Connecting With the Divine Equine:
Empowering your Riding Dreams
By: Catherine Hunter
I was so afraid,” said Jean Larson about trying to learn to ride. “Now I feel free, I feel safe and I feel secure and connected to the horse.”
Jean started riding at age 58 and rode for two years at a stable in Madison County before discovering the Divine Riding System at Whole Horse Journeys in Asheville.
“They [Whole Horse Journeys] showed me how to connect energetically with horses through a safe and trusting relationship,” said Jean. “It’s pretty magical.”
Like many women, Jean was attracted to the sense of freedom and beauty found in such a large animal. She was drawn to the gentleness of horses and the magic and mystery within their big, positive energy. Jean had always wanted to ride and hoped to find that connection of freedom and mystery we all feel when we gaze upon such noble and magnificent creatures.
Unfortunately riding lessons at the Madison stable did not help Jean realize her dreams. Though she was able to trot in circles on a long line she was missing that deep, spiritual oneness with the horse.
“They [the Madison stable] told me I had to be the boss,” she explained. “I was supposed to grip with my legs and pretend I was holding a thousand pounds in my hands.”
Jean had studied polarity therapy and chakra energy for more than ten years, and knew there had to be a better way to communicate with horses than bossing them and forcing them to submit to her will. What she didn’t know, was, finding that “better way” would change her life.
“I knew so much theoretically and knew how to move the energy, but I had never experienced a real connection,” she said.
It was through exploring the horse’s chakra energy at Whole Horse Journeys that Jean began to open her own chakras and feel that “deep oneness” not only with the horse, but with all life.
“It was like a key to a door,” she grinned. “Suddenly there was this beautiful world of possibilities both on and off the horse.”
When Jean first started riding in Madison County she experienced the fear so many feel and many never transition beyond. Fear is a real and valid emotion to have when you are unbalanced, high off the ground on a large animal that out-weighs you by 800 or more pounds. Unfortunately many riders never gain a sense of security on the horse and struggle with fear on a daily basis in order to achieve their life’s passion of riding.
It was through the Divine Riding System at Whole Horse Journeys that Jean began to gain confidence and watch her fears unravel and vanish. Jean learned how to relate feeling secure in the saddle with movement, flow and balance throughout her body while on a moving horse. She began to feel her chakras opening, feel the tension leaving her body and experience a strong, grounded connection to the earth while riding.
“I followed the horse’s energy to learn how to move,” said Jean, her blue eyes glistening with wonder. “The whole world opened up for me. I can now connect to much more than the horse.”
Jean began successfully challenging her fears by learning to balance and correctly distribute her weight on a moving horse. She discovered if she could relax and allow her weight to flow down her legs into her heels she would be more secure and safe in the saddle.
“I didn’t realize we were working with chakras until after a few months when we talked about my future goals,” she said. “When the instructor said, ‘connect the energy,’ it was like a key to a door.”
Jean suddenly realized relaxing her legs allowed the energy from the horse’s lower chakras near the hind legs and tail, to flow through the horse’s heart chakra, where the rider sits. With a relaxed rider, the horse’s energy could continue up into the horse’s higher chakras in the chest, neck and head.
“When I was taught to grip at the Madison barn it cut off the flow of energy,” she said.
According to Jean, the security and relaxation she experienced allowed her to provide a sense of safety and security for the horse as well. She quickly realized this was the same thing her other animals, especially her mule, were wanting.
A couple of years ago Jean had purchased a yearling mule and was struggling to get the mule to understand and cooperate with her commands. Through her work with the horses’ chakra energy, Jean realized her mule wanted the same respect, authenticity and connection she was developing with the horses.
“She [the mule] wanted someone confident, not dominant,” Jean grinned. “Now she likes being with me.”
Whereas most systems of riding teach the rider to subdue and control the horse, the Divine Riding System uses four phases of communication to help riders learn to connect their bodies, minds and spirits with the body mind and spirit of the horse. Riders begin in the non-interfering phase, learning how to balance and communicate without hurting the horse and without interfering with the horse’s natural way of moving.
Learning to not interfere with the horse is a true challenge for all riders. Humans not only balance by using their hands and arms, we are taught to use our hands to hold on to, and to fix, things.
Yet, when we are riding, our hands and arms are holding reins attached to a metal bit in the horse’s mouth. Every time a rider uses their hands and arms to catch their balance they pull on the horse’s sensitive mouth.
When using the Divine Riding System riders begin by holding the horse’s mane instead of the reins as they learn their balance. They discover if they relax their legs rather than grip, they can move as one with their horse and the movement and flow of energy, rhythm and balance will keep them secure in the saddle.
Phase one: Divine Riders communicate with the horse through voice commands. This allows them to create a dialogue of conversation with their horse rather than subduing him with a pull on the reins. This two-way dialogue allows the horse to open his chakras and empowers the horse to choose to cooperate with the rider’s requests.
Once the horse knows the rider will not accidentally pull on their mouth or lose her balance and fall back on the horse’s back, the horse begins to open the trust energy in his fourth chakra. As the rider realizes she feels safe on the horse, the two develop a bond. The rider is now ready to try those magical gallops through fields and over jumps.
Once she relaxed her legs and allowed the free flow of energy Jean also felt safe enough to experience that magical bond with horses that she had dreamed about all her life.
“The Divine Riding System provided me with a way to be very secure without gripping and clutching and allowed the energy to flow through both me and the horse,” she said.
In the third and fourth phases of this approach to riding, the rider picks up the reins and communicates with the horse through a subtle blend of hands, legs, balance and energy flow. The communication becomes a two-way flow of energy between horse and rider through the higher chakras. The Divine Riding System uses this flow of energy to create a space in which the horse becomes an empowered, enlightened, whole being energetically cooperating with the rider.
Jean now uses this energy connection and flow in her every day life. “I’ve studied polarity and understood the connection for years,” she said. “But I had never experienced it until I begin riding this way with Whole Horse Journeys.”
Jean believes that most people have protective shields which prevent them from experiencing deep relationships. She is now able to be non-threatening and provide a safe space for people to open up, drop their shields and be more authentic.
“I allow a safe, welcome place in my energy field to let them come in,” said Jean. “This is an incredibly valuable tool in relating to both animals and people.”
Within a few months of riding at Whole Horse Journeys Jean was jumping and galloping in the fields, something she had always dreamed of doing and never felt safe enough to try. She is now using phase two and three of the Divine Riding System and is feeling that deep, magical connection with horses. Her riding experience is becoming more and more refined as she discovers she can move and turn the horse simply by working with its energy rather than pulling on the reins.
Today she started teaching her mule to accept the saddle. According to Jean, the mule was so proud and happy to be working with Jean as an equal partner.
“It was like she [the mule] said that’s the way it’s supposed to be,” Jean said in a voice light with relief and joy. “She followed me around all afternoon as I worked in the field. She wanted to be close.”
Jean loves her feelings of freedom and connection with horses so much she wanted to share it with others. Whole Horse Journeys now offers holistic retreats, Equine Energetics Seminars and free introductory workshops to help horse owners, and those who dream of riding, experience the fun and magic of horses from a place of safety and self empowerment.
“I feel so supported and understood at Whole Horse Journeys. There’s not many places I feel that way,” said Jean. “I wish others could experience what I have. That would be great.”
Catherine Hunter has been working with horses for more than 50 years, is a nationally rated instructor and a former trainer for the Atlanta Mounted Police. She is the founder of the Divine Riding System, has published in national and regional equine magazines and is the Peace Rider who rode her Thoroughbred, Count of War 900 miles from South Carolina to Ground Zero in New York City for the cause of world peace. For more information about Whole Horse Journeys and the Divine Riding System visit wholehorsejourneys.com.