What I’m Learning from Leroy

What I’m Learning from Leroy

Leroy is a gorgeous, elder chestnut Belgian with flaxen mane and tail. His human companion, Michelle, doesn’t know how old he is, but she does know that he has had a very rough life. He was an Amish workhorse for much of it, then sold to a hack barn where he was a hack horse. He then went to a series of broker lots, passed around through auctions a few times before landing at a broker that a rescuer friend of Michelle’s sometimes deals with. Because Leroy had been at the broker lot for quite awhile, he was at high risk of being shipped to slaughter.

Michelle’s husband, who she describes as a non-horsey person, had always wanted a Belgian. And here one was. And so Michelle rescued him. Something about Leroy tugged at her heart. Something in his eyes. She later told me, “Whenever I am with him, or look at his photos, I just get this broken-hearted feeling come over me; he makes me want to cry.”

When she brought him home and could see him in the flesh (she’d first seen him on the Internet), she noted that he was grossly underweight. His hips, ribs, and withers protruded through his dull winter coat. He drooled (most likely the result of ulcers) and bit at his chest, shoulders, and ribs; his joints creaked and crackled with each step. His mane growth indicated neck damage, most likely from an ill-fitting harness; the bridge of his nose was rubbed hairless and was indented, also from ill-fitting tack.

Michelle started Leroy on a high-quality feed program (VitaRoyal), which quickly stopped the drooling and biting. She then began the slow process of earning his trust. Her sense was that he just “[didn’t] have any use for humans.” He would grudgingly allow her to lightly touch his shoulder but then would swing his head at her to keep her at a safe distance. Although his eyes would briefly soften when she stood near him while he ate, for the most part he appeared anxious and unsettled.

It was at this point, when Leroy had been at his new home for about three weeks, that Michelle learned about my work and we set up a session with Leroy. She knew that eventually she would be able to bond with him—she had rescued quite a few horses previously—but she was interested in trying anything that might help him to settle into his new home more quickly and easily.

I conducted the session across distance. (He was on Michelle’s property in Connecticut; I was in my office in Illinois.) When he came into the room (not literally, of course), I immediately felt his deep sadness, his tears, and the fear that his body was holding. I told him that his new home is his forever home. That it is not a stop on the way to somewhere else. That this is where he will live out his life. He melted into this news.

He then led me through the session, directing me to place my hands on his painful, arthritic knees; allowing me to gently rock his body, to coax his ribcage, shoulders, sternum, and hips into tiny movement. I channeled Reiki up through his seat bones and along his spine. He said, “I feel so much better.”

At the conclusion of the physical work (neuro-muscular retraining), he presented his chest to me. I felt he was presenting his heart chakra rather than his physical chest. I sent Reiki to the area, and he said again, “I feel so much better.”

I asked him if there was anything else he wanted to say, but he was silent, not a sullen or frightened silent, but a contented, melted-butter silence. It was as though every ounce of anxiety had oozed out of him; it was as though he had completely let go of his ugly past.

I asked him if there was anything else he wanted to say, but he was silent, not a sullen or frightened silent, but a contented, melted-butter silence. It was as though every ounce of anxiety had oozed out of him; it was as though he had completely let go of his ugly past.

He told me that he planned on being around for quite awhile. He told me that he is very good with children.

That evening, he allowed Michelle to rub his shoulder. He did not swing his head at her. The next morning, he greeted her by standing squarely in front of her, blocking her path. Michelle told me, “He wanted to say hello!” He followed her around the paddock, looked at her with soft eyes, and allowed her to rub his shoulder and withers. He curved his head and neck in her direction, rather than away from her.

Each day, he allowed more contact, accepted more love.

A week later, I conducted another session with Leroy. Whereas the first time I met him I had been struck by his intense sadness, I was now struck by his intense joy. We had a wonderful session together, Leroy once again directing my hands. At the end of the session, he said, “I am very happy. Please tell Michelle, I am very happy here. I never thought I could ever be this happy.” After a moment, he added, “I am very lucky.”

I replied, through tears, “She is, too.”

A few hours later, Michelle wrote that when she’d gone out to out to feed Leroy he had nickered deeply for the first time; he had thrust his head into the feed bucket (up to this point he had been a reluctant eater) and had finished every morsel. Ordinarily, when she would then walk across the paddock to put his hay in his tub, he would follow behind at a safe distance. But now, he took the lead, trusting her to walk behind him.

So what am I learning from Leroy?

Leroy is showing me the exquisite power of letting go. His body had been abused, his spirit battered. He was awash in pain and fear. He was in yet another unfamiliar place with unfamiliar people who, if experience was a guide, were not to be trusted. His spirit was locked inside a dark and lonely place.

Yet Leroy has chosen to heal. From the very first, he accepted the Reiki, trusted it, allowed his heart to open, and simply allowed the fear and pain and abuse and horror of his life to flow out. The transformation was immediate. He held no grudge; he let go of the darkness and embraced the light.

Leroy is teaching me how totally effortless healing can be.

Until next month,

Be well,


To read Leroy’s story, you can visit his page.

“Good-Bye, Leroy”

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*This column originally appeared in From the Horse’s Mouth in January 2008.

© 2008 by Pamela Sourelis