I Have a Story to Tell

by Danielle MacKinnon

I have a story to tell.

Yesterday afternoon I went for a horseback ride with Sally (one of wonderful women facilitating with me at the Horse and Soul workshop here in Costa Rica), Leila (the woman behind the Freedom Tracks documentary), and Ronald (our trusty guide).

A lot happened.

My human riding companions, Sally, Leila, and Ronald are all experienced horseback riders. I am definitely not so I thought I would probably run into some lesson along the way – ha!

It started out easy. We walked along the road and then took a trail up to the left into the rolling forest (jungle maybe?) hills.

We moved along, chatting, observing the landscape, and feeling connected to our horses, the environment, and each other. 

And then Sally turns back to look at me and says, “Are you ready to run?”

Well, run we did.

My horse pretty much took off as soon as I gave the go ahead. And I mean – running in an all-out, full-on manner. I grabbed on to the saddle horn with my right hand and gripped the lead – trying to choke up on it so I could somehow control the situation. I did NOT want him going that fast or moving that much!

Finally, he slowed down and I felt like I could relax – a little bit at least.

Then, we did it again! This time though, my foot fell out of the stirrup and which really made me feel that this running thing was too bumpy, too fast, too much out of my control.

Sally moved so our horses could walk together.  She mentioned that it looked like I was struggling because I was trying to control the running. (She was right of course – in fear, the faster we went, the more I felt like a golf club stuck precariously on top of a moving object).

“Instead of that,” she said, “Just go with it and see what happens!”

Hmmm…. I felt open to the idea, but at the same time, I didn’t really know what “just go with it” would look like.

Was I going to lose control? Would we go so fast that I would fall off? Would he run somewhere with me and I wouldn’t know how to get home?

There were two things that I did know.

  1. The inside of my right shoulder blade was really smarting from gripping the saddle horn so hard. I needed to do something different to stop creating pain. 
  2. Leila was up ahead of me riding bareback not even using her reigns. If she could run with her horse like that, I could definitely do it with the benefit of a saddle, stirrups and lead. 

Suddenly, we came to another long uphill area on the trail. Ronald, who was in the lead, took a look back at us (I did notice quite mischievous smile ) and then he and his horse blasted up the hill.

Uh oh.

Then Leila and her horse joined in (still bareback and still going a breakneck speed), closely followed by Sally and her horse.

I knew this was it – but I felt a little unsure. Can I really let go like that? That really wasn’t my original plan…

I relaxed my body for a moment and my horse took off. He’d just been waiting for my go ahead and he was on it – ready to catch up to the rest of the group.

At first, I choked up on the lead again and I grabbed the saddle horn (my handle) like there was no tomorrow.

But then, as we worked our way up and up and up in speed, I remembered what Sally said.

Consciously, I breathed out and I let my body get loose. Rather than resisting, I wanted to find the rhythm with my horse that it seemed like he was asking for – it felt like if I could match up with that, things would calm down.

As my hips and legs loosened, so too did my hand on the saddle horn. I noticed my arms and torso and let them get wiggly instead of stiff…

And then, I found it. Or we found it – my horse and I: the rhythm we needed to set together. Big huge galloping waves – that my body just embraced. A feeling came over me – a feeling of trust, of waves, of knowing that we were doing this running thing totally together.

However, the moment I relaxed into the running, my horse sped up. That’s right, he went faster!

I was so deep into the waves, no longer worried about what might happen that my reaction was simply, “Ahhhhhhh wow!”

When we reached the top of the hill where Sally, Leila, Ronald and the horses had been waiting for us I felt… exuberated. Just like I was on top of the world.

This horse – this horse and I, we created together. I stopped thinking I knew best and opened to what he was trying to show me was out there and we both benefitted from it.

In one sense, I DID very strongly know what was best for me IF I wanted to keep things status quo. I knew what my comfort zone was and I didn’t want to leave it.

But no one grows by staying in their comfort zone. It just doesn’t work. No one wakes up in the morning exclaiming, “Everything is so safe and good and easy in my life right now, I’m going to change it all up!”

Instead, we do everything we can to try and ensure that nothing changes the comfort zone – forgetting the fact that we originally reached the current comfort zone by uncomfortably blasting out of our old comfort zone.

Perhaps today you can experiment with leaving your own comfort zone to see what results from that? You don’t have to do a Leila and go bareback (although that’s awesome too!), but perhaps a little loosening of the reigns?

The universe will make it pay off for you!

Love and Light,


7 replies
  1. Ann Henkel
    Ann Henkel says:

    Danielle, you inspire me in so many ways! I am excited for our work together.
    My first horseback ride was just a roll in a big mud puddle. 12 yrs old, at day camp and my huge horse plunked down and rocked back and forth in the mud. I think I’ll try again….. with clarity and guidance this time.
    This week I had a breakthrough in my 65 year eating journey. My sidekick, Angel, is teaching me. I support her by feeding her the highest quality food. I spare no expense.
    I did it! I purchased plentiful organic fruits and vegetables.. no grains, no sugar. My food shift began on New Years when I began meditating, eating vegetables and shifting my food. After I watched the Food for Clarity series, I was poised hesitantly on the edge, ready to go shopping after a huge, sickening binge. My fear in shifting my food was that I’d always be hungry… (a theme!). Long story short, I am full and happy. My kid is happy to discover a fruit (I never thought sweet enough)… organic blueberries. They are sweet and satisfying, especially partially frozen. I shifted. I was gentle. I did it my perfect way. I loved myself through it all. Angel is my guru. I am glad we still have work to do together. All this time I thought I was taking care of her….. my 5 lb miracle is taking care of me.

  2. Sharon McDougal-Jensen
    Sharon McDougal-Jensen says:

    That is the way it is supposed to be; however, that doesn’t mean it will be. A mule I was riding totally ignored the fine print in our contract. One bright, crisp fall day, I was riding a mule up a really steep hill in Montana. The mule worked her way to the top of the hill as fast as she could (which added a new definition to the word ‘bumpy’) and then she stopped … let out a BIG breath … and the saddle and I just s-l-o-w-l-y slid sideways and then under her belly! Not surprisingly, I fell out of the saddle in a most undignified manner. Y’know, it’s really hard to overcome trust issues when a mule intentionally dumps you and follows up braying about it to all her friends!

  3. Patty Daley
    Patty Daley says:

    Danielle, I have been there! I have only been riding for about 7 years. Running full speed (a gallop), is scary! I will never forget my ‘off the track thoroughbred’ Silver running with me at a full gallop for over a mile, and he kept going faster and faster! He would not stop no matter what I did. Now that Silver is gone, I will remember that frightful ride for the rest of my life. Silver was showing me I could get outside my comfort zone. I could trust and let go. I could hang on yet be flexible. I could have faith in myself and in what was unfolding! I could have fun taking risks, instead of being in my slow, predictable comfort zone. It’s such a thrill. I’m glad you experienced that in your life. WOOOOO hooo! Ride-em’Cowgirl! <3

  4. Denyse DelDotto
    Denyse DelDotto says:

    Oh how I wish I was there!!!!! As I read your story I smiled and remember that feeling of letting go of control and giving it over to your horse. It’s awesome to play and have fun and forget about being in control. Woohoooo!!!!

  5. kaoru makiguchi
    kaoru makiguchi says:

    😲 What a great story to wake up to, Danielle! I hadn’t read anything that exciting in a long while! When I got to the “Uh oh” in the email, I was thinking “what happened next?!” as I clicked on “keep reading the blog..”..
    Thank you for the “lesson” on “loosening the reigns”~!✨🤓✨
    PS: I love the pic of you on the 🐴!

  6. Linda davison
    Linda davison says:

    Danielle, this sounds way too familiar. I have been on many run away horses. And am always trying to control their speed, which often makes the situation worse Maybe i can try the letting go and breathe into it….. maybe~~~ because it is wonderful to be one with the horse as it canters along. 🙏


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