Life Lessons from Elvis the Horse

life lessons from Wyatt Webb at Miraval

Life lessons from cleaning a hoof?

When I called Miraval a “summer camp for adults” I wasn’t kidding. It offers life lessons workshops via everything from zip-lining to primal drumming, plus more traditional activities like hiking and yoga. While I did make it to yoga, I also wanted to try some things way out of my comfort zone. I eased into that with a class called “It’s Not About the Horse,” by the world-renowned Wyatt Webb. Last fall, I overcame my fear of horses enough to ride a very tame one at the Grand Canyon Ranch. So I figured I could handle whatever they threw at me. Every single person I talked to about Miraval told me I had to take this class. So off I went.

I climbed into the white Miraval van bound for the stables. Upon arrival, we met Elvis, this beautiful horse. Wyatt gave the most uplifting speech about regaining control over how others treat you. He has a steady, down-home demeanor that makes you sit up and listen. And man, as he talks about society and how it’s taught us to internalize all of the wrong stuff and not take accountability for the right stuff, you know he’s right

life lessons from Wyatt Webb at Miraval


Some soundbytes:

“Not everything has to be a damn crisis.”

“Never let someone else control your discomfort again.”

“Your heart doesn’t make up stories. It’s the brain that creates the problems.”

“We’re not trained in accountability. We make it about everything but us.”

“I teach people how to treat me.”

“We’re born human but trained not to be. Learn to ask for help.”


Then it became clear that this was not your average equine experience.

We were going to have to talk about feelings. 

In public.

Watching everyone go up there one by one to complete the task (getting the horse to raise his hoof and clean it) was a truly eye-opening experience. As stirring as Wyatt’s monologue was, seeing our human fears acted out with the horse is something I’ll never forget.

One woman grew visibly frustrated when the horse wouldn’t immediately lift up his hoof. “How many kids do you have?” Wyatt asked without missing a beat. “Do you get annoyed the second they don’t do what you want? Are you sure you’re telling them exactly what you want?” The woman got more and more frustrated until Wyatt finally interjected, “Would you like some help?” Another woman’s entire body indicated that she was so sad, and she said up front she didn’t think she could do this minor task. Defeated by a bully of boss, she’d learned, down to her body language, to admit defeat before it began.

Don’t know what to do? Ask for help. Try again. Yes, you can do it. It was amazing how we all fight these basic concepts!

life lessons from Wyatt Webb at Miraval

Wyatt talking to my friend Aaron.

When it was my turn, I admitted that I’d been scared of horses for a long time. He told me to go stand next to the horse. I did. The horse didn’t move. I couldn’t have felt more ridiculous.

For me, fear of the unknown or of what is going to happen next has always been my biggest setback. (It’s why I’ve fought public speaking anxiety for years.) But learning — not by reading about it or having someone tell me, but by standing next to something I thought I was scared of — that the horse would not do something to hurt me unless I did something to scare it made me see how irrational that can be.

There’s something about physically walking through the motions of a personal fear or setback in front of an audience that makes you see how easy it could be to end it right then and there.

I was worried in the beginning that the class would be too hippy-dippy for me, but it was anything but. I’d learn life lessons from Wyatt any day.

Wyatt has appeared on Celebrity Rehab and has written a book, It’s Not About the Horse. Check it out!

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I'm a life-long travel junkie journalist who works hard to find adventure in everyday life after two years of travel and expat living.

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  1. What a cool experience. (I saw this on Oprah by the way!).

    How true is: “Your heart doesn’t make up stories. It’s the brain that creates the problems.” When you can calm the always-thinking mind, you can more easily live in the present moment and move forward gracefully.

  2. He was soo good! I wish I’d thought to take notes from the beginning, but I was so mesmerized.

  3. This sort of thing would be right up my alley! I’m gonna check out that book of his…

  4. I love this, Abby. 🙂 Those quotes made me laugh and sigh – they’re just perfect for what I’m working through right now. Thank you. 🙂 So glad you were brave!

  5. Really neat experience! I’m all about doing stuff like that to get in touch with you. Funny how just standing next to the horse was all it took for you to realize your fears were irrational. I’d love to do something like this. 🙂

  6. I am so glad you all love it! I wish I’d taken even more notes. He was such a straight-shooter with his advice that hit home.

  7. I actually have a friend in Austin who does therapy work with mini horses! Granted, she is also considered a horse whisperer. 😛

  8. It was really cool! I also have no doubt that this guy is a horse whisperer. No doubt.

  9. Wow, this sounds like the craziest experience ever, but in a good way! You are so brave for doing it.

  10. Horses make me really nervous too – sounds like I could use something like this! Would love to go riding more when we travel and not be afraid. Some good life lessons here!

  11. “Not everything has to be a damn crisis.” That’s one I need to remember 🙂

    Glad you got to have this great experience.

  12. Another fabulous post. Thank you for introducing us to Wyatt and I’ll be sure to dowload his book. It sounds like the weekend there was a life changing experience. Keep up the great writing Abby!

  13. Wyatt looks a whole lot like Charlie Daniels. He looks like he’s about to challenge Aaron to a fiddle duel.
    Glad you got to have such a cool experience. We’ll expect to see you speaking at the NFR next year?

  14. Thanks, guys! I also want to buy his book. I should have picked it up while I was there.

    He so plays the fiddle…

  15. How interesting. Love the words of wisdom from Wyatt and Elvis is gorgeous.

  16. He was amazing! I wish I’d taken better notes.

  17. This is such an amazing experience! I wanta go there with you!!!

  18. We would have had soo much fun! And you wouldn’t have dragged me to the extreme physical courses either lol.

  19. What an experience Abby!

  20. What an inspiring experience you’ve had, their message is very strong. “We’re born human but trained not to be. Learn to ask for help” – So true..

  21. I adore horses, this one is beautiful! And what an interesting way to let go of irrational fears. I think everything is easier in the company of animals.

  22. You ladies would have loved Wyatt! He was so inspiring.

  23. What a powerful experience and great story. Wyatt’s a real philosopher, isn’t he? And my God, Elvis is gorgeous.

  24. Sounds like a very cool experience. I love trying things I’ve never done before, and I think I would like this.

  25. It was really cool! Wyatt is amazing — you just know he gets what he wants out of life. I want to be more like him.

  26. Sounds really different and a very positive experience. Good for you being brave enough to try it out!

  27. No worries — I chickened out on the next activity lol.

  28. Horses are simply great. Someone told me that he swam with horses and it is an amazing feeling. They are intelligent and, with the right people aside, they can do miracles. Sounds like you had quite an experience. I’m glad for you!

  29. Sounds like a pretty eye opening day! I love horses and working with them.

  30. Swimming with horses?! Who would have thought!!

  31. Love reading about people conquering their fears! I’m not a huge horse fan… but after reading this, maybe they’re not so bad =)

  32. That sounds like an amazing class. I was afraid of horses too until last year, when I rode a horse for the first time in 20 years!

  33. Sounds like a great experience. I am also mildly afraid of horses, so this would be great for me.

  34. You are one brave woman! I’m not afraid of horses, but talking about my fears in public…that sounds terrifying, but glad it was a positive experience.

  35. I was sort of proud of myself! But I chicken out on the next activity lol.

  36. I saw that Celebrity Rehab episode! (And yes, I’m a little embarrassed to admit that) I’ve been riding horses since I was 5, so to me picking out a hoof is no big deal, but it was really interesting to see how something that for most people is new and different can shed light on our underlying issues.

  37. You did?! I had to look it up on YouTube. I love that show!!! Yes, you would have had to sign up for another activity — plenty to choose from!

  38. Interesting story 🙂

  39. Thank you, Muza-Chan!!

  40. Great story! It’s amazing what animals teach us about ourselves.

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