I knew of my associate and dear friend’s talents with horses having worked side by side with Katherine on numerous occasions.
I watched as she gentled a strong mare in demonstration at a National Day of the American Cowboy event. That mare kicked through the wooden boards of the arena fence in an attempt to bolt even before Katherine entered the ring. Multiple rearing and fore legs jabbing required her firm control and she exorcised the demon out and within fifteen minutes had a supple, comfortable and responding horse.
I’ve seen her ease an adopted, at sixteen years old, BLM Mustang with serious human trust issue. From backing away from, too, forwarding and following closely without lead or cue other than body language.
I listened as a jovial clinic participant declared Katherine a ‘whisperer’ after attaining a theretofore unattainable result while astride her horse. Truly there was methodology employed yet the communication that she imparted to horse and rider made them a better team.
Once, I followed her as her mount bucked, spun, bumped into trees, reared and nearly rolled as both were swarmed by bees from a ground nest. They escaped safe, sound, controlled, and calm.
But one recent instance made me a, yet, bigger believer than before. Granted, like many, some skepticism to the very mention of ‘whisperer’ is part of my DNA. Perhaps less than others, because as a horseman, my greatest pleasure with horses are the relationships. I digress: While in attendance at the Women’s Horse Industry Network (WHIN) conference I happened to the vicinity of Broadway in the heart of Nashville’s tourism and live music venues. With Katherine, I strode from the undisputed home of traditional country music in ‘Nash-Vegas’ (Robert’s Western World - highly recommended) to another spot. Being ‘horse-people’, we had previously noticed and commented on the condition, gaits, and looks of the many tourist-toting, wagon-walking, draft-crosses sharing Broadway. These dragen 'share’ the roads with darting taxis, blaring sirens, horns, pedestrians, musicians, peddlers, and tourists. While walking the opposite side of the street, Katherine commented…not so much to me, but sort of. As the words ‘he’s hurting’ slipped from her mouth, the gentle giant with blinders, from forty some odd feet away slowed, turned, and nodded directly at Katherine. Katherine briefly stopped, though I don’t think she realized she had. For a few seconds it seemed everything else halted too. There was still honking cars, and music escaping the walls and doors of bars, and people streamed by, but a trans-fixation was interrupting the moment. I remember closing my eyes, shaking my head as if to stop a rattle, and opening my lids to a furrowed brow. I, we, walked on. I told Katherine I’d never seen anything quite like it and that I recognized her gift and talent. Now, Katherine’s not under confident but also not boastful as she repeated naturally and with concern, ‘he’s hurting’. He went the way his driver drove and we went on about our way to dinner. As happenstance would have it, as we released from ‘twang’s’ grip later that evening, we met head on with the dapple Shire awaiting his next passenger street side. Adjacent the banjo player, there in the greasy street, with noise, commotion, and darkness interrupted by neon, Katherine met him again. I engaged the carriage driver as Katherine communed with her new friend. Surreal, ethereal, but ‘true as rain’ (that’s a Katherine-ism) they conversed. She greeted him, he responded. Enough time lapsed that I met yet another transplant Nashvilian minstrel. Katherine’s soft speak continued. Eventually moving to his flank, his neck flexed and followed Katherine as it had from across the street earlier. She checked brisket, belly, and stifle. Returning to his stomach the draft indicated confirmation of her diagnosis and upon mentioning so too did the amiable carriage cowboy. That hack driver jawed on to Katherine about ‘this particular fellers’ issue and it was as she suspected. I made my way to greet this ‘old boy’ as a couple approached, he then had to go to work. We parted in opposite directions but I’m certain this experience traveled with me and Katherine.
The instance came to the fore in our conversations since. Though it seems common-place for her, it was an extraordinary circumstance for me. Perhaps too, an extraordinary destiny for Katherine and the horses she whispers with.