You know when your horse looks at you, and you just know they're trying to say something? What if you could learn to figure them out? According to Heather Bristol, a Florida-based hunter/jumper trainer and animal communicator, you can.
Top: Heather Bristol and her mother. Photo by Margaret Corry.
Whether you want to call it animal communication, telepathy or intuition, sending and receiving images from animal to human is something she believes anyone can do.
“Animals think in pictures,” she says. “People do that as babies, but when you develop your language abilities you start to associate pictures with words, and you kind of lose that ability.”
But it doesn't have to be lost forever.
An Unexpected Beginning
Though she had always considered herself a skeptic, Heather came into the world of animal communication completely by accident when her mother died suddenly in 2008.
“We had a very strange conversation a few weeks before she died of a heart attack. She was a very spiritual person, and she told me that if she died before me, she would try to contact me by ringing the phone.”
Sure enough, that's exactly what happened. The phone rang off the hook at her house, with only static was on the line, but Heather wasn't putting the pieces together, and it was driving the family crazy. Eventually, Heather's husband, an electrical engineer, suggested that she tell her mother, “We got the message, now stop ringing the phone because she's freaking people out!”
So Heather did her best to send the message, “I love you; we know you're OK, but stop ringing,” and the calls stopped.
After her mother's death, Heather became more spiritual, and started experimenting with animal communication while playing with her Chihuahuas.
“What was really interesting was when they would show me something like 'That one stole my toy,' even though it had happened when I wasn't there hours before. Then I could make sure everyone had a toy–simple things like that.”
Communicate for Rideability
Now, she's honed her skills and uses them to help horses and other animals. For example: her own jumper mare, Shine On.
“She has a problem where she takes over and is less rideable to the fences. I wanted to do a small grid so I wouldn't have to fiddle as much, so I set up a small bounce to a one stride to a bounce.”
“The first time through, the mare completely blew through everything, didn't get it at all. Then the next time through, I tried to think about it from her perspective.”
Rather than visualizing a perfect George Morris jumping clinic photo, for example, or even what the jump should look through a horse's ears, she sent her mare images of the jump from a horse-eye view, and also transmitted the feeling of rocking back on her haunches, taking off, and landing in rhythm. She puts herself in her horse's shoes, so to speak.
“And what do you know, she did so much better the next time!” Heather laughs.
Helping Horses in Need
Heather also does free work for animal rescues, and collaborates with vets in the Wellington area if a particular case has them stumped. However, she recommends always calling your vet first if your animal is sick or hurt.
“I have some people who call me, thinking I'll be cheaper than a vet,” she says. “But I'm not a vet.”
For example, she received a call from a trainer in Wellington, whose horse started to act strangely–stomping and not wanting to go forward. The vet looked it over on several different visits, but couldn't pinpoint anything. The trainer tried acupuncture too, but it seemed to be behavioral, and they were about to send the horse out to the cowboy trainer.
“When I had a session with the horse, it showed me something wasn't right in its leg,” she says.
The trainer called the vet again, who was then able to detect a lesion forming in a tendon, and prescribed time off for the horse to heal.
“I'm so glad the horse didn't get injured further when it really wasn't a behavioral issue,” Heather said.
Try It at Home
Though every animal communicator has a different approach, much like every artist has his or own process, Heather believes everyone has the ability to improve communication with animals.
“If you want to call it telepathy, intuition, or make it into a religion, it's up to you,” Heather says, “The most important thing when working with animals is listen to your intuition and stay grounded — that is, leave your ego out of the way.”
Heather explained that by “ego,” she meant any preconceived notions of what you think might be the issue with your animal. “You have to set aside your agenda to listen to your horses,” she continued.
But how can you start to open the lines of communication between human and animal?
“You know your animal better than anyone else does,” she says, “So just wait for a quiet moment and ask a couple questions. Even something as simple as 'What did you do today?' will work. Then see what images you get.”
“It will change your life in a way that is profound, I can tell you that.”