Canadian Horse Whisperer Rocks Skeptics

Story by Mary Ormsby of the Toronto Star.com

With An Open Mind Many Lessons Can Be Learned

(Click Image to View Video and to Comment) Horse whisperer Lauren Bode communicates with Boot the horse at Centre Island's Far Enough Farm ~ photo by Rene Johnston/Toronto star

It’s Sunday once again so we share with you a story to wash out your mind and strengthen your spirit.  It’s a tale that refreshes and one that sends the horse-haters over the top as they have no relationship with their companion horses.  Please enjoy and prepare for yet another week of battle.  May the Force of the Horse®‘ be with you all” ~ R.T.

Horse whisperer Lauren Bode says she’s been telepathically communicating with Boot, a 16-year-old Belgian cross living at Centre Island’s Far Enough Farm.

So I test her.

“Who’s going to win the Queen’s Plate?”

Boot rolls his enormous dark eyes my way, crunching and slurping a carrot chunk. Is the retired police horse consulting his psychic tote board? Bode laughs.

“First I’d have to tell him what the Queen’s Plate is.”

A non-committal answer from Bode, an animal empath invited by the Star to commune with the island’s farm critters. As for Boot, maybe he doesn’t want to be the Pete Rose of the ponies, spilling industry secrets to gamblers.

But when it comes to sharing emotions, says Bode, Boot and his 29-year-old paddock neighbour, Duchess, are quite forthcoming.

She says the two are upset about moving from Far Enough Farm, a popular Toronto attraction on Mayor Rob Ford’s chopping block.

“The animals were quite worried about going to a new home,” relates Bode, who says Duchess, a 20-year farm resident and former mounted unit member like Boot, senses death.

“She wouldn’t cope very well, but if they’re going together, it would be best.”

The hobby farm, visited by generations of local families and millions of tourists since 1959, is slated for closure on June 30. The City of Toronto has cut its funding (the annual budget is $221,000, covering two staff salaries and animal feed) and that of High Park Zoo and Riverdale Farm.

There are community efforts underway to save all three farms.

The “50-ish” Bode (sorry, the horses wouldn’t snitch) says she communicates telepathically with animals at their human handlers’ request. Growing up around animals in her native Guyana, she says, she realized her powers at age three when she communicated silently with a cow.

“The reason I speak to animals is to help them. That is my purpose, to make people understand that animals are sentient beings.

“They have feelings, just like us.”

Horse whisperers don’t “break” horses but use gentle, therapeutic techniques to train unruly or abused animals. Actor Robert Redford played one in the 1998 movie The Horse Whisperer.

Bode — who lists “horse whisperer” as her profession on legal documents (she also works with cats and dogs) — focuses on obtaining physical and emotional information. And the occasional bit of gossip (Boot, apparently, is quite a ladies’ man).

Bode feeds Boot and Duchess organic carrots and strokes their faces and soft muzzles during her Wednesday visit to the farm. She says she asks the horses for permission to connect to their thoughts before initiating a conversation.

So how does Bode do?

Well, some information she relays isn’t exactly breaking news. She reports that Boot is happy on the farm but would like to go for walks more often.

Boot’s former rider, Const. Rob Graham, says Boot is used to plenty of exercise from “pounding the pavement on the streets of Toronto” for nearly a decade. Wanting to walk beyond his driftwood fencing makes sense.

“He was a well-disciplined, brave, magnificent police horse,” says Graham, who personally delivered Boot to Far Enough Farms in late 2010 for his “well-deserved” retirement.

However, Bode does stun farm staff with a few of her divinations.

She says Boot told her that the pellet treats he liked were being withheld. In fact, they were. Animal attendant Linda Darking confirms she’s been cutting back the servings of apple chunk pellets in his diet.

Bode also correctly notes that Duchess is recovering from colic. Staff confirm a veterinarian was called two weeks ago and the horse was treated with medicine.

Bode goes a step further, saying the colic is anxiety-induced because the aging mare of unknown heritage — possibly a quarter horse and Clydesdale mix — fears she’ll be slaughtered if she leaves Centre Island.

“The older girl told me she colicked because her stomach was hurting her. I asked her why and she said she was going to be put down because no one would take her. She had no place to go.”

Bode also chats up Jake the Nubian donkey.

Jake, who has his own Facebook page, is the longest-serving farmhand at 37 years. His pen is about 20 metres away from the horses, across a small path, behind the rustic, red-boarded staff office.

As a peacock screeches for attention behind the fluffy-haired grey donkey, Bode reports that Jake was happy, healthy.

Then out of the blue: Bode says Jake wants to move over to the empty paddock beside Boot. A brief silence from the staff.

Then Darking says Jake is indeed slated to move beside Boot in the near future. That empty paddock is Jake’s summer home.

Darking, who’s never worked with a horse whisperer, is impressed by Bode’s session.

“She knew things we didn’t expect she should know,” says Darking, who has worked at the farm for 23 years.

Still, there are skeptics.

Graham says he doesn’t “put much stock” in mind-reading horse whisperers. Neither does Canadian Olympic dressage equestrian Ashley Holzer of Toronto. She feels a deep understanding of horses could mimic a psychic connection.

“I’m not a big telepathic believer, that’s just me,” says Holzer, who will compete in her fourth Olympic Games this summer in London.

“But I’ve lived long enough to not say no (so) I will not rule it out. But do I have this feeling that I’m lying in bed and my horse is telling me he has a headache? No.”

What about Bode walking up to a strange horse and immediately sensing its colic?

Holzer explains that if a person is like her, raised with horses to a point she knows them “really, really, really well” then they will be sensitive to clues about animal distress. Bode was raised with horses and currently owns seven — all of them rescue animals.

“I could look at a horse that I’ve never seen before and say to you, ‘This horse is colicky (or) I would check this horse for ulcers,’ ” says Holzer. “Or I could watch a horse eat and I could say, ‘Have this horse’s teeth checked.’

“How do I know that? I just know the way horses chew normally — and I’ve seen so many horses with teeth problems chew a certain way. Just like I’ve seen so many colicky horses (in) pre-colic, colic, after-colic (states).”

Bode says she’s used to disbelievers who challenge her when she works in stables.

“They ask if this gift I have is from the devil or from God, and I don’t get into specifics with them. I just tell them it’s a gift, I don’t believe in the devil, that I believe in positive and negative energy.

“So I make it light. I tell them a joke. Then I invite them to stick around and listen to what their horses have to say.”

Just don’t ask them about daily doubles or trifectas in a get-rich-quick-at-the-track scheme. If Boot is any indication, there’s no horsing around when it comes to playing the ponies.

9 comments on “Canadian Horse Whisperer Rocks Skeptics

  1. It’s Sunday morning…think I’ll start the day with a little patriotic singing. “Oh Canada, our home and native land (wow we include our natives in our song!) True patriot love for all our sons (what about us gals?) commands. With glowing hearts, we see the rise, the true, north, strong and FREE! (wow powerful lyrics) And stand on guard Oh Canada, we stand on guard for thee! (Crescendo here) God keep our land….Glorious and free! OH CANADA we stand on guard for thee! OHHHH CANADA we stand on guard for….THEEEEE!

    I just finally paid the rooster in the barn back.

    Well ya know I think I am going to take the horses word for it on this article. Horses don’t lie. (But their not above tricking their pets once in a while!)

    This takes me back to around 1980 and a car ride to the stable with my mum. Mum was asking her young daughter what she wanted to be when she grew up….without hesitation I said an “animal psychologist” Mother bursts out laughing. It appears I was ahead of my time. This past Friday was my mums’ 80th birthday. As the family gathers around the Sunday dinner table. I will ask me mum if she remembers the conversation 32 years ago. (Where does the time go?)

    Alas I did not become a “professional animal whisperer” Mums’ laughter over my “visionary’ career path was enough to send me in a different direction. I became a “‘child whisperer”

    Dear Mr. Fitch if you would like this article fact checked and verified again (as we all know the importance of credibility) I would be more than happy to visit Boot, Duchess and Jake and cross examine them thoroughly. I promise to withhold carrot treats in the name of objectivity til after the grillin’.

    When I’m done I’ll drop a few coins in their bucket as well.
    Happy Sunday all.

    Joanne Clay.

  2. When it comes to horse whispering, I too was once a skeptic when I first learned of this gift. However, since then I have met someone who has this gift and asked her to talk to some of my horses. While some of the info she relayed was non-specific (I want more carrots) other info was highly specific and not something she could have known (I once injured my left hip in a fall). Since she communicated with my horse sight unseen, she couldn’t have surmised any of this through visual cues either. You should have seen the stunned look on my horse’s face when I massaged his hip, which I learned still bothers him in cold, rainy weather. It was plain as day – how did you know??? So there you have it, horse whispering is for real! Happy Sunday. :)

    • Well said Louie, well said. And you’re right, we forgot how to listen a long time ago, some of us have tuned out and then there is those of us that tuned back in ( and don’t tell anyone) this gal has got what it takes to hush the skeptics once and for all .

  3. Thanks RT, for the inspirational story. I do believe people have the ability to communicate with their animals, each in their own way. As long as we’re able to gain their trust, it’s amazing what they can do and want to do, for us. Love, understanding and trust will always go a long way, whether it’s people or animals. It seems so simple, but for some, they just don’t get it.

  4. I have had the opportunity to know not one, but two horse whisperers. They are for real! One was able to tell me (describe to me) about a plant that was causing my horse to have an allergic reaction on her skin. I found some in the pasture, and quickly irradicated them. The other helped find what each horse had to say, irrelevant or not. Always interesting. There were times when one didn’t care to say anything and that was just fine with me. I have had an experience when I “heard” my precious gal clearly state, “I miss him so much”. She referred to a gelding who became her best friend upon introduction. He had been taken to another farm because the trainer could not use him for a lesson horse, taking up a stall and food. I found him, bought him, paid for his stall etc. They remain together today, 14 years later. They are always together, and he remains her beloved guardian. He has proven his ability to show my husband he knows what’s going on. While I was out of town, he kept running from the field to my husband at the barn. It took three tiimes before my husband realized he wanted him to follow him. An acre away, near a fence line, he was shown my mare deeply surrounded by brambles. She was smart enough not to move when she realized she was caught, and he cut her out with his pen knife. Now he is a believer. He does his best to listen and pay attention. Our horses are so much wiser and can teach us so much, as Louie says, if we only take the time and effort to listen.

  5. I am a true believer. When one truly opens their heart, they just might be surprised. My first encounter came when I was looking at a camel at the Medievil Fair north of Chicago. I thought that I was hearing things. He wished me “Good Day” after I told him how handson he was. I also met a
    pony that day who was tethered to equipment as they do when they give pony rides to the kids. I
    looked at this cinnamon colored pony who told me she was very thirsty. The sun had been on them
    with limited shade. I asked the attendant if the ponies had been given any water since they arrived at the fair. To my astonishment, the attendant said no. I asked her in a very nice way to please water the ponies as they were thirsty, especially the cinnamon colored pony. I stood as the attendant gave each one water and they drank. The little pony thanked me. I remember being able to do this as a child, but lost it as I grew older. It is an amazing blessing that the animals chose to speak with us. Not all animals or horses want to communicate, but the ones that do enjoy it immensely. I have since learned the skill of Reiki Energy therapy in which you use your energy to heal them. They definitely will tell you when they are frightened. Talk to your animals all the time and don’t think that something is wrong with you. You may not think that they are listening, but they are. Have you ever noticed how quickly you horse picks up on your bad days? Negative energy to animals is like a lightening rod to them. Just open your heart…to some of those involved in competitive sports, I really feel sorry for them because a horse will give you its all. You might be an excellent rider, but if that horse senses the lack of respect, you may have problems. Horses are the most incrediable creatures that God created..They will take us to the ends of the Earth if we ask. I thank God each day for giving me this blessing.. May the “Force of the Horse” be with you
    on this Sunday afternoon..And don’t forget to talk to your animals as they are listening..

  6. Just love all these stories. What are the chances of horses or a horse talking to a part time volunteer at an equine rescue? There is so little time to connect, because there is much to do. Yet I try especially with certain ones. But when they are better, they are adopted hopefully forever though not always.

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