The buckskin mare in the photos was named Willow, registered as Samaal's Bright Nova. When we met, Willow and I were both struggling in body and mind. The way I'd learned to ride and train horses didn't resonate with her. I'd had some wonderful instruction as a child and young rider in natural horsemanship, dressage and eventing methods. I was introduced at a very young age to the methods of Buck Branaman, Ray Hunt and other 'natural horsemanship' trainers, and as a teenager I began to learn classical dressage mounted techniques. I competed successfully as a lower level event rider with my Dartmoor/Arab pony. He was an incredible athlete and we did everything under the sun together. But when it came to training Willow, there were missing pieces in what I had to offer her. She was uncomfortable in her body and either shut down or aggressive. I began to seek a different way to relate to her, to horses in general. I started learning about the biomechanics and physiology of horse and rider; about the interplay of horse and human nervous systems. Wendy Murdoch's work was the first pivotal influence I encountered. Her focus with biomechanics and the horse's subtle signs of tension or relaxation was a powerful motivation for me; the effect with Willow was quite notable. It seeded a growing holistic approach, leading me into a deep healing journey of my own. Uncovering pieces of myself, and engaging the wherewithal to show up for her in a way she felt connected to. Each horse is different in their make up, but they all share a common language of energetic and spatial awareness, a somatic language. Willow was exceptionally sensitive physically and energetically, something that challenged me and eventually taught me to slow down and listen in a whole new way. Over the years I deepened my understanding of classical dressage methods; following the progression of in-hand lunge and bridle work into equitation. The emphasis on tempo, freedom in the horse's back and shoulder, mobility in the poll and general relaxation and engagement of the horse took my training with Willow, and all the horses I was working with, to another level. I began to come across the work of trainers like Anja Beran and Manolo Mendez. In the past few years I studied and began to incorporate 'at liberty' work as well as positive reinforcement clicker training on the ground, surrounding confidence, attention and play. This work, coupled with my own journey into embodiment and self awareness created a channel of openness and enthusiasm in Willow that melted my heart. She was willing and enthusiastic in a whole new way. It bolstered my belief that horses, as much as us, excel beautifully with variety, play, and pure-hearted encouragement as well as mental and athletic structure. She was always a concern to me however, as we had been battling a chronic tick borne infection and bouts of colic, one very serious episode that by a miracle, 24 hours of constant attention and medication and willpower to keep her alive, she survived. After this scare and some shuffling in my personal life around where I was going to live and begin to put real effort into growing my business, I found a lovely place to move her and myself. The move went well and she was happier than I had seen her in years. She showed some on and off signs of not feeling well though and ultimately, on August 17, 2021, she had another bad colic, another displacement, which she did not survive. The vet felt she had a gastrointestinal tumor that was likely the cause of her colic episodes and chronic displacement. It was a very challenging time for me. She changed my life and she was my partner, my heart. I miss her every day; she lives on with me in my efforts to continue to heal, grow and help other horses and people to do the same.