The Whispers of Horses

“Your 5-year old self knows exactly what you came to earth for” – an unforgettable quote from one of my favorite books, “Mastery,” by Robert Greene.

When I was about 5, my foot got stuck in a horse stirrup, probably saving my life. I was in Baguio City, a place that has captivated me since I could remember and is still the place in which I dream I could spend the rest of my life.

My horse had a sudden tiff with the one just beside it and reared in its anger, throwing me off its back. By the luck of the stars, I was short enough and the horse tall enough to let me hang like a pendulum instead of have me fall directly on my fontanelle.

I could hear my yaya scream, “Si Lisa!!!” At that very moment, I was too young to even figure out that this should’ve been a pretty scary event, but in retrospect, I always remember it as one of those days where my life was spared.

Even for me then, horses brought good luck.

I have always gravitated toward horses, ever since I can remember. I could never put my finger on it…but it was unmistakable – some wordless connection, some inner knowing that I needed to be around them. They had such an effect on me. I even loved the smell of their green poop – it meant they were close by!

In my teenage years, our family would go twice a year to this heavenly place called Baguio –  the City of Pines and the vacation capital of the Philippines. We owned a tiny two-bedroom condo unit in a building called Montepino, just minutes from the public horseback riding circle named Wright Park. I always felt like it was another country altogether, with the cold weather, the fog and the clean smell of pines in the chilly air…and horseback riding on the mountain trails.

Horseback riding the trails in Baguio City. Already 21 in this photo

I never had formal horseback riding lessons since it was the farthest thing from my parents’ mind. They preferred piano and ballet – both of which, I actually enjoyed and didn’t quit. Because of this, I always eagerly awaited school breaks so I could spend time with horses and my friends.

Luckily the friends I had were equally obsessed with horses and just like me, spent 7 hours a day just horseback riding through the mountain trails and the riding circle. It was because of them that I mustered up the courage to remove the saddle and ride on just a blanket. To me, it seemed like a badge of honor to ride bareback. All the cool kids taking real riding lessons were doing it so I figured, the only way for me to learn it is to wing it. The first times were scary and hard especially on the trot, but I was determined to learn it. The horse with whom I had my first and most unforgettable freedom runs was #189 or Sunbrown – I’ll never forget him!

A drawing of Sunbrown, my first freedom horse
Wright Park, Baguio City
Riding bareback in Wright Park, Baguio City

One year when I was 14, my family went to Baguio during the off-season. I was with my brother and parents and we stayed at the Baguio Country Club this time. It was perfect because BCC had its own troop of horses. Baguio was perfectly quiet without its usual rush of tourists so I knew I would also have my choice of horses. I saw the usual line of steeds that my friends rode when they were there, but I didn’t see Sunbrown for some reason.

Whom I did see was a beautiful long-limbed Palomino named Senator. He was the horse of one of my best friends and although he was majestic in stature, he was known to be even-tempered, sure-footed and afforded a smooth ride. Senator became my trusted mount that trip. I told the groom I wanted to go bareback and ride the usual mountain trail. For whatever reason, he either got lazy (because he would have to walk the trail guiding my horse) or thought that I was a capable and spirited enough rider to go the journey alone. He said, “Go ahead, be back in 3-4 hours.” That day was my day of true freedom – just me and a horse galloping bareback through the mountainous forest. It was the time of my life!

Senator and I trusted each other as we navigated through very familiar terrain. By this time I had gotten the hang of bareback riding and it felt natural to me. My parents would’ve killed me if they found out I went riding bareback on the mountain trails all alone but I was not scared at all. It felt so RIGHT to be on this adventure with this horse.

After four hours on the trail, I dismounted with the feeling of exhilaration and triumph – it was THE best day of my life. I remember being in the cabin that evening, listening to David Benoit’s “Remembering What You Said,” and feeling utmost satisfaction and contentment with life.

That day, I had no worries in the world. I didn’t remember anything in the past that upset me and nothing about the future scared me. I was excited about the present and the precious gift I was just bestowed.

Ahhhh – to have that feeling of honoring your heart’s deepest desires!

After that trip, I became even more obsessed with horses. I researched all the movies I could watch and bought some books, created collages and put together a drawing notebook with my sketches and fun facts about horses. I came across the Betamax tape of the Black Stallion, in which a horse and young boy of eight found themselves rescuing each other from a tragic shipwreck. Their friendship created an unbreakable bond that proved to be the one thing that kept them both alive on a deserted island. I couldn’t forget the scene where Alex finally mounted the horse and successfully rode him through the beach, both of them bared backs, without falling. I rewound that scene a hundred times I think. That’s how I felt with Senator. The utter joy of being FREE.

What is it about the horse and humans and this exhilarating bond between them?

Over the years, though I didn’t choose a career nor a hobby that involved horses, my obsession and love for them never waned. Somehow, the connection never needed to connect on a 3-dimensional physical level, since it stemmed from higher dimensions. I would still get excited seeing them in fields or in movies or in the Polo Club stables, where I would wander from stall to stall, saying hello to each one and thinking…”what if we belonged together?”

Fast forward 32 years later, I’m 46 and in British Columbia learning a powerful belief change modality called PSYCH K. It just so happened that my teacher, Sandra Wallin, was also an Equine Facilitated Wellness Professional, teaching courses that certify practitioners in this field.

We learned PSYCH K at her house, which stabled 3 beautiful horses, of whom I would always try to sneak a glance from our living room classroom. I was privy to the burgeoning field of Equine Assisted therapy for kids with needs, having learned a version of the Feldenkrais Method and become exposed to the work of Linda Tellington-Jones and Elinor Silverstein.

I thought….what a dream to be able to do my therapies with horses sitting equally as the wise sage and journey guide for the patient.

After five decades, my life was finally taking shape and making sense. I had to wait decades for the connection with horses to take hold and anchor, so it may someday, shoot up and bloom. It was waiting for me to pick up the path of teacher, healing guide, and changemaker.

A path similar to a Medicine Horse.

Since I had some time off in BC, Sandra suggested that I drive over to a place called North Saanich to visit a farm called Thirteen Moons, which was home to a herd of Medicine Horses.

Purely therapeutic in nature, its owner and journey guide enlists the wisdom of horses, roaming freely in generously-sized paddocks, and translates their “messages” to the client.

We took two foldable chairs and watched the horses from a distance. Then, depending on which horse goes forward, that would signify which chakra was blocked and needed more vital flow. For me, it was my sacral chakra – which meant passion, purpose, partner, creativity, physical feelings and sensation.

I watched as certain horses came to the fore and ran around, and from that, she announced the following: “You need to open up your sacral chakra and become ready for a partner.” She watched intently as two horses assisted the opening of my sacral chakra flow by running around and chasing each other like two lovers frolicking at the beach.

After a few more readings and more movement from the horses, the session came to its natural close when they ran off to the far end of the field and stayed there. After the session, I took some time to walk around to check out the paddocks and visit with other horses. One of them, named Sirius Eclipse, gave me a splotchy kiss on my whole face, which I enjoyed.

I took hundreds of photos and the really weird thing is, for whatever reason, I accidentally deleted ALL photos.

So, it has come to pass that I have ZERO photographic reminders of that day – whether it was orchestrated cosmically by the horses, saying – NOPE, we don’t want our photos on the interwebs..or just a pure accident, I’ll never know.

As I was getting ready to drive off, the owner/guide came up to me and handed me a tied up piece of horse tail hair. She mentioned that one of the geldings, “Wit,”  wanted to give it to me for guidance and good luck in finding a partner. I still have this precious souvenir with me that I still look at as some sort of talisman.

Well the pandemic happened and lots of other things in between and I had not been exposed to horses again, but still retained that connection by often seeing my Facebook feed flooded with horse posts. I had put up UNLTD (unlimited), a Biohacking Recovery Center and offered my various energy medicine modalities to help balance physical, emotional and mental ailments.

As you can imagine, business hasn’t been booming and to call trying to keep the center alive a “challenge,” is a gross understatement. I am the only one steering the ship that contains this disruptive movement called “biohacking,” which is really about actualizing and maximizing the human potential than hacking body parts.

At LEEP in Lipa, Batangas
In Elephant Valley, South India riding Shetak, a lovely stallion that reminded me of Shetan, the Black Stallion
Moogli, a lovely horsey porsey at the Elephant Valley. I love his bangs
At North Polo Club trying to ride this horse. We just walked 😀

My center was empty for a good 24 months as the world cowered in a corner from this monster they named C-O-V-I-D. I should’ve been depressed, anxious or ridden with some emotional or mental condition if it hadn’t been for biohacking. I knew I needed to keep the center alive to anchor the energy of the movement and to give it a home-base, whether physically or energetically.

Finally, the world opens up in 2022 and slowly, people are coming and looking for alternative ways to bounce back from two years of fear-borne dis-ease.

So I revitalize the center with workshops around organic ways of actualizing the potential of humans through Neuromovement, the Sounder Sleep System, Sound Baths, Voice-opening, Heartmath and the like. I also started seeing more special needs kids and more trauma patients on a regular basis, which comprise my main private practice.

I should be happy right? Wrong. Something inside me is saying I should go towards my end of life destiny (which in my mind, is in an Auroville-like place in the province) and that I should start treading that direction now. My city-based center (UNLTD) wasn’t truly a step in that direction, though it had served its purpose of giving me a name and recognizing biohacking as a real thing in the Philippines.   

2.5 years after the pandemic and I find myself at a real crossroads.

Even as I write this, I am getting that push and pull feeling of…well, I already put up a center, which would’ve been the dream of every health professional…why would I want to close it down and end up opening another one? Then there’s…well, your center is tying you down and keeping you shackled in place and curtailing your freedom to spread your wings to find new possibilities in a more natural setting. Should I? Should I not? Both options seemed right and both options also had their set of cons.

One day, during one of my sleep workshops, I was chatting away with a friend. We were talking about random things when she mentioned she recently celebrated her birthday at a horse farm 1.5 hours from the metro. I said…”Horse?” “Farm?” and she said she did an “Equine Assisted Learning” session while she was there. My eyes went big and my jaw dropped to the floor.

Why hadn’t I known about this place especially since I lived in the vicinity for 5 years before I moved to the metro to open up my center?

Rancho Leonor in Silang, Cavite. Driveway on the far left, into the paddocks. Conrad is in the leftmost, nearest the driveway
Where Danni teaches riding lessons

I believe in Divine Right Timing and Divine Right Order.

I visited the website and booked my first session the following weekend.

I drove towards the farm trying not to expect anything. I told myself to visit with an “empty cup” or I wouldn’t be able to maximize the experience and download the valuable lessons.

I moved the car into a narrow driveway and was already greeted by the sight of horses grazing in paddocks. There was a charming farmhouse that also looked like a residence. I parked and was greeted by the owner and instructor, a young lady by the name of Danni Virata. She looked to be in her early twenties or late teens and I was surprised to find out she was already in her mid 30s!

She gave me a short tour of the house and property and quick background stories, the typical niceties you exchange with another upon the first meeting.

We started walking towards the paddocks near the driveway and she said we would sit by them to quietly observe and do a short meditation for grounding.

As we were walking, a beautiful gelding by the name of Conrad seemed to walk toward us to greet us with interest. Danni took note of this and said Conrad would be the horse we would work with today.

As we were sitting there and grounding ourselves, Conrad rolled on the ground like a puppy and Danni immediately retorted that when horses bare their underside, they feel safe and comfortable in the energetic presence of another being.

This was a great sign for me.

I was thoroughly enjoying what Conrad was mirroring about my own energy. My body, mind, and spirit were calm and relaxed and ready to learn. She mentioned that horses are so sensitive in mind and body. They have small brains but great big hearts and thus, “see-feel” the subtlest of energies – which most of us are not privy to. They act as our wise mirrors and give us cues and clues to what is brewing within us.

I love this idea of being a mirror. Conrad wasn’t my healer – he was my teacher and guide – the healing is done by me for me. As a trauma therapist I always like to say that the healing experience is a co-creation and that my patient is an equal partner in this dance, bringing something to the table for me as much as I do for them. Only THEY have the capacity to make themselves whole, to “heal.”

After a short grounding meditation, Danni said that the next part of the program was to join the horse in his space. Of course, she mentioned a few cautionary reminders about safety and getting out of harm’s way in case there was an unexpected turn in his behavior or even the inadvertent horse hoof landing on my toes. Safety and injury prevention were of utmost priority and I really appreciated that.

We walked in very consciously and cautiously. Conrad walked up to meet us for a nice little greeting and then proceeded to munch on the grass right below us. He seemed very relaxed in our presence.

She then gave me five minutes to commune and interact with Conrad just so we could study each other energetically. Being a hands-on body worker, I immediately put my hands on his neck, spine, and withers to connect and communicate my openness and hopefully let him know that I come with an empty cup and that I was ready to receive. He seemed to keep coming towards me as he munched away at the grass, letting me know that he was comfortable sharing space with me. Danni was watching at a distance, making sure that the situation is kept under control and to also give me feedback and ask me coaching questions about my experience. I walked towards her and away from Conrad to discuss this segment of the session.

My two extremely wise journey guides: Conrad and Danni

As Danni and I were talking, I mentioned biohacking and all its concepts about creating new neurons in the brain and awakening the human potential. As if he knew what we were talking about, Conrad raised his head, perked his ears, turned on his heels and walked toward us. Danni mentioned that they loved interesting conversations. That really tickled me pink. I think what he was picking up was the quality and intensity of energy emanating from me as I was talking about my life’s work and expertise. Aha – he was giving me feedback! Conrad came up to tell me that my energy reflected that I’m on the right life path and that I have indeed, found my mission and purpose.

Next, Danni said we would do a little exercise and encouraged me to do it any way I see fit. The exercise would be to coax Conrad to travel to all four corners of the paddock. She mentioned to use this part for my self-inquiry – whether I had a question or a goal in mind that I can’t seem to reach. In other words, the actual Equine-Assisted “Learning” would be rooted in this part.

She said I could push him, call to him, woo him or do whatever is needed to accomplish the objective of the exercise. It was simply up to me. She demonstrated a little push and a click of the tongue, to which he responded by going forward a few steps. I thought..hmmm I’ll try that. So Danni stepped away to observe me from afar and left me to my devices with Conrad.  

I definitely came with a question – it was a BIG one. I mentioned to Danni briefly that I was at a crossroads in my professional life and wanted to get clarity on what path I should take.

On the one hand I was aching to pack up and go back to the province where I was so happy, in the midst of insects, animals and greenery, fresh air and bird song and offer my services there because I would be extremely happy and blissful just going out barefoot in nature while helping patients with their ails (this is my ultimate, extremely desired dream). And of course, this dream includes horses!

On the other, I was also trying to make myself see that having a huge center, in spite of business struggles, was a huge gift that I should feel honored to possess. My struggle was in the realm of business – the whole practical, monetary side of it, which was so boring to me, but which I knew was extremely important. The other struggle was trying to find a formula that will make me unique in the health and wholeness world and to offer services that help people upgrade their quality of life from grave diseases like cancer, depression, autism, and psychosis.

I was showing signs of personal disinterest. I find myself dragging my feet and not doing my damndest to find new clients anymore…heck sometimes, I’d think of clients as a pain in the ass or a disturbance of my peace and equanimity. That thinking is definitely BAD for business. The short of it is that I am not happy with this part of the crossroads. Yes I spent a ton of money, time, effort and energy on putting up the center and learning all these modalities to offer alternatives for Filipinos but wouldn’t it also be a huge waste if I continued to trod along with the same menial tasks if my heart weren’t in it anymore?

Writing this now, two days after the actual session, is allowing me to process the influx of thoughts and I somehow know that this is an uncanny extension to the answer I received during the actual session with Conrad.

While I sit here and write about wanting to give up my center, flashes of kids with needs and people sick with cancer and Alzheimer’s and depression are coming to the fore. Instantly, I receive a reminder that I put up the center not to make a name for myself nor to anchor biohacking as a movement in the country. I put up the center to give people another way out of their health woes that conventional medicine hasn’t successfully remediated. I put up the center to give people clinical-grade but easily accessible care so that they can become better humans.

As I mull this thought and visualize myself packing up my machines, plants and stuffed animals and look at my center disintegrate into non-existence, I see a huge opportunity cost and regret on my part. If I close up I may very well end up trying to re-open somewhere else in the city on a whim and will I really have the energy for that? I will have ended up in the same place I started so why would I even consider closing?

“Yes, the start is slow” (I am right now hearing the voice of a wise sage in the form of a horse, telepathing its message to me), “but the climb is steady and once it has gained momentum, there’s no stopping it from gaining serious ground and anchoring into reality as a permanent fixture in humanity’s DNA. This is the probability we have been trying to anchor for eons and never has the time been more opportune than in the HERE and NOW.” Whoa….days later and I’m still downloading lessons and epiphanies. Another force typed those words…the sentences were forming themselves.


Anyway, back to my actual session with Conrad and Danni. She mentioned that I could label each corner of the paddock with a goal and try to assess how I would use the session with Conrad in trying to achieve some actual goals in my life and not just the exercise goal of having him walk to all four.

Well, I mentioned I was at a crossroads so I decided to label each corner with the different paths that comprised it. I mentally labeled which corner was which. There were three empty corners and the fourth corner, I mentally marked as neutral because that’s where Danni was: One corner was to “Keep UNLTD,”  another, “to pack up and move to Batangas again” and the next, was “to collaborate more on equine wellness with Danni and other practitioners in the province.”

My first attempt, I tried to push and tongue-click Conrad into a particular corner, mindless about which label that corner had – I just wanted him to move – which as you would know, was the exact opposite of this exercise’s objective. He refused to budge – again, he was mirroring my energy.

Danni came up to me and asked what I was feeling in my body and if I noticed to which corner I was maneuvering him. Why that corner and why not the other corner or the other? Subconsciously, I was trying to steer him toward the “keep UNLTD” corner. A thought arrived and it told me that though I kept resisting staying with UNLTD due to business woes, it was still the choice I WANTED but refused to see.

Conrad, my wise whisperer

Danni told me to try other ways – maybe coax him, walk ahead so he would follow or simply tell him to go there. So I unknowingly chose to steer him again toward the keep UNLTD corner again. Instead of pushing him I decided to use a verbal command – and say “Conrad, go there” pointing my finger. I tried a few more times and he kept munching away at his grass. Then suddenly, with conviction of heart and clarity of mind, I told him “Conrad, go to that corner about UNLTD,” to which he immediately responded and walked toward the corner I pointed to.

He read my energy and gave me immediate feedback “There! That’s THE energy I’m looking for!”

I then silently decided that OK – so Conrad went to that corner. Let’s change the objective – if Conrad doesn’t go to a particular corner even if I coax him, then that path on the crossroads shouldn’t be taken.

I proceeded to try for the other corners, to achieve this new objective I had set for this exercise.

Next corner, was the “pack up and move to Batangas” one. I did the same thing – tried to push and coax and stroke and gently suggest that he go to the corner. Just like before, he wouldn’t budge. Then suddenly I told him “Conrad go that corner if that option is something I should consider.” And away he went, directly walking all the way to near the end of the corner.

I realized that when he wouldn’t budge, the energy in ME was blocked but when he did, he felt free to move because my energy was moving. What he was really doing was mirroring MY energy so I would become aware of the difference in quality.

Wowee….that was easier than I thought! Then came the last corner, which was “Pack up and work with Danni and other practitioners in the province.” I did the usual thing – I tried to coax and point and negotiate. At one time Danni called my attention to give me feedback. She said that I was pointing backwards to the previous corner so if I am giving confusing signals, Conrad not budging might be mirroring my own confusion. I remember I pointed toward the previous corner (now at my back) to tell him to do the same thing he did in “that” corner and then realized, yes, that would be confusing for him. They respond to clear and true intentions.

Ack! this corner was so much harder. It took longer and he just kept munching away, ignoring everything I said or did. The more frustrated I got, the farther away from my purpose I would go. (In retrospect, this choice was the LEAST favored by my own energy, which Conrad mirrored brilliantly – I am writing this sentence 2 weeks after my session)

Danni then said, what about trying to walk to the corner and then going as far as you can. She continued, “how far will you go and what distance for you, will be considered a successful feat?” I walked ahead of Conrad toward the corner and he didn’t follow. I went to the very end of the corner and still no response from him. I took a few steps away from the corner and stopped about ten feet from him and very clearly said, “Conrad, come over to this corner.” To my delight, he picked up and walked toward me and I gave him a happy pat on his forehead and neck in triumph.

Danni came up to me beaming with joy and congratulated me for successfully completing the exercise. We continued to assess and summarize the session and I told her the answer I received and downloaded was so simple, yet so profound:

“Whatever road I choose to tread, my mission on Earth will be successfully accomplished no matter what, because I’m already on the right path.”  Danni and I both got goosebumps.

The answers I was seeking were already within me….I just needed a mirror to find what was true to my heart and soul and only a wise Being without any bias nor pre-conceived notions nor judgment, could do that for me.

Even writing this is STILL very much a part of the therapeutic session, because I gained new insight and fresh epiphanies came to light, leading to different conclusions.

The lesson I learned was also that life responds with vigor when we feed energy into a probability with equal vigor. Too little oomph and it loses its “mojo” then collapses. When I was firm in my voice and clear in my instructions, Conrad responded with a spring in his step and no sign of hesitation. When I wavered with self-doubt or was vague in my intentions, he ignored my prompts and continued to not acknowledge my efforts. If I am to move energy toward a goal, I need to feed it with enough gas so it has ample fuel to go the distance.

What I gleaned from this session, after two days of processing, is…ironically, the road I was ALREADY on seemed to be the right one.

Looking at other possible roads might mean starting all over again from square one and it won’t be as simple and easy as the road I’m on now.

Indeed I’d have to pack up a 400 sqm warehouse, sell off furniture and fixtures, hire moving companies to shuttle my 20,000 or so belongings, find a new place in the province to live in, set up shop with my machines, re-establish my practice, my center, my branding, my marketing, my packages, and new clients in the vicinity. (Guess what – I am just processing this now and I am realizing what a PAIN this option would be!!)

Yes, I would still be able to accomplish my mission in the end but perhaps now is not the right time (nor the right energy) to uproot.

Wow – as I write this, the session is still going on – incredible!

All Conrad and Danni did was guide me through the clear paths and away from the shrubs and overgrowth, so I could tread toward where the energy was steadily flowing. And because so much overgrowth was in my way, in the form of over-mentalizing and overanalyzing everything, as well as seeing with such tainted eyes and making the craziest excuses….the only way for me to see the right path was through the unclouded eyes of wise journey guides.

And like in the book The Alchemist, what I was looking for was right under my nose – I just needed to see it from a different angle, and only after learning the lessons I needed to learn to become the right person to claim the great responsibility of anchoring the probability of Humans 2.0.

I come away with such gratitude for this encounter with Conrad and Danni. I am so happy I moved forward with an empty cup and allowed myself to be the recipient, instead of the practitioner.

I feel like a huge glass ceiling has been shattered and now there’s more space for me to flow. I’ve also developed a new-found appreciation and love for the energetic entity of my center, UNLTD, the greatest of ALL my teachers.

Like Senator, UNLTD carries me through the winds of change as together we blaze new trails in this never-ending adventure called Destiny, with the freedom and joy of a five-year old laughing from within the greatest depths of its spirit.

**UPDATE** I learned four days later that Conrad was put in a trailer and transported to his permanent home with his caregiver owners. This little detail added more sparkle to my experience since it was no coincidence that Conrad was destined to be my guide in this particular step on my journey.

I’m sure the lessons don’t cease here.

Trail riding in Hawaii

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Eli Abela