Playful, Magical Healing Horse

An Appaloosa horse helps a country gal find happiness once again.

| January/February 2016


Jessie James, the first horse that Kathleen owned, won a special place in her heart.

Photo courtesy Kathleen Heinz

In 1990, at age 30, I went through a major life-changing event when my nine-year marriage ended. I returned to my childhood home and began to piece things together.

My sister owned a small farm outside of town, where she raised Appaloosas. We had grown up together on horseback, ranging the mountains and wilderness, working for a small horse rental business. There we learned much of the business of raising and training horses. Helping my sister with her horses was the perfect distraction for me as I looked for a new job, went to school, and looked for a new place to live.

As I went to meet the newest baby additions to my sister’s farm, I met the baby that was for me. He claimed me as well. Only a couple of weeks old, he came to meet me after peering out from behind his mother’s tail, and we immediately bonded. He was a shimmering white with rust-red spots like a Dalmatian, and he smelled of sunshine and fresh hay. I made arrangements with my sister to buy the colt, and began spending my free time with him. I named him Jessie, after Jessie James. My first precious horse had been Sonny James, Jessie’s brother. I lovingly called them my outlaw horses.

Gentle, slow, hands-on training built and strengthened my spirit as nothing else could. I messed with his feet, and brushed and groomed him daily. I taught him to lead and respond to steady pressures, to not fear someone leaning over him nor the feel of pressure around his middle from a hug, and I taught him voice commands.

On one occasion, my sister and I stood in the sun in front of her house discussing the horses, when we heard one of the colts screaming in the back. Slightly panicked about the cause, we rushed around the house to find Jess – he was calling for me. He had heard my voice and was actually calling for me as he would for his mother.

I managed to find a place to buy outside of town. It was great to construct my fences and get Jess close to me on the property to work with him. My sister was big into showing horses, and I agreed for the fun of it. Jess would get excited when the horse trailer was pulled into the yard. It meant reuniting with his childhood buddies, and you could hardly slow him down as he jumped into the trailer.

7/17/2016 12:04:34 PM

Wonderful story about the healing powers of animals!

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