Category Archives: Life Experiences

First Confession: How I Went From No Horse To Two Horses In Less Than A Year :)! (3 Parts)


INDEED… in life, expect the unexpected!


I began my equine “novice-hood”  by leasing and taking lessons on the glorious mare, Serenity!


She was both a “hot horse”, meaning even her walk was as fast as most others’ trots, and a gentle sweetheart.


She was so easy on the ground.  When I’d clean her hooves, she’d just hand them to me.  Harnessing, bridling, saddling…easy!  About a month into my adventures with Serenity, the Houdini of a horse, Fritz :), had unlatched her stall door in the wee hours of the morning. She must have gotten out and gone running into some fencing because she was found cut and bleeding early the next morning.

Enter the good vet, Dr. Hilton.  Serenity’s human and I rushed to the scene as he stitched her up, gave us instructions and predicted she would not be ride-able for at least six weeks.  Her human, who had many different agendas with Serenity, was appalled.  I had already fallen madly in love with this mare and I wasn’t going anywhere.

Thus began my journey of caring for Serenity.  Her human rarely came around during this time.  I went every day when she was stall bound and would groom her gently, massage her, give her treats, kiss her nostrils and just hang out with her.  Soon we were given the okay to take her out, hand graze her and walk her gently.032

I spent happy days and weeks doing this.   Serenity and I developed a poignant bond.032

She taught me things about horses that one doesn’t necessarily learn when actually riding them.  She taught me how to be more authentic, patient and courageous.  She taught me that the best place to shed one’s tears is burying one’s face in a sweet horse’s neck, while hugging them.  She taught me that each horse is completely who they are and no two are alike. Eventually she healed.

I had the honor of cutting off her final bandage.  And the riding lessons commenced again.

So did my “accelerated education”…

I actually  found myself observing a lot of human behavior that I found troubling.  Behaviors like taking things personally when a horse doesn’t do what one wants them to do.  I observed her human slapping her and violently longeing her when she wasn’t happy with her behavior.  It was almost as though the human was acting out how her parents had treated her.  Because I was only the” leasing human”, I had very little say in the matter and would often feel devastated and helpless with my stomach in knots.

After returning from a  weeklong trip to Wyoming, which was ALL about horses, I went to ride Serenity and she was acting strange.  She didn’t want the saddle on her, didn’t want to go forward, was wringing her tail constantly and on trail was jiggity beyond anything I had experienced.  I ask her human’s permission to have Dr. Hilton look her over.  He palpated her, did some other testing and provisionally diagnosed that she was incredibly sore in her hindquarters and needed rest for about 10 days.

Needless to say, her human was again appalled, showed up at the barn, tacked her up and put on a “demonstration” to show how not sore Serenity was.  The whole time, Serenity just looked at me with hollow eyes and dropped her head obediently while being ridden.

It was at this junction that her human and I had to part ways.  I could no longer participate in this.  I  often tearfully pleaded with her human, who was perpetually short of money, to let me buy her so that I could be her human and take care of her needs.  But… no.

I would visit Serenity often in the weeks that followed.   Then, one day, her human moved her to another barn. I was devastated, even though I had permission to see Serenity at the new barn.  But my life had taken a swift and unusual turn…

Part Two Coming Soon!!! 🙂

3 Essential Lessons On How To Be An Improving Human; Taught To Me By Serenity, The Horse

In the beginning of last year’s Year of the Horse :), I leased a superb horse named Serenity. I posted this on my blog site at that time and wanted to repost here because it so aptly captures the beginning of The Novice Horsewoman’s life lessons 🙂

Christine Hendler's Blog

Lesson Number One: Release your over-cleanliness issues, germ-o-phobia, vanity and more-than-slightly-compulsive neatness!

I had ridden horses a lot in my life but never with any knowledge or instruction. Galloping and hanging on for dear life on a beach in Punta Cana seemed fine with me. After all, the water and sand would break my fall ;). But as I approach a retreat in Wyoming titled, Literature and the Landscape of theHorse, during which we will not only be writing, learning about the history of humans and horses and enjoying renewal; we will also be assigned to a horse all day for five days as part of the experience. Since I am generally a shy and embarrassed person, I didn’t want to spend those five days in the agony of my embarrassment at horse ignorance, so I asked a friend and yoga teacher who is “mommy” to a superb horse…

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The Confessions Begin!


One’s life can turn on a dime!  I had thought I would sing opera and teach voice forever.  That is until, one day, I realized that I was dreading each job I sang, that I was not enjoying music, that I might actually NOT be an opera singer the rest of my life!  I was blessed that one of the last times I sang in public was a benefit concert of The Liebeslieder Waltzs by Johannes Brahms, one of my all time favorite pieces.  The solos were satisfying and the quartet with four hands piano was electrifying.  That and being able to wear a gorgeous evening gown, one more time, was a wonderful note on which to end 🙂 (yes, pun intended)

I moved, took a job, that while gratifying, was not my life passion and just….waited.  Everyone kept asking me, “What are you going to do next?”.  They kept asking and asking and asking.  All I could answer was, “I have NO idea.”

Then, completely unexpectedly, I was watching television and a show came on where this group in New Mexico had a program that paired horses with PTSD war vets.  I was mesmerized.  I was sobbing at the stories and pictures being told and shown.  Like a bolt of lightening, I knew!    I didn’t know the “what”s, “where”s or “hows”. But I knew I would be destined to work like this in some capacity. I was being “called” to go on this path.

Only one problem, other than childhood/ young adult horseback rides and fearless gallops :), I knew NOTHING about horses other than I thought they were glorious creatures.  I certainly knew not much about war vets, other than through the organizations where I had volunteered and contributed.  But I had a feeling things would unroll piece by piece.

Now, two years, almost to the day, after that first “lightening strike”, I am on the path with both feet and not only 4 but 8 hooves!  This blog will attempt to chronicle the beginning and the current adventures on the path.

So many books are written about horsemanship.  I’ve read hundreds at this point.  What was lacking for me is knowing what it feels like to become a horsewoman without having grown up around horses or ridden horses regularly since childhood.  Sometimes these books have caused me to think or feel that I’ll just never catch on or catch up!

My hope with this blog is that others in my situation will find comfort and edification reading the myriad of new experiences (as stated: the good, bad and the silly 🙂 that the novice horsewoman or man enjoys!