Why we love horses… some unexpected answers.

I’m guessing that one reason you ended up at this site was because you feel a connection to horses. Of course you do! Were you one of those kids, like the girl in National Velvet, who cut pictures of horses out of magazines and curried them, because you had none of your own? Or did you collect horse toys and figurines, or watched The Black Stallion more times than you could count, read horse books, or were simply enraptured when you saw horses in the flesh? The drive to be near horses, to touch them, to care for them, and to ride them, can be overwhelming. Why do you think this is? It’s a valid question, especially if you grew up without horse folks in the family, or even if you did.

One reason might be that it’s in your blood. My maternal grandfather, Stanley Thompson, served with the New York National Guard as a Sergeant in the 1st Cavalry regiment in the Mexican Punitive Campaign from 1916-1917. I never knew Grandpa Stanley, as he died before I was born, and so I never got any stories. But I remember seeing his saddle, kept for a time by my Aunt Nancy, and I have his blunt spurs and the saddle blanket he used. So he had to have been a horseman.

A second family link came from a three times great-grandfather, Robert Candy of Angus, Scotland, who was in the Royal Horse Artillery in the late 1850’s, serving in India for four years during the time of the Indian Mutiny and eventually attaining the rank of Sergeant-Major after twenty-one years.

A third family link, that I only just found after on-site research in Oneida county, New York, as that another three times great-grandfather, John Jones, was a Foreman and Livery Agent at the Butterfield Livery Stables on Main Street, Utica, in the mid to late 1840’s. The stables were described in a 1904 newspaper article as “greater than any livery business in Utica today, for 80 horses were cared for at these stables.”

All this is astonishing but somehow comforting to me, as I feel solidarity in the knowledge that some of what I take joy in- the sight, smell, feel and care of horses- had to have been shared to some extent by family.

Given that cars did not exist before the late 1800’s, I would imagine that many people may have had horses in their lives to some extent. So if you have an inexplicable pull towards horses, perhaps it’s in your blood!

Remarkable as family connections to horses are to discover, you may have even older connections. As in… a previous life. Or lives.

In July of 2021, I was told by a well-known Medium that my connection to horses went back to Roman times. She said I drove a chariot and even told me a story of a specific incident.

It seems that I was a young man with a strong sibling rivalry with a half-brother, who bet me that he could beat me in a chariot race. We each drove two horses. Without my knowing, my brother substituted a breeding stallion for one of his horses, thinking that he would have an edge in the race. The stallion, however, was not trained for racing, and got hurt in the process.

The Medium told me that I discovered this and amidst clouds of dust, managed to drive my team in front of my brother’s to stop him and leaped off to examine the stallion. She said that I was so upset over the horse’s treatment that I chose the horse over my relationship with my brother, terminating our relationship and threatening to tell the authorities of what he had done (which was a crime) if he ever spoke to me again. The Medium described my binding up a wound on one of the stallion’s legs and leading him away.

This story literally made my mouth go dry. You can believe it, or not, but I do, because this Medium has done readings in which she knew things about family members of mine that were not possible to know by normal means. I was amazed. So perhaps a past life connection could also be another reason for our attraction to horses.

Shedding Your Cares With Horse Hair

Are you a worrier? Have trouble just “letting go”, and end up lying awake for hours, ‘stewing’ over every little thing?  There are little worries that are not worth obsessing over (or so you tell yourself), and there are big worries that carry real fear with them.  The Covid-19 Pandemic has been one of those. And as if it is not serious enough a health concern of its own, it carries in its train a host of related worries about loved ones, jobs, money, security and more.

                Here’s the thing, though: worry about that which you can do nothing accomplishes nothing beneficial and it’s destructive to self and others.  And no, we can’t always avoid worry. But we can take breaks, so to speak, and put the burden of worry down for a time. 

                Animals live in the present.  They are attuned to natural rhythms and the seasons, taking each in its time and adjusting accordingly.  One of the signs of Spring, for horses, is the shedding of the winter coat. The hair comes off gradually at first, and then in great clumps; a “shedding blade” is standard equipment in horse barns for this purpose.  The old hair falls away to the floor, revealing a shiny, darker coat of new hair underneath.  My horse feels good about shedding, because he grunts with appreciation and leans into the brush as his old, dull winter coat, no longer wanted or needed, falls away.

                To that end, I offer here one of my Stable Magick rituals, because this is the best time of year for folks to secure some of that unwanted winter coat for banishing purposes.  Take care, however, that you only use hair that is shed, or hair that has been released by the animal, and not some that was cut off.  And it’s only polite to give a gift for a gift; an apple or carrot would be most appreciated.

                I would recommend that this ritual be done on a windy day on or before the New Moon.  Like all my stable magick, not much is required; you only need clear intention, and the hair itself.  You can use as much or as little hair as you like.  If the horses you know happen to have shed most of their winter coat by now, check brushes or run your fingers through the coat to loosen enough to gather.  The basic technique is to spin widdershins, like most tornadoes in the northern hemisphere, while releasing the hair, and your cares, to the winds. 

                You can use a simple rhyming chant like this:

This hair of horse, no longer needed,

Like cares of mine, no longer heeded.

I cast away, the winds to carry,

My heart is light, and back to Merry!

You can bind the worries to the hair by holding it and reciting the first two lines repeatedly to build up energy. (Note:  be sure to do this somewhere out of the wind, because this horsehair is very fine and can slip through your fingers in a hot minute.)  Then, go outside where you won’t be disturbed and hold the hair close to your body, and recite the entire chant while turning widdershins, slowly at first and then with increasing speed.   Turn and repeat, turn and repeat, until you become a whirlwind of your own making and release the hair when you feel about ready to burst.  The work is done! Be sure to ground afterwards by touching earth and get something to eat or drink afterwards.  (A further note: notice which way the wind is blowing, because you really don’t want the hair coming back on you!)

Cleaning Stalls and Cleaning Your Spirit

Fall is a great time to unclutter. As the year’s end approaches, we enter a reflective time and consider what it is we want to keep and what no longer serves. To me, cleaning my horse’s stall presents a literal and symbolic way to do this very thing.

Even though the barn itself is beatific, we still come to it carrying the events of the day, the week, the year and even longer. Sometimes, we enter carrying way too much, awash in confusion, indecision, hurt or angry. A solution is at hand- or at the end of the pitchfork. In earthy terms: Dump your shit with shit!

Visualization is everything. It’s transformative. So as you pick your stall, each clod of manure becomes something that you clean off yourself.

Let’s start with anger, or its close relative, hurt. Someone has done or said something to hurt you. Before you start your cleanup, look at the pile(s) of manure and speak your truth- aloud if possible- and name the problem. Example: “X was hateful to me. She said/did ‘x’. That was really shitty! I push those words/that deed onto this manure. And now, I remove its power.” And clean the stall. Each forkful of manure becomes the means to remove the sting, because little by little, it gets gone and both you and the stall become clean. You can affirm the spell when you are finished with a simple statement that is obvious, like “my work is done, and that shit is gone.”

Let’s say you feel overwhelmed with too much to do, and feel like it’s all too much to handle or you don’t know where to start. As in the previous example, look at the pile(s) of manure and name it: list your problems. All of them. You’re not going to remove the problems, you are going to lessen their weight on you. ” I have ‘x’, ‘y’ and ‘z’ going on right now. And that’s really shitty. I unload all those on this manure.”

If you like to use chants as you are shoveling or dumping, you can make one up. Here’s an idea:

“By my power, this shit is gone. With it goes all sense of wrong. This horse’s stall is clean and bright; all inside me peace and right.”

Is this going to make all your problems go away? No, but it will help return you to a place of balance. I’ve had it remove my anger and frustration completely (especially if I had multiple stalls to do!)

The Sacred Horse: Blog series

The Uffington White Horse

When something is sacred, or holy, it merits special attention. Sometimes, that means making something very BIG. The Greeks erected huge statues of their gods and goddesses in temples, so large as to inspire awe in the comparatively small humans who stood at their feet.

The Uffington White Horse, located in Southern Britain, is perhaps the best known surviving rock “carving” from the Iron Age. 360 feet long- the length of an American football field- and 130 feet high, it is cut into the side of a hill with white chalk beneath. Laser soil dating shows it was cut about 1 century B.C.E., which would put it of Celtic origin, and probably linked to the worship of the Celtic horse goddess, Epona. Later Saxons may have revered the White Horse as sacred to Odin.

Until the late 1800’s, the Uffington White Horse was cleaned or “scoured” every seven years in a scouring festival that lasted for days and included games, sideshows and vendors.

” The owld White Horse wants zettin to rights/And the Squire hev promised good cheer/Zo we’ll gee un a scrape to kep un in zhape/And a’ll last for many a year.”

Ballad, “The Scouring of the White Horse’ by Thomas Hughes, 1857

I like to think about the effect that this White Mare might have had on passerbys two thousand years ago. What did they think about her? Did it uplift their hearts to see her cantering on the land, her every step a blessing of strength and fertility? Did they stop and say a prayer of thanks or blessing? Her presence would have been rock-steady, day in and day out, a permanent reminder of Deity that stayed through human births and deaths. How reassuring her presence would have been.

Kudos to the British government who thought to protect her in more modern days from potential bombing during World War II by employing camouflage. May she gallop on through time to come. -November 1, 2019 E.P.