Rhonda Lane on June 1st, 2009
Merlin and his son Spirit playing/Photo courtesy of Epona Center

Merlin and his son Spirit playing/Photo courtesy of Epona Center

Linda Kohanov, the author of a series of books that began with “The Tao of Equus” and founder of the Epona Center, recently sent a startling email to her newsletter subscribers.

The Epona Center needs an influx of cash, she said,  or it will have to close its doors within a month.

Kohanov has asked for possible investors and even tax deductible donations, no matter how small.

The center’s new program funded by foundation named for Midnight Merlin and his son Spirit helps war veterans transition from military to civilian life.

The irony is that, as news spread about the new veterans program at Epona during Memorial Day weekend, the center’s future became more dire.

For the Epona Center, 2009 has been a bittersweet year.

Farewell, Merlin

First was the heartbreaking loss of Midnight Merlin to a devastating accidental injury.

If you’ve read Epona founder Linda Kohanov’s books, like “The Tao of Equus,” you’ll remember Merlin, the formerly dangerous black stallion who Kohanov rehabilitated and bonded with.

Merlin had been one of the early members of the Epona herd who are part of an equine psychotherapy program. He’d sired some horses with his mate Rasa. Their love story – go ahead and laugh, but it really was a romance — is featured in Kohanov’s books.

In Feburary, Merlin was found dead after crashing through a fence during what center employees believe was a midnight romping session with his son.

His passing saddened horse lovers all over. Kohaov’s tribute to Merlin is here.

The Warriors in Transition Retreats

This year, Kohanov and the center initiated a program to help traumatized military veterans return to civilian life.

A key to Merlin’s rehabilitation was her realization that the horse seemed to have post-traumatic stress disorder from previous training practices.

With that in mind, she named her program for veterans for Merlin.

To read about how the Epona Center’s equine psychotherapy program for veterans works, check out this article in the Sierra Vista Herald. (I hope that the links still work in a few days. Newspapers routinely take down older stories. If the link doesn’t work, you can read about the military transition program at the Epona Center’s website. Or this story on a Tuscon TV station’s site.)

How horses assist with psychotherapy

Horses are prey animals, so they read body language for cues to their safety. It’s just hard-wired into their psyches. So, they can tell if the mountain lion on the cliff is stalking them or dozing in the sun.

Likewise, they can detect hidden human emotions because horses, in some respects, are walking lie detectors. They read the subtle physical cues that tell when we are ambivalent or conflicted.

What Epona and Tao of Equus mean to me

I read the books out of order. I read “Riding Between the Worlds” first, then “The Tao of Equus.” And I have the card set with the beautiful paintings and the insightful book that accompanies the cards.

As TV’s “Dog Whisperer” Cesar Millan says, animals can read your energy. I see this all the time. When I’m nervous or angry – especially when I’m hiding it – my cats can tell.

So can the ponies at the children’s beginner rider barn where I work once a week. They cut the children more slack than they do me. For example, if I’m feeling physically or mentally unbalanced when I’m grooming, the ponies can sense my unease. They won’t pick up their hooves for me, so I can clean them.

I see similar reactions with people, too. The energy that we project matters. Especially the energy we’re trying to hide.

Epona closing in a few weeks?

The Merlin’s Spirit Memorial Fund, a division of the Headlands Foundation, will accept tax deductible donations.

Why donate to them? Especially when the need for donations is so widespread these days?

You can help returning troops and their families adjust to the new circumstances of their lives.

And, if you were moved or touched by the “Tao of Equus” books, a donation would be a way of saying “thanks.”

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3 Responses to “The home of “The Tao of Equus” at risk?”

  1. I was heartbroken when I got this email. Linda is one of my favorite authors and it has been a long term goal of mine to attend one of her workshops. I hope she is able to find an investor because I’d hate to see all of the good work she does come to an end. I think those veterans need the horses help more than anyone and it is a wonderful way tribute to Merlin.

  2. I was floored when I saw her email, too. A trip to Epona had also been one of my “someday maybes.” Still is. I’m hoping she’ll be able to pull it together. Besides, I know how helpful time putzing around the barn is to one’s mental state. For our returning troops to miss such a blessing would be sad indeed.

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