Using Equine Principles to Train the Human Mind

equine mind | Dianna Bonny Photography

Last week, I had dinner with the woman who has been caring for one of my horses. I always love seeing her even though it brings up the deep sadness I harbor about having to give up my equine companions. There are certain parts of my story, and this is one of them, that I prefer not to visit all that often because the pain is raw and scorching.

I try to stay on the periphery to spare myself the heartache.

We were talking about riding and I began to think about the hellacious journey my mare had to endure while making her way here from Iceland. The poor creature was flown to New York, quarantined for a few months and then hauled across the country, during a sweltering heat wave, in a broken down trailer, alongside a herd of equally shell-shocked horses.

The first time I saw her in the seller’s barn, I fell instantly in love. She has the kindest eyes and a heart of gold. I remember feeling so blessed that I could give her a good home and help her recover from the trauma of her travels.

When we moved her to our barn, it took a while to gain her trust. Once I did, she followed me around like a puppy. Icelandic’s are known for taking naps and they will lay flat out on the earth and slip into a deep slumber. It didn’t take long for the other horses to follow suit, and soon it was a daily occurrence to have all of them laid out in pinwheel formation in the arena, happily napping.

She was mostly unbroken when she arrived, equipped with only the most basic of training. A few months after I purchased her, the Icelandic trainer who bred her came to town and wanted to show me “how” to ride her. His method was to overpower her with his might and strength. It only took one episode of witnessing him savagely beat her face with a crop for me to ask him to leave my property.

Thankfully, I found a woman who adhered to more peaceful equine principles of trust and cooperation. My horse responded to the trainer’s quiet, yet confident, manner and became a willing and enthusiastic learner. I have never felt more safe on a horse and shudder to think what might have become of her had I followed the brutish methods of the Icelandic breeder.

I think back to those days with immense fondness and realize that, although this instructor was teaching me how to ride my horse, I was really learning about myself and mastering my own mind.

It is difficult to describe but horses really do provide an honest reflection that can reveal our deepest selves — if we care to look.

One of the most profound lessons this woman taught was to bring out the best in a horse, you must be a good leader. Horses are highly attuned creatures that feel everything in the environment (remember, they are prey animals), including the rider’s fear, or confidence.

Interaction with our mind is much like the rider-horse relationship. Unfortunately, we don’t allow the true leader, our higher self, to shine through. Instead, our insecure rider, or ego, is in command and we recklessly charge through life reacting to everything on the path out of fear.

It is a dangerous way to live and one that forces us into a love-hate relationship with the very essence of our human nature. Sadly, I would argue that we live mostly in the hate side of the equation.

It is possible to beat a horse into submission, but we will never see her true brilliance. In much the same way, we cannot beat ourselves into the magnificence we are meant to become. That beauty has to be grounded and born out of love and compassion.

Think of the gentleness you might extend a horse while riding through a scary forest. We all know that life can be that same scary forest — how different would your life be if you began extending this same kind of tenderness to yourself?

I caught myself off guard while writing this post. As the tears began to fall, and I once again felt that ache in my heart, I had to honor the fact that I miss my horses so very much and the wound is still very raw.

May your mind become your ally and may peace be upon you while you travel the path.

Sending love,


Who is Dianna Bonny?

Hi, my name is Dianna Bonny. It’s my mission to candidly share my journey with you. For me, it’s all about the healing: to create a radiant healing energy for others who have befallen a similar fate. Together, we can forge beautiful lives of belonging and connection. Thanks for joining me today! I look forward to hearing from you.

  2 comments for “Using Equine Principles to Train the Human Mind

  1. June 20, 2014 at 9:54 pm


    This is such a wonderful post. How does it feel to have written it?


    • Dianna Bonny
      June 21, 2014 at 4:37 pm

      Bryan: Thank you! It felt wonderful while it also made me sad. Despite having to let go of so much, I was able to do the best for my horses given my circumstances. Often, the right thing to do is not the easy one. Writing always makes me aware of the games my mind can play on me and learning to master this has been the most powerful lesson. It is a daily practice, because the mind never seems to want to let go, but I like being on this side of knowing that I can change things if I remain in a conscious state of being. Thank you for asking. db

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