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The Story of Raven & Ravenheart

“He is wary yet stands firmly, directly in front of me, fully engaged. There is no agenda here; we stand and look and feel suspended in an intuitive encounter, a dialogue without words. Time passes. I am not sure if I have taken a breath.  Then, without urging, he lifts his hoof and offers to step forward, and then again. He licks his lips and sighs. I feel a soft tingling in my body and inexplicable gratitude in my heart. I gently bow, and leave the round pen. Namaste Raven.”  Lynne Palmer

While attending a women’s circle in Calgary, Alberta, I met Jane, a woman who shared my passion for horses. She invited me to come to her farm to meet her beloved old mare and the new additions to her herd.

After meeting her sweet mare and her lovely new horse Arthur, Jane introduced me to Arthur’s younger brother “Sammy”, a seven year old Welsh Pony. Jane told me that this horse needed someone to gain his trust of people. He needed to be gently cared for, brushed, walked and nurtured and thought I would be the right person to bring him along.

“Sammy” seemed to respond well to my quiet approach and gentle handling. I spent hours sitting on the grass as he grazed beside me. We walked all over the small town close to the farm, getting him used to cars, people and the various sights and sounds. We played around in the round pen and practiced various methods of training where the focus was on love, language and leadership. I had been studying and learning from Pat Parelli and Monty Roberts at the time.

Although I had been certifiable “horse crazy” all my life, and had taken many years of riding lessons, I had never cared for my own horse. Through Jane I learned a new way of being with horses. A gentler, kinder way. I watched as she rode her sweet old mare without saddle or bridle, as she jumped over poles and galloped free on the wide open prairie. She taught me to hold the lead rope as if I was leading butterflies. I learned about asking, respect, and understanding. I had been studying horses all my life and I had learned many good and important things, but I hadn’t yet learned that there was a way to work with horses that wasn’t driven by control, submission, fear and pain.

As the weeks went by, Jane began suggesting that maybe I would like to buy Sammy. She mentioned this each time I came to the farm and I always replied that I just couldn’t afford a horse. One evening she invited me for dinner and made a list of the costs required to keep a horse. Then she said “I’ll sell him to you for a dollar”!

 Although it was a passionate and life-long dream to have a horse of my own, I still couldn’t see how it could happen at this time in my life. I lived in the city. I had just left a full-time job and now worked part-time at a book store, and my marriage had recently ended. It wasn’t even part of my consciousness that I could afford the care for a horse. I had all kinds of reasons that made it seem impossible. Then one Saturday morning as I was driving to work, I had an awakening. I was listening to the late mystic John O’Donohue reading from his book Anam Cara, a Book of Celtic Wisdom. His gentle, wise and comforting voice was my companion on this gorgeous Alberta morning and I felt a deep sense of well-being and joy as I drove through the beautiful countryside.

It was in that moment of blissful reverie that his words went right to my heart. I cannot remember his exact words, but it had to do with living our passions, following our heart, and not ignoring the messages from our souls, but embracing them. I felt a “swoosh” through my body.

I arrived at the book store for my shift that day and went straight to the phone and called Jane. The deal was made. I paid her a dollar and she wrote up a receipt.

Mine to care for now, it seemed to me that this highly sensitive little horse needed a stronger name. He was clever, sturdy, respectful and wise. I named him Raven.

Well-meaning horse people did try to convince me to sell him and buy a horse I could ride. The truth is, they couldn’t understand why I would want to keep a horse that was aloof, untrusting and seemingly unfriendly. Occasionally I would get frustrated and wonder why I would choose this experience too. I would feel discouraged and wonder why all these people had horses they could ride, who were friendly and easy-going. And I doubted my abilities as a horse woman, and worried that I was keeping Raven from reaching his full potential.

When Raven was about 14 years old, I met a horse woman who profoundly changed my approach and understanding of horses. Her name is Barbra-Ann King, author of Opening Consciousness with Relationship Riding. 

Barbra-Ann allowed me to see that Raven was not a victim to be pitied and coddled. Instead he was a horse to be admired and respected for his depth of heart, courage, sensitivity and wisdom. She taught me how to “listen” to him, and to give him his “space”. As I stood with her beside Raven in the barn one day, tears streaming down my face, she gently explained, with compassion and gentleness, that the saddle I was using didn’t fit him properly. She also explained said that like some people, he wasn’t comfortable with a lot of touching.  As I stood there crying, Raven started to lick, chew, yawn, blink rapidly and his head dropped low. He sighed, groaned and released as Barbra-Ann continued to speak for him.

That day with Barbra-Ann transformed how I viewed and cared for Raven. I promised to touch him only when necessary, for grooming, foot care, emergencies etc. I saw him in a new light and stopped treating him as a “victim”.  Raven is the herd boss at Ravenheart, in the middle of “now-here” rural Saskatchewan. He protects his herd in a loving, firm, but gentle way. He exhibits all the qualities of a great leader, and if he was a wild stallion, I know his wisdom, sensitivity and courage will keep his herd safe.

In July of 2006 I made a spontaneous decision to resign from my HR position at Canadian Blood Services in Calgary, sold my condo and stored my belongings in a locker, travelled a bit, attended a few workshops at Hollyhock Retreat Centre, including a life-transforming one with Linda Kohanov (Eponaquest), then, also on the spur of the moment…frankly shocking my friends, purchased 20 acres and an old farm house just outside of Humboldt, Saskatchewan.

Shortly after I moved in and prepared the paddock, Raven arrived from Calgary to his new home. As I was leading him down the long driveway, showing him all the space he now had, and I looked down at the gravel and there was a beautiful, perfectly shaped heart rock. I said the words “Ravenheart” and so it came to be.

Raven and I have found our path together. In early January 2007 I attended the Saskatchewan Horse Federation Annual Conference with a horse-loving neighbor. There I discovered…right here in Saskatchewan…the Cartier Farms Equine-Assisted Learning Certification course, and registered for a 7 week journey of the heart. Magical! For the past 17 years, through Equine-Assisted Learning (EAL) we have been honing our skills and working with people to guide them in awakening to their greatness…whole, equal and wise beings, who like Raven and I are seeking wise, understanding and gentle guides to help us access our own wisdom on the road to awakening. We just celebrated 17 years in 2024, and have added many more trainings and education to our portfolio, including just one more module to complete for the Pro-Equine-Facilitated Wellness certification through Healing Hooves and Sue McIntosh in Alberta.

“I am standing in the round pen facing Raven, his jet black coat shining in the brilliant Saskatchewan sun, his eyes soft and at the same time intent. Unfettered by even a halter, he is, in a word, exquisite. I am reminded of my own writing about my lifelong passion for horses:  “Sometime between birth and puberty, I fell in love with soft brown equine eyes…and still I am undone.” Lynne Palmer

***Raven crossed the Rainbow Bridge in October 2011 at age 22. RIP***


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