I Stammered in Fright



I found myself

Allowing you to describe me


In your Expression

I faced the pain

I faced the infusion

I felt the brace

Your hearts



I stammered in fright

I tempted flight

I turned in your


I faced you

Squarely in your mirror






Poetry and Photography by Donnette

Kinship in Art

Invigorated exisistance

A formulated dream

To reach my inspired

Artistic being

Creation captured

Beauty in life




Includes flaws, fractures and strife

Precious connection

Kinship in art

One always knows

A Noble



Poetry and Photography by Donnette Hicks

Inspired by Mary Williams Hyde



Becoming Conscious

In the beginning, when I first started to observe horses, I instantly found every horse I came in contact with had a different feel about them. I also noticed there was common braces and attitudes within all of them.  I was very unconscious that I was always the constant factor that the horse was always dealing with.  Even though I felt a difference, I did not understand that I had a lack of ability to read the horse’s expression, nor did I understand their needs.  I was unable to make a real difference in how the horse related to me as I did not know I was creating blindly the very brace, fear even spoiled behavior that was before me. I didn’t even know that such things existed in me, let alone the horse.



The first day I began working for the local trainer, Ben Quinters. I had arrived at his faculty at 6:00 am. I spent the morning mucking stalls; along with his larger paddocks. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to work with horses. I realized that feeding, watering and cleaning the facility was part of my right of passage to be able to interact on some level with the horses themselves.

Up until this point, everything I had learned was from my uncles. They taught me the basics and I thought I was pretty handy. I certainly had some milage on their backs doing day work on ranches as well as other multiple activities.  I was under the illusion that I knew what I was doing. This false sense of knowing ended promptly on my first day of work.

Ben shared that we were going to take some green colts to a water crossing. He had me get up on a two year old mare that had only a few weeks under saddle. The second I sat on her back I felt the unsureness of how she felt about me. Little did I know at the time that the unsureness was mine. We proceeded to go a short distance to the edge of the river bank. I felt that this was going to be an easy task to accomplish and I was very excited to prove what a good hand I was.

This all came to a screeching end when my horse became aware what my intensions were. I began to climb down a steep embankment to enter the heavy flowing river before us. I was filled with embarrassment as I struggled to get the horse to enter the water. Ben began to coach me and for the first time in my young life, I surrendered my ego and listened.

He said “look up to where you are going so the horse feels your intensions”.  I then heard many pearls of wisdom. ” acknowledge her slightest try and reward her smallest change” and “make the right things easy and the wrong things difficult”.

Hours later soaking wet, dirty and self defeated,  I finally succeed in crossing the river that day. I will never forget Ben’s words, “Darling, You have a long way to go and a lot to learn before you get there” I felt gut punched by the truth. I also felt a fire of determination flare inside me as I knew I was willing to do what it would take to learn for the horse’s sake.  That was the day I owned; “I knew absolutely nothing”.  I became willing to remove my pride and become open and conscious for the horse.

Surrendering ego 

Becoming conscious 

To the horses needs 

Facilitates us to understand

Our selves 

By Donnette Hicks 

Knowing Yourself


When we look around at all that’s available to us in the horse world, we find the equestrian industry loaded with easy access to massive amounts of information. How do we know what is quality information and of value for us and the horse?

I found for many years I had my hand out waiting for someone to take ahold of it and lead me where I thought I needed to go. I hoped that whoever took ahold of my hand would know what was next. I was in a frame of mind that someone else knew best. This very thought led me and the horse I was working with into trouble. After getting into several wreaks, I soon began to realize that I could learn to know my horses needs. I began to ask the right questions that supported me into developing a knowledge for myself. It came down to knowing myself.

In the past I had learned to abdicate responsibility for my choices. I found myself frustrated that others were telling me how to apply myself  as if all horses had exactly the same formula for success. This turned out to be disastrous for me. I needed to take responsibility. I needed to trust myself.

I soon started to learn how to listen to the horses needs along with my own. I started to decipher what is quality information. I found this by allowing information to humbly resonate between me and my horse.

Know yourself  

Trust your heart 

Trust the wisdom and guidance 

Your horse gives you

By Donnette Hicks 

Feeling The Answer



A life lesson was taught to me when I worked with Ben Quinters a local horse trainer as an apprentice starting Colts and working with problem horses.

I found every horse struggling at the same point of a trail that Ben and I often rode. There was an old farm house at this juncture of the path with a large fenced in yard. This house was just off to the side of the trailhead leading up to a mountain wilderness area. I always knew there was something wrong as all horses clearly struggled at this same spot. This was the storage place of a local animal rendering business. There was a smell of death in the air and it was clear it affected and concerned the horses.

What I did not understand was that I was blind to the answer of how to help the horse. Ben shared with me in his gentle way, ” Donnette, what the horse needs and what it’s receiving from you, are clearly two separate subjects ” He continued that I was missing all the expression and communication that the horse was contributing. I realized that I had not yet found the humility or identified how my ego was keeping me in my mind. I was constantly thinking in human conclusions. I was always knowing what was best for the horse. I was taught to show the horse who is in charge. I was the all knowing human. This was an inherited attitude passed down from prior generations. I was simply unconscious to what I was creating at this point of the path. I did not understand that my being human at times was humanizing and blaming the horse as being the issue. The horse was not the issue. I was the glaring problem the horse was dealing with.

The smell was not why the horses where reacting and surviving the situation. Their brace, struggle and fight was due to how I was handling the situation. Before I even came close to the area in which they began to share their concerns, I projected on them that they would have an issue. I would stop breathing, tighten my body, shorten the reins and grip their sides getting ready for what was about to happen. I was clueless that I was the cause of the horses reaction. I was creating a bigger issue in my blind human unconsciousness.

Learning to remove my ego and becoming open and humble was the way for me to begin the journey of listening to my horses needs. I soon found myself feeling for the innocence of the horses heart. I began to relax my body and loosen the slack in my rein. Giving trust to the horse when it needed to show me its concern as it smelled death on the other side of the fence.

Surrendering to the horses nature resulted in the equine exhaling as they walked past the rotting smells. I still felt their body react as they identified the smell. I learned to rub their neck and assure them that I felt relaxed. I no longer added my self created fears to the already heightening awareness the horse was having.

As I look back to the early days of working with Ben, I realize that he taught me to open myself to feeling for the answers for both the human and the horse by having the courage to leave my all knowing humanity in the renders yard.

Look inside yourself 

Questions are answered

By  feeling  for your horses needs

By Donnette Hicks 


Calling Myself Home



I can no longer
Be confused
I can no longer turn
I need me to
Fallow the calling
By going inside you
I hold me
To my own pain
That high note
From the heavens
I thought it was
An angel
Now I realize
Its my own voice

Calling myself

– Donnette

Birth of An Artistic Voice


Life’s colors meld and merge
Ice cold memories melt and purge
Stepping inward hours to years
Flood with healing tender tears
Its wasn’t the loyalty or even the crowd
It wasn’t the belief not allowed
It was a message delivered and found
When life tossed me hard upon cruel ground
I felt the soil
I touched the earth
I heard my heart giving birth
Nature rumbled
Past life crumbled
Out of ruin
Out of ash
Dragon snarl stumbled and splash
Little soul of burning choice
Created my new
Artistic voice

Poet- Donnette Hicks




Being  calm, quiet, and trusting is what stills my mind and allows me to see and feel the expression of the horse.  For me it’s practicing self care before I ever approach an equine. A decent nights rest, a warm breakfast along with morning meditation or prayer, all create a space for life’s magic.


Finding a place of stillness inside ones self creates a open flowing energy of inner gentleness.  In this place of ease, the horse actually seeking the human through curiosity becomes possible.


Creates expansion 

Allowing for self care

By Donnette Hicks 


Reflections on Equestrian Art by Nuno Oliveira

Reflections on Equestrian Art by Nuno Oliveira

Click on book cover to go to the Eclectic Horseman Mercantile for purchase.




Oliveira Reflections on Equestrian Art was first published in France, 1964, at the request of some of Maestro Oliveira’s pupils. It was translated into English in 1976 by Phyllis Field.

Since then, Nuno Oliveira has taught in the United States and further afield in Australia and New Zealand. In 1987, he held a Master Class in England as a guest of the Association of British Riding Schools. Skill, artistry, total dedication and absolute brilliance have earned the maestro international recognition.

Nuno Oliveira has been described as one of the last great international riding masters and this important book affords an opportunity to study a master at work. As the author, he reveals much of his own personality and philosophy in his writing, examines and explains classical techniques with clarity and brilliance. Throughout the book the emphasis is on lightness and harmony, the whole reflecting on a deep love and respect for the horse.

Times change but classical principles remain the same. Over two decades have passed, but Reflections on Equestrian Art remains one of the most relevant and true descriptions of Nuno Oliveira’s work.

(hardcover, photos, 118 pgs.)

Excerpt from the book:

“Observe, and reflect!” (Beudant)

I have made countless errors in the raining of literally thousands of horses.

Luckily I am aware of these faults, for otherwise I would never have made further progress. I know that I still have much to learn, and will go on learning until my dying day, not only by riding, but by studying, thinking deeply, and observing.

The study and meditation of which the great masters have written must be carried out in the riding school, which is the equivalent of the architect’s drawing board, and therein every good dressage trainer must prepare a programme in advance for his pupil, deciding one by one the steps to be taken in order to overcome the difficulties as they arise.

“It is the lightness of the horse which gives great cachet to advanced dressage, and at the same time expresses the indubitable talent of the rider (ecuer).” (General L’Hotte)

More often than not, it is we ourselves who keep a horse from performing an exercise correctly, and classically, by incorrect use of the aids, and by a poor seat.

True Unity by Tom Dorrance

True Unity by Tom Dorrance

Click on book cover to go to the Eclectic Horseman for Purchase


Tom Dorrance has been referred to as the “horse’s lawyer. “Tom gives the horse credit for his knowledge of a horse’s feelings and problems. He says, “What I know about the horse I learned from the horse.”

Now, in True Unity, Tom shares some of these ideas to help achieve a true unity for human and horse.

In talking about the horse Tom mentions often the horse’s need for self-preservation. The self Tom approaches in the horse is a total entity. True Unity allows the reader to feel and see the horse in the way Tom sees and feels the horse. It allows the reader to approach the horse with Tom — to approach the horse with a feeling of acceptance for the value of the whole horse — physical, mental and an innermost horse.

A unique bonus feature of True Unity is a chapter presenting some of Tom’s student s as the share how Tom’s help with their horses changed their horses’ and their lives.

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