How to Talk to Horses


Guest post by Andrea from Horse Glam.

We have all wondered, and even joked, about what our horses would say if they could talk.

I have a whole blog section called Chloe’s Chatter dedicated to giving Chloe a voice. As most suspect, that voice is arguably my sassy alter-ego. I think to some degree we all do this with our horses.

Horses are our teammates and best confidants. They are partners who we have an intense working relationship with, and therefore it is easy to overly humanize them. It is easy to start envisioning their voices sounding similar to our own.

Photo Credit: Shannen Smyth

I have contacted Debbie McGillivray a few times over the last decade. The most recent time was about 5 years ago. Debbie is a real horse whisperer, using telepathy to communicate. She works countless hours a week taking phone calls from people all over the world who want to talk with their animals. She also has 3 books and conducts online workshops on the topic.

Like our past conversations, we started with what Chloe wanted to talk about. She complained about the “annoying horse” in the paddock adjacent to her (I witnessed and even took pictures of her a few hours earlier trying to bite him over the fence and herding her girlfriend away from him).

She let me know that I spend too much time talking when I ride her (guilty as charged). She commented that a change to the hay was causing her stomach to feel very sensitive and gassy (I confirmed a recent hay change).

During her body scan, Debbie noted 3 main issues (lower right side of the back, right hip and left shoulder) that match Chloe’s recent chiropractic chart. Debbie also mentioned that Chloe’s left front foot, for lack of a better phrase, dragged the ground. My farrier came out a week later and confirmed that was a common issue for her.

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Knowing that I intended to blog about my conversation, I asked Debbie for something more from Chloe that would let me know she was really talking to her. I wanted to be able to show my husband and any “neigh” sayers that this was for real. I didn’t want anything that could be general to most horses. And this is where I think I let my over humanization of Chloe cloud my judgment.

In reality, I was looking for Debbie to come back with a personal story that only me and Chloe knew about. I basically wanted Chloe to tell me something like you see on a medium show – I wanted her to say, “Remember that time we were on a trail ride and you lost your keys when I spooked at the deer”? However, instead, these are the 3 things Chloe came back with.

1. Her left eye was watering and irritating and really bothering her. Like I previously mentioned, I was at the barn earlier that day. When I went out to give her treats with the kids, I noticed that her left eye (not her right) was really watering (it had the discharge half way down her face).

I had my kids and I just didn’t have time or the ability to deal with it, but I vividly recalled it. However, I still wasn’t too impressed. After all, this wasn’t the smoking gun that I was looking for.

2. She said that her pasture-mate was very stiff and sore in her right hind hock. I have since confirmed this with my trainer and the owner of the mare, but at the time I had no knowledge of it. Again, it wasn’t what I was wanting to hear so I sort of dismissed it.

3. Lastly, Chloe referenced a big barn change. Debbie got the intense feeling that it was a horse that recently left. I had no idea what she meant. The last horse left months ago and I didn’t think Chloe had even ever noticed him to begin with. I thought perhaps she meant Stella, who had left on the trailer earlier that day for a day trip.

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However when I described Stella as a bay horse, Debbie said it wasn’t her. She continued to reference a big change in the barn and a horse leaving. I just had no clue what she was talking about and honestly was disappointed that after 10 years together this was the best that Chloe could do. I cringe when I recall saying to Debbie, “Oh typical, Chloe. Not giving me what I want from her.”

Looking back, with the new information gained just 15 minutes after my phone conversation with Chloe, and my taking the time to process everything, Chloe was giving me exactly what I was asking from her. I, as perhaps is typical, just wasn’t listening.

Like I mentioned earlier, I am guilty of humanizing Chloe. I want her to think like me. I wanted her to tell me a story. But at the end of the day, she is a horse. She can’t think in terms of stories or complex thoughts. She feels and thinks in the present. So when I asked her for proof, she gave me 3 things that were in the moment, things that if I were there I could verify.

Her eye WAS watering, it was irritating to her in that exact moment. The horse who she was in the pasture with during my phone call, IS stiff and sore in her right hind hock. And unbeknownst to me, at the exact time of my phone call, there was a big change occurring in the barn. A horse did leave. A horse that was not a bay.

When I got off the phone, I immediately reached out to Jackie (trainer/friend) to let her know about my conversation. Jackie was emotional when I talked to her. Less than an hour earlier, at the exact moment of my 25 minute conversation with Debbie, a horse was put down after complications from a recent injury.

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After recovering from my initial sadness upon this news, the realization of what Chloe said really hit me. She was right. This was indeed a big change and someone did leave. It is a small barn, and the horse was arguably Jackie’s favorite, as well as the most successful of all our current show horses. He will truly be missed by all, and I am positive his loss is felt amongst the other horses.

So if you ask me how to talk to horses, I’d tell you that we all have the ability. Debbie’s books and workshops are geared to teaching you to communicate yourself, but if you want immediate answers from a professional, I would look no further than Debbie McGillivray.

However, I think the biggest lesson gained from my recent conversation with Chloe is that perhaps talking to each other isn’t the answer. Maybe it is just as important to start listening.

To schedule a phone consultation with Debbie visit HERE.

Andrea Wise graduated from Wake Forest University School of Law in 2007, where afterwards she spent 7 years as a commercial real-estate attorney.  In 2017, she launched Horse Glam, a fresh take on an equestrian lifestyle blog, where Andrea and her sassy mare, Chloe, are the main contributors. Through captivating editorial quality pictures, engaging Instagram stories and entertaining blog reviews, Horse Glam strives to be a go-to source for a next purchase, style inspiration or Monday work distraction. Andrea lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with her husband, Zach, two young children and horse, Chloe.


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