Horse whisperers presenting book to Peterborough Toadstool

  • Sharon Wilsie beckons her horse Rocky with body language Photo by Richard Nealy

  • Sharon Wilsie breath communication with Jag Photo by Richard Nealy—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 2/22/2017 11:11:57 PM

“It was like speaking a language I didn’t know,” Gretchen Vogel, an area writer, said. “I was able to convince them, even though my accent was pretty funny I was trying to communicate with them in their language.”

She was talking, of course, about horses.

When she and her husband, lifelong horse people who thought they had a good understanding of the animals, could not control a new white mare a few years back, they found Sharon Wilsie, a horse whisperer, to teach them what she had learned about talking with horses.

“The white mare came right up to her,” Vogel said. “Until then she had been uncatchable.”

Wilsie was an artist from Westminster, Vermont, who mastered communicating with horses by observing her own herd. Vogel is a nonfiction writer living in Surry behind books like “Choices In The Afterlife, What we can do and where we can go after death.”

Naturally, they partnered up for a book to share with horse lovers everywhere the Rosetta Stone of kinetic equine language.

“Horse Speak: the Horse/Human Translation Guide” was picked up by their number one choice publisher, Trafalgar Square Books, less than a week after an unsolicited pitch, and their partnership hit stride.

“Horse Speak” was published in October 2016. It has already sold over 6,000 copies and is on its third printing.

Throughout the winter of 2015, Wilsie joined the Vogels for dinner every Friday night where they would conduct interviews, getting deep into elaborate descriptions of how to understand and replicate horse communications, from a tail wag to a movement of the muzzle and so on.

Vogel would spend the week writing and transcribing and have new questions to start again the next Friday.

“Thought she was making stuff up,” Vogel joked. “Then a ways down the road my horse would do exactly what she was talking about.”

Next week, the pair is bringing its joint book presentation to Peterborough’s Toadstool Bookshop.

“What we always here from horse people is, ‘I didn’t know there was more to learn,’” Vogel said. “There’s something to take away from everybody.”

Wilsie says being able to converse with horses is less about training and more about fostering a relationship. The language is kinetic, meaning it is based on motions and movement. In the case of horses this is related to the muzzle, tail, hooves and other body parts. According to the book, a huge portion of horse to horse conversation is about personal space, as they say things like “back up,” “you can come closer,” and simply “go away.”

“As horse people, some of us know a few of [the signs], but she wanted to detail the movements and the language,” Vogel said. “As I started learning some of the language from her, I knew this was absolutely unique.”

Wilsie and Vogel will be at the Toadstool Saturday, March 4, for about two hours beginning at 11 a.m.


Brandon Latham can be reached at, and followed at @blatham on Twitter.

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

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