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The Maui Horse Whisperer Experience

by Karee Carlucci
Maui Concierge Magazine, March 2001

Adventures on Horseback was chosen by our readers as one of their favorite horseback riding activities to recommend. When we informed owner Franklin Levinson about the honor bestowed on his business, he was overwhelmed and invited us to learn about his newest project, The Maui Horse Whisperer Experience.

Expanding your own world, growing with self-improvement, enhancing your life and having fun doing it - who wouldn't be interested in these experiences? But did you know that this is exactly what The Maui Horse Whisperer Experience is about?

You may have some guests tell you, "I don't even like horses, so why would I want to try this?" Well, according to Franklin, the cognitive skills, patience, timing, intuition and awareness that you'll practice while playing with the horses will be taken home with you, and can become a more conscious part of daily life. "This is life enhancement at its finest," he explains.

The moment we arrived at the Levinson horse ranch in Huelo, we were struck by the surrounding beauty and serenity of the place. Franklin opened his home to us and brought forth his gracious hospitality, getting us to relax with fresh-baked banana bread and tall glasses of iced tea. When everyone was comfortable, he began to explain how horses have played an important role through his whole life and what he's learned from them. Just by watching horses in the field, you're aware of their high integrity and grace; they remain alert to their environment, and once you gaze into their eyes, you're struck by their honesty and openness toward you. They just want to feel safe with you, and not threatened. Franklin told us that we need to replicate a horse's behavior, then become its leader. We found that much of what we learned could also be put into practice with our dogs.

As we walked out to the green pasture under a bright blue sky, we were greeted by Zip, a handsome brown/black quarterhorse. Franklin would teach us that the best way to learn horse behavior was through being sensitive and showing respect for the animal - we took turns at connecting with Zip first, then walking side by side. A bond of trust began to be formed. The next step in this seminar of sorts takes place in the horse arena. This ring is situated below the glass-enclosed clubhouse and overlooks the north shore's waters and tropical tree-tops. One by one, we were introduced to the elegant Mr. D, a majestic brown horse with blue eyes and a gentle soul. Franklin begins in the ring with each person, guiding us in our "dance" with his horse. As Franklin talks each guest through the exercise, the other guests are watching and listening on the shady lawn above the arena. It's playful, interactive, and very heartwarming, especially when you realize this animal wants your companionship and will seek it out.

Once everyone in the group is feeling good about themselves and their one-on-one relationship with the horse, they are then matched up with a horse to suit their size and personality, and allowed to get ready for a scenic trailride. The ride is optional, but once we were communicating with these animals, we knew we had to experience the pleasure of seeing our surroundings from their perspective. Wide open space with a panoramic ocean view from the north shore sea cliffs, whales breaching in the distance, the old Hana highway under a rainforest canopy, and riding high with the wind in your hair all combine to make a fitting end to a memorable, action-packed day.

As Franklin noted, "this is beyond a great fun-filled activity, these programs are designed to enrich your life." At first glance, the rates of $250 for a half-day and $350 for a full-day may seem a bit pricey, but when you consider that this is really more like a self-improvement seminar (which can cost $500 and up), the price is very reasonable. Family group rates are offered, which makes this a good value for the whole family. "We build and support relationships within the family," Franklin says. Many times, parents let the kids go for the ride and they stay at the ranch and enjoy its inviting hospitality. Kids 10 years old and up are welcome; the full-day includes a sumptuous continental breakfast and a catered lunch in the clubhouse. Full-day is 9am - 5pm and the half-day runs from 12noon to 5pm.

With any group, please inquire about special rates and other programs. "Leading with Quiet Strength" is a leadership and team-building program which is perfect for corporate clients. "Enhance Your Romance" blends a romantic horseback ride with a relationship support class for couples, and is taught by both Franklin and his wife Adrianna. "Horse Sense for Humans" was the program created especially for families with teenagers. Studies have shown that just being around horses significantly reduces a human's stress level. So if you need a break from your work, give Franklin a call at 808-572-6211, and he'll be happy to extend a complimentary experience to you. Availability is immediate, and we highly recommend it. Visit the website:www.mauihorses.com - happy trails!