Ursula Liechti from northeastern Switzerland believes she is one of the only astrologers in the world to produce horoscopes for animals.This content was published on February 23, 2005 - 09:50
The former business manager, who lives in Engelswilen, focuses on relationships between pet owners and their horses, dogs and cats.
Clients often consult the stars for insights into the sporting ability of a horse, or tips on dog training.
Occasionally farmers ask Liechti to cast horoscopes for their cows, to examine their milk production potential after an accident or sickness.
She simply enters the animal’s date and place of birth in a computer programme, which produces the astrological chart.
Interpreting it is a rather more complicated process, and Liechti has been studying psychology to try to perfect her skills in this area.
She insists that you need both talent and training to be a good astrologer.
Liechti lives with her husband, two dogs and two horses on a quiet farm not far from the German border.
She first started consulting the stars for her own pets 15 years ago.
She was amazed at the accuracy of the chart she drew up for her horse, Mister Ginger.
"He was a jumper, very ambitious, and the horoscope reflected his learning behaviour and his sporting performance."
Liechti then started to collect data relating to top performing horses, to find out what qualities distinguished a jumper from a racing horse.
The characters of the riders were also of key importance.
Using horoscopes, she was able to determine whether a certain jockey was well suited to a particular racing horse.
Neigh to sporting career
Since these early beginnings, Liechti has cast hundreds of horoscopes for all types of animals, but horse owners are her most regular customers.
Liechti was recently asked if a young horse was well suited to dressage.
The astrologer pointed out that dressage horses not only need to be athletic, but also malleable, a quality indicated by the presence of the earth element in the animal’s chart.
She believes the fire element is also important, as it shows that the horse is strong willed.
"The animal has to want to participate, otherwise it will not perform," she says.
From the fire and air symbols in this horse’s horoscope, Liechti deduced that it was a brave animal with a strong desire for action, but that it would not be happy with the detailed, fussy work of dressage, so it was sold to a military rider instead.
Karin Brägger, a show jumper from Hütwilen, has three horses.
She was sceptical when she first approached Liechti for a physical analysis of her animals, but she was so impressed with the results that she now calls the astrologist every six months for a new chart.
The horoscopes seemed to show that one of the horses wanted to be given a longer leash, the second needed to be worked harder, and the third, a three-year-old, was not ready to be ridden.
"It really confirmed my own instincts about how I should be handling the horses," Brägger told swissinfo.
When customers seek advice on how to discipline their canines, Liechti says she can see from the stars whether the dogs need a strong hand or a lighter touch.
Yolande Ulmer, a masseuse from Bern, consulted Liechti when she acquired a second, younger Weimeran.
"I wanted to get an idea of how we would all get on with each other," she said.
The indications were that the older dog enjoyed being spurred on by the newcomer, who was much more lively.
"I appreciated the insights Ursula gave me into my own and my dogs’ characters," Ulmer added.
Sometimes customers request guidance from the stars as to a canine’s suitability for use as a mountain rescue or guide dog, or for policing.
The astrologer looks for signs of intelligence and a penchant for learning, obedience, reliability, courage and an ability to work independently.
Cat owners occasionally seek advice when their animals develop psychological problems, but so far, the astrologer has not been asked for guidance concerning rabbits, gerbils or guinea pigs.
The idea of horoscopes for cows, or, in fact, any four-legged beast, may seem outlandish to the uninitiated, but there is clearly a strong demand for the service in Switzerland.
Liechti has appeared on several TV chat shows, talking about her unique skills.
She says her two books have sold well and the phone never stops ringing with new requests for consultations.
Even she could not have predicted success on this scale.
swissinfo, Julie Hunt in Engelswilen
Liechti has published two books in German. Astrology for Horses and their Riders came out in 2002, and Astrology for Dogs in 2004.
Both have had successful print runs.
The astrologer has appeared on TV in the German-speaking world and has customers in Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Sweden and France.
Animal owners looking for guidance from the stars can now turn to Ursula Liechti, who draws up horoscopes for cats, dogs, horses and even cows.
The astrologist told swissinfo how she can spot a horse with a potential for show jumping, and which canines would make good police dogs.
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