Breakdown Costa Rica (Part 1)

I’ve been talking a bit about this incredible experience I had with my horse while in Costa Rica and I’m finally ready to share the details with you.
This is going to be a bit of a soul-baring thing. It’s a little scary.
One of the things that I’ve been challenged with over the years is boundaries. While I’ve spent time working on the negative belief driving all of this (I’m not safe/supported/protected), I haven’t completely reversed that belief and as a result, I find that in some instances of boundary drawing, I struggle.
As evidenced by my first ride on my horse in last week’s Costa Rica trip.  Actually, this was my first ride on ANY horse.
There were eight of us going for the ride. We were working with the horses that “chose” us – so we all knew there would be a special connection on this ride.
As we began our hour long trek to the waterfall on our horses, Enrique, one of the facilitators said, “Don’t let your horses eat grass. If you’re connected that won’t happen.”
Well, I wanted to do this horse ride right. And I wanted to be connected in the way I was supposed to. And I wanted to do a good job – so I was going to make sure my horse didn’t eat grass.
But that wasn’t what was going to happen.
My horse (whose name I’m leaving out in case you’re coming to Costa Rica with me this spring) decided that he needed to bring some “stuff” up within me.
And he started eating grass.
Everyone else is having a great time with their horse, trotting, walking, looking at the volcano and the cool trees… but not me.
My horse started grabbing huge mouthfuls of grass as we walked by.
Again and again.
Each time this would happen, I would say – OK, I need to be more connected. I need to do this better.
And then he would suddenly have another mouthful and chomp away.
So, I started getting frustrated and I would try harder to feel the connection.
And then he started veering off the entire path to actually walk into the tall grass and chomp away, while I frantically tried to ground myself and feel the connection with him.
But it wasn’t working.
When we finally stopped and got off our horses to go sit by the waterfall and have lunch, I was pissed.
Yup, that’s how I was feeling and it was definitely the word I used, loudly, when I was asked how the ride was.
“I’m pissed!” I said. “I feel like I’m doing everything right. I know I’m great at connection – and yet, he’s not listening to what I’m saying!”
I looked at the group as they stared back at me. THEY all seemed to have great rides. I was the only one with the problem.
“It seems so unfair!” I wailed, while covering my eyes. “You all were just enjoying yourself and I couldn’t make it work!”
Debbie softly explained that I wasn’t earning my horse’s respect. That he was behaving the way he was because I wasn’t setting a firm boundary. She told me that I needed to be stronger and more dominant in my energy.
Actually, it took her longer to say this because I wasn’t in the greatest space to listen. I was heaving and crying and wishing I just wasn’t in this situation.
It was a deep, long-buried part of me that was showing up.
“I don’t want to dominate my horse! I don’t want to do that with anyone! I’ve had that done to me growing up and it wasn’t OK. I don’t ever want to do that to anyone!”
Looking back, I realize it was the little girl part of me that was showing up – but it was time for me to finally address it.
“Danielle, you have to be able to defend yourself. You have to be able to set boundaries in your life. This isn’t about hurting your horse – this is about standing up for yourself and setting a boundary in place so that everyone knows where they stand.”
I didn’t want to do it. I really, really didn’t want to do it. And that was the problem. I really needed to do something that I didn’t want to do and had actually never done in my entire life…

OK, so I’m going to continue this in my next post. I didn’t realize how LONG this was going to be or how much I had to say. Sorry! I’m only half way through!

If you’ve liked reading about my experience so far, or if you think you know where this breakdown is going, I’d love to know. Please share here.
Also, to read part 2 of my experience, click here.


Love and Light,

Danielle Signature



14 replies
  1. Tali
    Tali says:

    I feel we have our own individual relationships with animals….I used to envy the way my sisters pets adored her so much, and why I never was a ‘animal’ person. Then I realised, sometimes it’s JUST the things we tell ourselves – as in its totally NOT TRUE that I wasn’t an ‘animal’ person…Byron Katie work come here (haha). I just had a different relationship – in fact, my sisters cat wanted to be my fir child in the end and not my sisters…cats don’t lie, they can be blatantly rude. I like who I am, and while I’ll never be a “horse” person myself (I prefer cats and dogs for connection) I still love and appreciate all animals and maybe it’s not such a bad thing that you don’t have kind of dominance for a particular type of being you are experiencing…I mean that’s what I’ve come to accept about me.

  2. Autumn Eagle
    Autumn Eagle says:

    Thank you Danielle, I love how real you are. YES, I have had a very similar situation with a horse ride and have been living boundries lessons hardcore through corgis and labs.

    First my horse experience: it wasn’t my first time on a horse, but it was my first long ride. I arranged the ride for a group of travel writers as part of a familiarization tour for the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska. We were all told to not let our horses eat grass. I was the only one who did. As this was 20 years ago, I wasn’t thinking about animal communication or boundries. I just thought at the time, why can’t my horse eat some grass if he wants? So I let him, then he’d trot to catch us up with the group — which felt fun in the beginning. The result was my horse knew he was in charge and didn’t listen to me at all for the entire long painful ride. I say painful because I wasn’t used to riding. So it physically became very painful on my butt and knees, especially when he’d trot to catch up. By the end of the ride, I vowed never again. Your story makes my story make sense to me now! (If that made sense, lol).

    Fast forward to present day, I have been having my boundries issue come up again and again with animals and people, especially within this last year. I also felt the way you described: I did NOT want to be forceful with others or make anyone feel bad like I had been made to feel in childhood. So with the dogs, there are 8 in total and they belong to my mom and brother, I have had to become more forceful than what I’m comfortable with. I have had to establish boundries with them or it was chaos whenever I had to dog-sit, which has been a lot in the past few years. I have cats, who make me feel calm and I never have to use forceful commands with them.

    But I think the six corgis and 2 labs are finally getting their lesson on boundries through to me, as I have stood my ground with people and am finally feeling “fine” with it. Like you said, it has nothing to do with making others feel less-than or small. There is great strength in self love. You sharing your experience has helped me to see all this in my own life; so thank you again! You are an amazing teacher! 🙂

  3. MARY Sundine
    MARY Sundine says:

    Its not about domination as much as it is about being confident and a strong leader when working with horses. Horses want a leader that will make them feel safe in a scarey situation. They want to know the person they let lead knows and is trustworthy enough to know danger and to protect them from being eatten. By letting your horse eat you say to him, im too passive to decide when you should stop and eat so im going to let you decide, thus the horse takes the role of leader and he thinks he has to be in charge of the life and death decisions when danger comes, inorder to not be eatten.

  4. Zuzanna
    Zuzanna says:

    O. M. G.
    Danielle ket me just say that thia could be in 100% reading about myself and my horse. This is smth I’m wondering about for some time – why he is ‘eating that grass’ only when with me, why he is not respecting me? I love him, I hate to dominate my animals, use force or pressure and in return they are naughty (with my horse it’s not so funny because he simply can be dangerous, so I stop riding. And ofcourse I am the ONLY person who has that problems with him. The same with my dog (big, strong, aggresive towards other dogs), ge is naughty only with me, if he is handled by any behaviorist, trainer etc, there seems to be no problem at all…
    I can’t wait to read your next post. THANK YOU dear Danielle for this one, I hope you can imagine what does this mean to me, knowing that even someone so advanced in animal communication can have that kind of experience. I always felt like a looser, because I try amd try to have better relationship with my animals, I did many courses with my dog, my horse, I even started your AC course! And all the time they don’t respect me and are niughty and difficult to handle. Wow. I hope you feel what I wantto share… Much love, thank you for sharing this story <3

  5. Laura Kimball
    Laura Kimball says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience. I teach riding and train horses and I see this issue come up all the time with students and their horses. If you observe how horses interact with each other in the herd, you will see that they have a pecking order hierarchy. The lead horse (often a mare) is dominant – will keep the others in line, eat first, discipline when necessary, but also keep everyone safe. So to be in charge with a horse and have them listen to you, one must embody the role of lead mare, so to speak. Be assertive, bold, clear on intent, yet kind and fair. Your horse will then look to you for what you want and relax due to them trusting in your leadership. Respect comes from establishing yourself as benevolent leader. When we speak “horse”, they can understand, and we can grow as people.

  6. JoAnn
    JoAnn says:

    one thing I forgot to mention the biggest thing that will come out of this is you will heal a part of you that has needed to be healed for a very long time and you will find peace in a place you did not even realize you needed. Bless Wishes Danielle

  7. JoAnn
    JoAnn says:

    Hi Danielle,I am really enjoying your emails. I am not one to exert myself either,I let it build up and build up til I cant even sleep well then all of a sudden I just let it all out and sometimes not in such a pretty way.I do believe it sometimes takes a meltdown to open ourselves up to the truth of things. I know you were frustrated with yourself and the horse but I believe in part 2 will be totally different,you and the horse will be on a newer and sweeter footing. Looking forward to reading about it. Bless you for sharing. JoAnn 🙂

  8. Erica Hodgson
    Erica Hodgson says:

    BOOM! Love your story. I’m ready for tomorrow’s exciting continuation…..YOU are keeping us all on the edge of our seat!!!!❤️❤️

  9. David
    David says:

    Wow- I had 2 horses and always had problems with them.
    I’m in the Same boat. I am the youngest child of 4 and was bullied a little and never stood up for myself.

    I can totally understand exactly what you’re going through.

    That’s fantastic -I’m not the only one. LOL

    Sorry I had to Laugh-

    Thanks for being real -but isn’t this the time for being real-
    It sure is.

    David x

  10. Erin McD
    Erin McD says:

    Thank you for sharing about your Costa Rica trip. I’ve enjoyed reading you emails and FB posts. I resonate with this boundary setting and not wanting to dominate people. I keep having little ways of this showing up for me. Just yesterday I had a friend who asked if she could experiment lightning the ends of my hair. I have quite an interesting hair cut. It’s shaved on the sides, longer on top and the ends of my hair were purple. But I’ve been letting my grey hair grow out and I had about 7-8 inches of my natural hair color, which I can’t even remember the last time my hair was its natural color. Oh and I’m 35 with quite a lot of grey hair, so this was something that was really hard for me to let grow out. I was actually starting to love my grey hair and was proud of it. I said she could color up to where my grow out ended but she ended up coloring almost all of it and I find myself incredibly disappointed and wondering how this happened. I thought I was very clear with her. I keep telling myself this is silly. It’s just hair. It’ll grow back out again, but I spent like 9 months letting it grow and I was going to cut it all off and have it all be my natural color in a few months. I didn’t sleep well last night because I was so disappointed and the first thing I read this morning was this and knew this is why. I wasn’t firm enough in my boundary of do not touch that part of my hair. You can do whatever you want on the ends but do not touch my grow out. I can feel that I don’t want to dominate others too, so thank you for sharing it gave me clarity in what happened for me yesterday.

  11. Jyll Hoyrup
    Jyll Hoyrup says:

    I’m loving your Journey with the horses, thank you so much for sharing!

    I recently had this same experience on a horseback ride here in Belize. It was my second time riding a horse in over 25 years, something had been drawing me to horses the past few years. This second ride, my horse seemed very bored and kept eating the grass. Even pulling on the reins before the grass didn’t help. I got very frustrated and upset too. I wish I had gotten the explanation you got – it really makes a lot of sense and next time I go (apparently there WILL be a next time – say my Guides – haha) I will shift my energy, connection, and boundaries. ROAR!

  12. Anne Quick
    Anne Quick says:

    Wow, I am so amazed and grateful for you opening up and sharing your experience. With the emphasis you put on setting boundaries in all the classes I’ve taken with you, I was sure this is something that you had down. Thank you for sharing, and I can’t wait to read part two.

    I have finally realized myself lately, that setting firm boundaries is not only going to help me take care of myself, but that it will make others respect me more. If I’m wishy washy on something, the other person gets uncomfortable, and I wouldn’t blame them if they don’t trust me. It’s funny, that I thought setting a firm boundary would alienate people or make them not like me, and it is actually the opposite. People (and animals) want to know where they stand.

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!


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