Sure Animals Talk, Once You Break the Ice


“Chadwick likes root beer,” Lydia Hiby said after a thoughtful pause. “Toasted marshmallows are good. And oatmeal cookies, they’re good too.”

What made all this a bit unusual is that Chadwick is a horse.

What made it even more unusual is that Chadwick is the one that told Hiby about his preferences. At least that’s what Hiby says. And a lot of people are willing to pay her $50 an hour for such information.

Hiby is an animal psychic. She says she makes a comfortable living by asking animals questions and telling less gifted people what the animals answer.


“Some people are skeptical,” she admitted the other day.

But plenty of people are believers, enough to keep Hiby busy conversing with horses, dogs, cats, boa constrictors and even a tarantula.

Her encounter with Chadwick occurred recently at Damoor Farms, a bucolic oasis tucked into a narrow canyon in Granada Hills.

Chadwick’s owner, Jackie Hahn, said the show horse has been having some problems.

“I don’t usually believe in this kind of stuff,” Hahn confided to a bystander. “But I thought I’d give it a try.”

Chadwick, a handsome Arabian, was led into a quiet, dimly lit barn. Hiby, a 34-year-old Riverside resident who had driven into Los Angeles for the appointment, walked up to the tethered horse and began stroking his neck.

“Hello, sweetie,” Hiby said softly.

If Hahn had expected Hiby’s salutation to be followed by some sort of audible exchange, she was in for a disappointment.

“What I do is I think of a question,” Hiby explained later. “When I asked him what he liked to eat, I pictured a feeder. All of a sudden, pictures started appearing in my mind, and I could taste things. It’s a form of ESP, I guess.”


During the 10 minutes that followed, Hiby said, she asked Chadwick a variety of questions. But she gave no outward clue of what she was asking and Chadwick simply stood there. Every so often, Hiby would announce one of Chadwick’s answers.

“He thinks it would be fun to go to the beach.

“He wants to be in parades.

“He loves getting a bath.

“He’s over the fact that he’s not just a pet anymore; he understands that he has to work for a living.

“He says he had been having some problems with his front feet.”

Hahn stood anxiously on the sidelines, hands clasped in concern. She confirmed that Chadwick’s front hoofs had been trimmed too short. She and Hiby agreed that the problem probably had been corrected.

“How does he feel now?” Hahn asked.

“He feels fine,” Hiby answered. “And he doesn’t feel that your relationship with your husband interferes with your relationship with him.”

“Is he warm enough at night?”


“Does he like the toys I gave him?”

“Yes, he does.”

“What was his life like when he was a baby?”

“There were lots of kids and animals around and he liked that,” Hiby said. “He says his horse mother didn’t want to let him go. He misses her.”

“They had to bottle-feed him when he was a baby,” Hahn said. “His mother was sick.”

As another horse was brought in to consult with Hiby, Hahn led Chadwick back to his stall.

“My husband thinks this whole thing is insane,” Hahn said. “But I’m not a skeptic anymore. There were the things she told me about his mother. And what she said about the oatmeal cookies. No one else knew I fed him those.”


Chadwick’s trainer, Susan Parks, is a believer too, as are other Los Angeles-area trainers--including Leslie Morse and Betsy Rain, who say psychics such as Hiby have confirmed information about their horses that they never could have known unless they were somehow communicating with the animals.

“She’s been doing my horses for 12 years now,” Parks said. “She communicates with them. She’s told me things there’s no way she could have known otherwise.”

Hiby said she too was skeptical about communicating with animals. At least she was until about 15 years ago, when she was working as a groom in New Jersey and she met Beatrice Lydecker, one of the better-known animal psychics.

“They said she could talk to animals,” Hiby said. “I thought, ‘This is ridiculous.’ But when she started doing some of my horses, she told me one of them would only let me give it a bath if I let it grab the hose in its mouth and wet me first. It was true. I thought, ‘How did she do that?’ ”

Hiby said that when Lydecker saw the rapport Hiby had with the horses she was grooming, Lydecker asked: “Aren’t you aware that you’re talking to them too?”

“I said, ‘No.’

“She said, ‘You’re doing it.’

“A light bulb went off in my head. I realized I could do it. It was a gift, and it changed my life.”


Hiby says that under Lydecker’s tutelage, she refined her techniques and soon she was earning a living as a horse psychic.

“When I talk to racehorses, they’re like 3-year-olds behind the wheel of a Maserati,” she said. “They love to run, but they really don’t know what to do out there. They need the jockeys.”

Have they ever given her a good tip on a race?

“They don’t deal in the future,” she said. “Just the past and the present.”

Hiby said her success with horses led her to other animals. One of them was an eight-foot boa constrictor named David.

“The lady who owned him said he wasn’t eating properly,” Hiby recalled. “When I asked him why, I began to smell paint. It turned out that the lady had painted a rock in his tank, and the fumes were making him feel bad.”

Hiby said that while she and the snake were chatting, she got a mental picture of blue satin sheets. It turned out that David used to sleep on his owner’s bed when she was an undergraduate at Oregon State University.

“He told me that one time he fell out of bed and ended up in the dorm hall,” Hiby said. “He said all these girls were looking at him and screaming, ‘A snake! A snake!’


“That’s when he found out that he was a snake and (that) snakes scare a lot of people,” Hiby said. “Up to then, he had thought he as just another member of the family.”

And then there was Terry the tarantula.

“Terry was the smallest animal I ever talked to, except goldfish, and they didn’t have much to say,” Hiby said. “Terry was part of a science project in a sixth-grade class in Connecticut.

“When he shed, he shed an exact replica of himself. He said he didn’t move so the kids would have a harder time figuring out which one was him. He loved that.

“Terry told me he liked whipped cream, celery, playing with the kids’ pencils and lying around under a sunlamp,” Hiby said. “He was a real sweetheart.”