Your Name and Occupation: My name is Ari Mason. While my background is in digital marketing and journalism, I recently launched my own business as a life coach and intuitive channel (@arimasonenergy on Instagram). I help women gain clarity on their dreams and desires, find inner peace in any moment, and heal from the inside out by channeling the guidance they need to transform their lives.
Where do you live (country & city): Connecticut, USA
Out of all of the horses you have met in Who is/was your heart horse: Odie, a 12-year-old 14.2hh mystery breed. There’s something drafty in there, maybe mixed with an athletic pony type. Whatever he is, he’s adorable, and he knows it.
When did you meet your heart horse, and how old were you: I met Odie almost four years ago when I was in my mid-20s and finding my way back to horses after a couple of years out of the saddle. Riding was a constant for me when I was young, but it drifted in and out of my life as I got older. I lived in a big city with no access to horses when I started dreaming about them again. That was my sign. As soon as I left the city, I began looking for a half lease. Odie was the fifth horse I tried in five days—by then, I thought I’d found the one (a mare), but I kept the trial in good faith. I loved him instantly, and a few months later, he was mine.
What was/is he/she like: Odie is curious, opinionated, stubborn, and loyal. He’s also too smart for his own good. He loves to have a job (I think it makes him feel important), and he really tries his heart out for me—especially over fences, where he shines. Odie came to me relatively green, with no idea how to use his body, so we’ve put in a lot of work together over the years. I think he’s truly a one-person horse. He chose me, and now we’re bonded for life.
What made him/her your heart horse? I just knew. I’ve ridden, leased, and competed with countless horses over the years, and I loved them all. But Odie was different. We understood each other. We clicked. I had no business buying a horse, but I took a leap of faith because I knew I had to—that I belonged to him as much as he belonged to me. It’s not about riding anymore. It’s about Odie.
How did your heart horse change your life: Odie has taught me many things—patience, persistence, sacrifice, and unconditional love. I’ve made a lot of compromises for his sake. I’ve almost given up more than once. But he needs me, and there’s nothing I won’t do for him. When we’re working at liberty, and he’s choosing to listen, focus, and be with me… there’s a depth to that connection that you can’t really put into words. I’ve never experienced anything like it. It’s complete trust, and it’s such an honor.
Can you tell me when you knew this was your heart horse: I think I knew after our very first round together in the jumper ring. We were the underdogs for sure, but we won champion for the season—and that was all because of Odie. Something comes over him when he steps into the show ring. He knows when it counts, and he takes it very seriously. He gave it everything he had. That fire and spirit showed me a side of him that’s just as passionate and intense as I am. It was at that very show that his former owner and I had our first serious discussion about making Odie mine.
Can you tell me your best memory: I’ll share two because I love them both and can’t decide.
The first was our last day at my dressage trainer’s farm. It was an incredibly difficult decision to leave purely because of logistics (the long commute in Boston traffic took its toll). So we just had fun. We set up a jump chute and kept raising the rail. By the end, Odie was practically running himself through the chute and flying over the tops of the standards. Then I hopped on bareback, held on for dear life, and he just took care of me. It was our first time jumping 3’6,” and we did it bareback!
The second was our first and only fully tackless ride. We’d been practicing bridleless riding for a while, and I decided there was no time like the present. (In hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have been bombing around tackless with another horse in the ring, but that’s beside the point). It was liberating. I’d never felt more alive or more connected to my horse than I did at that moment. My wonderful photographer, Persie Baroody, was there to capture it all and took my all-time favorite photo of us.
Can you tell me your worst memory: We’ve faced a number of challenges over the years, from epic crashes and burns in the showjumping ring to rides so frustrating I wanted to cry. None of that can compare to the days leading up to his Cushing’s diagnosis. He wasn’t my horse anymore. He was angry, combative, in pain, and wanted to be left alone. I knew something was wrong, but I didn’t understand what, and I felt powerless to help. It was awful. I told the vet to run every possible test because I had to know, and I had to make him better. Cushing’s was not what I was expecting to hear. He’s so young for a Cushing’s diagnosis. It’s been a tough road to get his levels under control and find the right treatment plan, but his personality is starting to shine again, and I’m hopeful.
Can you tell me what heart horse means to you: Odie is a part of me. We read each other’s energy and feel each other’s moods. I was once told that Odie is my mirror, and I believe it completely. We’re two halves of a whole, and our lives are forever linked.