Several years ago, I was standing in a long line at an area tack store (the long line was the result of a summer sale) and struck up a conversation with the woman ahead of me. One topic led to another, and we had come around to the topic of bare feet versus shod. The woman’s horse was intermittently lame. She was sure that a proper barefoot trim would solve his problems, but her veterinarian didn’t agree. So the horse was shod, with wedges and pads, and received daily doses of drugs. Her horse remained lame. The woman told me that she wished the veterinary community would catch up with the new research on feet. Clearly, she said, a physiologically correct barefoot trim was best for the horse.

Puzzled, I asked her why, if she was convinced of this, her horse was shod. She said it was because her veterinarian told her to keep him shod. She said again that she wished the vets would learn about barefoot because then they could share that information with their clients—and then she could take her horse barefoot, something she was convinced she needed to do.

To say that I was dumfounded would be an understatement. Here was a woman who had clearly done her research on barefoot, understood its benefits, and was convinced that this was the route her horse needed to take. Yet she ignored her own intelligence, never mind instinct, and took a path counter to her sense of what was best for her animal companion.

This is, of course, an extreme example. But I’m guessing that each of you (and myself as well) at one time or another, has silenced the voice inside that clearly indicated which path to take.

At a recent Reiki class, a student was working with my dog, Elika. Elika is a wonderful teacher; she is very clear about where on her body she would like you to place your hands. If you place them incorrectly, she will try to move them with her head or front paws; she will squirm around in an effort to reposition her body under your hands; she will even stare at the area of her body needing attention. She is very gentle, but she is not subtle.

So here is my little Elika, lying on her back, looking at her belly, trying to squirm underneath the woman’s hands so that they are placed on her belly (they were on Elika’s chest), and the woman asked me, “Do you think I should move my hands”? Now, I understand that the woman was just learning. But the question was so absurd that I just looked at her—and then at my squirming dog. The woman, seeing the silliness of the situation, laughed, then moved her hands to Elika’s belly.

Recently, I worked with a tiny dog who had gone into liver failure and was in the hospital for a week. In our first session, the little dog told me that she would be fine; she had been depressed, but the Reiki seemed to lift her spirits and raise her energy. Coupled with the excellent veterinary care, she recovered well enough to come home. Once the dog was out of danger, the human told me that her dog had become ill several hours after receiving a battery of shots. She was sure that the shots had precipitated the illness (which began with diarrhea and violent shaking). She had questioned giving her little one all of those shots at once, but she had questioned silently. Now as she was reading more about adverse reactions to vaccinations, she was wishing she had listened to the small voice asking her to reconsider giving so many at once.

Is my point that you should leave your brain behind and simply go with your gut? Not at all. Do your research, but do it with your heart as well as your head. Do not do something merely because someone tells you that this is how things have always been done. Look deeper. Look into your own heart. Look into your animal companion’s heart.

And most importantly, listen.

A few years ago, I was giving myself a little Reiki, which always puts me in a meditative state. I saw a river, quiet, winding. Suddenly, hundreds of wild horses galloped to the bank of the river. I heard a voice. It said, “They are here to teach us. Listen.”

I took this to mean that the animals are here to teach us not only about them but about ourselves as well.


Until next month,

Be well,


*This column originally appeared in From the Horse’s Mouth in July 2007.

© 2007 by Pamela Sourelis