If you, like many of us, find that your personal relationships could be better, your interactions at work aren’t ideal or your internal anger gauge is always spiking, you may have considered engaging the help of a therapist to work through those issues. Have you ever thought about pairing up with a horse in a controlled environment to learn what’s causing your distress? If you have, you may have experienced some fundamental “ah ha” moments when the light bulb clicked on and illuminated the association between your concerns and what your horse-therapist is telling you.
Far from being a big ‘ole four-footed friend, a horse’s communication skills are finely-tuned, reaching our essential beings, if we’re open to the connection. They read our eyes, facial expressions, body positions and actions as easily as we can read a book and, once we learn the language -- a skill we already possess -- we can “hear” what the horse is telling us. We can then respond in a way that is understood clearly by the highly receptive horse and makes perfect sense to us.
What I’m describing here is known as “equine therapy,” a way to provide metaphoric experiences to facilitate our emotional healing.
For example, if you’ve felt undervalued and out of control of your life, you can actively experience your true power relating to both of these troubling occurrences by simply standing near a suitable horse and watching how he reacts to your every movement. You might suddenly raise your hand and witness the horse shy away or back up in an alarmed manner. Conversely, you could stand stock still, make no sudden movements, turn your back on the horse and slowly walk away, only to discover you’re being followed by your new large friend. In this situation, you’ll have seen first-hand that you do, indeed, possess inner power and the ability to be in control. When applied to everyday life, you might meet formerly aggravating experiences with calmness and a clear head.
Equine therapy is used to address other problematic issues, too, such as:
- Effective communication
- Self-worth & personal integrity
- Evaluation & establishment of healthy relationships
- Addiction recovery
- Eating disorder recovery
- The value of trust & respect in relationships
- The dynamics of power in relationships (e.g. bullying vs. equity)
- Assertiveness vs. aggressiveness
- Respect for diversity & individuality
Equine therapy works because it’s based on establishing a deep relationship with a highly intelligent and perceptive non-human -- a horse -- forming the basis of a shared trust that may be lacking in our lives. This kinship is like nothing else we’ll ever experience, and touches our very core as human beings, freeing us up to relate to the world in a healthier way.
You can learn a lot more about equine therapy by searching the Internet, where you’ll also find many ranches or barns offering this wonderful therapeutic technique. No horse experience necessary!
Photo: Valery Vasilyev