Connecting through chakra

Published 11:00 pm Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Local author getting good reviews

If you’re like me, you might not intuitively think of combining horseback riding with the ancient art of Chakra Yoga. But when it comes to horses, Tryon Daily Bulletin’s equine journalist Catherine Hunter has always been open to an eclectic array of influences. 

Consider her riding history. She started at a young age showing hunter/jumpers, and has also participated in dressage, saddle seat, western riding and driving over the years. She galloped racehorses and become a licensed racehorse trainer; raced over timber; was a recognized member of the Mooreland Hunt (Alabama) for more than 20 years; whipped in for the Early Grove Hounds; and has studied with such notables as Olympic coach and U.S. Cavalry instructor Gordon Wright; Olympic dressage competitor Lendon Gray; and author Jane Marshall Dillon, a judge with the U.S. Equestrian Federation’s Affiliated National Riding Commission (ANRC), through which Catherine also earned a certification.

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Catherine has taught riding and trained horses for more than 40 years, including coaching Pony Club and 4H teams and serving as trainer for the Atlanta Police Mounted Patrol and an equine consultant and wrangler for feature films and television shows.

Something she recalls as one of her favorite horseback activities was riding her Thoroughbred, Count of War, in Civil War and Middle Ages reenactments for 20 years.

Count of War was also her partner in a journey that combined Catherine’s spiritual side and just plain stamina: in 2003, the pair started from Gowensville, S.C. and rode more than 900 miles to

Ground Zero in New York City, inspired by the Iraq War to encourage people to find peace within themselves.

Catherine recently published her book, Sacred Connections Horsemanship, which teaches readers how to work with the chakras – traditionally described as energy flows or “wheels of energy” – in both the rider’s and horse’s body to achieve deeper levels of confidence, relaxation and partnership.

Reader Response

Early readers of Catherine’s book are giving it very positive reviews. USDF Bronze Medalist Meredith MacKenzie of Asheville described it as, “A beautiful blend of practical knowledge for safe, effective riding. A startlingly sensible guide to achieving the joy of true partnership with your horse.”

Reader Marabeth Madsen has read Catherine’s book and been training with her: “I grew up riding and showing hunt seat equitation through my teenage years in California. I was successful by show ring standards and I felt fairly skillful as a horsewoman, but my aids were tense and unbalanced. My back and knees were often painful after riding due to improper form and position. Under Catherine Hunter’s guidance and working with the Sacred Connections Horsemanship (SCH) system, I found comfort, relaxation, and ease in my body while riding for the first time in years! I love how she helped me refine my awareness of subtle energies and communications my horses were tuning into that I had no idea I was sending. Catherine is about functional horsemanship, not just shortcuts to look good in the show ring as so many trainers have focused on in the last generation. Riding with SCH feels amazing and the results speak for themselves.”

Rider Kelly Snyder said, “Besides giving me horses that are a pure joy to ride and be around, SCH helped me regain a functional seat and helped me recondition my horses after having a baby. I had not been able to ride in a year because of pregnancy and very unfavorable weather. Once I started riding again though, my horses were not responding well to my aids due to me not being able to get my leg under me properly and having an overall poor position. After a few lessons with Catherine Hunter, my horses started responding better, I felt safer in the saddle, and my rides became magical again.”

Catherine Hunter’s book, Sacred Connections Horsemanship, is available locally at The Book Shelf in Tryon and Re-Ride Consignment Tack Shop at 6431 S. NC Hwy 9, Suite 5, in Columbus, online at Amazon or through the publisher, For information on training or consults, contact Sacred Connections Horsemanship at 828-351-4090. •

Judy Heinrich is a freelance writer serving national clients in diverse industries. Judy writes for the Tryon Daily Bulletin and Foothills Magazine on all things horse related. She can be reached at