Is there a Crystal Ball in Your Barn?


    The other day I was at the local market, picking up the weekly supply of carrots for my two carotene-addicted geldings. As I walked out to my truck I noticed a woman scurrying around the parking lot, sticking brochures under the windshield wipers on all the vehicles. Usually this causes me to grumble, because the last thing I need is another piece of useless paraphernalia to stuff into my garbage bin. But this time I got a laugh out of the paper flier. It was a colorful ad for a local psychic. Besides the plentiful misspelled words and incredulously bad grammar there were outrageous claims like, “Find the answers to life biggest questions.”

    After reading the first page, I discovered I could gain insight to life biggest questions through palm readings (one or both), gazing into a crystal ball (powered by the sun) or having a crystal wand detect problems with my aura (past, present and future).

    Needless to say, I didn’t book an appointment with “Sophie” right away. I’d much rather wait to have life reveal its wonders to me in its own sweet time. It’s much more suspenseful that way.

    I did, however, think of how the whole psychic hoopla relates to horses. For example, suppose you’re a competitor on the horse show circuit. You could consult your horse psychic. She’ll do a hoof reading (one or all four) and gaze into the glassy surface of the water tub (powered by the hose) and determine whether or not the judges appreciate your fancy outfits or your style of riding (past, present and future). Maybe she can even wave the crystal buggy whip over your horse’s head and adjust his blue ribbon mojo.

    Don’t laugh. Such things actually occur in this crazy horse world. Not that long ago a woman I know who breeds warmblood sport horses was having trouble with one of her young dressage prospects. If the horse wouldn’t get his act together under saddle, he wasn’t going to sell for much money. She told me rather matter-of-factly that she had called a horse psychic—though she didn’t use that exact term, it was something less carnival-like—and asked for an “adjustment.”

    Apparently it didn’t matter that the horse psychic lived several states away. Thanks to the miracle of telecommunications, this Adjuster of Equine Auras was able to channel the brain waves of the wayward warmblood gelding and convince him to get his groove back. All this for a mere couple of hundred dollars!

    I know what you’re thinking: “Was that horsewoman nuts?” because I thought the same thing.

    And the answer is, “Yes.”

    But how many of us are guilty of having barn parties where we invite some kind of horsey mystic to magically connect with our horses? If it’s done as pure entertainment, sort of a parlor game, then I suppose there’s no harm.

    Years ago one of our former trainers invited a then-famous animal psychic to the barn to do a reading of the horses. At first we greeted each one of her revelations with gasps of amazement and intrigue. It was as if she were peering into our animal’s souls! Yet we soon realized that each one of her revelations, though initially provocative, were nothing more than good guesses and broad generalizations. For example, it’s not much of a stretch to sit quietly with an ex-racehorse with a bowed tendon and scars from surgery for removal of bone chips and then proclaim, “He has an odd sensation—not a lameness, but a sort of tingling—in one of his front legs.”

    Really? I could’ve told you that. And for far less money.

    So I’ll grant you that as an afternoon’s entertainment at the barn a celebrity animal psychic fits right in with the dog and pony show atmosphere. A good laugh and a few snarky snickers shared among barn buddies have their value. But I think trouble begins when we start investing real trust in the power of animal psychics rather than relying on sound horsemanship and basic training to connect with our horses. In other words, set the crystal ball aside (at least until Halloween) and get back to sweaty saddle pads, arena dust and the feel of a longe line in your hands. I promise, that will be much more productive.

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    1. We had an animal communicator come to our barn a couple of summers ago at the end of pony camp. She said that the lesson pony’s favorite was the little blond girl who gave him carrots. All the camp kids got excited like Pepper was speaking to them. Problem? There were like six or seven blond little girls sitting there, and each one thought they were Pepper’s favorite carrot feeder. Turned into a big argument. So much for that fun idea!


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