“My very heart leapt with the sound.”
That was how the 19th century novelist and short story writer Nathaniel Hawthorne once described hearing the “brisk and melodious” neigh of a horse.
It is only with those who have experienced one of the greatest treasures this life has to offer – the love for a horse – that Hawthorne’s heart-leaping line truly resonates.
On this Valentine’s Day weekend, as we celebrate romantic affairs of the heart we associate with the Greek god Eros, the hearts of two local horsewomen, Tista Wicklow and Charlotte Chanler, will be leaping with another love – their love for one of God’s greatest creations – equus ferus caballus – the horse.
Wicklow, a graduate of John Burroughs High School, grew up in Burbank’s equestrian Rancho district. A horse lover from birth, much of her childhood and teen years was spent riding the horse trails of Griffith Park, something she and her American Paint Horse, Juno, continue to do to this day.
Now working as a horsemanship mentor, Wicklow said she draws on her deep relationship with Juno, and her lifelong experience with horses, to help others learn how to relate to their horses in a way that fosters mutual trust, respect, connection and joy.
As for Chanler, an East Coast transplant who fell in love with the Rancho five years ago, she works as an animal rescuer, communicator, medium, and master practitioner of Reiki, a Japanese form of alternative medicine that incorporates healing energy. She boards her Azteca horse, Salem, in the Rancho where she met and became close friends with Wicklow whom she recently teamed up with as a business partner.
Their new business venture, Hearthorse, was created for people, who like them, have given their hearts to their horses.
“Hearthorse was born out of a beautiful time we had at an equestrian summit awhile back,” Chanler said. “It was this amazing meeting of horse people who came together to share how much their horses mean to them. It was a weekend event, and as it came to a close we felt we didn’t want the dialogue and beautiful energy it created to end. That was when Tista and I started to look into how we could cultivate a community to keep everyone connected, which resulted in our creation of Hearthorse.”
An online subscription-based outlet for people seeking to better their connection to horses, others, themselves and the world, Hearthorse offers two levels of membership. “The Heard” is a private platform in which community members can access live virtual gatherings, monthly theme programs, workshops, and VIP invitations to live events. Members can also find inspirational, supportive, educational and heartwarming stories that focus on building the bond between humans and horses, and find information on topics related to both the personal and practical realms of equestrian life. The second tier membership, known as “The Box,” includes everything members receive with “The Heard” plus a box of items and products for both the horse and the horse owner that have been carefully selected by Wicklow and Chanler and delivered every other month.
“When we first conceptualized Hearthorse in 2019, we did so knowing that while the equestrian world is broad, it is not one that provides a lot of ways to connect with others,” Wicklow said. “We wanted to create a place where horse lovers could go to find the positive energy we experienced at that summit. We had initially envisioned it as a presentation of live events that we would promote online, but that went out the window quickly due to the pandemic. Instead, it became an online community which offers a safe space in which people can share issues and receive support and encouragement for the diversity of challenges and joys that are a part of each unique horse-human connection. It is also a place in which you can safely form deep friendships.”
Chanler, who has a background as an entrepreneur in the jewelry business, said that in an odd twist of fate, having rolled out Hearthorse during the pandemic fulfilled a need they hadn’t considered when they conceived the business.
“By starting up when we did, we gave people a way to connect and reach out to one another,” she said. “There was a real learning curve – trial by fire – but I believe it has made what we offer a better product in that it has made both of us stronger. It is incredible to get to work with Tista, who is so supportive and gives me such positive energy that we then pass on.”
Wicklow agreed that having established their online community while people have been isolated has proven to be a blessing they never thought it would be.
“Even without a quarantine the equestrian community can be insular, so I’m glad we are able to provide a space where people can interact with heart-minded and like-minded equestrians who love their horses and the lifestyle,” Wicklow said. “We do a Hearthorse podcast that gives people a sense of who we are and our thought process. We talk about ups, downs, celebrations, struggles, challenges – things that all horse lovers experience.”
While the Hearthorse aesthetic and approach is distinctly feminine, both Wicklow and Chanler said they are inclusive of all identities.
“We welcome anyone to become a member, but I think the things we discuss and the items we make available clearly have more of an appeal to women,” Wicklow said. “We really pay a lot of attention to the things we include. We want them to be meaningful products that are sustainable. We offer things we care about and connect with because we believe they will have the greatest benefit to other horse owners. That is what our entire business has been based on, offering the type of products, items, information and support we have found ourselves in need of.”
“That truly is what we are all about,” Chandler chimed in. “As equestrians, we give so much of ourselves to our horses, so Hearthorse is a way for us to be of support to others like us, those who love their horses the way we do. It’s a way to restore one another’s energy.”
For more information on Hearthorse and membership, visit hearthorse.com
David Laurell may be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or (818) 563-1007.