Twitter feed responded with an HTTP status code of 403.

Book Review: Zen Mind, Zen Horse by Allan J. Hamilton, MD

Trooper with a feather woven into his mane

Dr. Hamilton, a well known neurosurgeon from Tucson, Arizona, has the distinct honor of being gifted with both a brilliant mind and compassionate heart. He has used his knowledge of neuroscience, horses and zen to bring a very practical and sensible manual on horse training to the world- with both the horse and rider in mind as a symbiotic unit.

Most so called natural horsemanship trainers neglect to mention the spiritual nature of the horse in conjunction with the rider and so fear to tread into the space of ‘energy’ or ‘chi’ – I imagine partly because they fear they won’t be taken seriously. However, Dr. Hamilton is succinct and pragmatic in his articulation of training methods while also establishing the fact that a person’s energy field, i.e. thoughts, intentions, posture, philosophy, etc. will always have an impact on the horse.

While WHJ differs from Dr Hamilton on the use of bits and round pen training, two of the major aspects that we are aligned on and seems neglected in training is the importance of time and patience. Being with a horse requires one be acutely aware of their human tendencies to want things right away so the horse can ‘do’ something for them- jump, walk, turn, stop, perform, whatever the case may be as to why you wanted the horse in the first place.  Rarely is a horse spoken of as a companion first.

If you’re willing to take full responsibility for yourself and your horse, in what kind of horse you helped to create or person you turn out to ‘Be’, then this book is for you. It is reasonable, logical, accessible, based on human kinds’ highest ability to interact with nonhuman life and will help create the opening and ground necessary for you to develop yourself into the kind of horseman/woman that you can be proud of and that your horse would willingly follow- based on the inside out rather than from impersonal conditioning that has trained the horse to do something like a robot, leaving a void, obedient animal in your charge.

There are many fine suggestions of activities to share with your horse that will promote bonding. One of our favorites is the moonlight walk and weaving feathers, etc into your horses mane.

Thank you Dr. Hamilton for bringing many of the pieces together in one magnificent book.


Zen Mind, Zen Horse: The Science and Spirituality of Working with Horses, by Allan J. Hamilton, MD, 2011, Storey Press, may be available at your local library.  It may also be available through your local bookstore or on

Written by maeleesun

Leave a Comment