Wednesday, October 25, 2017

To All the Horses I Have Loved Before

(This blog was originally posted on September 27, 2016)

Photo courtesy of Sara Fogan
Me and Renege, my first “Equine Love”

When I started my hypnotherapy training, an important focus of my original business plan was to help equestrians improve their communication and relationship with their equine partners, including overcome anxiety around horses and achieve competition goals. Of course, not all of my practice focuses on horses and riding. Smoking cessation, weight loss, overcoming fear of public speaking/performance anxiety, grief resolution and dealing with stress/anxiety are just a few of many other self-improvement goals I help my clients achieve. But I named my hypnotherapy practice Calminsense Hypnotherapy® in homage of my special interest in horses and riding. “Common Sense” is a colloquial expression that means “horse sense,” and I use the word “calm” many times during every hypnotherapy session. Recent queries about my work with equestrians inspired me to pay tribute to some of the horses that have been so special to me over the years.

  • Paent (pronounced “Paint” and probably named because of his coloring). I rode him on a trail-ride during my one-and-only summer camp experience. He was probably an average-sized horse, about 15 or 15.2 hands high, but I was very little at age eight and he seemed huge. He was a gentle giant—i.e., he didn’t run off or try to dump me during the ride—and I begged my parents to let me take him home with me when I went home.

  • Renege. I rode this grey gelding for a few years between the ages of about 11 and 15. My first-ever riding instructor owned him and his doppelganger, a gelding called Charlie. Trivia fact: Clint Eastwood is riding Renege in the first 10 minutes of High Plains Drifter. The gelding was very dirty in this scene, but he is definitely in those scenes. My trainer’s husband worked in the movie industry and owned the horses—or bought them right after the movie, I can’t remember. Renege was a little smaller than Charlie and rarely used in jumping lessons—which made him less popular in lessons—but I really bonded with him. I can still remember how slow and smooth Renege’s trot was; in fact, it was probably better categorized as a Western jog. His canter (lope) was also comparatively slow compared to the bolder stride that is desired in dressage. My memory of how wonderful his canter felt probably created the subconscious mental script that my subsequent trainers and I had to work hard re-write so I would feel comfortable riding a true medium (bold) canter.

  • Galhoso (“Gally”). One of my dear friends co-owns a Lusitano stallion called Galhoso. The last time I visited her—about 15 years ago—Sandra asked if I would like to sit on him after their training session. She knew that I used to ride when I was a teenager and loved horses. The opportunity to get on a horse again and even trot him around on a lunge line for a few minutes was too good to be true. It also was the beginning of my re-introduction to horses and riding as a passion and life-style. The following year I started taking regular riding lessons again and bought my first-ever horse.

  • Geeves. I bought him from my trainer at Silvergate Farms when I turned 35. As I liked to say, I knew I loved him before I ever met or rode him. Having lived in England for seven years I was a fan of the Jeeves and Wooster novels and television series. As soon as I heard there was a horse with that name at the barn I knew I had to meet him. My trainer was surprised when I asked to ride Geeves, but we soon became recognized as a kind of item at the barn: “Sara and Geeves.” At 16.2 hands high, the dark-brown gelding was (and remains) one of the biggest horses I have ever ridden. He was always very gentle with and even protective of me, as I was of him. He taught me how to enjoy every aspect of loving a horse—not just riding but grooming, hanging out on rainy days and worrying about every little thing that horse owners worry about, often unnecessarily. Geeves and I were together for nearly eight years and it’s nearly six years since he passed away. I still miss him every day, and I remember every lesson he taught me.

  • Candy. I leased this sweet part-Arabian mare for about a year after Geeves died. I had actually been riding her at the end of Geeves’ life because his arthritis was getting worse. I wasn’t ready to own another horse yet, but the schooling mare and I were a good fit as far as size and my riding goals/ability. She took me to my first horse shows and even though I knew she wouldn’t be a permanent part of my life, I am grateful for the time I got to spend with her while I was grieving for my horse.

  • Galahad. I met Avalon’s Galahad in 2011. Our introduction was similar to how I discovered Geeves. A friend (now current trainer) owned a training barn and Arabian-horse breeding facility; when I finally started looking for a horse of my own, she gave me a DVD of some of the horses she was offering for sale at the time. My interest piqued the instant Galahad appeared in the frames. Learning about the horse’s part-Lipizzan pedigree was like a dream come true. The dancing white horses of the Spanish Riding School symbolized the ultimate of classical dressage training, and I could have a chance to become part of that story. The first time Galahad was brought out for me to watch him work at liberty, even my trainer agreed he seemed to be flirting with me in a way he didn’t behave with another prospective buyer. The first time I got on him for a ride, the gelding cocked a hind leg and dropped his head, waiting patiently as I adjusted my stirrups. “Well, he’s made up his mind!” My trainer said with a laugh, noting Galahad’s relaxation with me on board.

So had I, and we’ve been together ever since.

Sara R. Fogan, C.Ht. is a certified hypnotherapist based in Southern California. She graduated with honors from the Hypnosis Motivation Institute in 2005. For more information about Calminsense Hypnotherapy® and to set up an appointment, please visit
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