Jodie was struggling with some fear issues from being severely hurt while on horses she really shouldn’t have been on, but she had trusted the instructor who told her to get on. It happens. Here’s a partial account of her day we just had:

EVER have one of those moments of clarity where everything just falls into place and makes sense?

Today I was presented with an amazing and very special gift.  Not that it’s an unusual thing.  We’re presented with multitudes of gifts on a daily basis.  Today was different though.

And it’s because of this women, Lauren Woodard, and her “exceptional” thing and way with horses….and people!  And it’s also because of the gifts that her horses, Black and Peka, shared with me today.

My eyes have been opened and my heart has been awakened.

If you’ve never been out on trail with Lauren or experienced the “amazingness” of her horses, well, I don’t know what to say other than if you’re a horse person (or not), you’ve missed something spectacular!  As her beautiful mares, Black and Peka, stood contently still and peaceful while ground-tied, we groomed them and tacked them up, before quietly loading them to trailer them to the Phoenix Mountain Preserve trailhead a few miles down the road.  They both unloaded just as easily as they loaded.  Quiet.  Calm.  Easy. Graceful.  Tack checked, ready to go.  At Lauren’s instruction, I hopped onto the wheel well of the horse trailer (I repeat, the wheel-well of the horse trailer) and, a very willing Black curb-sided so perfect & beautifully. I was able to swing a leg over and quietly sit down on her before the signal was given by Lauren.  Off we go!

From the moment my we hit the trail, my “slightly” (ha-ha, might be lying here) nervous body was transformed!  Lauren knew just exactly what to do.  Get it over with!  Just go!!!  And GO we did!  Just started trotting off down the trail and within seconds we were cantering….then galloping!!!  To say it  was absolutely exhilarating would be an understatement!  Blazing across the gorgeous Sonoran Desert preserve to the sound of hooves pounding earth and blood pumping blood thru my heart. Nothing I’ve done in a long while compares to what stirred in my soul at that moment! After a good run, Lauren throws up her left hand, elbow bent, giving the “stop sign” signal and her horse, Peka, suddenly stops.  So does Black.  My ride.  If Lauren gave any other signal to Peka to stop, I sure didn’t see it.  This women communicates with horses in such a magical way that can not be explained to novices but can be understood by those of us that “get it.” And I do!

To say she has a special gift would be an understatement. After we stop, laugh, breathe and reflect on what we just did it’s on to the next “challenge.”  Off trail stuff!  Heels down. Reins wide. Reins loose. Sit up straight on the downhill.  Pockets down.  After gathering the courage to just go with it and do the uphill, downhill exercise, she gets this devious little gleam in her eye and proceeds to mention something about “butt skidding” downhill slopes or something that only made my heart rate go from zero to 10 in an instant.  I hoped she was kidding…and she was (but she didn’t let on that she was for some time…Bitch!)  Oh crap!  Here comes the sort of stuff I was worried about.  Now was time to learn about skills involving “good choices” and what good horsemanship entails.  How about going down some ravines?  Steep ones, into washes, with ugly looking, jagged rocky inclines being the only means out.  This women gets a kick out of challenges such as this and I reluctantly take on her game.  We move up and down several challenging (she wouldn’t call them that) ravines and I make a mistake (aka: bad choice) and, well, let’s just say everyone was o.k. but, Black, my trusty ride, was

left with Barrel Cactus needles in her hooves which ended up being grounds for a VERY good lesson.

Onward Ho we go!

Walk, trot, canter, gallop. No!  Little trot, oh wait, canter yes, gallop .. here we go…What a thrill!

Confidence soaring, we make our way back to the trailer that awaits us.  Suddenly, after another nice little lope along the trail, Lauren pauses and we stop.  She reaches behind her saddle and removes a rope that was fastened there and gently slings it around Peka’s neck while simultaneously slipping off Peka’s bridle and fastening it to the back of her saddle.  With that, she quietly gallops off with me and Black right on their heels.  She’s riding Peka with nothing but a rope around her neck!  Is this women for real?  And aren’t these horses of hers and their outstanding behavior and personalities the stuff horse dreams are made of?  I found out today the answers to those questions and YES, a thousand times over YES!

So she asks me if I want to switch horses and ride Peka.  I pause, think for a second, and say “next time.”  Oh yes!  Next time!

Thank you Lauren for an amazing ride and lesson today!  You are brilliant, a gift from above and beyond and I am so incredibly grateful for connecting with you.  I believe the horses have something to do with that.