A significant moment with Dhiaa, my horse.
Emboldened Equine’s Alison Weston’s tooled chinks and her daughter’s comment about a pair of red cowboy boots.
Grab a cup of tea or glass of wine or , whatever you like , I’ll try to be succinct!
Years before I even had thespark of an idea for this painting, it started with Linda. Way back in the beginning of my horse training days, I had always been curious about Ttouch… but it seemed to be one of those (if you know what I mean) groupie things, so I kept my distance, always observing
Through the years, I watched Linda and her crew at horse expos, etc. Every time, those horses went from unmanageable to happy, more beautiful and interactive. She did it with clear boundaries and no real force… hardly much excitement .
I could see Linda was a gifted animal person. Along the way, I picked up various things she showed the masses in her demos… like leg circles (they work wonders) and looking at things in a very practical way, as a horse would see it. She was incredibly effective and compassionate. It showed in the horses.
Fast forward 20 years and more exposure to Ttouch successes… I’m listening to an interview with Linda by Rick Lamb about a bunch of things including Heart Math (worth knowing about). After that, I decided I’d better go absorb some of what this experienced person knows before it’s too late.
I went to a weeklong workshop on Maui. Then 2 more in CA, and another with my horse, Dhiaa. Watching Linda interact with each and every one of those horses (and all creatures) is a treat. They know she really accepts them for who they are. It’s beautiful to watch their responses to her, she draws them in. She has so many different ways of working with each individual horse, it was enlightening.
Sometimes it was like she was mind-melding. She’d show a horse it could trust her and be comfortable with her (first time meeting each other) and in seconds the two of them are forehead-to-forehead, at peace. After that, she’d have that horse doing whatever she asked of it step by step, inducing relaxation through all sorts of specific interactive exercises, and boom she’s up riding bridleless, cantering around. One of the horses I witnessed was a big stressed out (in the beginning) warmblood who ended up completely at ease, loping along all happy with Linda giggling away on its back with just a neck ring, no bridle…
Linda is inspiring on so many levels. She’s the real deal, in tune with all creatures great and small. In my painting you can see her white pony tail, the flowers and the bright happy colors she always wears. She’s in her connecting moment, forehead to forehead with the horse, letting the horse rest into her graceful amazing healing hands. Linda Tellington-Jones is a treasure, a gift to the horses and one hell of a horsewoman, trainer (of people too) and rider. She is brave, a pioneer and continues to shine her light… teaching people how to listen to themselves in this crazy world in a loving way, responsibly. I am honored to say, she owns a great big canvas print of this painting
You’re almost at the end of the story! Now for the rest of it.
Spring was showing signs of returning. The nights were sometimes warmer and little flowers started popping up. Nearly a year before, the Westons had kindly let me move Dhiaa over to Weston Equine for stall rest and rehab from an SI injury (all better now). They let us take a central stall, install a half door and add fencing to keep in Pipsqueak, Dhiaa’s pet Nigerian Dwarf goat (thank you Patty Berg-Le). I was at the barn a lot.
After months and months of 2-3x a day hand walking/grazing treatments and bodywork. The day finally came when she was ready to be ridden at the walk for 5 minutes. When I climbed up in the saddle and settled down, Dhiaa turned her head around and said, “there you are!” Her look melted my heart. I was overjoyed to be up on her again, gratitude flooded through me.
That is what I wanted to paint, the feeling of that moment. The gratitude of a horse letting me ride them. I went home and attempted … I got a little stuck… I ended up painting this kind of whimsical take on it. It was a new thing for me. I wasn’t sure people would like it (it’s now one of the most popular images)!
I brought it to the barn and asked Alison of Emboldened Equine what she thought of this almost “cartoon”. She was very encouraging. Alison always wears lovely outfits for her Cowboy Dressage clinics, so who better to advise on the chaps I was painting . She happened to be wearing these beautifully tooled chinks (hers are natural leather colors) and her daughter had commented something about red cowboy boots… hence the outfit on the rider, the chinks had to match the fancy boots! It’s funny what will end up influencing a painting.
This feel good painting doesn’t stop there. I ended up donating it to Healing Reins so they could auction it off in their Diamonds and Dust fundraiser. Talk about a painting that has good vibes!
I hope you enjoyed the the backstory of where “Gratitude” came from.