Dr. Hamilton’s Blog

Death Is a Good Yardstick

I buried a close friend today. As I sat in the chapel and listened to his friends and family come up and speak of him, I thought to myself: “Man, would he have been overjoyed to hear how much people loved him. How deeply cherished he was.” I could not help but wonder: “What will people say at my funeral?” Sure, they would say I was bright. Well read. Accomplished. But I wondered would they say I was nice? Caring? [...]

Spirituality|

Is My Horse Dead or Is He Asleep?

Several years ago one of the boarders at my ranch came over to the house and started pounding on the door—not something I encourage, believe me. I was all ready to get huffy with her but when I opened the door, she was sobbing uncontrollably and pointing out to one of the pastures: “You have to help me! My horse is dead out there in the pasture!” I grabbed my hat and hustled out to the pasture. Her horse was [...]

Horsemanship|

The Twitch Is Out!

Let’s get the subject of the horse twitch cleared up. There is nothing analgesic (pain-relieving) about a twitch squeezing the lips, one of the most sensitive parts of a horse’s anatomy. I know. There are some of you out there---horse handlers, trainers, and even veterinarians—who are going to tell me what an essential piece of equipment the horse twitch is. That they use it and the horse calms down. And some of you will tell me that there are even [...]

Horse Training, Horsemanship|

The Horse and the Animal Connection

At almost every talk I give addressing the special and important life lessons that horses can teach us, someone from the audience will ask: “Why does it have to be horses?” The simple answer is that it doesn’t. It just is for me. I have always had a special connection to horses and have always felt “in sync” with them from my earliest childhood. Part of it might be genetic: my grandfather was a cavalry officer and a very accomplished [...]

Spirituality|

Stalking Well Being

I am not an expert on finding well-being, though maybe I am an authority on searching for it. I recognize its tracks. I stalk it. I rarely catch it. And I never can seem to hold on to it for long. Here are a few simple assertions I’ve made during the process of stalking well-being for most of my adult life: Anyone who claims to have found the answers, hasn’t. There never is one way, one solution to finding well-being. [...]

Well Being|

Ten Rules Patients Need to Know to Save Their Own Lives

We all know it’s better to prevent an illness than treat it, but there are times we may need to be admitted to the hospital for a serious illness or surgery. We also need to be aware that our healthcare system itself is a substantial risk to our wellbeing because it is so prone to “medical adverse events” (MAEs). This MAE designation is medicalese for what, in any other business, would be grouped under the headings of complications or mistakes. [...]

Health & Medicine|

Ten Spiritual Guidelines for Confronting Life-Threatening Illness

1. Reach Out For Help You’re never alone. Illness—especially a potentially terminal or fatal illness—can isolate a human being terribly. Loneliness produces profound reductions in the ability of our immune systems to fight back. When we are ill, we need to reach out to the people who lend us strength. Very often this comes from sources we never knew existed. Having people pray for you or with you is often an important vehicle for helping to harness the loving energy [...]

Stick With The Doctor Who Answers Your Questions

Every patient has the right to ask any and all questions. And the questions can be plenty stupid. Usually, the “stupid” ones are the best ones. A disturbing number of patients report they never felt they were given time to ask all their questions of their doctor. I hear the patients say: “Well, he seemed to be in a real hurry. I didn’t want to bother him.” Or “I just felt my questions were silly. I was so anxious about [...]

Health & Medicine|

What Not to Eat in the Hospital: Everything!

What is the problem with hospital food? You’re in the hospital, you’re sick, you’ve been given a thousand different medications that make you nauseous and rob you of your appetite. Everyone’s telling that you need nourishment to heal. What does the hospital do? They figure out a way to create the most bland, tasteless, unappealing, over-cooked food the world has ever seen. Then, just in case, you might be tempted to eat it, they leave it out long enough so [...]

Health & Medicine|

Top Ten Things Cancer Patients Learn from Cancer Patients

As a brain surgeon specializing in tumors, I have known a lot of cancer patients. They are some of the wisest people I have ever met. Here’s my list of the top ten things my cancer patients try to pass on to patients who are in the early phase of struggling with the disease, to help them “over the hump.” There are no genes like no genes. Cancer is a disease caused by mutated genes that allow cells to grow [...]

Health & Medicine|

Horses: Soft as Water, Hard as Stone

Lao-Tzu (600 B.C.) suggested we look for inspiration in the streams around us. “Water, he wrote, “is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. This is another paradox: what is soft is strong.” Horses are the living embodiment of this contradictory notion: when we are rigid with them, when we try to strong-arm them, they [...]

Spirituality|

Patience: Give Yourself a Year

The key to training horses is patience. Not because horses are so slow but because human beings are so fast. As humans, we are so inherently predatory by nature that we want the horse to learn, to respond now–or even sooner! That means that our intention is not focused on the horse’s mindset or how it relates to the learning process but, instead, we are looking ahead for the result. When we look for results, we lose our focus, our [...]

Horse Training, Horsemanship|

Your New Mantra: Pause, Pet, Breathe, and Praise

I recently got this heartfelt email from a couple that found themselves with a very troubled mare suffering with post-traumatic stress syndrome: Dear Allan: …. Last April we purchased a six-year-old mare…We had her evaluated by a respected professional horse clinician. He discovered that, when asked to canter (she was trained for dressage), the horse begins to accelerate rapidly,  until she eventually lost all control, Secondly, she seemed to go into an unusual form of panic that the trainer described [...]

Horsemanship|

Using the Right Amount of Energy for Every Horse

Today we look at a question from a reader: Hi! I just want to say how incredible it has been reading this book. I have had only trail riding experiences with horses and didn’t understand much about horses until I read this book. I have always had a love for horses but never knew the amazing qualities and minds they possess. Incredible. I also had never been able to have a horse to call mine until my mom rescued 4 [...]

Horsemanship|

The Greatest Equine Hero Ever!

Yes, I believe the story of the Korean-born mare, named Sargent Reckless, is one of the greatest recorded stories of how truly heroic and brave horses can be. Reckless served during the Korean War with dignity and valor alongside her fellow Marines of the Recoilless Rifle Platoon, Anti-Tank Company of the 5th Marine Regiment. It is an iconic and inspiring tale of true courage which reminds us how much these magnificent creatures are willing to sacrifice to live and serve [...]

Great Horses|

New Riding Environment? Help With Your Horse’s Anxiety

I recently had an interesting question from a reader that related to some of the principles I talk about in Zen Mind, Zen Horse. I thought it would be helpful for everyone to review this real life example: Dear Dr. Hamilton, (excerpted) I have an eleven year-old mare, born and raised in Montana.  Although Barbie was broke, she spent the first seven years “out on pasture,” the majority of time in a herd of twenty or so horses.  She has [...]

Horse Training, Horsemanship|

A Great White Horse

A great, white horse has passed from this life. Romeo, my beloved Lipizzan stallion, who had been the star of a hundred different demonstration clinics over the years, died last night of colic. I had him since he was a yearling when he was just a gangly, dusky charcoal grey colt. I trained him for several years on the ground and then for two more years under saddle. I taught him to bow and to lie down. I taught him [...]

Great Horses|