My Friend Fillmore


It’s such a delight to encounter my favorite walking companion, Fillmore. He lives about a mile away and I never know if he’ll be in the yard or out on the porch when I walk by. I can’t help but laugh when I see him! He comes running to greet me, his eager brown eyes peering out from under his charming mop of hair and his whole body bouncing with enthusiasm- including his tongue. He leans into me affectionately as I pet him and ruffle up his tangled coat, which hangs in yarn like tendrils from his sides.

He is always in various stages of cleanliness. He had accompanied me home a few times before I met his kind person, who told me that Fillmore routinely visits other neighbors and I needn’t give him a ride home anymore; he knows his way around! So, I simply get to enjoy his endearing messiness and his enthusiastic companionship on my walk home along the ditch.

The tips of the Cottonwood trees lining the ditch path now have gleaming golden leaves and the weeds lining the path have reached their full capacity, creating a tangle along the edges. Fillmore likes to trot alongside me with his nose to the dusty path, sniffing everything and then falling behind my steady strides. I hear his pattering feet thundering to catch up and he passes me, a mess of flying hair and scattering dirt. He always stops not far away, turning to look at me quizzically. He wants to make sure I’m coming, his eyes catching mine under the fringe of bangs. I smile. “Yes I’m coming.” He likes my company too.

I love how the ends of his twirled hair swing back and forth like a dusty skirt as he trots along. He must be impossible to keep clean. Soon he needs a drink and simply pushes himself down through the weeds, alighting in the ditch and doing a little swimming while lapping up the water. Of course, when he gets out he stands right next to me to shake off his sopping wet coat of muddy hair! No matter, he is gleaming with infectious happiness. We wind along together in content silence towards my house, the sun warming us both. It seems like such a simple thing to walk together, but my friend Fillmore gives me a gift every time he accompanies me. It’s the gift of having my heart opened to irresistible joy.

The White Horse

At the place where I turn around on my walk and head back towards home, there is a pasture.  And in the pasture lives a White Horse.  He grazes here and there and when I walk by he raises his head and looks in my direction. One day I stopped to connect with him.  He was fairly close to the tall deer fence where I was standing.  I don’t know his name to call him and I had no treats to temp him, so it must have been his curiosity that drew him closer. I closed my eyes and imagined scratching him.  Just a simple picture in my mind of my fingers rubbing and scratching the itchy places he must have on this warm spring day while still wearing remnants of his winter coat.    I stretched my hand through the square openings in the metal fence as he came over to sniff my hand.  I began scratching his chest and his neck vigorously and he positioned himself right alongside the fence so I could reach his back and withers. I scratched all the many itchy places he showed me by positioning his body under my hands, which was rather convenient owing to the tall fence with its mesh-like openings. I couldn’t move my hands much, so he moved his body. It was a delightful interaction and I stroked his freckled face and cupped his soft nose in my hand before saying goodbye and continuing on my way.  The next time I walked his direction was a few weeks later.  I was happy to see him in the pasture and I stopped by the fence.  He was all the way on the other side, grazing contentedly.  He raised his head.  I closed my eyes and imagined scratching him, just like the last time I connected with him and using the same imagery. He began trotting in my direction, crossing the pasture swiftly and coming directly towards me!  His enthusiasm made me smile and it warmed my heart to know he clearly understood my intention. He came right up alongside the fence so I could reach him and again showed me all the places he wanted to be rubbed and scratched.  Such simple and pleasant interactions, yet they illustrate how easy it can be to experiment with animal communication. Use your imagination the next time you are with your animal and see what surprising things happen when you hold clear pictures in your mind. And the fun ending to this story is that I got to meet him up close without the fence in the way and learned that his name is Seamus!

Transparent Thoughts

Transparent Thoughts

Are you aware of your thoughts and intentions as you approach your horse with halter in hand?  Our thoughts are incredibly transparent to horses and having an awareness of them can help your interactions with your equine friend. A story might help illustrate this more clearly.  My own horse, Copper, likes to eat the loose hay on the ground in my small hay shed.  I sometimes just put a halter on him and let him walk up the hill on his own to the hay shed.  

This particular day I had gone to check on him as his foot had been sore after stepping on a rock.  Putting the halter on him, I was thinking about him walking up the hill and eating the hay.  But as I stood with him I could see that his foot was really bothering him.  I didn’t think Copper would be comfortable walking up the hill, so I took his halter off and dismissed the idea, forgetting the clear picture I had in my mind of the whole scenario.  

As I stooped to look at his foot again, Copper began nudging me with his upper lip.  He rubbed it back and forth on my leg, my hip and my jacket and then even took the collar of my jacket in his teeth and pulled it gently!  This was highly unusual behavior for him, being of a polite nature.  When I reached for his foot, he pawed the ground vigorously a few times, keeping his foot out of my reach.  I couldn’t figure out what he was trying to tell me in such a demonstrative fashion!  

I went back to the house feeling baffled by the whole interaction. Much later it dawned on me that in fact my mental picture had been so clear to him that he was urging me to reconsider letting him out! I took the other horse out of the paddock and let Copper choose to come along without a halter.  He had no trouble going up the hill where he enjoyed eating up the loose hay.  I had to consider how deliberately he had tried to communicate with me that he liked my idea and wanted to go along with it.  I wonder how many other thoughts swirl through my head unconsciously as I interact with the horses! Certainly this was a lesson in paying more attention to them.