Sara Fancy | Horses as healers

Sara FancyI discovered my work with horses after being forced to abandon my dream of becoming a professional bodybuilder. Despite the results I’d achieved competitively, I ultimately realized I was chasing a non-existent goal (there is no profession for female bodybuilders). I was devastated to fail in something I had worked so hard to achieve. With nothing else to focus my energy into, I hit rock bottom. From this place I began a journey of self-discovery, to find the person buried behind an armor of muscle.

Desperate to change how I felt about myself and my broken-down life, I took the advice of a friend and started to meditate. I noticed a dramatic shift in my state of being after only two weeks of a short morning and evening meditation practice. From this point on, my life took a new path and I ended up moving from Venice to Topanga Canyon.

In Topanga I met a healer called Dina Fabroni, with whom I became good friends. Dina introduced me to Polarity Therapy. For the next few years I studied Polarity and Cranial Sacral Unwinding, learning about energy medicine from stellar teachers such as Dina, Gary Strauss and Tracy Griffiths. I was able to heal aspects of myself, such as the chips on my shoulder I’d been carrying since childhood. I was fortunate to meet another mentor who taught me astrology. Discovering and learning about myself from an astrological perspective was incredibly liberating. I was able to understand at a deep and profound level how I’m not the type of person who will ever “fit in.” In accepting this, I started designing my life around what I found exciting and compelling. In essence I stopped “working for a living” and began to “live for my work.”

I moved to a different house, which was next door to two horses. The horses’ owner told me something that piqued my interest: “horses teach us how to be a leader.” I started taking western riding lessons with her, but eventually became fed up with the harsh equipment—spurs, bits, etc. What fun is there in forcing a horse to do what you want by inflicting pain? I wanted to be in resonance with the horse, to have a mutually pleasurable experience. I started to ride bareback and bit-less and studied everything I could find about natural horsemanship.

In 2001 I made a declaration to the universe stating “I’m ready to have my own horse.” During a Cranial Sacral intensive in Hawaii, I had a prophetic dream about my future life with horses. In the dream I met Silver, a gray Arabian gelding, and all the other horses who’ve become members of Silver Horse, our horse retreat center, which offers a variety of healing modalities incorporating horses and nature. The dream demonstrated that the herd and I would create a business together, although at the time I had no idea how this would transpire.

A therapeutic equine ranch opened up in the neighborhood, and I was hired to feed and take care of the horses. This lasted for seven years, in which time I was promoted to manager. I adopted several rescue horses, including four mares from the Premarin industry—Ruby, Jackie, Diva, and Laydee. This job gave me the foundation of knowledge necessary to open our own therapeutic ranch, called Silver Horse, after my first horse, Silver.

In an astrology reading with Scot Wolfram (who later helped me to determine the best place for my horses and me to move to), he told me about two asteroids that sit on my Ascendant—one called Silver and the other called Sylvia. Sylvia was a goddess who had a special relationship with her horse. Sylvia is my mother’s name and at the time I was living on Sylvania Lane, operating Silver Horse out of Sylvania Park. I found this information extremely validating; I was on the right path.

Coinciding with the opening of Silver Horse in 2008, I graduated from Family Systemic Constellations training with Francesca Mason-Boring. Family Constellations involves a process of systematically exploring our ancestry to look for unresolved situations that could be responsible for present day problems we’re experiencing. A friend suggested I combine Constellations with the horses. I was excited to take this work outdoors, offering the horses an opportunity to participate. The horses took to the work immediately. Their presence works well with people who are afraid of horses and others who are skeptical of the phenomenological aspects of Constellations work; how can you argue with a horse?

As a herd animal, horses are hyper-aware social beings, extremely sensitive to the imbalances within a family structure. During a Constellation they may suggest ways in which energy can be moved to support a more balanced system. They demonstrate their suggestions through movements and actions, such as making a dramatic approach or exit, nudging someone, swishing their tail, yawning, whinnying, or even rubbing their head against someone.

In one incredibly dark Constellation I suggested we bring in the presence of an angel. When a person representing the angel entered the Constellation and was placed standing behind the client, Laydee, a large white Percheron mare, crossed from one side of the round pen to be close to the client and proceeded to rub her head affectionately against her arm. It was the client’s first time doing this type of work and the transformation that occurred was evident to everyone present. When the angel was brought in, the energy field softened, allowing the horse an entry way. Prior to this, Laydee hadn’t wanted anything to do with us. There were several people Laydee could have approached, including me (and I am her owner), yet she specifically targeted the client she had never met before and offered her affection.

This work is considered phenomenological by nature. Indigenous cultures believe that everything that happens in nature is a microcosm of universal truths, like imprints of the divine reflected in the physical world. Therefore, native peoples used natural phenomena to understand spiritual phenomena. Constellations held outside in nature invite all of nature to participate, including the horses and seemingly random elements like wind, sun, rain, or thunder. At any particular moment, a bird, rabbit, coyote, insect, cloud or breeze may make its presence known in the Constellation. If we rationalize or explain away the appearance and interaction of one or more of the above, we dilute the potency of the work. Alternatively, if we honor and hold reverence for all that occurs in the Constellation we receive the greatest benefits.

Many times when clients first come to the ranch they tell me about a dream they’ve had with a horse, and how having the dream prompted them to find out about us. Silver is usually the first horse they work, as he is very gentle and personable. When they are introduced to Silver they say, “I feel like he knows me,” or “It’s like we’ve met before.”

My understanding is, “Yes of course you’ve met before, in the spirit world, in your dreams.”

The image of the Pegasus is a white horse with wings. The wings represent the messenger. Horses have the ability to travel to the spirit realms and back, as in my own experience of dreaming about Silver before I met him. He came and found me.

Here is another example: A friend’s sister lost her horse after she had been with him for many years. The day after he died he came to her in a dream and told her she had breast cancer and should get checked out. She did and the test came back negative. Her horse came to her again in a dream and told her she must go and get checked again. She did and this time the cancer was detected and she was able to take care of it.

One client found us through the help of a psychic counselor. The counselor told her, “You have to go to Silver Horse. They will be able to help you.” The psychic pulled our name out of the ether; neither of them knew anything about us. The client followed the psychic’s advice and flew in from another state to attend one of our retreats. As it turned out she had lot of complex ancestral trauma, and Silver worked with her in this session. It was incredibly emotional work, releasing generations of pain. Silver was the perfect conduit for this session. A few months after our work together the client said she felt peace and resolution around her ancestral wounding.

The healing of intense family traumas is fairly typical of Constellations work and horses are an invaluable aid in the process. With their huge hearts, horses emit huge doses of love. Everyone feels better after being around a horse, so long as they’re not frightened.

For my horses to support people in their healing they had to go through a rehabilitation period. Horses are incredibly adaptive and in the right environment they do well. It’s very important that they have other horse friends as company, and plenty of space to move around. I never put my horses in small pens. They need to get out and get walked—or ridden if they are a horse who enjoys being ridden. Horses form strong emotional bonds with other horses and people. They need time to adapt to new environments and it takes patience and consistency to help them in this transition.

The Premarin mares came to Silver Horse completely green, meaning they had very little experience in anything; they were barely halter-broke. I had to teach them how to hold their feet up and how to be ridden. I used my skills from Polarity Therapy—a form of energy work—with my horses, finding the resonance and creating a safe space. Relationship is key to working with horses without using force.

Conducting healing work with the help of horses requires the horse to be in good, mental, emotional and physical health. This applies to humans too. All of my horses have memories of their lives before coming to me and, through spending time with them and observing their behavior,  experiences from their past become evident. For instance, the mares—Ruby, Jackie, Layee and Diva—all came from the Premarin industry, where it is common to use a hydraulic apparatus to squeeze the horse’s body, flipping it to one side in order to trim their hooves, for which they use power tools. Jackie periodically has had problems with her rear-end and hips, and it’s my assumption that she probably struggled and resisted the hydraulic machine, injuring herself in the process. I will go one step further and describe an incident in which Jackie demonstrated symptoms of PTSD associated with war.

In the middle of a trail ride in Topanga State Park, I was giving Jackie a break and letting her graze, while I stood alongside holding her lead rope. For no apparent reason she suddenly became extremely aggravated and managed to get away from me. As she galloped away I was trying to understand what it was that had scared her. Behind us were three men hiking together. I figured it had something to do with them, even though she’d never displayed any fear of men before. Luckily I was able to call out to some hikers ahead of us and asked them to catch her for me, which they did. When I’d mounted Jackie and continued our ride, I asked her, “What is it about those men that caused this reaction in you?” Then it struck me how the men walked in a syncopated rhythm, like military men. As we rode up to them I asked, “Are you guys in the military?” “Yes,” they said. “We’re marines.”

From what I knew of Jackie’s history she had only lived within the confines of a Premarin ranch. My feeling was that she was associating the military men with ancestral trauma or perhaps from a past life of her own. Obviously I have no proof and I’m basing my assumption on the way Jackie behaved around these men, which was out of character for her, and from the fact that horses were used to fight our wars for centuries before the industrial revolution.

Not growing up with horses I never imagined myself living with these magical creatures and creating an equine business. It took a spiritual crisis to find my path leading to healing, horses, and the work we do together at Silver Horse. It’s never too late to change an unsatisfying lifestyle. If you are yearning for a connection to nature, and dream of horses, maybe it’s time to visit us at Silver Horse.

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