the outside of a horse ….

by Sharon Santoni

girls on horses

I’ve always loved the saying “it’s amazing how much good the outside of a horse does to the inside of a man”, or woman in this case …

Feeling weary from all the sad news over the weekend , I decided to saddle our pony on Sunday afternoon and head up to the forest for a dose of fresh air, autumn colour, and some special time with a horse who can bring a very unique sort of comfort

What is it about the outside of a horse?  That smell, that gentleness, that strength, the soft muzzle, the curious nose sniffing my pockets checking for a carrot or an apple …..

Our pony is called Iris, he’ll turn 20 next year and has been part of the family for the past twelve years.  When he first joined us, he was quite a handful and would regularly throw  anyone who ventured up on to his back …. we all limped for a while but we still loved him.

At the age of 10 he decided that throwing his riders was no longer cool and he took to running away instead, much more fun!  …. we got over that phase too, and yes we still loved him.

Today he is an angel, living an easy life in a field with a great view and a happy companion.  Over the years many a secret has been whispered into his hairy ear, and he has kept them all safely, content to share our joys and our fears.

Yesterday, he was pretty surprised to see me turn up with a saddle, but after a quick brush down, and a lengthening of the girth (ahem!) we set off for a  quiet ride that took my mind off everything else and helped me to see a little clearer.  You can see him enjoying his reward on instagram.

And while Iris failed to come up with a solution for world peace, or the right words to comfort families in mourning, he did remind me yet again of the importance of keeping our eyes open to beauty, and taking the time to share the positive.

I must thank everyone for the messages over the weekend, you are the most amazing readers.   Thank you for reassuring me that maintaining this blog is also a way of fighting the madness.

Sometimes you just need to get back to the basics, and renew your belief in humanity.  Stay safe and spend special time with those you love.

horse looking over fence


Delaine November 17, 2015 - 12:49 pm

Sharon, this is quite possibly your best post yet…. Life put into perspective. God bless and protect you, your family, and the people of one of the most beautiful countries on earth…The country of France.

Antoinette Place November 17, 2015 - 7:00 pm

Thank you for staying the course! love your Blog!

elizabeth lemnouni November 17, 2015 - 7:38 pm

Agree, truly love this post! Thanks for offering simple words of peace and comfort! God Bless!

Elaine Clark November 17, 2015 - 1:06 pm

Your blogs are quite beautiful. Never feel that the photos of beauty around you are frivolous, in this sad, violent world in which we live. It’s these thoughts and little tit bits of your tranquil life which put everything back into perspective. The events on Friday in Paris and other atrocities in this world cannot rule or spoil our lives otherwise these fanatics have won. Keep writing, your blog it makes us realise that there is still so much beauty and goodness around.

Beth Bright November 17, 2015 - 1:07 pm

What a lovely post after all that has happen in Paris. As the saying goes, when the horse bucks you off ~ you brush yourself off and get back on. How true ~ thanks for sharing your lovely horse Iris.

Vicky from Athens November 17, 2015 - 1:10 pm

Sharon – that was so beautifully written. Having had horses I do understand what you mean by that unique sort of comfort. There’s nothing quite like it.

Debbie November 17, 2015 - 1:16 pm

So very sorry that your beautiful France has been tarnished by the worst of evil in this world. Praying for the French nation.
The “outside of a horse” quote has been one of my favorites! We are an equestrian family and have experienced great tragedy. Our son had a horse accident 10 years ago while training a horse. He was 29 and suffered a traumatic brain injury. So for the past 10 years my life has been devoted to being his caregiver along with my husband and extended family. We continue to love our horses and the joy they bring to our lives despite our circumstances. We strive to live by Faith and not by fear.
So I fully understand how important the “beauty in this world” brings comfort and how horses can lift your spirit (such magnificent creatures!). I seek beauty on a daily basis to help me overcome my circumstances. Your blog is one of them that I seek daily. My dream trip would be to France (maybe one day) and you bring me a glimpse of it until that day comes! I also bought your book and hope to find time to enjoy it soon.
Blessings to you from this fellow seeker of Beauty.

So I fully understand how the beauty of this world brings you comfort. I seek it daily

Sharon Santoni November 18, 2015 - 7:40 pm

Dear Debbie, I am so sad to read about this tragic accident and the way it has affected your family. It is wonderful that you still maintain the bond with your horses.
Thank you for your kind and generous comment


Debbie November 20, 2015 - 5:11 pm

Thank you Sharon for such kind words! My 16 year old granddaughter is an avid equestrian and has even shown internationally. So grateful she has not let our tragedy affect her passion.
Please keep sharing the “beauty of France” even in the midst of grief. It lifts us above our circumstances!
Blessings and prayers from the USA!

Heather in Arles November 17, 2015 - 1:17 pm

So beautiful…thank you for this. It was comforting just to read and to gaze into Iris’ deep eyes.
Sending much Love to you,

Heather McPherson November 17, 2015 - 1:20 pm

Sharon you have such a beautiful way with words – that is a gift from God, your sharing of that gift is a blessing to us. Thank you, still praying for Paris/France….Heather from Sydney

Jean C November 18, 2015 - 1:04 am

Amen. I love the gentleness, kindness, and beauty I find here, and while in the midst if the trauma of having my husband of 53 years declining rapidly, I seek out your blog for comfort , and beauty. you provide such a haven with your blog. God Bless.

Our French Oasis November 17, 2015 - 1:21 pm

The secrets I have shared with my horses and ponies over the years, the tears I have cried into their manes, I have shared with them great happiness and great sorrow and if I had a horse here I would have done just the same as you, instead I walked the dogs deep into the forest and came back a little calmer, slightly more prepared to face the week ahead.

Dorothy Shewan November 17, 2015 - 1:49 pm

Dear Sharon,
My first instinct was to say, this is your most generous and life affirming note yet. I have only rather recently become aware of you, your family, and your home in France. The very first note from another began by saying, ”this is quite possibly your best post yet”, so someone else has felt this as well from you today. Our animal companions for life, our children, our other family and friends, home and surroundings in nature bless us on a continuum that nourishes our heart and health. Times like this draw upon those reserves and help us to cope otherwise i think, all would be lost in this madness. Please continue to fill your soul with the joys of life that envelop you and know that the world is thinking of you, all of France, and praying for peace one day. Life is so full of wonderment and magic to embrace. If only the ”world could live as one. ”

Michael Warren-Momaney November 17, 2015 - 1:51 pm

You are a gentle reminder that without love and beauty,there is no life,only existence,and in the world we live in today,love and beauty are sorely needed everywhere !!! Be safe and continue sharing with all what many only dream of !!!

Bev Cook November 17, 2015 - 2:22 pm

Your posts bring so much beauty and a sense of peace into each day. Thank you Sharon. We will all continue to pray for Paris.

Susan (une femme) November 17, 2015 - 2:31 pm

I grew up riding horses, and yes, the therapeutic power of an hour or two out on the trail is amazing. I miss it. Have been thinking of you and all of my friends in France. I can understand how shaken you all must be, and am confident that the resolve and strength of the French people will overcome.

Martha November 17, 2015 - 2:34 pm

We Love you and we love France from the USA. Stay well!

Kate Abt November 17, 2015 - 2:39 pm

Sharon – what a beautiful post and so fitting at this tragic time. My daughter rides and my husband and I always attend her lessons – we too find it so therapeutic just being around them and many a snuggle and hug has been given. Thinking of you and your dear beloved France. What a wonderful country which we all love. Thank you for your beautiful blog but especially for todays post.

Denise November 17, 2015 - 2:40 pm

So beautiful ! Yes, I have seen how amazing the therapeutic horse riding have the effects on the clients.

karen britton November 17, 2015 - 2:58 pm

Sharon- You offer a gentle and reasonable outlook in a sometimes ungentle and unreasonable world. I wish more people could hear your soft voice at the beginning of their day- the sun would shine brighter for them as it does for your lucky readers.

toni November 17, 2015 - 2:58 pm

every post has said my thoughts. your blog brings me peace on a daily basis but your last ones have such a healing.
bless you for sharing your gift.
God bless Paris and all of France.

Janet November 17, 2015 - 3:12 pm

Sharon-I am a recent subscriber and what joy I get from your posts! My heart has been so heavy from the tragic events in Paris- my favorite city and one I have always felt completely safe & happy in. I love Normandy especially & cherish scenes from there. I don’t own a horse although I am in the heart of horse country & have them all around me- they do reaffirm life & beauty. I recently lost my beloved Siberian husky & have gotten a new Sibe puppy- a handful at une certain age but same reasons-that beauty, love & devotion that reaffirms the good in life. Take heart, there are many across the ocean earnestly praying for you & for France!

Janie December 4, 2015 - 6:42 am

Our Siberian Husky is 12 years & we help our blond “Buddy” to get up, stand to eat & love him so much. In 2012, we lost a 43 yr daughter to Cancer, she rode cross country & a runner. She & her sister had a farm in Canada w/5 equestrian horses & worked in computer programing. Then our 48 yr son fell at his home (doc was out of his diabetics “come back tomorrow”) but he was weak & fell. Unconscious for 14 days, two brain surgeries, doctors gave him 3 days for us “to plan…” But I prayed & never left him. He opened his eyes on 14th day, doctors declared it a miracle as there were no signs of head imaging. He now help seniors at assisted living & teaches them various games to keep brain active. During this time our Golden Retriever got the flue virus vaccine & it blinded her, then she tried to stand & her legs were paralyzed. Staying at the best vet clinic for 4 weeks we were going to bring her home & she would have a cart for her back legs. Vet care got her front legs moving but a call from vet said Cancer showed up. Life can change things drastically, God led us thru & reminded us of our days in France, living in London, our home, family, new great-grandson and togetherness. I know I can speak to our departed & they are always near. Enjoy your Christmas. Janie, a Bud, Hubby & 3 cats!

Judy G November 17, 2015 - 3:14 pm

Sharon, This post brought a tear to my eye. Yes, there is nothing like getting back to the basics and going from the ground up so to speak to regain your footing after feeing so uprooted in turmoil. Iris is beautiful…such soulful eyes…there is no better place to find peace than out in nature with the comfort of our animals. Thank you for sharing.

Marian from UK November 17, 2015 - 3:15 pm

What is it about the outside of a horse? Well, although I’ve not had the opportunity to become a horsewoman myself, I have friends who are and I know the joy and contentment they bring. But is that so strange? Of all animals, they have shared our lives throughout the ages: they have shared our wars, have died serving us in those wars, they plough our fields to feed us and carry us on journeys near and far and of all animals they would share our horror and sorrow for what happened in Paris. So I think it is entirely fitting that you turned to your beloved Iris for comfort and I’m so pleased you shared him with us.

Rosanna Clifford November 17, 2015 - 3:26 pm

Hi Sharon,

I’m so happy you’re back! You and your beautiful blog – and gorgeous Iris, of course!!!! – bring us back to the gentle beauty we want our lives to be. The photo of Iris is just wonderful – I wanted to reach through the screen and hug him!! It’s a pity that some people never know how simple and beautiful life can be – thank you for showing us, Sharon. All my love and very good wishes to you, your family and friends from Rosanna in Sydney, Australia xxoo

Sharon Malan November 17, 2015 - 3:45 pm


Be encouraged. In this world of madness you bring, beauty and gentleness and light and joy to so many. It’s powerful medicine for the mind and soul. Its easy to be overcome in our hearts and minds as we witness the horrors of life and it infiltrates our thinking. Reading your blog, praying or meditating on the good in the world helps to change and shift our thoughts so that our hearts are filled with what is good and we can speak hope and life and peace and love and forgiveness. Your pictures, your words are life giving and balm to the soul… xxx

Rita November 17, 2015 - 3:47 pm

Sharon, merci for sharing your gift of writing. Reading your blog is like having coffee with a trusted, long time friend…

Madonna/aka/Ms. Lemon November 17, 2015 - 4:43 pm

We are all needing to absorb some gentleness in our lives. It has been a long time since I was dumped off a horse. Iris has such beautiful eyes, you would have to forgive her. 🙂 Thanks for sharing her with us.

Brenda Chambers November 17, 2015 - 4:55 pm

Hello from Texas. We are approx. 30 miles from PARIS TEXAS. You have a gift and I’m so glad you share it with us. This is what we need in the world we live in today.

Gail November 17, 2015 - 5:02 pm

“Get back on the horse” so to speak, after discouragement & sadness & grief. I, too, loved this post. I’ve only been on horseback twice in my life. Both experiences memorable, but not in good ways. Unfortunately, I’ve been cursed with allergies to animal hair so I’ve never developed attachments. I can only imagine. I appreciate (and envy) the special bond others have. Thank you for sharing comfort to us far and wide. Your blog helps France seem not so far away.

Karena November 17, 2015 - 5:11 pm

Sharon, this is so poignant and it is so important that we choose things in life that bring us love and joy. I have talked about this a bit today as well!

The Arts by Karena
The Blink of an Eye

Pat November 17, 2015 - 5:19 pm

Sharon, I’ve always believed that our pets are actually angels given to us for comfort and protection. My little dog, Roxy, always seems to know when I need a little extra love. When I took riding lessons a few years ago, my favorite part wasn’t riding the horse but going into the barn, smelling that wonderful horsey smell, brushing them and leading them to the arena. Riding was fun too! This is my favorite post and I loved reading everyone’s comments. Blessings to you and France!

Donna Denney November 17, 2015 - 5:25 pm


Iris is such a beauty! Thank you for continuing to share in these sad days. Glad you and yours are safe.

I was living in Florida during 9/11 here in the States. I was a shopkeeper and was always told by shoppers that my store was a place of peace for them. I found it hard to go in to the shop in the days following 9/11; but I was emotionally rewarded by my customers/friends coming in to get away from the news and all.

Your words, photos and stories are always so peaceful, beautiful and comfortable…….thank you again for continuing to share.

Sending my thoughts and prayers to all of France.



Lin Powell November 17, 2015 - 6:05 pm

You, Heather (in Arles), Ellie (now in Provence) and Kristen (with her French words) help keep my eyes open to beauty and my mind on the positive with your lovely photos and thought provoking blogs from France. Thanks to you all for sharing your thoughts and yourselves.

Rebeca November 17, 2015 - 6:37 pm

Your posts and photos of your life in the beautiful French countryside inspire and uplift me every day. I believe beauty is a soul need. Beauty is God made manifest on Earth.

Kay November 17, 2015 - 6:43 pm

Blessings and peace. I always look forward to your posts. It’s a way of connecting to a far-away place, and I believe it is so important in this day and age to be connected in every way we can be.

Colleen Taylor November 17, 2015 - 7:15 pm

Gorgeous photo, one of my favorite subject matters to paint Sharon. Horses are wonderful therapy for the soul. X

Judy November 17, 2015 - 8:16 pm

Such a beautiful post…..
Thank you.

Terry Fenwick November 17, 2015 - 8:35 pm

Simply thank you for what you share with all of us. You are wonderful!

I am 83 and enjoy every word . . .

Katie November 17, 2015 - 9:29 pm

Beautiful message–beautiful horse!

Iris November 17, 2015 - 9:33 pm

What a beautiful post and a beautiful animal. Love the picture of his lovely serene face and eyes.

April November 17, 2015 - 10:02 pm

Thank you for always having the right post at the right time. You are a beautiful person,
Inside and out…just like your horse/pony. My thoughts are with you and France. We people support you.

Jane November 17, 2015 - 11:19 pm

Lovely post! Amen!

StitchinSweetSue November 18, 2015 - 12:29 am

sharon ~ sending love and hugs to you and your countrymen/women from ny, keeping you all close to my heart… xo

cynthia woodyard November 18, 2015 - 12:59 am

Perfect post, so eloquent and timely! Thank you!

Lynne B. November 18, 2015 - 1:56 am

So true! I have a stressful job working with men with severe mental problems but when I come home and spend time with my horses and dogs it feels so good. Even when I come home from work at 11pm at night and go and rest my face against their necks and breathe I feel peaceful.

Katherine November 18, 2015 - 2:45 am

Ronald Reagan wasn’t the first to say those words, but by far – he is the best know to utter the quote.
You may have thought that you took Iris out, but it seems that his spirit gathered you by his side. Animals have a way of doing that – calling out to us, standing by us when we need understanding and love. Good to hear that this once wild boy didn’t let you down.

leslie in Little Rock November 18, 2015 - 3:59 am

Let me just say… Paris and France for that that matter will remain my dream trip of choice! No barbarians will stop me! Always love your posts! I am asking for you book for Christmas!

Harlene November 18, 2015 - 4:54 am

Your skill at sharing your kindness and love of beauty is greatly appreciated.H

Marilyn November 18, 2015 - 2:21 pm

Your blog always reminds me of the beautiful things in life. We all need these reminders, so thank you.

Kathie November 18, 2015 - 5:05 pm

Thank you for the reminder to look for beauty. My thoughts are with all of you as you struggle through this very difficult time.

Pat November 18, 2015 - 6:43 pm

What a beautiful post!

Shelly November 18, 2015 - 9:47 pm

Sharon… Your blog is so much a part of what I look forward to. I know it sounds so odd, but you help me thrive!
Please be safe.

Jayne November 19, 2015 - 3:43 am

How lovely to have a gentle pony to ride out with! How happy he must be to get some extra attention from you, and probably instinctively knew you needed his gentleness. Or her….sorry dear horse.

Julia November 19, 2015 - 5:58 pm

Goodness Sharon! I applaud your family’s courage in coping with such an equine-handfull!
Much as I adore horses I think he would have defeated me
Bravo! 🙂

Lisa Kirakossian November 20, 2015 - 4:30 pm

I think Delaines’ comment says it all. There is something so very poetic about the connection of a horse and a human which transcends understanding yet you captured it so eloquently.
So many Hearts and prayers are with you and yours. May God cover you all with his peace and protection.

Melissa November 20, 2015 - 4:33 pm

The presence of a Horse is a soothing gift the other day I took My daughters pony for a ride, I was home alone(everyone was gone to visit inlaws) And I took the Pony Out ( he is a large Pony) We galloped like crazy , we jumped large logs and over streams, and I smiled like I have not done in months, then the skies opened up drenching us it was wonderful, He was so sweet and honest (except once when he tried a pony trick to dump me)! I arrived back and cried tears of joy for the moment I had with him in the rain, feeling his pony power and speed, making me young and free just for a moment. And for the build up of sadness this world has suffered lately that is hard to bear.
Nothing has ever comforted me more than the outside of a horse.

Pamela lePage November 23, 2015 - 1:51 am

Iris is very cute, Amazing how time spent with a horse can help clear our heads and help us and the lord to heal our hearts.

Kate January 11, 2016 - 10:28 am

only just read this beautiful post, every word, so so true, about the value of a horse, and life itself. Well written, thankyou… Sometimes in the evening I ride my mare to a hill that overlooks our property (Australia) and in the golden sunset glow my childhood is back, without the weight of the world, and for a few minutes at least I can be perfectly happy, content and pretend all is right with the world. We have to keep trying to do this even when these dreadful tragedies make us doubt humanity…


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