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American Horse Whisperer in Greece

By Anthi Stamatopoulou
Proto Thema, April '05

horse whisperer in greeceWhen you see Mr. Franklin Levinson you are reminded of Robert Redford’s character in the movie ‘Horse whisperer’. The difference is, he does in real life what the movie portrayed and in fact he is one of the most famous in this field around the world. Dressed as a true cowboy he travels the globe and brings peace to horses. How? He whispers to them!

The term, says Mr. Levinson, denotes a subtle and gentle approach towards horses with the purpose of establishing a relationship with them based on trust.

In his own words, in the interview he kindly gave to ‘THEMA’ magazine, ‘… if such a relationship is achieved, the horse looks up to the human as a leader and provider of peace and prosperity, thus becoming an obedient and loyal companion’.

Born in Detroit, Michigan, Franklin Levinson first came in contact with horses at the age of 7, when he got a Welsh pony from his father, who was a polo player. He is currently based in a beautiful ranch in Aspen, Colorado, while he has another ranch in Maui, Hawai. Regarding his private life, his constant travels make it difficult to have one, but, as he explained, he has already been through several marriages and has a stepdaughter.


Do you feel at all like Robert Redford in ‘Horse whisperer’?

I liked the character he played in the movie because he displayed the same virtues I also try to promote in my relationship with others. He was compassionate, kind, strong and skillful. He had patience, was not judging others and tried to see the whole picture in a situation. My effort to live by those same principles in my life is what gives me a sense of deep inner fulfillment.

So, how can one approach a horse?

Horses are prey animals and because of that they are fearful. Development of trust is essential to have a successful relationship with horses. It is the same with humans, especially children. In such a relationship, the human should be a leader with kindness, gentleness and patience. He should become a wonderful parent and a positive influence.

How can this be achieved?

The important thing is to have peace within you. One should not loose patience or be annoyed. The techniques are simple. Either leading or stopping or turning the horse, can make the horse feel safe. The biggest problem is ignorance from the part of the rider/trainer. Because of this, often the horse’s resistance or attitude is mistaken as stubbornness.

What will the horse gain from such an approach?

Most horses today do not live free, so anything that we can do to make their life better, is of great importance. When people understand the fearful state of the horse and start to develop a bond of trust and respect with them, this goal can be achieved

Is Horse Whispering, in any way, painful to the horse?

No, never. Horses are very intelligent and learn quickly. If you communicate with them in the proper way, they become willing students.

What motivated you into doing this profession?

In my childhood it was like living in a combat zone. My parents were fighting all the time and I was praying for some peace. Since my father was a polo player I was with him a lot in the stables beginning at a very early age and there I found out that I felt incredible peace when I was around horses. This was the reason I followed this profession.

How does a horse see the human?

For the horses, humans are predators. Our posture, our eyes being close one to the other, our eating habits, our aggressive nature, it all confirms this perception. This is the reason we should always avoid big movements with our hands when near horses and be conscious of our attitude and how we move our bodies.

Have you learned things from horses?

The most important thing I gained from being around horses is inner peace and kindness. Horses teach honesty. This can help us become better people in our own ‘herd’.

What feelings are common between horses and people?

Today, with terror being an everyday thought, we discover what it means to be prey. This exactly how horses feel. Security is a feeling inside of us and does not exist outside of our feelings. Perhaps now we can understand more about horses and how to approach them the right way.

Still, some believe that horses should live free in nature…

Horses today are not free. With the exception of some large ranches or resereves, horses are always confined. Dependency on man is therefore unavoidable, so man should make the best of this situation by becoming a good parent and provider for them.

How would you describe horses?

They are wise in their own way, they are understanding and sensitive like women and some evolved men and innocent like children.

Has your love of horses affected your personal life?

Yes. My relationship with horses has been the most beneficiary influence in my life. Through horses I have made good friends around the world and have met and enjoyed the company of wonderful people.

Contact with horses is helpful to persons with disabilities. Have you ever had such an experience?

Indeed, persons with all kinds of disabilities have found peace and self esteem through relationship with horses. This is because the nature of the horse is to seek a bond with whoever is around it. It does this to feel safe and secure. So being around horses is certainly helpful in such situations, as the horse will easily bond with a human who shows no aggression and offers kindness.

What will you teach in your clinics?

It will be about techniques onhow to achieve a wonderfull relationship with horses and dealing with specific problems that might occur in such a relationship.

What would you say to those who have never been around horses?

That they should try the experience. It is science fact that being around them lowers stress levels and is relaxing, so try it and I’m sure you’ll like it.