The Story of Influence
Articles Inspirational articles from Hay House authors
The Story of InfluenceThe horse who taught me how to open my heart.
Everyone is stressed out these days and I’m frequently asked how to deal with anxiety. I urge people to get a pet or have some sort of animal companionship. Many studies have shown that having a pet reduces stress and prolongs life. A lot of clients have even learned to love again after grievous losses or betrayals by getting involved with an animal and experiencing their unconditional love—a true healing balm for the heart.
I love my dog and my cats, but I have a special relationship with Influence—my 20-year-horse. He’s a black Dutch Warmblood with four white socks and a white blaze on his face, very much like Elizabeth Taylor’s horse in the movie National Velvet.
It was love at first sight with Influence. I’ve spent a lot of time living in rural areas with many different types of animals. My husband and I had a ranch in the mountains near Lake Tahoe that was rather like Noah’s Ark, with pairs of ducks, geese, chickens, pigs, goats, even a dozen llamas. One day a neighbor rode by on her horse. I had never been close to a horse before . . . but one ride, and I was head over heels. I found Influence (along with several other horses, since if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing to excess!) and spent all my time in a self-created “University of the Horse,” learning everything I could.
When he was young, Influence chased the llamas around the field, but was very gentle with them. An old cowboy walked by one day and warned me that Influence acted like he thought I was his mother, and to watch out, he might bite me. (Young horses do nip their mothers.) A few days later, I bent over Influence’s stall door to pet him and he did bite me. To this day, I have to be careful because he’ll want to give me love nips if I haven’t seen him in a while.
I was a green rider with a green horse. Horse trainers told me our combined ignorance was sheer insanity. But I knew he was meant to be my horse. I rode dressage—that was our sport. He loved competing. In dressage, horse and rider have to perform difficult movements as one, or at least that’s the goal. Influence was never easy to ride, he always made me work for every movement. Influence prefers his retirement now, smelling the breeze, enjoying the Southern California air.
In the summer, my husband and I sleep outside in a tent. I love sleeping on the ground, in touch with the restorative energy we receive from the natural world. And it also allows me to be near my horse.
Influence needs our companionship. He knows when we’re asleep and stays quiet. When one of us wakes up—even just opening an eye—he immediately senses it. Oh good, you’re awake! When he was young, I had put a little brass bell in his stall and told him, if you need me, ring the bell. He’s never forgotten that trick. Now he takes his big foot (he weighs close to 1600 pounds!) with its iron shoe and kicks the metal bucket. He doesn’t care if it’s 2 a.m., dark and cold, I have to get up and give him his hay. I keep him 20-30 feet away from the tent so he’s not in my energy field while I meditate. When your animals meditate with you, it recharges them rather than you.
He’s very magical. The first time I ever heard Influence speak was when I’d had him for only a month. I was riding him and he was clearly reluctant to be going anywhere. In my mind, I heard him say: It’s too hot out and my feet hurt. Connecting with an animal on a deep intuitive level shows a willingness to trust in a real partnership.
There’s an old cowboy saying that a horse’s outsides are good for a man’s insides. (It’s a corollary to that cardinal cowboy rule: Always keep the horse between you and the ground.) All I have to do is stand near Influence, groom him, pet him, or even mentally connect my energy field to his when I’m not in his presence—and it grounds me and opens my heart.
Our pets do so much for us. As I say in my book Truth Heals when discussing the heart chakra: “One of the best ways to open a closed heart is through giving and receiving love with a pet—a dog, cat, horse, or even a bird can help heal heartbreak and teach us how to love again. Pets love us unconditionally and make it safe for us to learn to love again.” So if you want to hone your intuitive skills, receive unconditional love, have access to instant grounding, and open your heart—get a pet!