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Meet 10-Year Old 'Horse Whisperer'

Caroline Kilian understands the difference between training and educating horses — and students. She's lived it herself.

She is a 10-year-old "horse whisperer" and began writing before she could entirely read. 

Caroline Kilian was only 5 when she began her book about horses. It is now a 163-page, fully-illustrated short story about a land called Estria, a horse named Sun Chaser, and its girl, Rose.  

"Caroline would dictate her story to me, and I would record it for her," said her mother, Beth Kilian. "She has an unusual ability to stick to a project."

Caroline's love of horses developed at an early age. "I've always loved horses since I was very little. They're very loveable," said Caroline. She excitedly adds, "And did you know there is a way to train a horse without using whips?"  

Caroline has been studying and practicing a horse training method called Natural Horsemanship, pioneered by trainer Pat Parrelli. Similar to the compassionate method of horse training developed by the famous horse whisperer Buck Branneman and made famous in the Sundance Film Festival-winning movie, "Buck," it is a method where, instead of force-training the animal, the human teaches in cooperation with the horse.  

"I like it because the horse is smart enough to understand you. You don't have to whip a horse; instead you treat it like a partner," said Caroline.  

She adds, "And did you know that a horse can understand your breathing? You just inhale and exhale to ask it to change its gait. You can ask the horse to change direction just by shifting your weight! I know a horse that use to rear and buck all of the time, but now she is the quietest and happiest horse you could ever meet!"  

A shy, thoughtful and contemplative youth, Caroline understands the difference between being "trained" and being "educated." She has lived through it. 

As a child who does not need to be scolded or publicly shamed to learn, she was unhappy in a traditional school setting. She is now home-schooled by her mother, participates in a community-based natural science program, and works weekly with an art teacher.  

"I like being home-schooled. I like working closely with my teachers. Just like the horses do, Caroline says." 

Caroline is developing her desire to serve her community; she and her family recently organized a fundraiser in cooperation with The Whale, raising hundreds of dollars for a nonprofit therapeutic riding program called Hackney's Hope at the Harris Farm in Middletown. A rescued horse named Sal served as her inspiration.

Caroline is now reaching out to other therapeutic riding programs and will soon be volunteering as a horse groomer at a farm in Durham.  

Her New Year's resolutions include helping her friend to care for her horse, completing her book and possibility getting it published.  

"And my dream is to someday have my own horse," she said.  

In the meantime, she is content to continue to care for horses owned by others who need her help.  

Do you know a special young person? Tell us about him or her! Email cassandra.day@patch.com.

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Alicia Yost January 04, 2012 at 06:14 PM
What a dedicated little girl! Such a great example to other kids :)
John Kilian January 05, 2012 at 02:05 PM
Caroline's Mom and Dad are very grateful for this article. She finished her book on New Year's Day, five years in the making. Don't ask us where she gets it from, she is very much her own person.
Rose Sky January 06, 2012 at 03:33 AM
Sounds fantastic. Parrelli is a wonderful method to use- its used at a lot of great horse farms. (like LBF <3 )
Jane October 19, 2012 at 12:26 PM
Wow! How wonderful!!!!! Natural Horsemanship is awesome!!!!

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