Shapeshifting Horses

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Reiki for animals is, in essence, meditating with animals. When I offer Reiki, I often begin with one of the meditations my teacher, Kathleen Prasad, has shared. The visuals and mantras she provides help me to create a gentle connection that always honors the animal as leader in their healing process. 

The more I’ve practiced, the more I’ve been able to find myself in these meditations by changing them slightly to ring clearer for me. After all, it is always about what works best for you and the animal in that unique moment you are sharing.

I get the best results when I work intuitively - listening to my inner voice and staying open to new ideas. So, recently when I woke up in the morning and my intuition told me to draw a card from my Oracle Deck,

I listened.

I’ve been dipping my toe (and my whole being, at times) into that which we cannot see, what some call the world of ‘woo,’ for many years now. While I use tarot, ritual work, lunar cycles, crystals, stone readings, psychic connections, and oracle decks for personal practices, it wasn’t until recently that the time was right to introduce some of these practices into my Reiki practice. 

I began by shuffling the cards as I held my question in my mind - 

What is most important for me to meditate on today?’

I drew the STILLNESS card.


So there I was, my card pulled, admiring the beauty of this scene - clouds gently passing over a lake, rolling hills beyond the shoreline - I let myself immerse in the imagery. And from there, I left it; not forgotten, but loosely held in my mind. Again, back to the intuition, just letting things flow as they need to - I know that the card will come into play when or if it should.

Spoiler: IT DID! In a way I could not have predicted. 

* * * * * * *

Through my Reiki practice, I have the absolute honor of working regularly with the horses of Shadow Hills Riding Club. Johnny Higginson, the owner of the ranch is a true inspiration. Through many noteworthy programs, he creates a space for people and animals of all walks of life in this peaceable kingdom among eucalyptus, bamboo and cacti. Whenever I walk up to the barn, I feel completely transported by this western utopia. 

I headed to Shadow Hills that afternoon, setting out along the shady stall rows, saying hello to the horses and asking who would like some Reiki today. What I found that day was four teachers:




Taylor, a gorgeous paint gelding with the crested neck of a stallion was happy to welcome me into this stall. While I’ve observed him before working in his lessons as gentle as a lamb, there in his stall, I was enveloped by his might - not intimidating, per se, but no less present. His spirit demanded respect, and in that moment my mind filled with the image of the card I pulled that morning - more specifically, the mountains. The muscular rise and fall of Taylor’s profile was so evocative of the ridged landscape from the STILLNESS card. Of course visually, but it was more so energetically that I felt the likeness. Just as a mountain, Taylor is rooted in who he is, calm and supportive. His work has him meeting new people often, dealing with all sorts of scenarios, and yet he is always true to himself; unshakeable. 



Star is a brilliant white Gypsy Vanner mare, who, at 13, has just begun her career as a therapeutic lesson horse. Her demeanor is incredibly gentle and before long she was pulling me in, asking me to work hands on with her. Cocking her hoof to the side (a sign of relaxation in horses) she leaned her belly against mine and we breathed in unison. Without any expectations, my mind’s eye went back to the STILLNESS card and the gentle world within it; Star became a cloud. Soft, fluid, and awe inspiring in her beauty, she showed me the weightless quality of her nature, despite being a heavily muscled draft horse. There is always so much more than we see with our physical eyes - as a Reiki practitioner, I strive to always see with my heart. 



India has a presence that can most accurately be described as otherworldly. There is a lightness to her being, as though this gorgeous mare with a wild black mane could be an apparition. She took me to a part of the STILLNESS card I would not have seen on my own - silt. The finely grained mix of Earth, mica, shell, crystal - an elemental potion over which shallow waves lap at the edge of the lake. She is the very essence of Earth, and yet, could slip through your fingers at any moment. She taught me a a lesson in appreciating that which is often overlooked.



My last partner in Reiki for the day was Lily, a grey mare with a black mane and tail who took me beyond the physical and showed me the wind. That gentle breeze that gives motion to the clouds, caressing the grasses on mountainsides, who can turn forceful, and possesses strength beyond what mortal muscles could ever hold. She approached forcefully, and quickly, but then would stop just short of me and offer a gentle velveteen muzzle. I had the feeling she saw me as more horse than human, and we easily engaged in some mutual grooming, something horses do to each other as a sign of friendship and comfort. She continued to sniff me head to toe, as though she didn’t believe I could be a person. It was the perfect closing and I was left knowing I had been fully seen by her, beyond my physical appearance. Lily had seen my heart.

Through this practice of intuitive meditation and communication with the horses, I was able to experience our oneness with all on a totally new level. These four horses taught me that in allowing for movement and change in accordance with my intuition, I’m able to welcome in a greater sense of peace and healing for my clients.



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