Sara Fancy is the owner of Silver Horse Retreat in Ranchita, CA. She facilitates Horse Constellations, which are a kind of healing therapy that is based on the Family Constellation teachings of Bert Hellinger. To find out more about her and her work, keep on reading!
*Photography provided by Sara; Shot by Sara & Nicola Bucks.
What drew me to Sara and her work was not just the horses. Something told me that she was going to be different from any of the other healers, therapists, doctors, etc, etc, etc... that I had seen on my ongoing journey of trauma healing. I love horses and animals in general, but there is an air about Sara and the work that she does that speaks to the parts of a person that need to be seen and heard and brought to the light.
To put lightly, the experience I had at Silver Horse Retreat with Sara and her herd was more effective for me than any other therapy session I had ever had. When she says her work is immediate, this is not an exaggeration. I left a different version of me than I was when I arrived at her land and I know the effects of the work will continue moving energy for me for a while to come.
I may eventually share my full experience as I work on putting more and more of my story out here into this space, but I am still processing so much of it and allowing time for integration and transmutation. In the meantime, Sara has very graciously agreed to be interviewed for us and I am so thrilled about this because she has become an instant inspiration and guide for me and I know her Spirit will touch so many of you as well.
An Interview with Sara Fancy of Silver Horse Retreat:
Chloe: How did you come to be doing the work that you are doing today? How long have you been doing this work & has it changed over time?
Sara: I'm originally from the UK. I grew up in the country and moved to London by myself at a young age. I was involved in the post punk movement, playing music and part of an independent record label.
London was quite depressing back then, unemployment was really high. I was eager for something new, so I went to New York in pursuit of a solo music career. I ended up getting involved in fitness, which turned into competitive bodybuilding. I moved to LA to be in the heart of the body building scene in the mid 90’s.
I got out of the BB world in one piece but on the brink of a breakdown. Someone introduced me to meditation and it saved my life. This was when I started focusing on developing the inside instead of the outside. I was really interested in metaphysics and the healing arts. I moved to Topanga, CA and enrolled into the Polarity Healing Arts School. It was great for me as I was able to change and do a lot of healing for myself, plus learn about energy medicine.
In Topanga, I was living next to two horses and their owner told me that horses can make you a good leader. I didn’t know what she was talking about but I was intrigued. I started taking lessons with her and then knew from this point forward I wanted a life which involved horses. I decided I didn’t like the traditional riding methods, like english or western, and learned all I could about relating to horses in a way which didn’t inflict pain on them in order for me to control them.
I learned how horses have a willing spirit and if you can establish a relationship with them, they are happy to be with you.
I was fortunate to get hired at a local equine therapy ranch and ended up managing this place for seven years. It was a great way for me to learn about running a horse business with clients etc. This was necessary for me to start my own horse healing business in 2008, by which time I had adopted six or seven horses of my own. All rescues, mostly PMU (premarin) mares.
Chloe: Did you learn about the constellation work of Bert Hellinger before you worked & lived with horses? How did the two come together for you?
Sara: Before I had horses, I heard about constellation work from a neighbor in Topanga and attended an event. I really didn’t understand it at first, but after the third time it dropped in for me and I was hooked. It was like no other healing art I had encountered. I loved how it worked multidimensionally, affecting so many people; the reps, the descendants, ancestors, and everyone who is afflicted with the same issue. I realized no problem is unique. It’s archetypal. I was so enthused by the work, over the period of several years, I hired constellation facilitators to facilitate constellation events and I invited all my friends. I wanted them to benefit from this work too.
In 2008 my friend, Hazel Williams Carter, a constellation facilitator in LA, suggested I take Francesca Mason Boring’s family constellation training. After a year, I graduated and Hazel suggested we try it out with the horses. We did a constellation with them and it was profound. We both knew it was a positive way of doing therapy with the horses present. And I’ve been doing it ever since. Now, I teach horse constellation trainings and mentorships.
C: How have horses shaped your life? When did you become a horse-person & what is it like to rescue, work & live with your herd?
S: After being introduced to my neighbors horses as mentioned, I knew I wanted a life with horses. When I started the job at the equine therapy ranch, I decided I was ready for a horse and I made a declaration to the universe.
I was in Hawaii at a cranial sacral intensive and I had a dream about a horse. It was a powerful dream. (Since then, everything in the dream has come true). I met Silver two weeks later in the same way I dreamt it happening and I knew he was my horse. At the time he belonged to someone else but pretty soon after we met, he was offered to me. I was scared about being a horse owner as I had little experience, but because of the dream, I knew I was supposed to have him in my life. I realized I had to become a horse person and adapt my life accordingly. I have never looked back. I had Silver 18 years. He just passed last November at 35 years old, which is very old for a horse. He changed everything for me. He was my biggest teacher, friend, business partner and he made me laugh so hard.
In all the time we were together I never rode him except in the beginning, but stopped when I realized he didn’t want to be ridden ‘cause he had so much trauma and it was very dangerous as I had little experience. Despite not being ridden, Silver worked with thousands of children and adults. He was an amazing teacher. He loved people especially children. He was a master at nailing someone’s trauma and helping them release it.
I have never boarded my horses. I wouldn’t, as there are things you have to do to horses in order to board them, which I don’t agree with, like over vaccinating. Plus, it was out of my budget to board. I have always had my horses close by and have always fed and cared for them myself. I love where we are now cause I can hear them and see them from my window.
C: How do you know that a new horse is going to be able to assist the work that you do? Do they go through a process? Are all horses natural born healers and able to aid with constellation work or other energy healing practices?
S: I feel that all horses are born natural healers. It’s what happens to them throughout their life that determines if they are open to being of service as a healer. My horses all had to go through a rehabilitation period before they were ready to do any of the healing work. If a horse is traumatized, they are not going to be of any use and it’s not beneficial to the horse either. I’ve seen people rescue a horse and immediately push the horse into doing ‘therapy’ work. For the horse, its just another form of exploitation, whether its therapy or jumping... There’s a difference between using the horse and having the horse decide themselves if they want to do it.
I always always give my horses a choice. They decide. They are family to me.
C: Now that we know a bit more of your story, can you explain what exactly you do, how the horses play into it & why somebody might come book a session with you?
S: Currently my horses participate in people’s constellations. Like I said, it’s always on their terms. Having the horses present is conducive in moving energy. I find their presence amplifies the process and it happens quickly. When they come to you and nudge you or gently push you, there is no denying a horse’s actions. As in the case when you came and Jackie literally wrapped herself around us... There’s a visceral feeling with horses, it’s enlightening to realize how connected they are to the process, to our deepest inner thoughts and feelings.
It also lightens the energy around very dark experiences. I’ve worked with many people who have lost family members to suicides or murders. The horses raise the frequency in such a way that deep grief is able to move out and dissipate. Their hearts are huge, figuratively and literally. If someone is in the midst of a crisis or wants to change something in their life where they feel very stuck, I feel a session with the horses will definitely move energy and bring clarity.
C: Speaking from my own experience, this is all so true. I came into our session completely not knowing what to expect, but open to anything. The work was immediate. As soon as you stepped into a certain role that pertained to what we were working on for me, Jackie was there. She literally held space and guided things in such a way that I am still just kind of in awe over. What we worked on together could be seen as heavy material... probably something a lot of people don't experience, thankfully. I was very surprised at how the horses made it all feel okay though... just them being there was so supportive and reassuring.What drives you to do this work and specifically to work with people in crisis?
S: I love being outdoors. I always knew I don’t do well in an office or in a controlled environment. I’ve cultivated a lifestyle in which I can feel my best, breathe fresh air, feel tranquil and be in a visually relaxing environment. Living with horses is a dream come true for me. I feel motivated to show others how they too can have a lifestyle with horses. Horses who’ve been labeled useless because they’re not ridable. I’ve adopted horses who were considered old and they have been amazing therapists, like outstanding. Horses have so much to offer us other than performance oriented activities like racing, jumping, dressage, eventing, barrel racing etc.
I am able to go to the darkest places with people. It’s part of my training from the polarity therapy I studied. I’m able to do this but it does take a toll on me if I don’t take care of myself. Last year I nearly burned out. I had to take a month off. But I am really good now and am prepared and available.
This work is not to be taken lightly.
I live really clean, I take very good care of myself with the right nourishment (I’m vegan) and I stopped drinking years ago. I don’t watch TV or read the news. My lifestyle out here in the middle of nowhere really supports me in what I do. I know I have been called to do this work and it gives me an incredible sense of fulfillment when the horses and I are able to help people move out of crisis and have a better life.
C: I think it's so important for teachers of any kind of healing modality to teach about burn out and the importance of self-care and self-preservation. It's a really real thing for energy workers and I think a lot of people who are interested in doing this work don't realize how much you have to do for yourself in order to be of service to others and practice safely. Lifestyle is a huge factor. What is it like living off the grid year round? Did it come naturally to you and was it something you always wanted to do or did you have an adjustment period?
S: Living off grid is something I learned how to do. After four years, I feel I have a better handle on it and am able to live a bit more comfortably than when I first moved here. It gets cold here in the winter, we are in the mountains at 4’000 feet. I have to break the ice on the horses water trough in the morning. And it snows too. I wear the right clothes and am active. In the summer it’s hot. I don’t have AC, so I take siestas and cool off with cold baths to drop my body temperature. I’ve learned how to adapt to the weather.
C: Are horses the only animals that can assist with constellations?
S: No, my dogs participate in the constellations all the time. And I’ve had an experience with a cat before in a constellation. There are also the wild animals. I’ve had constellation experiences with ravens, coyotes, deer, peacocks, doves, butterflies and even a scarab beetle.
C: Do you have any memorable stories that stand out in particular about the horses or sessions?
S: Wow, I have so many! Without going into too much detail to protect the privacy of my clients, there was one time after a ceremony for a client's grandmother, who passed in a very painful and difficult way. Silver picked up a stick (I don’t even know where he got it from) and started drawing circles in the sand. My client and I were watching him and she said "he’s drawing circles," and I said "I know," like it was an everyday occurrence. Of course it wasn’t, I had never seen him do this before. I felt he was letting us know the ceremony was complete and the ancestor was at peace.
C: What would you say to somebody who is thinking about trying a session? Who typically benefits the most from this kind of work?
S: I would say be clear about what you want to work on. Really open yourself up and ask yourself if you are ready for a change. Invest in the process, meaning prepare to come here with a clean system - abstain from alcohol or drugs prior to coming at least for a few days. The more someone is ready and open, the better the results from the session. If someone is skeptical, I would say forget it. We are not here to prove anything. We are here to assist in transformation and healing. Our work can benefit physical ailments like autoimmune diseases, allergies, we’ve even helped people with Tinnitus before. Depression is something we help with a lot. People who are at a crossroads in their life or who are facing a big decision like divorce or moving.
C: I would also note that you mentioned during our session that you do a lot of work with adoptees (because we were talking about my own adoption). This really stuck with me because there are SO many gaps in spiritual & energy work for adoptees. It has to do with the missing links to our spiritual and energetic heritage, which you and I discussed a bit as well. It was really exciting and refreshing to connect with someone who understands this and works with people on tapping into their ancestral heritage, even when those gaps are there.
On a different note, what is your favorite thing to do with the horses?
S: I love dancing with my horses, taking them on walks, teaching them tricks. Right now I can walk my horses on a trail without a rope and can stop and start with them in sync all the way back to the corral. And I love just hanging with them, brushing them, meditating with them. I love photographing them too.
C: Can you talk about the kind rodeo & why you created it?
S: Yes, the kind rodeo was originally a theme for Silver’s 35th birthday party in April of 2019. Every year, I would throw a party for him to celebrate his life. I am not a fan of rodeos. There is nothing about them that I like. I got tired of saying how much I disliked them and decided I needed to create an alternative rodeo. Hence the kind rodeo. It has pagan qualities, such as revering animals by dressing and behaving like them. I wanted to create an event where horses are revered. I had the idea to express like a horse through dancing to music, followed by dancing with a horse. The way I dance with horses is improvised. It’s at liberty, meaning no ropes. This is what I teach too.
There is a huge liberty horsemanship movement now with younger folks, typically women. But there is no platform for them to do it. I wanted to provide this with the kind rodeo. It was so much fun when we did it for Silver’s birthday. Everyone participated. People got to brush the horses and decorate them with feathers. My vision is it becomes a global movement.
C: How did you come to find the land you are on now? There was a moment at the end of our session where I saw/felt what seemed like hundreds of ancestors and spirit guides of the land just come circle around the rocks and landscape... it felt like they were closing the ceremony and assuring me of the work we had just done. Did you know that there are so many guiding energies tied to the land?
S: I found this place with the help of a real estate guy. My friend urged me to contact him. She said just tell him what you want. After two places he showed me in Ranchita, I knew they weren’t right. I realized I could live without electricity but definitely needed a well, which I told the real estate guy. He said 'I have the perfect place' and it was here.
As soon as I stepped on the property I knew it was where we were supposed to live. I feel really safe here. The mountains feel like my guardians. One of my friends feels there is a portal here and the horses guard it. I’m not one for seeing spirit guides like you mentioned, I trust my felt sense though and I do feel supported here. Nothing terrible has happened here, my horses are doing really well as am I. I feel protected.
If anyone wants to learn more about Sara's work with horses there is a lot of info on her website: silverhorseretreat.com
She also has a newsletter about once a month & if anyone wants to subscribe, they can do so from the welcome page on the website or by emailing Sara at email@example.com.
You can also keep up with Sara and the horses on Instagram (@saraafancy) and Youtube.
She will also be hosting a day of horse constellations on March 28th from 10am - 4pm. This is a great opportunity for anyone interested in experiencing this kind of work. Participants will be randomly selected to receive their own constellations & everyone present will experience being in the corral with the horses. If you are interested in registering for this event, there is an early bird pricing until March 15th and you can sign up here.