The Horse That Taught Me A Life Lesson No Human Could

How nature and animals can impart knowledge.

woman riding gray horse Leszek Glasner/Shutterstock

If you’ve ever spent time in nature or around animals, you'll notice magical things. You'll find that your awareness will increase naturally. As your awareness increases, your self-awareness also increases.

It was 2011. I signed up at the local rescue ranch to muck stalls. I volunteered to scoop horse poop. I showed up in my old winter duck boots, watched the mandatory training video, and was set out with a shovel, rake, and bucket. The barn manager signed my volunteer paperwork so I could get credit for my yoga certification. I wasn’t ready to work with a large group of people outside the constructs of the roles and responsibilities that came with a job in corporate America. I had been on a horse maybe once or twice before. 


The benefits of nature were nowhere to be found the first time. The first and most memorable experience was on my grandfather’s mare, Sandy. I had no clue what I was doing, I was 14. I set out with no direction in mind on the large, open farm. Sandy and I took off. I was as enthusiastic as any young teenage girl would be on a horse. Within minutes, I accidentally dropped the reins. Nobody had taught me any of the "what to do if..." scenarios. I didn’t even know the term "leg cue." Sandy ran. She ran and ran and ran. Sandy ran for her life as I hung on for mine. We went through the fields. We went through the woods. 




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I ducked again and again as the tree branches were approaching faster and faster. I was cut and I was bleeding. Sandy was headed for the pond. I don’t recall too many details of what happened next. I only know that we finally came to the gate where we had set off. There, the family waited. I was in trouble. The horse that taught me about the benefits of nature. So with that one vivid memory, with the fear bubbling up to the surface, I slowly and carefully, predator-like, entered the stalls of the green star horses. These were the safe, well-behaved horses that volunteers could be around. I was more curious about the red star horses. The energy fascinated me behind the wall and bars. 

On Saturdays, I would go muck stalls, and sometimes Sundays too. I looked forward to meeting Zane and cleaning his home for him. Zane was a mule, I think. He was gray and very fast. As I cleaned his stall, we would dance. He would move swiftly to the left, and I would respond, moving swiftly to the right. We did this for the entire half-hour or so that it took me to clean the stall. I’m not sure who could move their feet more quickly, Zane or me. He was as scared of me as I was of him. Fortunately, I had the rake in between us at all times. He kept me on high alert for that thirty minutes. 


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One Saturday afternoon, now in the routine of dancing with Zane for the half-hour, both of us unsure of the other, a man wearing chaps stopped by the stall. He made brief eye contact with me, and said, "I need him," as he pointed to Zane. "Him? Zane? You're going approach this energetic mule and take him out of his walls?" I asked. The man walked into the stall, disregarding my concern. He walked in, petted Zane, haltered him, and off they went. I watched as Zane followed this man without a fuss. I was intrigued by Zane’s behavior — or should say, the shift in his behavior. By this time in my stall cleaning routine, Zane and I had the nervous dance perfected. Within seconds, it was over. He was a different mule. 

I did not recognize the Zane I had danced with so many weekends. I left the stall and asked another worker, "Who was that? He’s allowed to take Zane?" "That's the trainer." The lady recommended that I sign up for his equine class. I had no idea what she was talking about. Why? What was the point? I walked down the concrete halls of the barn and found myself in the arena. The trainer was getting ready to ride Zane. I was formally introduced to him and at that moment, I realized that I wanted to ride Zane. 

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I wanted to experience nature again. I continued to volunteer and I did end up signing up for the equine training class. At that time, I wasn't interested in human energy. I was interested in the mysterious energy of the animals of the world. There was something there between Zane's eyes. I just couldn't describe it. I had witnessed my nervous behavior in that mule. I had also witnessed the calm behavior of another human being expressed in Zane within moments. The energy shift was fascinating. I went back and cleaned the stall again. As Zane and I began our dance, I had a greater awareness and appreciation of these animals. 



I had the awareness that I could now shift my energy and observe this same shift in Zane. When I was nervous, Zane was nervous. When I was confident, Zane was confident. Experiencing nature is a mirror that echoes ourselves back to us. I finally understood what happened that day so many years ago on Sandy. She was only expressing my enthusiasm and lack of direction. I continued to volunteer for some time. I continued to work with animals and soak in the benefits of nature as much as possible. 

I continue now, to this day, to experience the personal awareness and growth that rescue animals, animals, and nature as a whole give to us. I continue to be fascinated by the beauty, knowledge, and awareness that we can gain when we're away from the stimulating electronics, coffee drinks, and other distractions that fill our lives. I notice and experience that calm, peaceful confidence and joy


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Lynette Baker is ​​an Executive/Leadership and Transformational Life Coach with LB Coaching, LLC.