April 20, 2016

Elder Wisdom

By Sara B. Willerson 

Jingles is the resident elder at the Horses, Heart & Soul ™ Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy and Wellness program in North Texas.  He is 44 this year. Seriously…

When I tell people this their eyes bug out of their head and then say Really?! How is that possible???? And it IS remarkable as horses do not typically live this long. I believe he is still here because he is not finished with his life’s work. These days he prefers more to stand on the sidelines and watch or hold space as clients come to work with the herd, but there are still times when he makes it abundantly clear that he has healing business with certain people. I like to call this his “Old Man Wisdom” because what he will do is make a beeline for the client and come right up into their space. He will say his “hi howya doins” and then proceed to touch or sometimes push against the client in a certain part of their body. I have learned this is his way of getting their attention about something he is noticing in their body that he wants them to pay attention to or connect with. So I translate this for the client and guide them in connecting to their internal state. Once they understand what is being held in their body – and this can be something physical, emotional, spiritual or mental – and they acknowledge this out loud, Jingles will give them a congratulatory look and then walk away. Again I translate for the client this is a positive thing Jingles is telling them and help them understand he is not leaving them. It is simply that he doesn’t like to hang around while people process their issues. His healing style is more about connect to the issue, honor it and move on.

In our book, Journey to the Heart Through the Way of the Horse (2013), Jingles’ message sums his style up perfectly…

His healing style is more about connect to the issue, honor it and move on.

Life is changing and shifting rapidly. All is the invitation that is being extended. Open your hearts. Past the pain and suffering that may exist. Do not let these things distract you. There is no belittlement of your experiences of pain, however, do not allow these experiences to keep you blocked and stuck within them. Allow these learnings to be acknowledged and move them on through to the earth where they can renew and recycle…Once this awareness is in place, return to your heart and see that your soul is right there. The essence of all you are. This is the space Spirit wishes you to reside from.” 

My history with Jingles began around 2003 at the boarding barn in Houston,Texas where Magno and Pooh (my two horses at that time) lived. I had seen him all over the farm turned out with many different horses. So one day I asked the barn manager, Mary Clark about Jingles. I was really curious about him because he always had a gleam in his eye and a very spry step. I knew he was older (in his late 20’s at that time) and I wanted to know more. There was clearly something very special about him. Mary told me he had a history of owners who passed him along and he was not always taken care of until his last owner, whose daughters attempted to ride him and show him. Now Jingles is a large pony and so it makes sense that people would believe that would be a good fit for a kid…but that is not always the case and certainly true for Jingles. Reportedly, Jingles would just all of sudden decide he was done with an activity and cart his little rider right on out of the riding arena. He is incredibly strong and I still have trouble stopping him at times so I cannot even imagine a child attempting to do this! Back to the story though…so the mother of the girls met Mary at a show and offered to sell Jingles to her and Mary accepted on the spot and he became the barn mascot. Mary saw his specialness immediately as well as his ability to be calm in all sorts of situations. So when groups of people, children, school programs, or the physically or emotionally challenged came out to visit the barn, Jingles was the ambassador for everyone. He would greet each person individually and truly enjoyed all the love and attention that all showed to him. There were also racehorses at this farm and Jingles began to be turned out with some of them as a babysitter of sorts to make sure they stayed safely in their paddock and didn’t get into trouble.

Around this time Pooh, my elderly equine partner, was about 27 and he and Jingles were very close in age. Magno was still young, about 8 I think, and really needed a big burly turnout buddy he could play and run with all day and Pooh just wasn’t interested in doing this with him. So Mary and I decided to put Pooh and Jingles together and they became fast friends. We referred to them as the Grumpy Old Men Club because they made it abundantly clear how they felt about something and what they wanted at all times. It was hilarious! And then Mary said Jingles could join us in our psychotherapy sessions if I wanted him to. And I said Heck Yeah!!!! Or probably another version of that to be honest…

Jingles was incredibly gifted at working with clients and as a team, he and Pooh supported people of all ages in their healing moments whether it was a deeply held trauma or social skills exploration. The two of them always held a quiet peaceful space for people to connect and explore. Their human partners knew that these two gentle beings were right there with them supporting them.

“What was beautiful was watching the relaxation and peace that came across each person’s face and entire body as they interacted with Jingles”

 As I said before, Jingles is 44 this year and I will say that up until a couple of months ago he held his weight at a very healthy limit and was still galloping around with everyone else. I had noticed over the last year he seemed to be spending more time in contemplation and on his own and I knew he was beginning his transition process. One thing about Jingles – he is in charge of his own timing at all times and is very clear about that. I say that from the place of checking in with him occasionally to see how he’s doing and he is always very clear he is in a process right now and it’s all good.

About two months ago he made a very definite shift physically – he lost some weight and his appetite is somewhat reduced. He is also moving around more slowly. He will still go for the occasional jog to catch up to the herd but for the most part he does his thing in the part of the pasture he wants to be in. He seems to be enjoying his own space more and more these days. Another thing I have noticed is that one of the other horses is always somewhere close by him…and it is a different horse each day. What I see occurring is him sharing his wisdom with each member of his herd and they are completing their relationships with each other in this lifetime.

I took some time to sit with him recently and listen to the wisdom he had to share on the subject of “Transition.” He said,

I am releasing. Letting go of all that holds me here. I have some sadness in that I love this world. I love this life and lifetime I am in. I know it is probably the final time I am here and I experience sadness in this knowing. I am being called to help from the other side at this time. To support the change that is occurring throughout Life of All. So I am taking my time. I need less nourishment physically now. I release parts of my self each moment into the earth and plant them as seeds to

“My message to you today is to notice what you are planting and the intention you set around its growth and expansion. “

nurture and replenish all around – as this is part of the releasing… I am planting Love, Remembrance, Growth and History. These will all culminate to grow and support my family, the land and the Energy of Love that is working to grow in the midst of all the tumult that occurs around us…This is my final task. I share it with my herd family, with those who come here for healing and they also expand into the community. My message to you today is to notice what you are planting and the intention you set around its growth and expansion. This is my invitation to you.” or me, Jingles’ wisdom and world view are profound. No matter if you believe that a horse shares their thoughts with us in our relationship with them. I believe that his message is a powerful one. The reminder of connecting with ourselves first and foremost and planting that aspects, beliefs, and desires we wish to see grow. No matter the transition process we may find ourselves in. There is great wisdom in planting seeds of our desired growth and nurturing them along throughout our expansion process. And this is an overarching gift of horses through the experience of Equine Facilitated Wellness. I am beyond grateful that this special Elder is in my world and a part of the herd I am privileged to share my life with. Each day he teaches the reminders of slowing down, being present, and honoring connection to all aspects of self and relationship with others. Blessings to you Jingles.

Sara B. Willerson


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Here are the three independent Pro-EFW trainers offering the 4 levels of training in various locations in Canada and the UK


Location: Chiron’s Way
Maple Ridge, British Columbia
(45 min east of Vancouver)

For Upcoming 2024 Training Dates and more information click below. 


Locations: Generation Farms, Nanaimo, Vancouver Island, BC

Highlands Gate Wellness, West of Ottawa, Ontario

For Upcoming 2024 Training Dates and more information click below. 


Location: Healing Hooves, Cremona, Alberta

United Kingdom; Inverness and Edinburgh

For Upcoming 2024 Training Dates and more information click below. 


Our Pro-EFW Membership and Certification Renewal Year is from April 1 to March 31.


If you would like to be a general member and supporter of Pro-EFW, click here.

Certification Candidates must renew their Certification Candidate status every year. This $80 fee includes the Pro-EFW membership. Click here to renew

To apply for certification click here and you will be prompted to pay both the certification application fee and your Pro-EFW membership.



You must renew your certification annually. The $55 Pro-EFW Membership is included in your renewal fee, which will vary depending on your certification.

Click here to renew your certification.

The Certification Portal is accessible to Pro-EFW Members who have previously purchased their certification application and are working through the Pro-EFW Certification Process click the button below to access the portal.

For certification application click below