Her Ears are my Shoulders


Her ears are my shoulders, I thought as I rode Chloe in a circle around the ring.  I watched Chloe’s ears move in the direction of my shoulders as I turned my body from the waist.  I’m sure someday I’ll take that for granted, the way a horse will go where you want to just by moving your body, but right now it still seems like magic to me.

Every movement of my body is a message to Chloe.  If I unconsciously shift my weight, or press a leg against her, I may be telling her to so something I don’t consciously want her to do. And my attitude means so much.  You have to mean it, Eli tells me when I want her to stop and she doesn’t.

It’s like playing a drum, when I finally get the beat down, and it’s not just my hands hitting the drum at the right time in the right place, it’s as if my whole body is playing, like my hands are my feet dancing across the floor.  That’s what it’s like when we’re moving together.  My shoulders and her ears, my legs and hips moving in time with hers, my hands feeling her mouth through the reins, my heart soft and my mind not having to think about any of it, only needing to know where it wants to go next.


Something was off with the way I was holding the reins.  I wasn’t feeling any of that connection that people speak about.  I didn’t know what I was supposed to feel or even what it might feel like.  I didn’t really think about it, but suddenly I was aware that  I was afraid to hold the reins too short.  I thought I was going to hurt Chloe if I did.  ” I heard that a bit is painful in a horses mouth”, I blurted out to Eli, “I’m realizing I’m afraid of hurting Chloe if I can physically feel any pressure on the reins.  So I’m holding them loose.”

Eli explained how, the kind of bit she uses doesn’t hurt a horse’s mouth.  And how, in the beginning, I had to be able to physically feel the connection between me and Chloe’s mouth.  As I got better at riding, and she and I  got to know each other better,  I’d be able to make the tiniest movements with my pinky to let Chloe know where I wanted to go or what I wanted her to do.  But now, It was important that she know I’m at the other end of the reins.  That it gives her a sense of security, that it’s my job to let her know what to do and where to go.  That loose reins are confusing, unclear.


I can still feel it now.  I’m not sure what to call it, it’s not pressure or tension, more like the pull of a magnet to metal, but without the pull. Just the sensation of energy moving from one point to another and back again with ease.

There were moments today, when riding Chloe, it was pure movement.   In the distance, like she was in another place, I could hear Eli telling me everything I was doing right. I wasn’t thinking, I was doing.  But I wasn’t alone, somehow Chloe and I were doing the same thing together.  And when that happened, I felt like I was experiencing something completely new to me, like I was occupying a different space and time.

Back in the barn, I leaned up against Chloe’s neck and I could feel her lean into me.  We stayed that way for a little while and I felt like we shared a heartbeat. Then I brought her back to her area with the other ponies and donkeys.  She ran off to be with the other horses and I went home, feeling like something had shifted inside of me.

me and Chloe
Me and Chloe

10 thoughts on “Her Ears are my Shoulders

  1. Well done, Maria!!! You’ve observed and captured so many wonderful sensations and nuances in the entry. WELL DONE!!!

    Your GORGEOUS horse potholders arrived this past week. Hope to photograph them with one or more of the “kids” and shoot a photo your way soon.

  2. Amazing. The senses and connections beyond the technical are so cool. I’m so happy for you (and thankful that you are sharing them so beautifully with us)!

  3. I had the chance to work with horses just one summer at a YMCA camp. I was ‘assistant wrangler,’ This was my first time being with horses for any real length or in riding much at all – fortunately the ‘wrangler’ had a great deal of experience. There were great variety of horses, 11 or 13 total I think. All well cared for various places through the fall into the spring and then back to the camp for summer trail rides, but each with distinctly different personalities and traits. I very much remember coming to learn what you describe above and communicating or somehow being i synch with the horse and vice versa. One of the best summers of my life.

    Thank you.

  4. Maria I am so happy for what you are learning. To be one with a horse is the most invigorating and peaceful feeling you’ll ever experience. I can’t really tell from the photo, what saddle are you using? Western or English?

  5. Oh Maria, I identify so much with this story of you and Chloe. It is uncanny.I have the fears and foibles too. Good for us that we have highly intelligent ponies to help us straighten out!!!! I love the pictures too. 🙂

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