Learning to Listen


ROTH Holistic Horsemanship Psychology Project


Beth Sabor




As part of the Holistic Horsemanship Foundation course I am enrolled in with Anna Twinney, natural horsewoman extraordinaire and founder of Reach out to Horses, we were asked to write a paper on equine psychology.  The aim was to observe the language of the horse in its most raw and authentic form and share insights based on our experiences during the first week of the course.


I was initially drawn to write about archetypes and love languages.  I wanted to explore beyond physical body language and the mechanics of horsemanship by taking it one step further to include personality and character assessment.


Take, for example, the beautifully dynamic mare that is often seen as pushy, dominant and potentially dangerous.  If we allow our perspective to shift, we can see this same mare as actively engaged and aware.  Curious to explore and learn about her surroundings, she opens like a flower to a give and take relationship of mutual regard and teamwork. Or the lessons from the wounded matriarch who heals and is healed by sharing space in love, compassion and equality and the goofy clown, who bites to be noticed and nudges for acknowledgment.


I wanted to be a voice for that which is often unheard and to share with people how what we offer, why we offer and how we offer, makes a difference to our horse.  It is in their very nature to pay attention to detail as their survival depends on it.  How we learn and what motivates each of us is as unique as the markings on a horse.   When we let go of judgment and openly offer consideration to each perspective, we have the potential to dance with our horses in a co-created partnership.


Choosing to see the light side of a behavior, personality or character rather than the shadow, opens the doorway for compassionate communication and a trust based relationship.  We all perceive love differently and can have our own idea of what a “good deal” is.  Perhaps reward is a soft release of the eyes to convey understanding and thanks or the simple, yet profound sharing of space to establish trust and deepen relationships.


As is typical, the more I tried to organize and plan my paper, the more the agenda took over, the less connected I felt to the material I was writing about.  My paper began to feel as mechanical as the horsemanship I no longer resonated with.  Upon much reflection and meditation of the energies within and around me as I worked to write this paper, I reached out to the horses as I often do.  I held space for what they would like to share, what their message would be and what they offered touched the depths of my soul.

I felt unconditional love and complete peace, acceptance and understanding, mutual respect and innate balance.   This is the way of the horse.  Lexi, the mare I had been allocated to care for and work with during the course, came to me and said,


“Teach them how to listen…to listen with our hearts.”


The message was simple, yet profound

And this is where it went…



It has been said that you can catch a whisper in a horse’s eye.  When I first heard the phrase, I thought, “What? A whisper…in an eye, I must have missed something.”  The senses aren’t matching up.  How do you catch a whisper!?!  And what is it doing in an eye!?!


I was reminded of an experience I shared in the early stages of massage school.  While practicing a lesson on body mechanics, one of our instructors asked the class to breathe through our shins.  Believe me; I am right there with what you may be thinking...  WHAT!?! Breathe through our shins!?! How on earth do you breathe through your shins! At the time, many of us student therapists were lost.  Our brains overloaded and our worlds rocked with information yet to be processed and integrated.  And now, our instructor had gone mad and told us to breathe through our legs.  I had heard of breathing through my mouth.  I had heard of breathing through my nose.  I most certainly had never heard of breathing through my shins!


In time, I grew to understand that our breath is our life, and as such, brings life and awareness anyplace it travels.  It has the power to carry the vibration of all thoughts, feelings and energies that we experience; connecting us, above and below, to all things.  It took years before I really understood the depths of what it meant to breathe into my shins…deep down into my body.  With awareness, I learned to center, to ground, to dissipate anxiety, to activate my core, to channel feelings and move energy…to be present with every cell of my body through connection to my breath.


Just as I explored the art and benefit of mindful breathing, I began to discover what it truly means to catch a whisper. To witness or be aware of a thought or vibration, moments before it becomes an action; to catch a glimpse or first sign of recognition and understanding.  We are brilliant and dynamic beings and the subtleties of our senses grace us with information, often times, before our intellectual brain has time to process and reason.


That is the whisper…to see the thought, to sense the energy shift the moment before a decision is made or action taken.  When we are in tune with the masses of information that surround us, when we are in sync with what and how our senses communicate, we can tap into a level of awareness beyond our wildest dreams.  A spooky horse can be seen as divinely sensitive and great adversity can be seen as opportunities for growth.  Our shins can breathe, an eye can whisper and we can listen with our hearts.


Each breath, each moment, is an opportunity to experience, share and spread unconditional love…a love that is patient and kind, a love that keeps no record of wrong, a love that protects and perseveres.  In yoga, we say, “Namaste.”  The spirit within me honors the spirit within you.  Perhaps this quote says it best “…and he whispered to the horse ‘Trust no man in whose eyes you do not see yourself reflected as an equal.”



For those who seek to be heard and for those who desire to listen…


For first impressions and second chances and for 3 times a charm,


Here’s to the four directions and to the art of Reaching Out

For the magic of the number 5 and learning not to shout


Give thanks to all our senses, especially the sixth

Align with the 7 chakras, who teach of energy amiss


Be present with the moment and open with your mind

Miracles and magic are surely what you’ll find


Believe in and trust your partner, seek to know their gifts

Let go of hard agendas and plans that just don’t fit


Honor each and every voice and what it has to say

Be the change you wish to see in each and every way


So breathe through your shins to center and catch the whisper in their eye

Heal the world and one another; you can do it if you try


When you’re feeling kind of lost and you don’t know where to start

Gently listen, gently listen


Listen to your heart.



Each breath tells a story and each whisper speaks to my heart.


This paper is dedicated to Lexi and the herds at Zuma’s Rescue Ranch and to all of Horse Nation for their strength, courage, spirit, beauty and grace.

HOLISTIC ESSENCE 2014  © Beth Sabor E-mail:  bkmassage1@yahoo.com Phone: 847-366-0087