Updated: Sep 27, 2019
After three planes and an hour long Lyft ride, I arrived at Mountain Horse Farm in Naples, NY to find the most welcoming, peaceful place I may have ever been. I arrived early, cleaners were still busy cleaning after the last guests and I was left to entertain myself for a bit. So I sat on the porch, put my bare feet on the grass, gazed out at this stunning view and began to become acquainted with this special place where I was to learn, quite possibly, the most important information of my life. It wasn't long before I was greeted by Suzanne, the hostess/owner of this magical oasis, and she began to show me around. Once we started chatting, it felt as though we had been friends forever and, once we realized our perspectives on how horses should be treated were in complete alignment, I think we both knew we had found an ally in each other. It was during this meeting that I knew for sure that I had come to the right place. Mountain Horse Farm isn't just a vacation retreat, it is a sanctuary. All the animals living here are free to live out the rest of their lives without demands, the horses are not ridden, and everyone is allowed to do as they please.
As the day turned into evening, the other participants began to arrive and we eventually all met up for our first meal together. Suzanne provided three meals a day for us and, I must say, this woman is a rock star! Without doubt, THE best hostess in the world!
Also rock stars are Sharon and Laura Wilsie! Sharon developed Horse Speak and she is the reason I traveled across the country. Horse Speak is exactly what it sounds like, a true and real way to understand and have a conversation with horses. It may sound like woowoo and you may be skeptical but, let me assure you, not only does it work, it is backed up by science and Sharon is getting major recognition from some of the top names in the horse industry and she's only just begun! If every person involved with horses learned this information the horse "industry" would be completely transformed. What I told Sharon is, I've been waiting for her and this information my whole life. It's like FINALLY, there is something real and learn-able that has the power to remove all the pressure and misunderstandings between horse and human. It is truly a relief.
Now, I'm not going to go too much into the information we learned, I'll leave that part to Sharon, there's no way I could convey it accurately in a blog post. We spent hours talking about the mammalian brain functions, body language, and controlling and balancing our energy. We also spent hours learning from the horses with Sharon as our guide. She is a spectacular teacher and never once made anyone feel inadequate or incapable. On the contrary, she's all about helping people find their power and their state of "Zero", as she likes to call it. What she's teaching is not something that can be fully learned in three days and, for most of us, requires some unlearning as well. Sharon is a patient, thoughtful, understanding, extremely observant, generous, and dedicated horsewoman and teacher and I'm happy and honored to now be able to call her friend.
Which leads us to the next part of the story. Not only did I learn what I came to learn, I also made a real connection with these two ladies and will be working with them in the future. Since the launch of her first book in 2016 Sharon's life has become quite a bit busier. She and her wife Laura have been bringing Horse Speak to people all over the world and have little to no time to focus on other aspects of the business. After spending three intensive days together it became blatantly obvious that our meeting was no accident. They are in need of a creative mind to create content and engage in social media for them, and I am in need of some genuine connections in the horse world that align with my beliefs. Not to mention the best mentor I could ever ask for in Sharon.
And so began the beginning of a new friendship! After our last dinner together as a group, Sharon and Laura invited me back to their home in Vermont where I got to meet their herd and be welcomed into their lives. I had never been to Vermont, I had never been to New York either for that matter, and the contrast in landscape compared to Colorado is staggering! I was an awestruck flatlander wondering how on earth anyone manages to keep their bearings in this sea of hills and trees. But, Vermont is quite the inviting place for an open-minded, freedom seeker such as myself and I am having thoughts of relocating there. But, I'm getting ahead of myself.
Sharon and Laura's property is their own personal paradise filled with dogs, cats, chickens, peacocks and, of course, horses. There is also a huge, lush vegetable garden, flowers, bees, and butterflies everywhere. It is such a beautiful and grounding home. Most of the property is forested and they've built a little trail through it that leads to a fire-pit that basically provides private camping whenever they want. After taking a much needed nap we decided to take a walk along the trail and, little did I know, I was about to experience a pivotal moment in my life.
As you might imagine, Sharon is very close with her horses and understands them intimately. She has a very special bond with Rocky (pictured above on right), he is one of those extra special horses that comes along once in a lifetime, if at all. He is the one that taught her Horse Speak and, in her book, Horses in Translation, she tells his story and details their journey together, I encourage you to read it. It was Rocky that came with us on our hike through the woods and it was Rocky that decided it was time for me to let go of the guilt I've been harboring for so long over human treatment of horses.
A number of years ago I decided never to ride again. After growing up showing and training hunter/jumper, I was eventually left feeling hollow about the whole thing. I found myself asking, "What is the point of making these horses do things they so obviously don't want to do?" And it was obvious, it IS obvious once you stop blindly accepting what is normal in the horse world as right. If I have to put metal in an animal's mouth to yank it's head around, kick it with metal spurs and wack it on the rump when it doesn't do what I want, how is that a good thing? And that's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to all the ways we've come up with to tell horses how to move their bodies. Well, Rocky decided it was time for me to know that I'm not hurting them just by being on their backs and, when it's their choice, they enjoy the connection.
Sharon was riding Rocky bareback, I was walking in front of them, and Laura was up ahead with one of their dogs. Unexpectedly, Sharon asked me if I'd like to get on Rocky (she knew at this point that I had decided never to ride). I politely said no and explained I wasn't sure if I was ready for that. A few moments later she asked again and said that Rocky is not so subtly demanding it. This is the woman of Horse Speak remember, and he was very clearly telling her he wanted me on his back. It makes me emotional just writing about it. And so I did. How could I say no to him? This wise being who was once nicknamed the "Pitbull Pony" because of his clear communication about who and how he was to be ridden, knew it was time for me to let go of my guilt. We didn't go far, it wasn't about that, it was more of an awakening. It's been close to 15 years since I last sat on a horse's back and I didn't have the same balance I remember having. Rocky took me just far enough to start me reconnecting with that part of myself, trotted a few steps up a hill, and knew it didn't need to be more than that. I got off and thanked him while holding back tears. I am still deeply moved by his choice to trust and teach me, this stranger he had only just met. It was also one of the many very clear signs that Sharon, Laura, and I were meant to come into each other's lives. I had officially become a part of the club!
And so now my life is different. In five days my life changed forever and the future opened up wide. I have nothing but appreciation in my heart and optimism for everything that comes next. I want to give a very special thanks to Suzanne, Sharon, and Laura! You ladies are legit and the world is a better place because of you!
Horse Speak is the catalyst to bring real change and relief to the dysfunction that often plagues horses living in a human's world.