This Interview is also found in ARAB HORSE COUTURE
Issue – Winter 2020/2021
Arab Horse Couture: The introduction in your book involves a relationship with a horse and man. How do they become acquainted and what are their contributions to each other’s lives?
Mark Hanna: Promises kept were hard to fulfill as we lost our memories crossing the veil between heaven and earth. God gave us counsel: Follow the plan of happiness; Have courage. Be kind. Have Faith and be true to yourself. Some of us have an innate knowledge of this advice and strive to follow that still small voice, but some ignore it altogether.
Our souls are inexorably linked to the souls of the horses in our lives, our Soul-Mates.
My book is a fictional autobiography based on true life events. I was struck with a contagious disease, “What is good for the inside of man is the outside of a horse” from a very young age. I was an angry young man. I lost my Dad at age 6 and was bullied with my kinky hair and the last name of Hanna rhyming with banana. I overcompensated with everything I did to gain control. The way I dealt with my relationships with horses involved submission. “Do as I say or else”. But, all along, that still small voice would intervene subconsciously. My goal was to be a professional Halter trainer. My opportunity to begin raising my own herd allowed me to breed and import horses from Spain and Germany. My plans were ambitious to show my own horses that I had bred. I emulated successful trainers in the Arabian industry using halter training techniques I learned on a colt I imported from Spain. One day, as I was “tuning up my colt” with my whip in hand, that wary colt like a savvy boxer waited for an opening and lunged out and bit me savagely on my shoulder lifting me up and throwing me hard on the ground. “How dare he do that to me!” I got up with lead in hand and proceeded to beat him up to teach him a lesson. Wait, that still small voice raised its voice loudly. What am I doing? I love this colt. Realizing what I had done, I put my whip down and cried and asked forgiveness of my shivering colt and the God who created us both. It was a lifelong dream to be with my horses and I was treating them poorly. A rapid reverse in my attitude needed to change. A growing epiphany started to emerge in my life. “Shahwan”, a special stallion would help me to become “The Horse Listener”.
It is my goal in writing this book to help people learn that there is a better way to partner with your horse. Understanding the nature and instincts of the horse in relation to our nature helps us grow together. I learned that “the horse whispers in our ears and we become the listener”.
In this book, I take the reader to a place where two people help each other learn this valuable lesson.
Mathew Peters lost his father to cancer and has moved from LA with his Mother to a little farm in Alfalfa Oregon. The Horse Race trackback at Inglewood left an indelible impression on this young man. A spur-of-the-moment opportunity to save an Arabian mare from a kill buyer at an auction left him in a quandary. “Well mom, we now have a horse. What now?” The feed store owner said that across the street from us is this truck driver, “I think he knows something about a horse. Ask him.” This clever young man found himself talking to a dusty and grease-covered man under a truck. “I hear you may know something about horses.” Shaking his head, the man asked; “Horses huh?” “Yes, I’ve got this Arabian mare and I need some help.” His attention brightened. “An Arabian huh?” Little did they know that between them, a relationship would develop that would involve a poor rescued Arabian mare and a special Arabian stallion.
Arab Horse Couture: You involve quotes from the Bible. How does this relate to the book and how does it affect your beliefs involving horses?
Mark Hanna: As is described in Genesis, I believe God Created the heavens and the earth. The souls of all living creatures He created from the intelligences before the world was. Could it be that we were acquainted with our horses in the pre-existence before we came to earth. Excited about the adventure to come, we promised we’d be together as soul-mates. Unfortunately, it was not that easy to fulfill our dreams once we crossed the veil into this cruel world. Some will find each other and some will not. The innate voice from the council our Creator God gave us would be available if we would listen. Some will ignore the voice and follow a different course. We are in a world with choices. In contrast, there is virtue or malevolence. Virtue contributes to learning and growth. Evil or malevolence results in ultimate destruction. The horse has contributed immensely to the civilization of man on earth in industry as well as husbandry. The horse and man were meant to be partners. There are passionate horsemen who utilize an understanding of the nature of the horse to accomplish this partnership. Their horses desire to learn.
Arab Horse Couture: What lessons of growth made between the two main characters contribute to our learning as readers?
Mark Hanna: Mike and Mathew, even though forty years separated them in age, would have a transformational influence on each other. Both had just been through an incident in their lives that left them vulnerable. Mike had lost everything. Three years before, he lost his ranch resulting in the dispersal his prized Arabian herd. The death of his beloved Arabian stallion and a divorce that separated him from his son left him devastated. All he had left were the memories and the lessons he had learned after his epiphany. Hardship also hit the Peters family with their loss and a move to a strange location.
It was destiny perhaps that these two would meet through this poor rescued Arabian mare. It would lead an ambitious young man and a dusty truck driver on a course to fulfill their dreams. Mike Chapman’s character in this book embarks on a search for the answers associated with the decline of the traditional base breeders and owners in the horse industry. Why are the precious Arabian bloodlines ending up in slaughterhouses?
His pursuit takes him to the horse-breeding tribes of the Middle East. He will learn from the dedicated stewards of the centuries-old sacred traditions that created the Arabian horse.
This book foretells the hope for the future of the Arabian horse and its survival.
Mike would encourage Mathew to pursue and accomplish his dreams to become successful as a horseman. Education, a family and a career with horses were goals that Mike tried to instill in Mathew, goals that Mike was unable to fulfill himself. Mathew would discover the mysteries that haunted his mentor and help bring about his salvation and happiness.
Arab Horse Couture: How do learning the lessons taught in this book help in dealing with our human relationships?
Mark Hanna: Suffice it to say that there was one Person in history that grants us similar forgiveness. Jesus Christ!
Arab Horse Couture: Does this book describe your belief that our animals have spirits and communicate with us in imperceptible means that can be learned?
Mark Hanna: I have experienced depression after experiencing extreme loss. The atonement of Jesus Christ offered me a rebirth and saved my life. I was then free of the things that held me back like the anger of the hurt in my younger years which controlled the way I dealt with horses. I became sensitive to the spirit. I had always been sensitive, almost psychic. But without the clutter it became clearer one day when I was trimming an older Arabian stallion. He would oppose me in every turn. I, being frustrated, turned and looked him in the eyes and said “what the heck is your problem?” Instantly I experienced what you may call a video of pictures go through my mind of all of his fears, anxieties and bad experiences. It blew my mind, but I instinctively answered him back in pictures. “Wow, I understand”. You know, he was cooperative with me totally after that. I actually saw his thoughts in pictures. I learned a big lesson then. I do not analyze what I sense or doubt what I sense. My first impression is what it is, a quiet but imperceptible communication with his spirit. I have sixty years of reading body language, but this has opened up my mind to the spirit, especially the Holy Spirit. Small things bring about big things. By quiet listening for the way they communicate their thoughts, or their whispering, I know we all can realize and perceive these mental pictures and have a relationship that builds confidence and trust.
I welcome anyone interested in these things can visit my website www.markmhanna.com and share my thoughts on becoming a “horse listener”.
Book 2 of the trilogy: “Dazshtan, Shahwan’s Legacy” Book 2: “Preserving the Bloodlines” coming soon.
Arab Horse Couture: What is the relevance of the lessons revealed in this work and how does it relate to the future of horses and man together in our world?
Mark Hanna: We are facing a decline in the horse industry of horse ownership and utilization. Horses with valuable pedigrees are being slaughtered by the thousands. In the Arabian industry, the decline is precipitous. Greed, Politics and Abuse has chased the base of our breeding farms away from the show ring. Lack of sales and participation has resulted. There is a disaster looming. The valuable bloodlines of hundreds of years of breeding the oldest breed of horse in the world are disappearing. I believe the eternal connection we have with our horses will motivate the passionate partners in our industry to realize this danger and move like General Patton to save our bloodlines and our industry. We cannot continue on this course. We are nearing a precipice of no return. It is my goal to bring to light a truth that a majority of Arabian horse breeders and horsemen have come to realize. There is a path to saving our breed and bring back the participation we had years ago. Submission inspires opposition and lack of partnership. A majority of horsemen realize this and utilize a “Natural” means to establish a partnership. I believe this will bring back the base and invigorate the new, young and existing horsemen back to our beloved soul-mates, the Equine.