Hoofbeats, Heartbeats, and Wings:
An Interview with Mary Ann Kennedy
We at NHM had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Mary Ann Kennedy, Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter, about her latest new CD… Thank you, Mary Ann!
NHM: Congratulations, Mary Ann, on the release of your delightful new music CD, "Hoofbeats, Heartbeats, and Wings"! Obviously, you have really been horsin' around since our last interview - in fact, "Horsin' Around" is one of the new song titles. What inspired you to put together this latest 'music from the heart' CD?
Mary Ann: Hi, Randi, great to talk with you again. Primarily what inspired me to write and complete another CD was the fans of The Trail Less Traveled. The emails and letters I have received for 3 years have been so encouraging and moving. I knew I had to share more of this thing I seem to do: celebrate our love for horses and our other animal companions, through music.
I dedicated this CD to my 30-year-old mare, Black Ebony Doll, who went to horse heaven right before I recorded this CD. She is the mother of Tonka, who inspired The Trail Less Traveled. She was a gorgeous black Tennessee Walker who was the smoothest ride imaginable. I want to help organizations like FOSH [Friends of Sound Horses] in stopping the abuse in the Walking Horse industry. We all need to be aware that the abuse is still happening and it is basically legal abuse.
NHM: I see that portions of the proceeds will be donated to help stop the abuse in the Tennessee Walking Horse Industry. What are some of the problems in the TWH industry, and what do you think will help to get these atrocities stopped?
Mary Ann: Boy, Randi, I don't know what it is going to take to stop the legal abuse. I mean the soring is worse than ever... just looking at those gorgeous, good-tempered creatures with the unnatural stuff strapped to their feet makes me cry. I have owned some Tennessee Walkers and as you know, their nature is so beautiful. Somehow, someone more powerful that the $ in the industry, will get to the common people and expose the cruelty, and it will end some day. I pray anyway. Until then, raising consciousness and treating them with love and respect is the best we can do.
NHM: How and why did you get involved with PNH?
Mary Ann: Hmm… I guess the first time I was exposed to PNH was David Lichman clinic in TN way back in 94 or so - just when it got started. I wasn't quite ready to embrace it all the way, and they didn't have clinicians around the country to help, or the levels programs, so I played with the 7 Games tape, but needed more. Then about '99 I really embraced the path. I went to a Ray Hunt clinic and wanted more to follow up with at home... and then I found out that Parelli had the systems and I had a wonderful teacher close by, Carol Coppinger. So off I went, and my horsemanship life changed on the uphill climb forever! My horses thank me every day! It really has changed me and my life.
NHM: What improvements have you seen in your relationships with your horses after applying the PNH principles and games?
Mary Ann: Well, it is similar to the spiritual study called "A Course in Miracles". I call it 'a horse in miracles'! J The finger always points back at you - 'What have I done to create this in my horse?' It is always in our power to create a positive or negative result in our horses. We need to learn about their language and ways of relating, and not expect them to learn ours. Then we can have a beautiful partnership with them. This involves being their safe place to be, creating trust through being a loving, confident leader. Horses want to respect and have an alpha figure. We have to learn how to earn that respect.
NHM: Who - what horses - are in your horse family now?
Mary Ann: I have 5 horses currently, all shapes and sizes, and 2 mini donks (LUNA and RICO). My main levels horse, who has forgiven me a million times, yet I have managed to earn his respect, is RIO, a 9-year-old quarter horse, who I have owned since he was 2. He is the one featured on the CD cover, and throughout, this time. He is part "cuttin' bred", very athletic, and way smarter than I am. But I am learning and trying to be worthy of owning and riding him. SENCIE, my 10-year-old Peruvian, on my last CD cover. ANGEL, Rio's 6-year-old quarter horse daughter, on my last CD also. BRAVE, a young yearling spotted saddle horse who needed a loving home and captured my heart, after losing Tonka, and a new member, a 17-year-old black Walker, DJ, who is a total gentleman. I don't want to inundate you with details - we all have our beloved horses - but the point is, they are all a bit different, yet all the same. They are a HORSE! And we need to learn how they relate and think, and become worthy of being their leader in order to have a wonderful time together. I will be working on that all my life for sure! I remember Ray Hunt said in a clinic, "Ya see the huge oak tree? If that tree is the horse, I know 2 leaves on that tree." Now, for a true horseman like Ray to say that, it tells us just how much we have to learn, listening to our horses and other experienced teachers.
NHM: What horse-related activities have you been involved with lately? How have these been rewarding to you?
Mary Ann: Mostly the Parelli program keeps me busy! And playing with my horses, then applying these principles to trail riding, moving cows, whatever. Psychologically we must always consider the horse: what is he going through? What does he need right now? Believe me, haha, THAT keeps me busy. I just want to get better for my horse. Then I will be a better person in my life. The role model they are for us… and the metaphors they show us to become better people for each other... is amazing.
NHM: Where and when are you currently performing? How can one contact you and how can one get your lively and lovely CD?
Mary Ann: Well, I have some gig planning, as we say in the music biz, in the works for 2006. I have gone out to a few Parelli 'love, language and leadership' tour dates to watch Linda ride to the theme song I wrote for her, called "When You Carry Me". Met folks and autographed CDs. It is always so great to connect with kindred spirits. Just check my web site - www.MaryAnnKennedy.com - for further dates, and for all CD sales, and news I will share with the people who I am so thankful to, for encouraging me to release a new CD. What a gift you all are in my life, knowing this music makes you and your horses feel good. I SO thank you, Randi, and all the Natural Horse readers, from deep in my heart. Here's to keeping our language, love and horse keeping… NATURAL!
Grammy nominated hit songwriter from Nashville, TN, Mary Ann Kennedy creates music that celebrates the horse. A level 3 Parelli natural horsemanship student herself, Mary Ann seems to express what we all feel in our hearts for our beloved horses and the life we all live with them. Through melody, rhythm and humor in song, this is music that we horse lovers can listen and ride to. Along with her former "The Trail Less Traveled" released in 2002,"Hoofbeats,Heartbeats & Wings" is indeed OUR music. Music from the heart about horses and the animals we love.
For more information, visit www.MaryAnnKennedy.com.
To order CDs:
CDBaby.com or 800-289-6923 (7am to 10pm, California time)
Portions of proceeds will be donated to help stop the abuse in the Tennessee Walking Horse Industry.
Friends of Sound Horses (FOSH)