, as those you guys are talking about! By the way thank you so much for sharing, it changes a lot!

    Sending you postive energy, smile, with hope for the future, Ida.

    PS. Sorry for my poor grammar, and spelling I’m just a 17 yo dumbo form depths of Poland 😀

    Reply
    • August 24, 2019 at 10:09 pm
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      Welcome Ida! Thanks so much for sharing your story with us 🙂 I know it can be really hard to have this kind of intimate relationship with a horse when your only option is a stable. BUT, that’s where many of us started and there’s still lots to be learned and experienced in that environment. You can also be a real blessing, or a breath of fresh air to those horses as FINALLY there’s a human that treats them as a fully sentient being!

      If you’re looking for more reading, we have 2 series on the blog here you might enjoy:

      The Empowered Mustang Project
      https://listentoyourhorse.com/equal-being-the-empowered-mustang-project/

      and

      Rewilding The Herd
      https://listentoyourhorse.com/rewilding-the-herd-the-beginning/

      Don’t be shy and keep us posted!

      Reply
  • August 26, 2019 at 5:18 pm
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    This blog and now this podcast …such a feeling of home! Even though we are all at different places, countries, energies, emotions…on this path/journey…we all get to express and relate and learn from how each other shares time and space with the animal kingdom and horses in particular! Always makes me smile to read the comments and absorb the stories and experiences of the fellow members of our tribe!

    Kesia…the fisherman and the stream analogy was brilliant! I also am so looking forward to reading the tidbits you share about Miss Sassy Fly! As you two explore! I continue to say that some horses especially the ones that don’t have negative association with riding can be open and interested in riding! Big Acea use to express and elude a very proud energy and vibe when someone was on his back..especially children! I believe he completely felt how much it thrilled the countless kids and adults…that he was willing to give pony rides! He was always such a care talker of his cargo and he just always seemed willing! He loved to get out for a walk and even after we moved to the 12 acres he still enjoyed jaunting down to the mail box at complete Liberty…although I wasn’t riding him anymore!
    I have also written how Dreamer is also a care taker horse! Both being mostly Arab!

    Jini…Really Appreciate this podcast addition! So cool to listen to you horse listeners…and drink a cup of coffee and watch our herd and just absorb! Such a peaceful and yet thought provoking way to spend and hour! I feel I know so much about all three of you and it’s great to hear voices and flexion and energy with sound!
    Spending time with horses IMO…has helped me evolve so much as a human! Balance was my resolution for this year and the horses have shown me how powerful it can be! When I strive to keep life in balance people/horse .work/play..doing/just being…
    ride/walk..structure/spontaneity….life just seems to flow with such ease! Even when unexpected circumstances arise! I also feel that all of us do things that might not be our favorite thing to do…(but sometimes those even end up surprising us…) and it just makes the things we do Iike to do that much sweeter! Balance it has a way of intensifying gratitude and appreciation! I see this in humans and the horses!

    Riding will be an ever evolving journey and one I love to explore! I recently had the privilege of my first ever brideless ride with Dreamer down our paved road at the end of our dirt road…and we have now done it a couple of different times! It is a comfortable place for him and it was definitely thrilling for me! He is so peaceful and easy and I love our connection! Like you said though I try and not get greedy and make sure I balance riding outings with walking outings (also all brideless now) with just hanging out times with scratch Dreamer where Dream wants to be scratched times…because that’s definitely one of his favorites!

    Ladies as usual…just keep it coming! ✌🏼❤️🐴

    Reply
    • August 26, 2019 at 9:28 pm
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      Aw, I love the idea of you listening in with coffee and the herd, that makes me feel all cozy and connected. We’ve been bumping around the idea of a podcast for a while and it really is a great way to have some of these conversations in real time.

      I also LOVE the image of you and Dreamer out wandering with each other, on foot or on his back, without a bridle. What a couple of powerful, sweet beings you are.

      Firefly doesn’t like to be pushed or pressured but she sure gets a proud, concentrated look on her face when we play around with stuff on her back or go for walks alone. I’m just as interested as anyone else to see how it all plays out with her!

      Much love to you Michelle (and your herd),
      K

      Reply

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