copyright the Chronicle July 5, 2012
by Tena Starr
NEWPORT — It was a sultry Monday afternoon and a thunderstorm was blowing in at Kory Scott’s Bluffside Farm on the Scott Farm Road here. But Amelia Kinkade had her mind on other things that afternoon, specifically Raine and Louis, two of the horses that board at the farm.
Ms. Kinkade claims to have the ability to communicate with animals, and to teach others how to do the same. She’s also an actress, a dancer, and the author of two books: Straight From the Horse’s Mouth: How to Talk to Animals and Get Answers and The Legacy of Miracles: A Celebrated Psychic Teaches You to Talk to Animals.
By Monday, she had been in Orleans County for several days at the invitation of Holly Richardson of Derby, who coordinated a two-day workshop for people interested in learning Ms. Kinkade’s methods and communicating with animals themselves. Ms. Kinkade also worked privately with local animal owners.
She was at Mr. Scott’s farm Monday to work with five horses and their owners. Her workshop students also attended the session.
Dawn Brainard of Holland owns Raine, a ten-year-old registered paint gelding. She led the horse to an outside ring where participants sat around in a semi-circle in the grass.
“We are going to ask him if he is in love with another horse,” Ms. Kinkade said.
But first she instructed the group on how to get in the proper frame of mind, the very key to “hearing” what an animal has to say.
“Your mind goes quiet,” she said. “Be aware of what parts of your body connect to gravity, connect to the Earth. Feel that anchor of light from your spinal column moving all the way up your body. There is no thought, no emotion. No tension.”
Speaking slowly, she urged the group to reach out to the universe in prayer. “Allow me to be your instrument if the idea of generating that feeling of love is foreign to you. Think about that animal you love.
“Now you are going to cease to function as a particle and function as a wave.
“Ask this horse, can you show me what you think, what you feel, what you want, what you need? There’s nothing in your mind except this horse. No past, no future, nothing but you and this horse. We are asking this horse, will you please be generous and be our teacher? Allow your mind to go blank and take the first picture you see.”
Ms. Kinkade, who is originally from Fort Worth, Texas, was not born clairvoyant. She says on her website that she did not develop the ability to communicate with animals until she was in her twenties. Since she herself learned from scratch, she says she’s able to pass on the skill to her students.
Her early career bears no resemblance to her current fame as an animal “psychic.” She graduated from Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan with a degree in modern dance and went on to be a professional jazz dancer and choreographer, performing with Smoky Robinson, Ray Charles, the Four Tops, and other Motown stars in the TV series the Motown Review.
She has also worked as an actress, best known for playing the villain Angela Franklin in the horror movie series Night of the Demons.
In recent years, however, she has traveled around the world giving workshops and talks on how to communicate with animals. She often speaks in Europe and was invited, in 2002, to work with Queen Elizabeth’s household cavalry and Prince Charles’ hunting horses.
The most critical element of her practice, she said, is silence, which can lead to the kind of nonverbal communication that allows people to intuit the animal’s message.
“Learning to quiet your mind and enter the silence is the foundation of every skill I can present to you,” she says on her website. “Only an empty cup can be filled. When we think a thought, it’s our natural tendency to manufacture our next thought with no time in between. We rarely — if ever — listen. Only when our mind is at rest can we receive intuitive impressions from outside.”
On Monday, with the group’s minds presumably at rest, Ms. Kinkade asked several people what they were feeling from Raine.
“Raine, show them your favorite other horse,” Ms. Kinkade said.
“Imagine what would this other horse look like,” she said to the human participants. “I want to see details. What does he like about this horse and is there anything wrong with this horse?”
Some saw a red horse, some a black, and some a white horse. Several mentioned that the horse had a physical problem.
In the end, Ms. Kinkade said her reading was that Raine was anxious about his friend, whose owner was not as kind to him as she thought she was. “He’s worried about how his friend is treated,” she said. “He said this woman hurts his friend.”
The group went on to discuss Raine’s relationship with his owner. The general consensus was that she is sometimes distracted and inconsistent and perhaps did not trust Raine as much as she ought.
“I think he doesn’t like being told what to do and has a mind of his own,” one participant said. Some people laughed.
Ms. Kinkade, however, wasn’t amused.
“I don’t think that’s funny,” she said. “He is a sentient being. If he does what she wants, it’s the biggest compliment in the world. I like animals that have tempers, I like dangerous. I honor his wildness. He’s a man. He might be in a horse barn, but he’s still a man.”
Ms. Brainard wondered if she’s doing something that really bothers her horse.
“What would he like?” Ms. Kinkade said. “What would make this a happier horse and a happier relationship?”
Several people in the group urged Ms. Brainard to strive for consistency but also to relax and have more fun with her horse.
Later, Ms. Brainard said the group and Ms. Kinkade validated what she already thought — that with a busy life she is sometimes distracted and inconsistent with her horse, and she needs to take time, relax, and have fun with the paint gelding.
Louis, a huge, black Percheron-quarterhorse cross owned by Melissa Pettersson, was next to amble into the ring.
“Imagine if he could tell you about his life,” Ms. Kinkade said. “Imagine if he could talk to you about his life, his history. What does he love? What is he proud of? Does he have a job?”
One woman said she got the strong feeling that Louis felt underestimated.
“Thank you,” Ms. Kinkade said. She said “underestimated” was the first word that came to her from Louis, who was telling her that he’d had one hell of a career and might be getting on in years but isn’t ready to be a grandpa. “He said they don’t understand how incredible I am. He claims he was a winner. He’s a role model and a therapist for the other horses. He’s an extraordinary person, an amazing man.
“You go way back,” Ms. Kinkade said to Ms. Pettersson. “You love each other very much. You even look alike.”
Ms. Pettersson said she got Louis when he was six months old. He’s now ten and has spent all his life with her.
“He’s a happy guy, this guy,” Ms. Kinkade said. “He’s just bored. He wants to take you for a crazy ride in the woods.”
Ms. Kinkade says on her website that her true passion is helping animal rescue organizations in Africa create safe havens for white lions, elephants, cheetah, great white sharks, and penguins. She also troubleshoots in sanctuaries that rescue tigers, primates, elephants and other breeds of exotic animals in Thailand and around the world.
She makes no bones about being an advocate for animal rights, and says animals experience the full spectrum of human emotion, perhaps to an even greater extent than people do. “In fact, it has been my experience that their scope is sometimes larger than that of humans… in terms of their spontaneity, loyalty, ferocity, grace, and unprecedented powers of forgiveness….
“What a travesty that we in the twenty-first century have yet to recognize our fellow sentient beings for what they are — thinking, feeling, rational beings whose sanity, sovereignty, and safety is every bit as valuable as ours.”
Ms. Richardson said that people from several states as well as Canada came to Derby to attend Ms. Kinkade’s workshop.
contact Tena Starr at firstname.lastname@example.org