Every hidden, blocked feeling is like a chunk of frozen consciousness. Until it thaws, you are saying “I am this hurt” even as you refuse to look at it: it has you in its grip.

Deepak Chopra


Perhaps the most hope-filled time of year is during the spring thaw.

With the frigid winds of winter behind us we look forward to a time of colour and creativity; of the warmth and joy of feeling fully alive again.

The transition between freeze and feel, however, is a messy one.

As the snow melts a dirty, barren wasteland is revealed. Ugly. Colourless. Neglected and abandoned remnants of a time now past and never to be repeated.

For a while we wonder when the landscape will start to change and reveal to us the hope for which we have yearned for so long. March winds blow through stirring up and removing the remaining detritus of the dead season. Spring storms clarify the air bringing with them rains to cleanse and replenish the earth. Sunshine blankets the landscape to nurture the precious new growth beginning to germinate away from the unseen eye.

And still we wait.

And then one day …


Have you ever felt stuck? Do you feel stuck now? Frozen in a way you don’t understand and don’t know how to change? In the grip of a virtual winter of personal discontent that constricts your life experience so much you almost physically can’t breathe?

You want to be different; feel different. Welcome the spring of new growth, but the weight of your life experience, much with which you can barely connect, has you snowed under to the point of emotional, physical, mental and spiritual exhaustion. Even to hope for the spring is overwhelming.

For much of my life I knew this feeling only too well, but I didn’t understand it. I thought numb was normal. Snowed into a dysfunctional life by avalanches of trauma from a variety of sources and from which I could find no way to dig myself out.

Occasionally a helping hand, as a stalwart soul stumbled upon my predicament and recognized a way they could draw me out. Gradually, the cold constricted space around me began to melt, but in my heart I was still frozen. Emotional self-preservation the only thing I knew.

Then the BIG one. The wake-up call at age 48 that told me it was time to claw my way out of the frigid snows and begin the serious business of thawing. It was that or suffocate to a slow and painful demise.

Do … or die.

It took one week in beautiful Bosnia-Herzagovina in 2009 to shift my awareness. Three major panic attacks for no apparent reason all but paralyzed me. I saw my Self in the trauma of that war-torn country. The devastation still visible in areas of Sarajevo and Mostar resonated so deeply with my own overwhelmed internal landscape I was forced to look at this unlikely reflection and make an important decision.

It was time to change. Time to dig out. Time for the trauma to be released. Time to heal; to rebuild; to thrive.

At the time I didn’t know what that meant exactly, but it didn’t matter. Something had to shift. I had to move if I was to have any hope of prospering in the spring of middle age and beyond.

Within weeks I put myself in therapy, and the serious business of thawing began.


The transition from freeze to feel is, indeed, a messy one.

Like the spring thaw it happens gradually and in stages so as not to overwhelm and re-traumatize the fragile landscape. With emotional release comes physical liberation. Planes of the body frozen in time find their way back to life, too. Some change with a seismic shift while others trend more gradually to renewal.

It is heave and hell and hope in one. It is the frozen life force re-awakening and moving beyond limiting beliefs and behaviour patterns to find a new vitality. It is the germinating seed seeking the warmth of the sun and the nourishing rains to the fullness of its potential. The evidence of what is past will still exist, but its power will have changed from destructive to creative. Our true nature revealed.

The Self.


Enter the horse … a sentient and majestic being who has partnered with humans over millennia in the building of civilizations, in the playing of sport and as valued companions.

Our modern society doesn’t need them the way our forebears once did, but we still need them. And they still need us. As French author and philosopher, Antoine de Saint Exupéry famously wrote in his book The Little Prince:

“We are responsible forever for the things that we tame.”

Horses are still considered valued companions to many. We still partner with the equine in sport and recreation. Some still toil on farms or serve and protect while on police duty. Still, within the last several years, a new and perhaps the horse’s most profound role yet has been added to his repertoire ~ that of healing partner.

Horses have been my saving grace … and one horse in particular ~ Shakespeare.


A big horse with enormous heart, I call him “Bear.” He’s the horse who rocked my world ~ who invited me to thaw. The blow torch to my frozen heart; the one who helped me find, recognize and live in my truth.

Horses read us like books; our body language the words inscribed across our energetic page. They read between the lines we don’t even know we’ve written to understand the heart of our intention. They are fooled by no one. They reflect back to us the truth and nothing but the truth. They show us a mirror image of ourselves we’d often rather not see but which, if we accepted it, would put us in a position to change our lives forever … and they would help us with that, too.

How do they do this?

Well, that is the subject of this blog.

Heart lessons learned through horse wisdom.

In this blog and on this website I plan to help expand awareness on the subject of heart-based living, through my own experiences and through the expertise of practitioners in the field of equine experiential learning and other relevant therapeutic modalities.

It is my pleasure and privilege to deliver the lessons I and others have learned, and will continue to learn with the horses, in a personal and dynamic way. Whether through my own healing experiences with them or those I have facilitated with others (names changed to protect their privacy) it is my intent to demonstrate another way to “thaw” and reclaim our lives.

In his book It’s Not About The Horse, Wyatt Webb, therapist and founder of the Equine Experience at Miraval Life in Balance™ inTucson, Arizona, quotes Logan, the counsellor who helped save his life, his mind and his very soul …

If you’re to achieve the peace, joy, and spiritual fulfillment that you want so badly, it depends upon one thing and one thing only–your willingness to simply do something different.

Being stuck, frozen, traumatized is not a life sentence, yet so many of us treat it that way. We have the power to make decisions that help us to thaw and move to a new, fluid way of being. And the horses are here to help us.

And I am here to help share their wisdom.

From my heart to yours …

Dorothy Chiotti
Practitioner, Facilitated Equine Experiential Learning


Healing begins in the heart …



Copyright Dorothy Chiotti 2014

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Published writer; Advanced Facilitated Equine Experiential Learning (FEEL) practitioner; Award-winning equine fine art photographer. Live ... Learn ... Love ... Laugh!

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