Category: Animal Connections

The Letter

The Letter

Five years ago, I got a call from a woman who wanted a Reiki and animal communication session for her horse. I don’t remember what the issue was, but I do remember that the woman (I’ll call her Beth) was pleased with the results. When I spoke to Beth after the session (which I did from a distance), we started chatting and she mentioned that while she wanted her horses to have free access to both their paddock and their stalls, one of her two horses was using both stalls as toilets, which meant the other, older, horse had nowhere to lie down. Consequently, she was locking the older horse into his stall at night, which was making him both stiff and crabby.

I suggested she stop putting shavings in the stalls. She tried it. It worked.

She seemed impressed with this simple solution, and—perhaps feeling sympathetic about the recent death of my beloved horse Nikos—she invited me on a trail ride with her and her two horses.

When I picked the hooves of the horse I was going to ride, I noticed that his feet were quite unbalanced. I asked her if it would be OK to comment on his feet. She said yes, and so I offered her my opinion (an educated opinion; I’d taken two barefoot trimming classes and trimmed my own horses). She thanked me for the information, and we went on our ride. The two horses then in my care were both too young to ride, and so it was sheer joy to be on a horse again, feeling the sun on my face, the cool fall air. Sheer joy.

A few weeks later, we tried to take another ride, but when we got to the trails, we discovered that the area was closed for hunting. Disappointed, we pledged to try again soon.

During one of our several conversations, Beth had mentioned that her older horse was so plagued by flies in the summer that she was considering putting him down. I was stunned by this. She said she’d tried everything—which I learned meant every commercially available repellent—but nothing had worked. I explained that flies flocking to one horse are a sure sign that the horse is toxic, a condition the flies can sense. I also explained that an allergic reaction also indicated a toxic system. I told her that I worked with a biochemist who had developed an outstanding line of pharmaceutical grade products designed to detoxify the equine body and to restore biochemical balance. Not wanting to push or to overwhelm her with information, I told her if she wanted to know more, she could let me know.

A few weeks later, Beth called to ask about the feed protocol. I remember that I had my coat on and was getting ready to walk out the door when she called, but she was so insistent on learning more—or so I thought—that I sat down and talked with her for over an hour. I continued talking to her even when she started arguing with me. It became painfully obvious to me after awhile that she had called to pick a fight. But why?

Finally, I said I was just offering information; I wasn’t trying to sell her anything. I reminded her that she had called me, and not the other way around. Still trying to keep the peace, I suggested that she do what she felt best and that we not discuss feed protocols again.

I don’t remember how the conversation ended, but I remember that I was both rattled and confused.

A few days later, I received a card from Beth, thanking me for my services in a way that very clearly said our budding friendship was over.

Fast forward about two years. I was in a commercial barn, working with several horses, at the same time that a barefoot trimming clinic was going on. On a break, one of the students said, “Hi Pam” as she passed by me in the aisle. I didn’t recognize her and had to ask her name. It was Beth. “You worked with my horses,” she said.

“Oh yeah,” I said, I remember you. “You were very unkind to me. You asked me for information and then attacked me for giving it to you. You really hurt my feelings.” She told me she was learning barefoot trimming because of me. To tell the truth, I didn’t much care.

Three years later, two days ago as I write this, I received a letter. It was the day after my Nikos’s birthday. He would have been 31. He was the being who brought me to this work, who patiently taught me—and continues to teach me every day of my life. I was missing him. Standing in the post office, I tore open an envelope with a return address I didn’t recognize and was surprised to find a letter. It was from Beth.

After identifying herself, she went on:

I’d like to say I’m sorry for the way I treated you. I mistook your passion for horses’ well being as a personal attack on me and reacted to that instead of seeing what you were really trying to say.

I also want to say that I appreciate the path you have led me down. Because of you and your different horse keeping philosophies, I’ve changed so many things about the way I keep [my horses] and how I feel about horses in general. I’ve also learned natural hoof care and have been able to work with and hopefully change others’ lives (horses and people). The people are the hardest!!

Anyway, now you’ll know that I realize now where you were coming from. I’m truly sorry for hurting you and that because of you and your passion, my whole life has changed. (Well, almost . . . I still use a bit!) But we’re all better off because of you. I hope this letter finds you well, Pam.

I refolded this kind, brave, loving letter, slipped it back into the envelope, and cried.


About ten years ago, when Nikos, who was my first horse, had only been with me for about a year, I was boarding him at a small, private barn in Streamwood. It seemed like paradise. It was much quieter than the huge commercial barn where I had taken lessons and where I had met him. At the large barn, he’d only been turned out three days a week for two hours. At the small barn, the horses were turned out seven days a week for six or seven hours. The paddocks were fairly small. There weren’t any water troughs in the paddocks. And they weren’t fed hay in the paddocks. But I was told, and believed, that horses only needed to eat twice a day and that they didn’t need to have water in front of them for the few hours they were out.

After I’d been there for a few months, a new boarder moved her horse in. She’d just moved to Illinois and didn’t know anyone in the area. She seemed nice enough but kept to herself. One afternoon, a few weeks after she moved in, I witnessed her in a frustrated rage. She yelled—at no one, at the air and sky—that she couldn’t believe this place, that the horses had no hay, no water, nothing to do but stand around. She was furious; she picked up a large stick and hurled it as far as she could. The next day, she and her horse were gone.

I will never forget that woman. I don’t remember her name or her horse’s name. I never had a conversation with her. But her indignation over the care her horse was receiving—care that looked pretty darned good to me compared to where we’d come from—her indignation opened a door in my heart. I instinctively knew that she was speaking the truth, that she was coming from a place of love and compassion for her beloved friend, her horse. From that day forward, I have tried my best to learn everything I can about the needs of these amazing creatures. No more stalls (cages by a different name), no more shoes, friends to run and play with, free—choice grass hay, proper dental care, saddles that fit so that the horse can freely move the back, and on and on . . .

After nearly four years, this will be the last of my monthly articles for From the Horse’s Mouth. If the editor is willing, I may drop in from time to time, but for now I will say my good-byes. And as I do, I urge you all to open your hearts to the needs of the horses. It is so easy to become complacent, to do things because that’s the way we’ve always done them, because that’s the way everyone else does them. It is so easy to become offended, to become defensive in the face of new information.

But information is just that—information. If we need to change the way we’re doing things for the good of the horse, well, OK, we need to change. That doesn’t mean we were bad people before the change; it just means we didn’t know. We need to make decisions based on what is best for our beloved horses, even if doing so is inconvenient for us or makes us the object of unfriendly gossip, because doing what is best for our horses—respecting their natures, allowing them be horses—will nourish our hearts and ultimately be best for us as well.

Be well,


*This column originally appeared in From the Horse’s Mouth in May, 2010.

© 2010 by Pamela Sourelis

Choosing a Reiki Practitioner

Choosing a Reiki Practitioner

This article originally appeared in From the Horse’s Mouth in April, 2010.


Some of you may have seen The Dr. Oz Show on January 6, where the good doctor gave the thumbs up to my favorite healing practice: Reiki (pronounced ráy-key). Dr. Oz, a cardiac surgeon, revealed that his wife is a Reiki practitioner, that Reiki healing is commonplace in their household, and that he has used the services of a professional Reiki practitioner in his operating room. At the end of the show, he urged his viewers to “Try Reiki.”

The segment on Reiki was short (only a few minutes) and of course did not mention the benefits for animals. But while people’s interest in Reiki for themselves is just starting to heat up, animal lovers have been open to Reiki for their four-legged companions for some time. This is terrific because animals are very open to this type of healing. They don’t question whether it is really happening; they just gratefully accept it. When they’ve had enough, they move away.

Humans, however, are skeptical creatures. They tend to ask a lot of questions, which is good. But they also tend to be wary of the unfamiliar, which can deprive them of some amazing experiences: such as Reiki treatments. There is a lot of confusion about Reiki, and a lot of misconceptions. Let me give you a short, straightforward definition:

Reiki is a healing practice that promotes physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual balance.

Reiki treatments can be done in person or from a distance, any distance. Reiki is not a religion or belief system, and it works in conjunction with—and enhances—all other medical and therapeutic techniques. Reiki can never cause harm; it can only be used for healing.

For animals, I have used Reiki to alleviate physical trauma and shock; to manage pain; to help wounds heal more quickly—including post-surgical wounds; to help diseases resolve more quickly; to help relieve colic and other digestive upsets; to help resolve mental and emotional upsets, such as with abused, traumatized, or sad animals; and to intensify neuromuscular retraining sessions.

For humans, I have used Reiki to accelerate healing after surgery or injury, to accelerate recovery from illness, to manage pain, to lower blood pressure, to assist with detoxification, to assist with recovery from grief or loss, to decrease stress, to increase vitality, and to improve mental and emotional outlook (including in those suffering from anxiety, depression, or dementia).

So let’s say you’ve decided to take the plunge, to try Reiki for yourself and your animal companions. How do you find a reputable practitioner?

First, if you or your animal is ill, please consult a physician or veterinarian. Reiki practitioners are not licensed to diagnose or treat specific illnesses. And anyway, that’s not what we do. Our job is to help create balance in the client’s body (animal or human), balance that triggers the client’s own healing mechanism. All bodies have the innate ability to heal.

Second, please understand that you or your animal companion may need more than one Reiki session. Reiki is amazingly powerful, but healing is a process.

So what questions should you ask when interviewing a prospective practitioner?

Ask about the practitioner’s level of training. In the United States, there are three levels of Reiki training: Level I, Level II, and Level III (also called Master level). If a friend of yours is a Level I practitioner and wants to help you out, that’s terrific. But if I were paying a professional, I would want a person with at least Level II training.

Ask about the practitioner’s length and type of training. Reiki training is not standardized. Some practitioners have attended one-day classes, often in large groups, and have had no further contact with their teacher or fellow students. Traditionally, Reiki was taught (both in Japan and the United States) as an apprenticeship. Completing Level III (Master) training could take years. When choosing a Reiki practitioner, I would want a person who has participated in hands-on classes with a Reiki Master and who has participated in a supervised internship as well.

Ask how long the practitioner has been in professional practice and whether she or he has participated in continuing education courses or workshops. Check out the practitioner’s Website, if she or he has one; read any articles she or he has written; attend a talk she or he may be giving. Does the practitioner conduct him- or herself in a professional way?

Ask about the practitioner’s beliefs about healing. Ask the practitioner to explain Reiki. Is the explanation clear? Does it make sense? If the practitioner claims that she or he can “cure” you or your animal companion, walk the other way. Such claims are unethical. Healing on some level always occurs with a Reiki treatment. Cure, however, is dependent on many factors. Remember that healing is a process, a process that requires commitment from the one seeking the healing. (In my experience, animals have no problem with this although humans sometimes do.)

Ask about the practitioner’s commitment to daily self-healing. The core of Reiki practice is self-healing. The more in touch the practitioner is with the self-healing process, the better a healer she or he will be.

If you are hiring the practitioner for your horse or dog or cat, ask about the practitioner’s experience with animals. This may not be as important if the sessions are to be conducted from a distance, but in hands-on healing you want to be sure the person can clearly read animal body language and can follow the animal’s lead. It’s also useful if the practitioner knows something about animal anatomy and behavior.

And, finally, trust your instincts. Choose a professional Reiki practitioner that you and your animal companions will feel comfortable working with.

Reiki is a powerful healing practice. I have been honored over the years to experience Reiki easing much pain and suffering, and have witnessed many beings, both two-legged and four-legged, regain health, vitality, and a fuller appreciation of life. I urge you to give this beautiful healing art a try.



© 2010 by Pamela Sourelis



Thank You, Davey

Thank You, Davey

Last month, in my article about animals understanding what we say, I talked about Davey, an elder paint pony whose care I had taken over a month before. (The article is now on my Website.) Well, it grieves me deeply to say that I lost that dear creature on the evening of December 28. His gut got twisted up, and we had to let him go. We believe Davey was 30 years old.

I met Davey three years ago, December 1, 2006, when I moved my two horses to Davey’s barn. He was living alone and had been for quite a few years. The owners of the property used to breed Trakehners, but they had long since retired. Davey had been the wife’s driving pony; he was a show pony, a very successful one.

But the woman was now suffering from many physical ailments and was housebound. Her husband, I’ll call him Eric, took care of Davey and is the one who leased me five acres on their 20-acre property.

My heart immediately went out to Davey, who that winter was stall bound sometimes days at a time. Eric said Davey was old and fragile and that he couldn’t go out when it was too cold. I suggested a blanket, explained that moving around and having plenty of hay would keep him warm, as would being with other horses (mine), but my suggestions fell on deaf ears.

Finally, after witnessing Davey being confined for five days in a row, I did manage, however, to convince Eric to let me put Davey in the indoor arena with the front doors open on days when he couldn’t go out, so at least he could get some light and fresh air, and put his head over the gate to survey the front yard. I took on the jobs of setting him up with water and hay in the morning, and mucking the arena in the evening—before he had to go back in his stall.

About a month after my horses and I moved to Davey’s barn, Davey began to change. He had been so shut down and depressed from his years of isolation that he walked through his days in a kind of fog, but now he was getting feisty—dragging Eric down the aisle to his paddock and back. Eric didn’t understand what was going on, but that was OK. I gave him tips for walking Davey safely, and soon all was well.

I continued to advocate for Davey for the three years that I knew him, sometimes with positive results, sometimes not. I knew that he was laminitic, and tried to convince Eric to stop letting him out on pasture all day to gorge on grass and an overabundance of clover, but Eric didn’t understand the connection between sugar and laminitis. I also suggested he stop feeding molasses-laden pelleted feed, but again Eric didn’t see the problem even though Davey’s soles were prolapsed (convex instead of concave), his coat was oily and dandruffy, and his neck had a floppy crest.

But I did manage to get Davey’s feet tended to by a good barefoot trimmer. And I did groom him and talk to him and clean his water bucket and generally try to be a good barn mate. Last winter, when Eric (who has hip problems) couldn’t get through the snow and ice from the house to the barn for three months, I took care of Davey for him.

Then, early last fall, Eric told me that they were putting the place up for sale. When I asked what they were going to do with Davey, he said they weren’t sure. I convinced him to let me take Davey with us (me and my two other horses).

Come late October, Davey was failing. While in his stall at night, he barely drank any water and barely ate any hay. What little hay he did eat, he was quidding. His feet hadn’t been done in months, and Eric had gone back to a farrier who just wasn’t doing a very good job. Davey’s feet were long, unbalanced, and cracked, and his again prolapsed soles indicated there was a great deal of inflammation in his feet (and probably his whole system). His eyes had become very runny, and his coat felt even more oily than before. And that floppy crest . . . I couldn’t stand by any longer.

I knocked on the door of the house. “Eric,” I said. “I’m taking Davey with me when I go.”

“Yes,” Eric said.

“Well,” I said, “I can’t take him if he’s on his knees. I have to start caring for him my way now.”

And from that day on, Davey was my pony.

I’d always liked Davey but hadn’t allowed myself to bond with him. But the moment I stood with him in his stall, kissed the top of his sweet head, and told him he was a member of our herd, our hearts connected.

Within days, I had his feet properly trimmed and his teeth tended to. I washed his eyes every morning with calendula tincture and water (which helped to reduce the running). I picked his feet every night and treated the frog fungus with apple cider vinegar. I changed his feed from sweet feed to a highly digestible, sugar-free feed. I replaced his clover-rich hay with grass hay. I shared Reiki with him and gave him short neuromuscular retraining sessions. After two sessions, I saw him stand square for the first time. Eric said he couldn’t remember ever having seen him stand square.

I couldn’t turn him out at night with my two for a few reasons: The shed I’d had built was only big enough for two, Davey was losing his sight in one eye, and he was used to lying in shavings, not snow. But I didn’t want to confine him to a stall, so I set him up in the arena at night. Each evening, I’d turn my two into the arena with him for about half an hour. Gradually, he regained his self-confidence; he went from standing in a far corner of the arena to standing within a few feet of Tara and Fuersti while they ate hay. When he’d glance over at me, I could see he was pretty proud of himself for that.

After I’d put Tara and Fuersti back outside for the night, I’d play with Davey in the arena for awhile; I’d work on teaching him to come to me when I faced him and bent forward from the waist, teaching him to follow me at liberty, teaching him to back up and to give various body parts to pressure. Then I’d give him a treat. He had to come to me to get it, and each night he’d follow me around a little longer, but he’d never come quite all the way, choosing instead to walk within a few feet of me, stretch his neck as far as he could and then stretch his lips (aren’t horse lips amazing?) until he could gently coax the apple wafer out of my hand.

When I’d return to the barn in the morning, he would call to me as I got out of the car. He had always eaten his hay, had drunk a respectable amount of water. One morning, I noticed that his coat was shining; when I stroked him, I noticed that the oily feel was gone, that the dandruff was gone. When I kissed his neck in gratitude, I noticed that his odor, which had been very strong, was lighter and pleasant. He was doing amazingly well.

After about a month, and once the paddock and pasture were snowy instead of muddy or icy, I felt it was time to turn Davey out with his herd in the daytime. (He’d either been in the arena or in his own paddock up to that point.) At first he was tentative, kept his distance. When I’d return in the evening to bring the three of them in for dinner, Davey would hang way back behind the other two. But after a few days, he was only a few respectful feet behind them, and he walked into the barn, up the aisle, and into his stall without a halter and lead, like my other two. He was becoming one of us.

The night before Davey died, I went into his stall after he had finished dinner and bent at the waist, asking him to come to me so that I could put the halter and lead on and get him settled in the arena for the night. The first few weeks I’d done this, he just stood and stared at me. For the past few nights, he’d taken a few steps toward me. Progress. But on this night, he came all the way up to me and stood facing me, waiting for me to put his halter on.

When I’d finished my chores, spread hay outside for my Fuersti and Tara and put them back outside for the night, I went into the arena to say good night to Davey. As I had been doing for two months, I held an apple wafer in the palm of my hand and walked backwards away from him. He’d been following me for weeks, but still did his giraffe impersonation when it came time to take the treat. But tonight, the night before he died, he followed me around the arena and then walked right up to me, within a foot or two, a respectful distance, but close enough to nuzzle my hand and gently take the treat. It might sound like a little thing to some, but you horse lovers know that this was huge.

On the morning of the day he died, it was sunny and pleasant (near 30), and he was eager to go out. He kicked the stall door in anticipation, a bad habit I thought I’d broken him of. But I couldn’t reprimand him. His sweet face was so earnest, his eyes so kind. “Hurry up, please,” was all he’d meant to say.

I put him out first, let him find a spot to munch hay, then let my Tara and Fuersti back out. For the three years they had been in separate pastures (for reasons I do not understand, Eric would not allow me to put them together), Davey would always call to my two when they came out after breakfast. Since he’d been turned out with them, though, he’d been silent. My sense was that he was more concerned about being in an acceptable spot, respecting the herd hierarchy, watching his back, than with voicing a greeting.

But this morning, the morning of the day he died, Davey lifted his head from his hay pile and called to the others as they came into the paddock. My heart soared. We’d done it. He was a member of our herd.

Late that afternoon, when I went to the barn to collect my three for dinner, to settle Davey in for the night, I found him down, soaking wet. I asked him to get up, and he did, but then he went down in his stall. It is enough to say that the vet came, was there for an hour and a half, made him comfortable, checked and rechecked, cried when she said there was nothing to do. His small intestines were strangulated. She thought the culprit was probably a fatty tumor. (He had one on his chest as well.) He was much too old for surgery. And so we let that dear, sweet pony go.

While it’s true that I did a great deal for that pony over the three years that I knew him, the truth is that he did at least as much for me. Two months earlier, the night that I took over his care, the night I first told him he was a member of our herd, I placed my hand on his neck to share Reiki with him and was amazed by the intensity. He sighed, dropped his nose nearly to the floor, and closed his eyes.

We were one heart.

I said, “You are such a wise old man. I can’t wait to learn what you have to teach me.”

The night that Davey died, I called a horsey friend to cry with. I told her that when I’d taken over Davey’s care, I hadn’t been sure how I was going to be able to afford a third horse, but I’d known that I had to find a way. And the money had come. I told her that Davey had opened up a space, that now there would always be room for an elderly pony or horse in my herd.

I was saddened that he’d left too soon to teach me the lessons I’d hoped to learn from him. But my wise friend said, “He did teach you. You just said it. He helped you to open up a space for others, so that you can help them to regain their dignity in their final days.”

He did, indeed, do that. He taught me there is always room for one more. He taught me that by helping another to regain dignity, I heighten my own; by helping another to fit in, I enrich my own space; by allowing my heart to entwine with another’s, perhaps the two of us help to shine just a bit more light onto the world.

Thank you, Davey. You have taught me well. Rest in peace my dear friend.

Until next time . . .

Be well,


*This column originally appeared in From the Horse’s Mouth in March, 2010.

© 2010 by Pamela Sourelis

They Understand

They Understand

Over the years, I’ve spoken with many people who want to know the “secret” of communicating with their animals. They don’t seem to understand that they are already doing it: Their animals are hearing and understanding them; they are hearing and understanding their animals.

Granted, people who communicate with animals professionally can often hear deeper messages than people in the general public can. But that’s because the professionals get more practice than most other people and because the professionals believe what they are hearing and believe that the animals can hear what they are saying.

My first dramatic experience of this came many (many) years ago when I was living in San Francisco. One morning, I opened my front door to find the oddest looking puppy tied to the porch. (She grew up to be breathtakingly beautiful, by the way.) I didn’t need another dog, but I took her in. In those days, in that city, no one leashed their dogs. The dogs were all very civilized, very well behaved. We’d descend on the parks in droves, and our dogs would play in wild, joyful abandon.

The first time I took the little Shambalah for a walk, unleashed, she got up ahead of me a bit. She was approaching a street corner, and I, not wanting to frighten her into running across it, just calmly said, “Wait,” never expecting that she actually would. But she did. She was only a few months old, and had no training. She wasn’t even housebroken. But when I kindly asked her to wait, she did. That day and for the next 15 years.

A few weeks ago, I took on the care of an aged, neglected pony. I began him on what for him was an odd diet (a wonderful, healing diet; see Vita Royal on my Website for more information), which included a mash (not bran) and a liquid that helps to heal the gut (Nutrient Buffer). He wouldn’t eat the mash with the Nutrient Buffer in it, so I had to dose this liquid with a syringe before each meal.

He never fought me, but he wouldn’t let me easily tip his head back, either. One evening, I realized I was straining my arm and my back doing this. Caring for him was very labor intensive—playing with different consistencies of the mash, so he would eat it rather than either kick it over (too wet) or store it in his cheeks for hours (too sticky); bathing his crusty eyes each morning with calendula; picking his thrushy feet and spraying them with apple cider vinegar. Sharing the huge amounts of Reiki he kept asking for. Well, that part was fun.

Actually, it was all fun and very rewarding, but that evening, I was cold, and my arm and back hurt, and he had his head in lock-down position when I wanted to dose his Nutrient Buffer. I tried once. Ouch. Then I looked him right in the eye and said, “Look, mister. I don’t have time for this. You need to take this stuff twice a day for three weeks before you eat. Then we’re done with it. I’m doing my best to take care of you and make you feel better. So give me a break.” I did not shout, but I spoke loudly. I was not angry, but I was extremely irritated, and I let him know it.

I swear to you that pony relaxed his neck and allowed me to easily dose the liquid, no strain to my arm or back. And it hasn’t been a problem in the two weeks since that night.

Evenings, I’ve been putting my gelding, Fuersti, and my mare, Tara, into the arena with Davey so they can get used to each other. Eventually, I’m going to put Davey out with them, but he’s too fragile right now. My two are young and feisty. As of this writing, their paddocks and track (a kind of circular dry lot around the four-acre pasture) are too muddy for the old guy to safely navigate (since he’s used to being alone on grass), and I don’t want him to get hurt.

The first few times they were all together, Davey—who has lived alone for the past 10 years—would run into a corner of the arena every time my Fuersti would approach him. I was surprised. I’d seen them groom each other over a gate, but face-to-face Davey acted like a scared rabbit. As the days went by, Davey got more and more brave, standing about 10 feet from Fuersti, who was nibbling hay. Then he began to allow Fuersti to gently move him around the arena without running into a corner. My mare, Tara, Ignored Davey completely.

One night, after about a week of this. I heard a ruckus in the arena and went to see what was going on. Fuersti was chasing Davey around the arena—no problem there—but Fuersti’s his ears were laid back (not quite pinned), and he was getting ready to take a good-sized bite. This was just horseplay. I know my Fuersti. He’s a kind an gentle soul, but he likes to play hard.

But to my mind this was a bit too hard in such a small space. Davey was having trouble making the tight turns. Out in a field, OK, but not in here.

Just as Fuersti was opening his mouth to grab flesh, I poked my head over the gate and said loudly, “Hey, HEY, HEY!” I don’t know what I was expecting, but I certainly wasn’t expecting Fuersti to stop dead in his tracks, whirl around, and face me. “What?” he seemed to be asking.

Quietly, still on the other side of the gate, I said, “Fuersti. That’s too much. Take it easy.” And that was that. He hasn’t done it again in the weeks since.

Do animals understand English? Sure, they understand some words. I’ve recently heard that scientists have discovered that dogs can recognize several hundred words. But I don’t think that’s what’s going on here. In writing these stories today, I realized that in each case, I spoke to my animal friends the same way I would speak to a human: honestly, clearly, respectfully.

That’s how I’ve always been with my animals. Most of the time. The handful of times I’ve allowed myself to become angry, I never get the results I want. My little Elika dog absolutely refuses to come to me if I have anger in my voice; she sits and stares at me. My horses ignore me.

But if I address them with honesty, clarity, and respect, they always seem to understand what my heart is saying to them.

Give it a try. And if you’re up to it, drop me an email and let me know what happens.

Until next time . . .

Be well,


P.S. I have begun a Facebook group called Healing is Possible. All are welcome to join to share stories about healing (and they don’t need to be about Reiki). I hope to see you there.

*This column originally appeared in From the Horse’s Mouth in October, 2009.

© 2010 by Pamela Sourelis



Happy Holidays everyone!

I first shared this column with you in December of 2007. This has been a very challenging year for all of us, and I wanted to share it again.

The season of gift-giving is upon us. Some of us will frantically search for just the right gift, the gift that says just the right thing, expresses just the right emotion, the gift that shows us off in just the right light. We will plan and shop and prepare. We will spend far too much money and far too much energy and will end up feeling depleted and sad.

Others of us will give as little thought as possible to the chore of gift-buying and will speed down department store aisles mere days before our family gathering or our office gathering or the gathering at our place of worship, grabbing at whatever—they can always return it if they don’t like it—and paying extra for gift-wrapping. We will spend far too much money and far too much energy and will end up feeling depleted and sad.

Several years ago, a woman in one of my Reiki classes shared this story. The year before, she had been on vacation in Costa Rica and had been swept off the beach by a riptide. Her neck was broken in two places. She was told she might never walk again.

The woman, a successful groomer and dog sitter, always had a house full of dogs. She told of coming home from the hospital and being immobilized for weeks, her bed surrounded by dogs, both hers and other people’s. When her husband would come to check on her, he had to pick his way over and between the pack because they refused to move. She told us, her voice heavy with emotion, that she was certain it was the energy and love of these creatures that made it possible for her to walk again.

Later, with the aid of a walker, she was able to take daily walks to the corner. She would take several dogs with her. “They only needed one walk,” she said, laughing. “It took all day.” She took four at a time, two leashes in each hand, inching her way down the sidewalk. She said, “I would take a step, and they would take a step. I would stop to rest, and they would sit and wait. I would take another step, and they would take another step. I would stop, and they would sit.” The woman who was told she might never walk again told us she was soon able to walk on her own. What greater gift than this?

Giving is second nature to the creatures in our lives: the dog who teaches us about loyalty and unconditional love, the cat who teaches us about independence. Giving is second nature to the horse who hears our confessions and our prayers, who lets us bury our face in his strong, sweet neck, who nibbles our hair, who carries us on her strong back down a snowy trail, who looks us in the eye with fierce pride.

I think the animals have much to teach us about giving.

Perhaps this gift-giving season some of us will strike a better balance than we have in the past, taking our cue from the creatures in our lives. Perhaps we will fret less, enjoy each other more, give freely from our hearts.

Until next year . . .

Be well,


P.S. I have begun a Facebook group called Healing is Possible. All are welcome to join to share stories about healing (and they don’t need to be about Reiki). I hope to see you there.

*This column originally appeared in From the Horse’s Mouth in October, 2009.

© 2009 by Pamela Sourelis

The Family that Heals Together . . .

The Family that Heals Together . . .

In the past few weeks I have met two former healers who are now doing other jobs. They carry the lessons of the healer into their work, but they no longer specifically do healing work. Both of them gave the same reason, as does a third former healer, a good friend: People don’t want to get well.

This may sound absurd, but I have to admit that this is my experience as well, which is one of the reasons I primarily work with four-legged creatures. They accept Reiki healing, no questions asked. They know what they need, and when they’ve had enough, they walk away. The results are often dramatic.

On many occasions, an animal that I am working with has indicated that his or her human is in need of healing. I have been told intimate details of some of these human’s lives. When I have shared these concerns with the human, asked if I can be of assistance, the human invariably says, “Oh, no. I’m fine.” Even when clearly she or he is not. I have witnessed humans accept ownership of illnesses and conditions (“my insomnia,” “my depression,” “my lupus,” “my fibromyalgia”) and seem fearful at the prospect of letting these conditions go.

And so it was a pleasant surprise when a former client (I’ll call her Anne) asked me to assist her with an ongoing health issue. I worked with several of Anne’s animals about five years ago. Anne has recommended my services to others over the years, and she has asked about Reiki for humans, but she had never before requested sessions for herself.

Anne suffers from extremely painful fibromyalgia and is following a nutritional and detoxification protocol that has healed many, many people. (See for more information.) While she is clearly benefiting from the protocol, she felt that she had reached a plateau in her healing journey and wondered if Reiki could help. I shared stories with her—including my own story of pushing past a healing plateau with Reiki after my terrible injury this summer—and she decided to give it a try.

All of the sessions were conducted across distance. The immediate result of the first session was a change in her personal energy. A brilliant woman, whose mind is most often in overdrive, and whose manner can appear rushed and impatient at times, she became calm, almost serene.

This sense of calm not only remained fairly constant; it seemed to deepen with each session. I saw this as hugely significant, but she kindly informed me that calm was not what she was looking for.

And so I explained that for healing to occur on the deep level that she was pursuing, the body had to first be balanced, that it cannot heal in a state of anxiety or stress. This made sense to her, and so she continued with the sessions and experienced steady improvement in her health over several weeks’ time.

Another benefit—this one to her animals—was an unexpected surprise. Five years ago, I had worked with one of her birds, Lovie. Anne had been unhappy because Lovie was unhappy—to the point of biting her. Anne wanted Lovie to be “a better pet.” I explained that I cannot change an animal’s temperament, but that I would speak to Lovie in the hopes that she would tell me what was going on.

Well, did she ever! Lovie was enraged. Stressed and anxious, she angrily said she had no interest in being a “pet,” that she wanted to be free. Anne had explained that her birds were free to leave their cages at all times and had free run of the house, but Lovie impatiently informed me that was not enough; she wanted to live in the wild.

Obviously, it is not possible to release a domestic bird into the wild, and so the issue remained unresolved.

Before Anne’s first session several weeks ago, I told her that if there were any cats in the house, they would probably pile on the bed with her. Cats love Reiki. And so she brought the cat home that lives in her place of business. Sure enough, he jumped up on the bed when the session began. Anne had also placed the birdcage on the bed during the session, so she was lying in the middle with the cat on one side and the birds on the other.

She reported that after the session, the cat—who could be aggressive and hyper—was calm to the point of being cross-eyed. (She said this jokingly, of course.) But an even bigger change was in Lovie. Her hostility stopped. She now sits calmly on Anne’s shoulder without biting Anne’s ear. She is no longer fearful and hyper.

This is not the first time I have seen Reiki calm a human or animal in the room when someone else was receiving treatment. One human reported that after lying next to her dog while her dog received a treatment, she (the human) slept better than she had in months. But the change in Lovie was extraordinary. The change in her behavior was immediate and lasting. I explained to Anne that my sense was that while the Reiki itself surely had an effect on this angry critter, the change in Anne had a powerful effect as well. Her internal calm was calming to Lovie.

Horse people know this. Our horses reflect images of ourselves—our confidence, our doubts and fears, our patience or lack of it, our energy. But we may forget that everyone we come in contact with—four-legged or two-legged—reflects images of ourselves. The energy we project is the energy we get back.

And so the family that heals together . . . well, heals together.

Until next month . . .

Be well,


P.S. I have begun a Facebook group called Healing is Possible. All are welcome to join to share stories about healing (and they don’t need to be about Reiki). I hope to see you there.

*This column originally appeared in From the Horse’s Mouth in October, 2009.

© 2009 by Pamela Sourelis



Last month, I wrote about the healing I have been blessed to experience after an awful accident I had with one of my horses. I wrote:

I learned again that healing is all around us—in the voices of friends, in the sweet summer breeze, in the touch of my Elika’s soft fur, of her tongue on my face, in the sweet anticipation of being able to see and care for my beautiful horses again one day soon, of the healing visits from my healing partners, two-legged and four-legged, living and passed over.

This month, I want to share with you three of the visits from my four-legged healing partners.

Sunday, July 5 was a stressful, frightening day for me. For reasons I do not understand, although the hospital was full, there was only a skeleton staff because of the holiday. My bedding was never changed that day. No one would help me take my required walks in the hallway. Worse, I had to wait nearly three hours for pain medication and did not receive my other, scheduled, medication until the evening shift arrived. Most of my friends were out of town, so I received no phone calls that day. I was overwhelmed by feelings of abandonment (present as well a past) and actually became afraid for my life.

Late that night, with no interest in sleeping, I watched crummy TV, until I flipped the channel and happened upon the powerful teacher Joel Osteen. (You may know of his best seller Your Best Life Now.) It seems I have always happened on Mr. Osteen’s words exactly when I need them. This time was no different. He reminded me that while it is important to think positive thoughts in order to heal, that is not enough. While it is also important to give thanks for the healing you expect to manifest, that is not enough. You have to speak the thanks aloud.

So I pulled myself out of bed, grabbed my cane, and walked myself around the halls of the hospital—it was midnight by this time—quietly proclaiming thanks for my good health.

When I returned to my room, I called Elika, my canine companion. She came immediately (in spirit, of course) and laid her body across my chest, across my broken ribs, across my inflamed lung. She lay there all night. Every time I woke up—which was every 90 minutes or so—Elika was there, lying across my body, sending healing energy.

In the morning, I felt better than I had since I’d been readmitted to the hospital. When my doctor asked how I was doing, I insisted on being released. They had done all they could do. The care I needed was not in that institution but at home with Elika—who stayed pressed to my side for the next two weeks.

Reiki, which I gave myself as well as accepted from numerous friends and students, helped my healing to progress at an amazing rate. But one thing remained troubling: my eyesight.

A visit to the ophthalmologist revealed that I had swollen optic nerves, most likely as a result of the blow to my head during the accident. (A reminder, I was not on my horse or preparing to get on my horse at the time of the accident, which is why I was not wearing a helmet.) The ophthalmologist said that the next step was a consult with a neurologist and then a spinal tap. Spinal tap? Why even bother with a consult if the next step was a given? I had no headaches that would indicate pressure on the brain, no blind spots. I vigorously declined.

Instead, I embraced the services of an acupuncturist recommended by my physician. At the end of my five sessions with her, my eyesight was just about where it had been before the accident. But what I want to share with you is what happened during the second session.

I had the session in a recliner rather than on a table; the table session the week before had been very uncomfortable because of my five broken ribs. As you can imagine, I wasn’t sleeping at night very well either. But that day, I quickly fell into a sweet twilight sleep. As I did, my beloved friend Nikos (the bay thoroughbred who was my healing partner in life and who has continued to be my partner since his passing) came into the room, stood on my left and placed his nose just below my ribcage. The healing energy coursing through me was immediate and powerful. I thanked him for coming.

After a few minutes—and this is going to sound very odd—I saw my brain. There was nothing bloody or upsetting about it. I just saw my brain, suspended at eye level, about five feet away. It was still in my skull, but one side had been peeled down. I said aloud, “My poor brain.” For weeks, I had been concentrating my Reiki and my prayers on my broken ribs, my eyes, and the painful surgical site from the splenectomy. But what about my poor brain, which had been sloshed around in my skull when my head hit the wall?

I thanked Nikos for bringing this to my attention, and while he continued to send healing to my center, I sent Reiki to my brain. I had never even thought about my brain before. But ever since that session, I have felt a sweet connection to it, like an old friend.

I am certain that the healing that occurred that afternoon pushed my recovery forward by leaps and bounds. My energy increased. I felt more joy, more peace. I could see more clearly, both literally and figuratively.

Several weeks later I hired a former student of mine, Chris, who is now a Level III Reiki practitioner, a powerful healer, to do three Reiki sessions with me across distance. I felt I had reached a plateau, and I wanted to add momentum to the healing process, both physical and emotional.

The three sessions took place in the space of one week. Chris told me that during the second session (again the second session), Nikos arrived to assist her. I asked how she knew it was Nikos. She had never met him when he was living. She said she just knew. A bay thoroughbred came into the room (not physically, of course), and she heard the name Nikos.

He told her that he was my protector, and he stood on the left side of me and placed his nose on my center—exactly as he had done in the acupuncturist’s office.

Chris said that the flow and intensity of the Reiki increased dramatically. She thanked him for his assistance.

And as I had wanted, I got over that healing plateau.

I have no conclusion to reach here, no lesson. I just wanted to share these amazing experiences with you. Thank you Elika. Thank you Nikos. And thank you Fuersti and Tara, my two living horses, who did not visit me the way the others did, but whose love and care I felt every day.

Until next month . . .

Be well,


*This column originally appeared in From the Horse’s Mouth in October, 2009.

© 2009 by Pamela Sourelis



Just for today, I will give thanks for my many blessings. 
–Reiki Principle

On June 10, two of my non-horsey friends came to the country to hang out with my horses and me. We had lunch in town, then drove out to the barn, a self-care arrangement I have on 20 acres about 10 minutes from where I live. My friends had been looking forward to this adventure for about a month, as had I. Being able to share the beauty and power of horses with others is one of the reasons I have horses in my life.

I brought my two inside—Fuersti and his sister Tara. I decided we would work with Fuersti because he is so solid and safe and because he enjoys interacting with people, a kind and patient teacher. We began by grooming him, then moved to the arena, where I showed my friends how to lead him and do very basic ground work (having him stop his feet when they stopped theirs, giving his hind quarters, and so on).

Then I asked one of the women if she would like to ride. (The other has knee problems, so I knew she would refuse.) My friend was a bit reluctant—my Fuersti is 16.2 or 3, a big-boned TB/warmblood cross—but I assured her that we’d done this many times, that I would lead her around, that it would be like a pony ride. She smiled and agreed.

I remember tacking Fuersti up—a saddle and a caveson with rope reins attached. But there my memory ends.

From what I was able to gather in the weeks that followed, mostly from the friend who was standing at the edge of the arena, when my other friend began to mount, she grabbed the saddle in such a way that it began to slip. I yelled for her to get off, but apparently she was unable to do so, and so I moved to her side of the horse, stood behind her, and tried to help.

What happened next would change my life. My Fuersti, apparently responding to pain (a friend who was caring for my horses told me days later that the muscles along his spine were very swollen) moved in a violent way that knocked my friend off the mounting block and into the sand, where she suffered skinned elbows and a few bruises.

The force, however, traveled through her and into me, sending me “flying” (in the words of my friends) 15 feet across the arena. My flight was stopped by the wall, which I hit with my back and my head. (I wasn’t wearing a helmet because I wasn’t riding.) I was knocked out cold. They say I came to before the paramedics arrived, but I don’t remember. They say I asked what had happened, asked about my animals. (I learned later that my sweet Fuersti had walked across the arena and put his head in the corner; he stood there for over an hour until a neighbor came home from work, and untacked, fed, and turned him back outside.) I remember coming to briefly as I was being lifted off the ground—I was in a helicopter, headed to a trauma center. But the next thing I clearly remember was waking up in the ICU (I thought it was that night, but it was the next night) with two of my former Reiki students, both accomplished third-level Reiki practitioners, standing over me and channeling Reiki to me. Despite what had happened, serenity enveloped the room.

I learned that I’d had surgery, had my spleen removed. (The surgeon later told me, laughing, that I cursed him out when he told me what he was going to do, but I don’t remember.) I also had five broken ribs, but somehow that information didn’t make its way to me.

I spent a week in the hospital, stayed until my insurance company (not my doctor) decided it was time to go. I’d been lying on my back for a week, my hands on my five-inch incision just about all the time, channeling Reiki, and everyone (except me) was stunned at how quickly my incision had healed. Just days after I got home, I could tell from the dull pain and itching that the muscles they’d cut in the surgery were already beginning to heal as well. Two months, they told me; the recovery would take two months. “Watch me,” I thought.

I came along amazingly well, in large part because of the healing I received from my Reiki dog, Elika. She attached herself to me for several weeks, always in physical contact, leaving my side only to eat or go for a walk (which she often protested having to do).

But after three weeks, my progress stopped and I quickly went downhill, ending up back in the hospital ( a different one), where they discovered the five broken ribs, three of which were now displaced, and a lung full of fluid. Six more days in the hospital.

You may wonder how any of this a blessing.

When I hit the wall, my spleen fractured inside its sack. I learned later that if the sack had ruptured, I could have bled to death in three minutes.

While recovering (a process I’m still engaged in), I have been overwhelmed by the kindness of people, my family and friends, of course, but also complete strangers. I learned of congregations praying for me, of friends of friends lighting candles for me. In the hospital the second time, I was told that my recovery process had been reset back to zero, that I could count on two months of pain from the broken ribs. Reiki, prayer, love—the pain subsided to a dull annoyance after 10 days at home.

I know—I teach—that a positive attitude reaps positive results. But I have never been so physically challenged before. The worse the pain was, the more I said aloud, “Thank you for my healthy, healed body.” I refused to own the pain, opted to own the health. The extent to which I did this was a new experience for me. And it worked. Each day, I leapt further into wellness. When I got scared, and I did, I didn’t muscle through it on my own; I called a friend, asked for and received comfort and assurance. I buried my face in my Elika’s fur. I sent Reiki to my sweet Fuersti, to heal his back, to let him know that all was well.

I received lessons in patience. Over the years, horses have challenged me with this lesson many times, but I was challenged anew. I wanted to work at my computer, but I could only sit for half an hour at a time and my eyes and head hurt because my optic nerves were swollen from the impact of head on wall. So I would work for a short while, then lay in my hospital bed in the living room and look out the patio door at the evergreens in the yard, at the rabbits and squirrels and birds, while I smelled the sweet air, stroked my sweet Elika and gave thanks that I could see at all, could feel, could smell, gave thanks that I was alive.

I received lessons in abundance. A healer and writer, I am self-employed and as the workless weeks went by, I started to fret. But I reminded myself of the Reiki principle, “Just for today I will let go of worry” and instead told the Divine One that I had faith in my full recovery. I gave thanks for the work that I knew was on the way. Ten minutes later, the phone began to ring.

I learned again that healing is all around us—in the voices of friends, in the sweet summer breeze, in the touch of my Elika’s soft fur, of her tongue on my face, in the sweet anticipation of being able to see and care for my beautiful horses again one day soon, of the healing visits from my healing partners, two-legged and four-legged, living and passed over.

I learned how amazingly fragile life is. How everything can change in an instant. We have precious little control. We can only live, float, in the present. I am here. I am surrounded by love and light and healing forces. I am blessed.

Until next month . . .

Be well,


*This column originally appeared in From the Horse’s Mouth in September, 2009.

© 2009 by Pamela Sourelis

No Worries

No Worries

Just for today, I will let go of worry.

–Reiki Principle

When you’re feeling down—financial worries, job anxieties, an argument with someone dear—do you ever wish you could trade places with your dog? I know I’ve said to my Eskimo more than once, “Boy, Elika, you’ve got one good life. You don’t have to worry about anything.”

And it’s true. She gets fed twice a day; goes on long walks twice a day; and gets to play in and around the barn for hours three seasons out of the year, helping me to spread hay and clean manure, chasing mice and rabbits and chipmunks, keeping a watchful eye while I groom, eating delicious morsels of frog when the trimmer comes.

But it’s also true that I—like Elika and my horses, Tara and Fuersti—don’t have to worry about anything either. Worrying is a choice. This truth has taken me quite a while to learn well enough to be able to say that I’ve actually learned it.

Some years ago, during a particularly difficult time, I remember waking in the middle of the night clutched by a fist of anxiety, unable to go back to sleep—night after night. As you can well imagine, this didn’t solve my problem.

But the Reiki principle, “Just for today, I will let go of worry” helped tremendously. When I began working with this principle, I began to see immediate results.

I began by stopping myself whenever I found my mind grabbing hold of a worrisome thought, night or day. I would gently say to myself, “Is this helping?” It never was, and so I would put the thought down and turn my thoughts to something more pleasant, more life-affirming—a project I was working on or had plans to work on, a book that I was enjoying, a specific step towards a future goal. These new thoughts would almost immediately bring relief from the stress, softening my muscles, deepening my breathing, often even bringing a smile.

Our animal companions are happy (or miserable) because they live in the moment. As a rule, they don’t drag their childhoods around with them (unless they have been terribly abused and are living in fear), and they don’t hold grudges. While we have much to teach our animal companions about how to peacefully live with us, our animal companions have much to teach us about how to live in peace.

Shortly after bringing my equine companion Nikos into my life, I went to California for two weeks for a segment of a two-year training in animal movement education. When I came back, Nikos, who always greeted me with nickers and nuzzles, turned his hind end to me, clearly expressing his unhappiness. But he just as clearly accepted my apology for causing him pain, which I had not realized I had done, and soon all was well. He did not worry that I no longer loved him; he did not worry that I might not feed or care for him; he did not worry that I would leave him again; he did not worry that he would be returned to the awful circumstances that I had taken him from. He did not know what tomorrow would bring, but he did not worry.

Worry is a sneaky thief. It steals time, sleep, health, creativity. It blinds us to the abundance and joy that is all around us. When we worry, we welcome into our lives the very things we fear. Stop, change the station blaring in your brain, plan a tea party with a little girl, take a long walk with your dog, bring to heightened imagination the job you truly want, invite a child to discover the ecstasy of touching a horse.

Just for today, let go of worry.

Until next month . . .

Be well,


*This column originally appeared in From the Horse’s Mouth in May, 2009.

© 2009 by Pamela Sourelis

Animal Healers – Part II

Animal Healers – Part II

Last month, I shared a story about my equine friend Nikos assisting me in my healing work. The experience I shared was particularly meaningful to me because it was the first time I had experienced his amazing healing ability since he had passed away. I told this story even though I knew some readers might be uncomfortable with the notion of working with spirit, even though most of us want to believe that the spirit does not die with the body.

Over the years, I’ve had quite a few such experiences. My beloved dog Shambalah, who had passed some 10 years earlier, sent me my sweet canine friend Elika and then assisted me in a Reiki healing session with her. To say that I was surprised would be a vast understatement. Shambalah just appeared and, in essence, took over the session. I actually stepped back and watched, channeling Reiki to the two of them. Shambalah had never assisted with a healing before and has only assisted once or twice in the nine years since.

In December of last year, I wrote about my equine friend Kinsale, who had recently been put down. She was not in my care, was on the other side of the country. When I knew her passing was coming, I sat and talked with her about it. She told me not to worry, that she would be assisting me with my healing work, just as Nikos does. This surprised me, but it also soothed my heart. I was not sure when she would choose to work with me, and so I stored her promise in the back of my mind.

In March, a friend of mine called to set up a series of three Reiki sessions. He was feeling very stressed, and his health was suffering. He wanted to find peace and balance. The sessions were conducted across distance. The first session was very intense in that my friend pulled in a great deal of Reiki. After the session, he said he felt much more relaxed. The second session, a week later, was not as intense but was as beneficial. The Reiki was peeling back layers of stress and helping my friend to restore his calm center and good health.

The third session and final session, a week later, began as usual, with my hands placed on the top of the head. When the Reiki began flowing, I noticed Kinsale standing a few feet away from us, watching. (I saw this in my mind’s eye, not with my physical eyes). I was delighted to see her and immediately invited her to assist, which she did, placing her nose on my friend’s chest. Then Shambalah appeared (she had known and loved my friend) and placed her nose at the base of his spine. Next, my friend’s feline companion, Nimbus, appeared and placed his nose on the top of my friend’s head. I had never worked with Nimbus, either when he was living or since he had passed, which was several yeas ago. It brought tears to my eyes to see him.

Then Nikos joined us, standing to my left, channeling Reiki to us all. And finally, Elika—who is very much alive—joined us, standing to my right, channeling Reiki to us all.

The energy was both powerful and calm. We all gave, and we all received. I have rarely felt such a deep and satisfying peace.

My friend was moved as well when I told him what had occurred, especially by the fact that Nimbus had assisted. Happily, my friend reports that his health has been fully restored.

Once again, I leave you with this thought: Healing is all around us.

Until next month . . .

Be well,


*This column originally appeared in From the Horse’s Mouth in May, 2009.

© 2009 by Pamela Sourelis