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HAVE SOME FUN TODAY - Five years ago, Leslie Dowling found herself at a horse barn, helping out a friend whose horse needed some exercise. What started out as a favor for a friend became a life altering experience for her.
Two years later, she’d have her own horse and shortly after, began competing in three different riding disciplines. Even more impactful was the connection she made with the animal and nature, each time she rode. What it gave her was a completely different perspective on her life and new sense of joy.
“I was so at peace and in the moment when I was there on the horse. When you’re riding, you have to be in the moment,” she said. “You can’t think about ten million other things or what you are doing tomorrow, because there’s an 1,100 pound horse beneath you. We have so much going on around us and when you get on a horse, you have to drop all that.”
The mindfulness and awareness she began cultivating with riding began to flow into her life in a profound way. Something was shifting. She's a mother to three boys and once had her own career in the garment industry, she now found herself drawn to the animals and the connection it was giving her to herself.
It was also pushing her to hone in on something deeper. She was learning to listen and to be patient, in a totally different way.
“People are so used to verbal communication. With a horse, you can talk all you want, but they talk through their eyes, their body and movement. That’s how you have to talk to a horse. That’s what opens you up to your intuitiveness, because you have to tune into your other senses.”
Soon after getting her own horse, she began entering competitions to show “Keep It Sweet” or “Sweets”, as she calls her.
When Sweets, a Grey Paint Tobiano quarter horse, suffered a muscle pull last year, she had to stop competing. Leslie began to realize how her competitive nature and previous mindset had always been to push through. But it became clear to her that her horse had other plans.
Leslie says she had to focus on connecting with Sweets and listening to her. “I had to rehabilitate her and slow down to get her strong again.” Listening to those subtle but powerful signs from her horse gave her a life lesson that she’ll never forget.
“It was such a learning experience. You have to take a step back sometimes. We were working together as a team and she needed me to build her back up, not push her. And now that she is strong and I’ve worked so hard to get her back, she’s even stronger than she was a year ago.”
Leslie says working so closely with her horse has heightened her sense of intuitiveness and connection with others, as well as learning to live in the now. She’s found a passion learning and exploring different holistic methods of healing and training with Sweets.
She's become particularly fascinated with reiki for horses after using it to help heal Sweets. It's sparked a passion in her and she is now pursuing an equine reiki certification.
“The more in touch I am with the intuitive world, reiki and healing, the more I feel it. Maybe it’s not only with horses, maybe it's with other animals. And maybe that is a calling in my life.”
Taking a chance on something new and opening yourself up to possibility is exactly what Have Some Fun Today is all about. Leslie is the epitome of what it means to live in the moment of each day and look for the FUN.
Leslie says she loves the empowering message of HSFT and the amazing women who wear it. She's inspired by the mindset and loves the chic fashion sense.
She says that riding has opened up a part of her that she thinks was always there and fine-tuned her senses.
“That’s kind of a natural progression, stepping into this world. Subconsciously, I think it was inevitable that I would have connected with animals or horses. I have always felt I was very intuitive and I think I get that from my grandmother.”
Raised in a hustle and bustling family, her mother was a hosiery designer and her father worked in the knitwear businesses. She easily found her way into a similar career.
“I worked in the garment industry and design and went to Philadelphia College of Textiles and Science (Now called Philadelphia University). Never did I really listen to what I wanted in my heart.”
The horse barn is a far cry from the fashion industry and it’s filled her with a newfound joy and given her an outlet. “It has opened me up to something I felt passionate about. Jumping ditches, creeks riding through forests, I feel so free and empowered from that. It’s the adrenaline rush and I really kind of thrive on that.”
The freedom has given her a re-set on defining who she is at this time in her life. “Go back to finding your voice, because sometimes it gets pushed away when you become a mom. The horse brought that to the forefront and taught me ‘You are an empowered strong woman and you do have a voice and you need to use it.’ It’s pretty powerful.”