Free Meditation in Support of #ForTheHerd Horses


  • I know times are tough and fear, stress, and anxiety are high. You’re not alone if you’re feeling it’s hard to cope sometimes. So, I’m offering to provide an energy exchange to be of service in this time in the hopes it can help a cause I care about, too.
    • These appointments will be available to anyone who wants to sit, breathe, and reset (first-come, first-served basis – book here).
    • Plus, you can use my free trial code to download a month* of Unplug Meditation’s app to help support you.
  • My goal of raising $1,800 in June supports just one farm of up to ten school horses in Ontario – if we exceed this fundraising amount…that’s more horses helped! FYI the campaign needs $200,000 to feed and care for the horses enrolled, so please give what you can.
  • Why horses? Read more below. In a nutshell – they’re kind and gentle teachers and they helped me navigate anxiety (and bravery).

The Magic of Horses Explained

If you’re ever fortunate enough to encounter a horse, say on a pony ride as a kid or on a vacation excursion, one thing that’s for certain is that these incredible creatures will make an unforgettable impression. I bet you probably remember that horse’s name, what they looked like, and how they made you feel (even if you were mildly terrified as a first-time rider). And now, during this pandemic, these wise and patient horses need help as facilities struggle to feed and care for them.

Riding school horses are rather special. While they are often, after all, thousand-plus pound animals, they are uniquely suited to safely and progressively teach new riders. Many kids whimsically ask for ponies when they’re young. Some may get the opportunity to take a pony ride or some introductory lessons at a riding school. Others may get into equestrian sport more seriously by competing at local shows. But the critical part to ensuring the safety of these experiences is the stable of horses on which kids and adults alike learn how to ride. These school horses are selected and developed because of their temperament and ability to provide safe lessons. If you picture your child or niece or nephew getting on the back of these enormous animals, wouldn’t you want to ensure that it is healthy, tolerant, and physically sound?

But because riding schools had to close their facilities as a result of the pandemic, they were without the lessons and summer camps that would typically provide these school horses with their income to pay room and board, if you will. As such, an urgent need arose in the equestrian community to try and help provide financial and material assistance to riding schools struggling to care for their horses. This could mean farms are running out of hay, leaving them unable to feed their animals, or a lack of money to provide even primary veterinary care or shoeing. While some media reports are putting a spotlight on the possibility of horses being euthanized or sold to try and cut costs, most riding school owners and operators are fighting exceptionally hard to make ends meet. I can only imagine the challenge of having to choose between feeding yourself, feeding your own family, or finding a way to feed your horse family. 

These are some of the school horses I have been privileged to learn from.
Marty, Tess, Sutherland, Sugar, Queenie, Mr. T, Storm, Polka, and Parker.

These horses sometimes represent decades of history, having taught hundreds of students the necessary foundations of equestrian sport. I learned to ride as an adult with riding school horses, like the retired one I now own. From learning how to pick their feet clean to picking up my first canter, the only way I was able to have these experiences was because a riding school made them accessible to me.

Horse Mom in Training

I grew up fascinated with horses wishing that my family had enough money for me to be able to take lessons. But as new immigrants to Canada, that was definitely a type of discretionary spending that was not in the cards for me. The closest I got was secretly taking a Ziploc baggie of my babysitting money to a pony ride spot while we were on a family vacation. That one ride made my heart swell as I thought to myself, “I’m gonna get to do this again one day.”

Fast forward about 15 years, and I found myself learning how to ride and cherishing every single Sunday spent taking a lesson at my local barn. Sometimes I was the only adult in a group lesson full of kids (like, literally, children). But I couldn’t care less — I was on a horse! At this barn, I met one exceptional but rather cantankerous horse named Parker who ultimately claimed my heart. Man, did he stand out with his Appaloosa spots and markings and a skinny tail. Parker taught me to jump over fences and about the importance of projecting confidence. I mean, if you let a horse know you’re unsure or terrified, they’re going to have a field day pushing boundaries with you. Much like a shitty boss, douche boyfriend, or garden variety bully can smell fear or hesitation, so can a horse. Like with other animals, the relationship and bond are built on trust and clarity — who is the leader, who is the follower? Does the leader ask clearly and act consistently?

After a few years, Parker became unwell and was no longer a fit for the demands of teaching. I was able to obtain him and patiently rehabilitated him back to health. If I had never started taking those lessons, I would never have met him. I wouldn’t have been able to now provide him with the care and gratitude his years of giving warranted. While I’m grateful to have provided one school horse a comfortable life, thousands are struggling to be fed right now as a result of the pandemic’s economic impact.

The purpose of this post was to help explain why these horses are in need — and why they will continue to be in need for many months to come. Barns won’t be able to get back to their previous operations for a long time — too long to likely survive the slow season a Canadian winter will bring. But you can help — and this is how.

For the Herd is an emergency fundraising campaign spearheaded by Ontario Equestrian (the equestrian provincial sport organization). I’m on the volunteer Board of Directors, and we have spent an incredible amount of time, energy, and love launching the For the Herd campaign (as well as advocating for the equine community with the government). The campaign is accepting money, service/material donations, and space for fostering school horses in need.

What I’m trying to do is reach out beyond the equine community with my own fundraiser in support of For the Herd. To help explain why riding school horses are not “out of the woods yet” as COVID-19 openings roll out.

I’m am happy to provide my skills as a meditation teacher to help support you, too, during these stressful, difficult pandemic times.

So, you can fight pandemic stress while saving horses at the same time? Sounds like you’ll be radiating some pretty good vibes!

Funds raised through Facebook Giving will be donated directly to Ontario Equestrian’s GoFundMe campaign supporting For the Herd at the end of June as “Meditating For the Herd”). Please note: Ontario Equestrian is a non-profit provincial sport organization, and as such donations are not tax deductible.

* = Valid for first-time app users

Maya Chendke

Founder, Meditation Teacher, Freelance Writer
No Granola Wellness
Data & Analytics, Meditation

Read Full Bio