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My Journey to Franklin – Every Horse's Best Friend

By Debra Gehrke

Every horses best friendLast May, upon our return to Kauai from our journey to India, and then our family visit in Wisconsin, the urge to have a full-on Horsey ‘experience’ that would launch me into the space I knew in my heart I wanted to go was undeniable. I knew that it was time for me to do some research and for me to set the intention to call in the best teacher – the best teacher for me – in the universe.

I began my search on the internet, of course. I found all sorts of interesting things. Great support for what I was intuitively feeling about horses and their unique ability to touch humans in a way that could potentially shift their consciousness and alter the be-ingness of their lives forever was readily available. I knew that I wanted to be a part of this rolling wave of enthusiasm around the horse/human connection. I also knew that as I read the countless pages of material that while inspiring and stimulating on some level, for me it was not quite ‘right’…not quite what I was looking for.

What I found as I researched was that the containers or boxes that have been shaped so far for the work that is being done didn’t quite fit the vision I was holding. While the work being done definitely integrates the horse and human and the profound effect that working with a horse can have I felt that what I was looking for was more about the ‘exchange’ between the horse and human as equal partners and even more importantly that the human would come to the horse, honor the horse, get to know the horse, earn the horse’s respect and trust while quietly, slowly entering into an appropriate, balanced relationship with the horse. I wanted to learn what it’s like to be a horse…not from human eyes…but with horse’s eyes. I felt strongly that the truest expression of this work would be discovered from the horse’s perspective, not ours and that in that space the ‘magic’ or the ‘keys to the universe’ would be ours, so to speak. I wanted to discover what it is to be a part of the herd. What did it really mean to be in a herd? How did the members of the herd inter-relate with one another? How is the hierarchy established… what qualities does the leader possess that make him or her capable and respected as a leader? What do we notice about each of the other horses in the herd? Are there any recognizable behaviors that seem to be speaking the language of the horse? And so on. I wanted to delve into the world of the horse in order to understand them, from their perspective, so that I could share their wisdom with others.

I continued searching and suddenly something ‘clicked’–no pun intended as I was still ‘googling’ to find what I was looking for! I found Franklin Levinson, known for years as “The Maui Horse Whisperer”, whose web address reflected immediately what I felt I was looking for: www.wayofthehorse.org. Way of the Horse! Of course…that was it. Someone was focusing on the HORSE… for the horse. I began reading the many articles and essays available on Franklin’s site and I knew that without a doubt he was the teacher for me. It was so interesting for me to read Franklin’s words…they seemed to be my words. The thoughts and feelings I had been having, the intuitive truths that had been pulsing through me about the deeper connection between horse and human as partners in right relationship with each other resounded in every article I read. The biggest difference I could find between Franklin and me was that he was living and breathing it in his every day physical world and my experience was still largely in the intuitive world with a strong impulsion moving forward into my daily experience. I had been working for half a year at an incredible ranch here on Kauai where I could experience, ‘feel into’, and put into practice some of what I’d been feeling. I had learned (and continue to learn) so much about horses and their care…and I knew that if I wanted to delve in and completely immerse myself I needed to find a space where I could BE in the experience fully engaged with out the duties of day to day business. I had a sense that an experience with Franklin and the horses would be just the thing. I emailed him immediately and discovered that he was living in the Aspen/Snowmass area of Colorado… nestled in the Rocky Mountains. He offered what he calls “A Rocky Mountain Horse Vacation“…an immersion program designed especially to suit each individuals needs/ desires.

I experienced an ever deepening sense of presence, of truly being in the moment. Franklin helped me see so clearly the smallest of details within the connection and relationship with each horse just by slowing things down… making each moment breathe on its own.Debra G.

We began connecting and planning through emails for what would soon become one of the greatest experiences of my life. I have so much gratitude for Franklin, for his willingness to be present, for his passion, enthusiasm and compassion in the work that he does. It’s obvious that the horses have taught Franklin well. He’s an incredible example of living Way of the Horse every day.

In September we traveled as a family to meet Franklin. I was so excited I don’t think I slept for an entire week before the trip. If I was sleeping I was dreaming horses, nonstop. (That’s not that unusual for me!) Meeting Franklin the first day felt like being reunited with a close friend after a long time apart. There was an immediate bond which confirmed for me again that I was exactly where I needed to be. My week was filled with horses…a girl’s dream come true. We visited a healthy handful of ranches in the area and I worked (I really prefer ‘played’) with a variety of horses, each of which brought a unique blend of character traits to the ‘dance’, as Franklin lovingly refers to the communion of horse and human’s time together.

Throughout this week I lived and breathed what I knew to be true in my heart. I experienced first hand what it truly means to feel and think like a horse. I experienced an ever deepening sense of presence, of truly being in the moment. Franklin helped me see so clearly the smallest of details within the connection and relationship with each horse just by slowing things down… making each moment breathe on its own. What a remarkably beautiful experience!

There are so many attributes that I appreciate in Franklin. What stands at the front of along list is his innate ability to be fully present, completely in his integrity…full of trust inthe real sense of the word…a quality that is not often found in today’s world, a gift to besure. He is honest. He is respecting and respectable. He’s quietly calm, peaceful…andat the same time exudes a happiness that lets you know he is truly living his passion. It was very easy for me to see how he’s so successful in his partnerships with horses.

He’s everything they need him to be. He’s not full of hidden agendas. He’s there for them and they know it; they can trust him. He recognizes them for their greatness, their strength and their capacity to love. He recognizes their need for safety. He’s there for them. As I write this I am reminded again of the overwhelming sense of purity, love and compassion that I felt as I observed Franklin with the horses. I remember reflecting with Franklin about how I feel so strongly that the power of the horse/human connection and the wisdom therein could truly be the answer to the world’s obvious cry for help and positive change. The qualities described above could cure this planet of anything that ails it if each human could find this space to exist in–relating in harmony with all of nature, all of life.

I’ll save the ‘technical’ details of my experience for another article. This one describes the essence that I came away with; an essence that I already carried in my heart and now had a wealth of practical experience to support it. I am forever grateful to Franklin…and Sunny D., Gracie, Shiloh, Sunbeam, Honey, Thunder and all of the other amazing Horsey Spirits out there! If you’re looking for a horse experience that will enhance your state of being for the rest of your life…contact Franklin, he and his horse friends will be there for you!