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