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The Project:

Horses from many walks of life, communication through body language, tools used only for safety, never to train.

The Goal:

To discover how far Equestrian Art can be developed solely using body language.

Goodbye to Myrnah

The voice echoed in my ears through the phone.

“Elsa, you have to come to the pasture right now.”


It was a tone of voice that wasn’t to be questioned, there was no time.

I didn’t know what was wrong, only that my feet were moving to the truck as I replied,

“I am on my way”


As I bumped down the long dirt road between my house and the pastures in the valley, I braced myself for what I might find. I calmed my mind, ready for my part in soothing horses or humans or dogs or whatever member of my community I might find there in the kind of desperate chaos that leads to the voice I had heard on the phone.


Candace met me at the gate.

“It’s Myrnah, she is gone.”


My thoughts tumbled around each other, where had Myrnah gone to? Had she gone on a walk about? I was missing something here, this tone of voice readied me for blood and pain and chaos and vets and so many reasons to hold steady as a rock for everyone I loved… but there was none of that.


As we came around the corner of the shed there was Myrnah, but not Myrnah.


There wasn’t a mark on her, the wisps of hay on the ground lay perfectly around her where they had fallen gently over weeks and months of normal wintertime living. Myrnah evidently had died suddenly, simply falling over where she stood.


Without drama or chaos, from life to death in a heartbeat.


The day before I had spent hours with her, grooming her fur and marveling at the bubble of contentment that could hold us in its arms so effortlessly. We were happy and then the next day she was gone.


Cleo and Azul were eating hay in the other shed, clearly they had said their goodbyes to Myrnah already and had moved on to supper. Cleo allowed me to hug her massive neck fiercely as I cried those undeniable tears of disbelief. The steady calming rhythm of her chewing a thread of reality for me to focus on.


The hours, days and honestly weeks that followed were a blur for me. I felt I must carry on with all the practical aspects of life with as much grace as Myrnah had. I must follow her example living in the moment, each moment as it was given to me.


Life and death are simple, the feelings that weave us together are not.

I said goodbye to my Mother last May, my beautiful shadow of a dog Breeze in June, my life long horse partner Zohari in September and now Myrnah, the mare that changed my entire life, in February.


I felt empty without them. I also felt stretched beyond anything I had ever been as I held their essences within me. I carry forward their memories, their stories, their beauty. This isn’t a choice, this is simply reality.


I am not alone in this. I know many of you reading this carry the grief with me. I know you all will help me carry Myrnah’s stories forward into the world.


I also have my horses, here for me in the gritty hour by hour process of learning to live on.

Ari is a rock, squaring his hooves and leaning into me as I lean into him. No matter how many times a night I leave my bed to find him and whisper my fingers through his fur for reassurance, he is there for me. His big deep breaths remind me to breathe myself; his soft nicker lets me know we are in this together.

Atlas too shares his breath with me, as time and again his nose reaches out. He isn’t brave like Ari, but he is kinder than all of us put together. Atlas will give everything he has for his friends, and when he has nothing left to give he will dig deeper and give anyway.

Occasio reminds us all to laugh, because laughter is a feeling too. Occasio lives to feel his senses in concert with the world around him. When I am not sure I can bear to feel anything more, Occasio lends me his sense of the world and together with him I feel things as he does.


Raam was my mother’s horse and now he is here with me.

Raam knew Breeze well as he shadowed us all.

Raam was Zohari’s best friend for 22 years before Zohari left us.

Raam was Myrnah’s emotional twin in the herd for all of her time here on San Juan Island.


Together Raam and I hold these memories.


Together Raam and I now travel the woods and the hills we knew with them.

Hooves and Heartbeats,



    • Lauren Franciosi
    • Posted February 13, 2022 at 8:43 am
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    Elsa I am so sorry for all your losses. Thank you for sharing your beautiful words and photos. We travel with you on this road of grief♥️

  1. I am so sorry to hear of all the losses you have endured in this past year. And glad to see and hear of the support that surround you in your grief as you walk through your days. I hope the painting I was pulled to do of Myrna wasn’t given too early in your recent loss. I haven’t heard anything but am relieved to see this post. I am sending lots of love your way all ways. Love Ritambhara

    • Lisa Zaccaglini and Mike Shuster
    • Posted February 13, 2022 at 8:57 am
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    Thank you, Elsa. You and Myrnah are part of our daily lives with our horses. We don’t know what we would do with Lucy and Yoko without the two of you. We are so grateful for Myrnah and her time here on earth with you as well as with the other horses. Our hearts are with you.

    • Bonnie Beresford
    • Posted February 13, 2022 at 8:59 am
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    Elsa, You do not know me, and you do not know this – Myrnah changed my life too, as I followed your extra-ordinary journey with her many years ago when you worked her entirely on her terms. I will never forget either of you. Bless you and bless Myrna’s soul, wherever it is.

  2. Oh Elsa. I am sorry for your great losses. I lost my partner of 9 years, my labrador, Otter, just a little over a year ago and this resonated with me so much. I miss him terribly still and though I know he had the very best life I could have possibly ever given him, I still want him by my side. He just always was there. I carry this little saying with me in these moments… “There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.” -Washington Irving

  3. ♥️

  4. I feel your deep grief, so sorry your heart is hurting so much. Just be in the moment until you are ready . Holding you in my prayers. I wish I new you. One amazing lady.

  5. Elsa, so many things happening to people and animals in this past two years. Those that have gone into spirit never really leave us, but the hurt and tears are to remind us how much we care and love.

  6. Sincere condolences on Myrnah’s passing Elsa. What an inspiration she (and you) have been to so many. You are certainly navigating a dreadful time right now – take care of you and those you love – xx ❤️

  7. I can’t find the words or stop the tears…love and immense gratitude to you for the relationships you have created and shared. They make a huge difference out here. Love to you.

  8. Elsa I’m so deeply sorry for your many significant losses.
    You and your herd have touched and inspired me in so many ways.
    You and Myrna broke my heart and eyes open to what is possible through such deep connection with our equine companions.
    Thank you for sharing your profound journey with us.
    Wishing you peace and comfort during this transformative time for you and your herd. – Nikki Cuthbertson

  9. Do not really have words, send you a large HUG and love.
    Thanks you for what you share with us.
    Your journey and story with Myrnah IS so much inspiring.

  10. Death is entering a new state of the mind. Strength for you Elsa❤

    • Catherine Buelow
    • Posted February 13, 2022 at 2:44 pm
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    Dear Elsa, All of your losses and now Myrna break my heart open to you as you move through the grief. I met you several years ago in Minnesota, and was profoundly moved by your relationships with the horses and especially Myrnah. Know that you are surrounded with love and grace.

  11. So sorry to read this Elsa- you & Myrnah have been such an inspiration to millions of people & Im sure you both have enhanced & influenced their relationship with their horses for the better. Reading about all your adventures has been such a joy to be part of. Im sorry that your time together was cut short but what a beautiful relationship you had.

  12. Beautiful words. I wish you peace knowing that Myrnah also found it in her life with you and in her last breath.

    • Marina Laliberte
    • Posted February 14, 2022 at 9:01 am
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    Dearest Elsa, this news is heart wrenching and all I can do is to sit with it and sent love. They are still around you, just not in the physical. You and Myrnah have been life changing for me. Sending love and gratitude.

  13. Oh, my goodness, what a tribute, what a loss, what is there to say to comfort…..know that you are not alone….Love to you, Elsa.

  14. So sorry for the challenging year you have experienced. It never gets easier to lose our beloved horses, and nothing can really prepare us for losing our mothers. Wishing you strength as you go forward and grateful that you have your horses around you to give you comfort.

  15. Elsa, this text is so beautiful. Thank you for sharing all your stories, and goodbye to Myrnah. Take care of you. AK

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