Creating A Base Of Support


Setbacks happen on the path to achievement. Think about it—when a new born foal first begins to rise after birth , they often fall with their first attempts. They find their way as their legs begin to create the base of support they need to rise.

Just as new born foal, our own falls teach us to build a better foundation to stand upon.  Sometimes those “falls” can be quite helpful—they can show us what we may need to change about our plans. The only way they spell failure is if we decide to abandon ourselves because these slips have happened.

Embrace the falls in life 

Build a base of support 

By Donnette Hicks 




Gratitudes Reflection


Imagine how it must feel to the horse when gratitude becomes our natural reaction to life’s challenges. Gratitudes energy requires no engagement in any physical behavior. It takes little effort to generate feelings of appreciation. In our awake joyful expression the horse will often show a higher level of responsiveness. I often will take a moment with the horse to feel grateful for its contribution in my life.

Take a moment to find gratitude

Enjoy the outcome of inner freedom and joy

By Donnette Hicks

Letting Go Of The Need To Compare

We have only one obligation in life and that’s to be completely who we are. It’s a human condition to spend waisted time comparing ourselves to others. This one act alone is the most deadly thing we can do to ourselves. Unconsciously this is encouraged as necessary in the pursuit of excellence.  We humans constantly aspire to long for what others have accomplished. Yet when we compare ourselves to others, we lose sight of ourselves and are not able to understand the true reality of those we look up to. We only experience the emotional upheaval of comparing.


The wind was howling as everyone was scurrying to prepare for the next days show. Parker Colorado was known for having extreme weather. I started to hear the pelting sound of raindrops on the roof of the stables. The young women who were organizing themselves were quiet. I felt tension in the environment.

Cleaning tack is an opportunity for everyone to create a Zen like state for themselves. A soothing feeling came over me as I dropped my hand in the warm water squeezing out the excess soap in the sponge. I began to run it over the dirt and sweat on the bridal leather I was holding.  One of my young women who I coach, started to show she was feeling upset. Tears began to stream down her cheeks. I asked her to share what was troubling her. She answered,  “there are so many horses here that are better movers and so much nicer than mine” I gathered her in my arms and gave her a big warm soothing hug.

I began to share a common message which arises in these circumstances. It’s important to me to help my students find their self-confidence. I began to share the dangers of comparing oneself to others. I continued informing her that there is no other human being on the property who is on her journey nor is there another horse with the unique precious qualities as hers. I informed her that her only obligation was to her horse and to herself. By being present for each other she would obtain the ability to learn self growth, love and inner appreciation. I concluded that with her horse as her guide, this is her heroes journey within.

History is riddled with humbling stories of misfortunes giving all humans the opportunity to return to exactly who we are.  When we embrace each other and forgive ourselves, we become authentic and present to the magnificence of the fabric of our lives.

When we learn to release and let go of the need to compare. We begin the journey of recognizing and being our true selves. 

By Donnette Hicks 

Self Knowledge

For me my sensitivity to the horse, hinges on what I am willing to receive as the horse reflects who I am. I have found I never give some parts of who I am enough credit, but it is just as certain the horse has reflected to me there are parts I have given too much credit. Developing self knowledge gives me a larger access of how I effect the horse with my decisions.


My horse and I were creating a serpentine through the oncoming traffic of  riders heading straight at me from the opposite direction.  I was used to this exercise as respected Clinition Ray Hunt had us do this every year at his clinics. I was sure this time I was going to be successful. In the past I would get really flusterd by the other horses not staying in rhythm along with people not looking where they were going. I calculated this would happen this time  as well.  I looked way ahead to figure out how I was going to navigate the weaving objects.

I was not surprised that once again I was getting frustrated as I was starting to encounter the same issues as previous years. In this moment it came to me that the horse I was ridding was not feeling very relaxed nor very light. Knowing myself and feeling my own brace, I was sure I was creating the same in my horse.

I pulled out of the chaotic traffic that felt like heavy large worms trying to swallow us up. I crossed the arena to a space that was less populated and continued the exercise. My horse instantly felt lighter and more relaxed as we were having success in the task being asked of us. I reached down and rubbed her neck and began to enjoy the success we were having. She was brighter in her life and lighter in her feel.

I knew I had made the adjustment I needed to set her up for feeling the ease of movement in this larger space. I recognized the change in myself of higher conference by initiating this new option for both me and my horse.

Learning to recognize the realities of how we function and make decisions directly impact the equine. Each situation is an opertunity to develope and understand the preciousness, of our own self-knowledge.

Allow sensitivity with the horse to open and  develope your Self-knowedge 

By Donnette Hicks

Ask A New Question



When asking the horse the same question, and they respond with undesired results, ask a different question.

I have experienced myself applying the same action with a horse repeatedly expecting a different outcome.  “Asking the horse the same question again and again,  and expecting a different result, is the true meaning of insanity”

When I taken in the expression and response of the horses and apply a teaching Tom Dorrance contributed to me, which is “observe compare and remember”  I soon find myself knowing when to ask new questions.

Do you find yourself responding to the same situations in the same way over and over, never satisfied with the results? Are you doing the same thing over and over, waiting for something outside of yourself to change instead of doing something differently for yourself and your horse?

Create clear inner questions 

Embrace new paths of wisdom


By Donnette Hicks

Past or present?


Do you live in the past or the present with your horse? Does your horse live in the past or the present with you? This is a topic I think about quite often. When I am working with young horses that have not had much handling, it is like working with a blank canvas. This is one reason why I love working with mustangs.

Mustangs will usually have limited or no handling experience with humans. They may recognize humans as something unfamiliar but should not have any “past” handling knowledge. Working with domesticated horses is a different story. Some from birth are handled daily which starts their relationship with humans.

When colts or grown horses come to me in training I often hear statements like ” be careful he doesn’t like to be bridled, or he doesn’t like to be brushed a certain way” and so on. Are these owners living in the past? I believe they are. As a trainer, I want to approach and treat all my horses in the same way. I may need to make adjustments for their individual personalities but for the most part it’s the same. If I handle them with the knowledge that they don’t like something in particular then I am living in the past. My experience is that horses live in the “now”. Certain situations can bring back past emotion ( I use the word emotion carefully) but it is my job as trainer, to not dwell on the past, but help them be completely confident in the now.

I challenge any of you as you work with your horse in the next few days, to try and not live in the past , but treat each day as a “new ” day and live in the now.

Freely Giving


The bed and breakfast was full of excitement as everyone gathered for dinner. I enjoyed sitting with my friend Milly Hunt Porter outside on the upper deck.  The sun raised a hand in creating spectacular views. The distant river looked inviting in its filter of soft colors. The air was still and lent a calm feeling to the environment.

I noticed her small stature as she contributed her pearls of wisdom. I pondered if she knew how inspired I became as her words resonated in my heart. Time became non existent as descriptions of her experiences came alive in my listening.  When the evening came to an end I found myself wanting to acknowledge her for the time she spent with me. Yet there was underlying message that kept formulating in every story she recalled and shared.

I gleaned a precious unique pearl in hearing Milly ask a question. ” whatever happened to freely sharing a peanut butter and jelly sandwich ” I sat back in my chair and threw my hands in air and replied ” I don’t have the foggiest clue ” I began to chuckle.  Milly continued with her feelings about the blessings of giving ourselvs freely, with no expectation of receiving anything in return.

On the return trip from Bruneau Idaho I found myself in deep thought. My husband Jim broke the silence and asked me what I was pondering. I looked over at him and shared, ” it just occurred to me, that horses are always freely giving of themselves. They are unrestrained by human expectations. They do not hesitate to share their peanut butter and jelly sandwiches”  We both smiled as the sounds of the road took back over our drive back home.

Receive the blessings of freely giving of yourself 

By Donnette Hicks

In gratitude of Milly Hunt Porter

Being Kind With Ourselves


I felt his breath begin to labor as the climb up the mountain became challenging. I asked myself if the heat along with the steep grade was to stressful for this large bodied black horse. A flat area came into focus ahead of me. I surveyed his needs to make a decision, rest or continue. We progressed forward towards a flat area.  I began to measure and weigh my options.  My emotions started to shift. I began to feel upset that I chose to have this large Friesian stallion out in the heat.  My self talk continued into deeper critical thinking.

I chose to stop. I waited for the horse to arrange his body how he needed. His sides were heaving from labored breathing.  He suddenly lifted his head alert in attention. His breath instantly quieted as his eyes began to survey the open valley floor. I joined him in the magnificence of the sight, searching for what he was sensing. He then drew in a puff of air as if he was searching for a certain smell.  The aroma of sage mixed with grass filled my nose as I fallowed his lead.  I then felt a breeze tussle my hair bringing pleasure and relief from the rising temperature. I reached down and pulled his massive heaping mane off to the side exposing his hot neck to the same enjoyable experience.

Turning around, we dropped down off the mountain. I enjoyed the sounds of his hooves as he picked his way through a maze of thick sage. I found I was being kind to myself as I surveyed my feelings of relief. The joy of receiving the nature of my horse left me in a state of pure gratitude.

Release critical thinking. Receive natures gifts by being kind to yourself

By Donnette Hicks 

Inspired by Kelcy Sweat



Releasing Limiting Beliefs


What we believe determines not only our health, but the physical stance and posture we assume, and that physicality becomes the way we communicate to others and our horse.
Many of our beliefs empower us. Limiting or fear driven core beliefs are the ones that create chaos. They show themselves in how both human and horse respond to us. When it comes to these beliefs translating in the equine, it’s important to understand beliefs simply do not exist in their world.  They access Mother Nature for their survival.
Our body is a transmitter of the energy we often create through the thoughts we believe. Thoughts that are born out of our core beliefs are generally originated from childhood. Often they come from a thought lineage that has been passed down from previous generations.


I ‘wear’ these patterns in my body. They become visible through my physical habits and posture. These patterns form a stance that, though I may attempt to compensate for it, or hide it, it nonetheless is transmitted to the people and the horses in my life.

Some examples of my unidentified core beliefs have been.  ” I am not good enough” and a bugger that has gripped me throughout my life has been the belief  “My personality needs to change so others will be comfortable around me”

We invariably attract to us the horses and people  that will mirror to us what our beliefs are.  It’s an unconscious verification of what we have adopted and are carrying both emotionally and physically. It was no coincidence in the past that I struggled with acknowledging and rewarding the slightest shift in the horse. I was to busy trying to be “good enough”.  It also is not a surprise I have greatly struggled with human relationships as I was choosing people I was uncomfortable to be in relationship with. I feel gratitude for the lessons I received from the mirroring in these relationships.

By investigating the painful beliefs we have in our body and distinguishing there existence, we then have access to doing the work of finding their source and letting them go. In doing so we bring ourselves back into healthy alinement.

Before I enter the environment of a horse. Pre opening a gait, I observe how the horse is receiving my energy and intension. I constantly identify or bring into focus the expression of the horse. I observe the subtle honesty transmitting and formulating through the horses wordless physical body. Expression in natures language.

Release your limiting beliefs by bringing your emotional and physical body into alignment

By Donnette Hicks 


Empowered Listening


It takes courage to listen in a transformative way. Humans often are unknowing in how they intrench themselves in unyielding listening, especially when it relates to their horses.  Letting go of our identity, fear and judgment, will remove our desire to always listen to respond.

Many of our needs will be cared for in our ability to really listen. Removing our constant urgency to reply creates an environment for receiving the gift of another’s experience.  If we find ourselves settling for less, we disempower ourselves and the horse, in an uncertain future.


Every Saturday for many years I would drive 45 minutes to another rural town to teach horsemanship. On several occasions my friend Stephanie would join me. We constantly would talk about our individual philosophies. These conversations would often develop into an  enflamed heated exchange.  The result of this would be a stressful environment inside myself as I arrived to the horse facility of the day.

I would quickly tell myself to overcome the chaotic feeling I was having inside.  I was in full denial of how my emotional state would energetically emote into the environment. I no longer can deny, the students and their horses felt the inner enflamed energy I entered the arena with.

I desired to find a way to shift the experience I was having with my friend Stephanie. I certainly understood that this was not an isolated reoccurring incident with just her. It was rearing itself in all my relationships.

Out of my desire to acquire more tools, I went to a seminar. I found myself having a major breakthrough as I listened to the seminar leader explain that the most powerful skill in communication is in our “listening”. He continued to share the distinction between hearing and listening.

Hearing, is the minds recognition of sound through the function of the ear drum by formulating it’s source and meaning. Listening,  is an interactive engagement of being fully present to the importance of the message that is being conveyed. It is not engaging thought to formulate a response. When  we listen, we leave the one who is communicating that we value and have received the importance of their message.

This new achievement resulted in my ability to develop my self as a student of every interaction.  I began to learn volumes of meaningful details about the people in my life.  I found my friend Stephanie was a woman I clearly needed to understand and was loaded with wisdom.

As for the horse, imagine the potential the human has if we would engage the equine and empower them with our ability to just listen.


Receive life’s gifts through empowering all living beings with your listening 

By Donnette Hicks 


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