Category Archives: Parelli Natural Horsemanship Blog Pieces


Well, today marks the birth of my book baby in paperback!  THIS IS NOT THE
STORY YOU THINK IT IS:  A Season of Unlikely Happiness (Amy Einhorn/Putnam) hits a bookstore near you as I write, scrambling to pack for what will be almost two months on the road.  My head and stomach are buzzing with excitement and the usual nerves, knowing I will be encountering so much energy out there that I don’t  have in my quiet little Montana life.  Some
of the highlights I am particularly thrilled about are:  Speaking at my alma mater, Denison University, tomorrow , going on CBS’s The Early Show on the 11th, being a panelist at the Reinvention Convention in LA on the 23rd of May, hosted by More magazine, with fabulous co-speakers like Rita Wilson, Lee Woodruff, Christy Turlington, Mel Robbins and many other inspiring
women.and reading at some of my favorite bookstores across the country.  The one which will be most full circle, is the Harvard Coop in Cambridge, MA, where I got my first job out of college working at a flower shop, writing my
first novel, and spending my lunch hour turning pages in that hallowed hall. I have heard from so many Parelli people this year and I want to say thank you for all your supportive, generous, spirited mail and blog comments.  I
feel a kindredness with horse people and to that end, I want to share a small moment with you.

To read more, please click on the Parelli site.


Filed under Little Hymns to Montana, My book: This Is Not The Story You Think It Is: A Season of Unlikely Happiness, My Posts, Parelli Natural Horsemanship Blog Pieces

Horses in the Herd

This time of year in Montana, I feel like the world just needs to crack open like an egg with a chick in it that is fully ready to use its beak and its legs and even its wings.  But it seems impossible, like we’ll be encased in this hard shell forever.  Here’s a piece I wrote for the Parelli site which reminds me that, yes, sooner than later, I’ll be on a horse again, but for now…it’s about watching.

Watching the Herd

Watching the Herd

I decided on my 34th birthday that I wanted to get back into horses.  I was paying for my children to have riding lessons.  Why not me?  I’d ridden as a child into my teens.  I missed those amazing creatures.  But I told myself a bunch of stories about why we couldn’t afford it and weighted my peaking passion with questions:  what if I got really hurt?  Was it irresponsible to be riding now that I was a mother?  We’ll tell ourselves almost anything to keep our dreams from coming true.

I decided to tell myself a different story:  I deserved to be happy and horses had been an integral piece of my happiness as a child.  I didn’t have a big agenda.  I didn’t want to compete.  I didn’t need a fancy horse.  I just wanted to re-visit the experience of horses again and to dig around for those lessons; that feeling of connection and freedom and abandon.

I asked around until I found what sounded like the right teacher for me and the right barn.  I figured I’d be on a horse the very first lesson.  We’d go around in circles and she’d tell me when I was posting on the wrong diagonal or cantering on the wrong lead.  She’d tell me when my hands were hard and maybe if I behaved myself, we’d even do a little jumping.

The truth was, I’d never really learned about horses in all those childhood English riding lessons and all those Western dude ranch trips with my family.  I had no idea what I was in for.  And I’ve been in it for ten years now.

Here is something I wrote after one of my first lessons.

I am watching my neighbor’s herd from my bedroom window, surrendered to a late winter head-cold.  I have been told to watch the herd if I am to know horses; but I haven’t really watched a herd, until now.  I want them to gallop.  To fight or nestle into one another.  I want them to roll and nicker.  Not stand like statues in the snow.

I have gotten back into riding after a fifteen year hiatus.  I have a teacher.  But I have not ridden yet.   If you come to my lesson, you will spend a lot of time on the ground, watching horses.  Learning about the herd.  About being prey.  How the eyes of prey animals are on either side of their head so they can see what lion or bear or coyote or person lurks in the field.  About how they need each other—safety in numbers.  How their motives are pure:  to conserve energy.  To survive.

Then my teacher will tell you about that person in the field.  You.  Me.  Us.  About how our eyes are close together.  About how we stalk our kill, how we pounce and cling, take it to the ground and tear at its flesh.  She will tell us that we are not bad for our ways of survival.  Then she will ask us to look at the tree straight ahead; she’ll arc around us, and ask us to speak when we can no longer see her.

“Now,” we say.

“Look at me.  I am behind you.”

We will be dazzled by the span of our peripheral vision.

Then she’ll do the same on the other side and we will lose patience with this exercise because what we really want to do is ride, but she’ll give us this:  “The horses need to know you are looking if they are going to trust you.  They want to trust you.  They want you to be their proven leader.  They let you on their back for a reason.”

But we are not really believers; an animal that big, that unpredictable?  How can it not be a match of wills? We say we are in it to ride.  But something tells us our teacher is not really a believer.  She thinks we want to be afraid.  She thinks we want to isolate our fear to this horse:  stalk it, pounce and cling, tear at its flesh.  She thinks we want to feed on our fear.  She thinks this because she is us.  She is a predator too.  And we love her for knowing our true nature.

She’ll ask us then to look at the tree and at the peripheral her with equal measure.  She won’t give us this little speech:

We look a sort, don’t we?  Eyes on the prize.  Safety in numbers?  That’s our lie.  We are loners in the forest, with our close-together eyes and opposing thumbs, our fire and feeding frenzies.  We will share with our families, yes.  And leave what we don’t want.  But that is not gift.

Two horses will nicker and rise, head-to-head, slashing tails, and we will jump and look at her and she’ll not jump.  She has been watching the herd a long time.  She might tell us whether they are fighting or playing because we are paying her by the hour to know the difference.  To have watched the herd, even though we didn’t know it.

If we are children still, say, under the age of six, she won’t need to tell us any of this.  We’ll see the horses rising on hind legs, entangling hooves, noses to manes and say, “Look.”  We are still prey.

Now, alone with my cold, looking out my window, I blow my nose and adjust the pillows, wanting to use my predator’s pocketbook to pay the horses then; the children.  For having the patience, the guts, the pureness of motive, to watch.  For the soft eyes that see the tree and my teacher with equal measure.  For conserving energy; valuing life force.  For knowing the difference between fight and play but not needing to name it.  For fighting and playing their way to respect and trust.  For not just acting like there is safety in numbers, but by living it.

There is a coyote in the field—rare for daytime.  Each horse looks up from its hay, straight ahead but straight at the coyote and straight at me.  And then they snap into a flurry of ice chunks and hooves, until they are neck-in-neck; a photo-finish in the only race of their lives that matters.  Back to the barn.  Safe.

No predator would be stupid enough to feed on the test and proof of another predator’s fear?  Would it?


Filed under Little Hymns to Montana, My Posts, Parelli Natural Horsemanship Blog Pieces

Until 2011

Hi friends. I am taking a bit of a hiatus for a few weeks to play in the snow with my family here in Montana. Normally, I respond to each of you because I consider you gifts and because I learn from you and because when we share back and forth, something always happens in the way of abundance. I wish you all a joyous New Years and I’ll see you back here at THESE HERE HILLS soon. I will be reading your lovely comments and taking each one to heart.

In the meantime, I’m still offering ad space to my blog readers for a special rate, so if you have a business you would like to promote here, I promise to champion you and to feature you here, as well as in my cyber presence. I know what it is to feel like you have something you care about so much and not necessarily the platform to give it wings. I’m happy to use whatever platform I have to help. Let me know here and we can email about it.

Stay tuned for my January HAVEN newsletter which will feature the writer Susan Pohlman, author of the memoir HALFWAY TO EACH OTHER. We will be writing about the subject of endings bringing beginnings. Sign up on the home page of THESE HERE HILLS, or on my website: in the left column of every page but HOME to get HAVEN, and come here to comment and share with Susan and me.



Filed under Haven Newsletter, Parelli Natural Horsemanship Blog Pieces

Begging the Bear

I went for the smell of wild roses pulsing in the vanilla of Ponderosas. For the June blues and purples: penstamon, flax, lupine, geranium. I went for the ninety-degree heat and cobalt skies after so many months by the wood stove, wearing a shawl. I went for the view from the ridge, to see what my valley looks like, green. I went to remind my horse that I am his leader in a fence less place. I went for sunburned shoulders.

My horse sees her first. Ups his head, pricks his ears.

“Hello?” she shouts up to me. “Could you wait a moment?”

We wait there on the ridge. You wouldn’t not.

“Say, I was wondering if you might come with me up the trail a bit. Seems like Logan and I can’t ride out here without a bear encounter. Just saw a mama and three cubs. Logan here doesn’t like bears. Doesn’t like the sight of them. Doesn’t like the smell of them. Of course, the whole woods smell like bear this time of year. It’s funny—the bears never used to bother him.”

I take in a clandestine sniff. Smells to me like roses and Ponderosas.

Read the rest here at the Parelli blog


Filed under Little Hymns to Montana, My Posts, Parelli Natural Horsemanship Blog Pieces

Wild Horses. Wild Mind.

A few words about fear, wild horses, and a wild mind. Please come say hi over at the Parelli website. yrs. Laura

I used to believe in facing fear head on. That fear was a force built for opposition. That in order to dash it, you had to bust through it. Suffice it to say that I spent many years walking down the dark alleys of the mind and the physical world. Somewhere in there, I realized that just about the best place to face and bust and dash fear was on the page—in the empathetic act of climbing into someone else’s shoes and seeing what life was like outside my own dark alleys. And I dwelled there exclusively for twenty years, cutting my teeth on city mean-ish streets, and then the Rocky Mountains and the reality of grizzly bears and mountain lions. And then I had kids. And then I knew paralytic fear. And then I found horses. …(for more click here.)

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HAVEN Newsletter– November

The November HAVEN Newsletter went out today to email inboxes around the world. It’s so exciting how the internet has us connecting and sharing in the field of heart language. For those of you who would like to sign up to get HAVEN delivered to your email, click here. Sign up is in the left column.

Next month’s theme will be: Pilgrimage.

I’d like to share the heart of this month’s HAVEN with you here. Please share your stories in the comments section. That’s what it’s all about. My guest, the wise writer and therapist, Stephanie Baffone will be there to respond. The subject: HEAD NOISE. The stories we tell ourselves and how we learn which ones to believe…

(More about HAVEN)

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No Agenda– mother daughter inspiration

I’d like to share this blog post I did for the Parelli Natural hosemanship blog today.  It introduces some very special people in my life.  You might recognize the horse woman from my book.  Here she is:  Bobbi Hall.  But first a word about her amazing child, Cedar, who makes Down’s Syndrome look like mystic freedom, and maybe it is.  It is my great pleasure to share about them here.

photo by Kylanne Sandelin

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Filed under Little Hymns to Montana, Motherhood, My book: This Is Not The Story You Think It Is: A Season of Unlikely Happiness, My Posts, Parelli Natural Horsemanship Blog Pieces

End of Summer

Last trail ride, last bouquet, last carrots.


Filed under Parelli Natural Horsemanship Blog Pieces

A Life in Balance

Click here to read my article, “A Life in Balance,” on the Parelli Natural Horsemanship Blog.

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