“Why horses?” For us at Medicine Horse, it always comes down to relationship and
connection. We work hard to make sure that we are always offering our horses the consistency, stability, and the regular care that they need, but it turns out that they also need us to relate with them in specific ways, too. When we learn what helps them thrive, we find that we thrive, too! What exactly does that mean? Horses teach us how to connect and be in relationship in concrete ways: they teach us to be present, to be aware of our emotions in our body, to be honest and clear, and to have a sense of agency. These are essential to healthy and healing relationships, and horses show us the way! What does this look like?
Horses live in the moment, and need us to be there with them, without an agenda, pressure, or distraction. We all know when someone’s attention isn’t tuned into us, don’t we? Horses feel it and show us when we’re not present. They offer us presence and connection when we learn to be in our bodies and feel calm, and when we receive it, we feel heard and seen in our hearts. This is the space we can connect with horses. They teach us to slow down, breathe, notice what’s taking up our attention and clear our minds to be with them. This makes them feel safe, and they seek connection with us when we can offer it to them.
Often, clients and participants ask if horses can sense their fear, and the answer is yes! They
can sense everything that we are feeling: heart rate, breathing, tension, and dysregulation.
They know before we do what is happening in our emotional and physical world, and they need us to be honest about what’s going on. Horses do well with clarity and honesty because it means they know what to expect, know what is being asked of them, and how to work well with us. We use the skills we learned about how to be present to get more information about ourselves and our emotions, and the more clear and honest we are about what we’re feeling, the better our communication, and the deeper the trust. We learn how to identify what we’re feeling, allow it to be in our bodies, and the horses move into a space where they feel like they can trust us to show up honestly with them.
As we are more aware of our feelings, we can learn how to ask for what we want and need. We use our body language, our breath, and our eyes to communicate our intentions and our requests. The horses learn to follow us as we become more confident we are with what we want. They look to us to be leaders and to make decisions to keep them safe and happy, and as we find out how to do that, we learn that we are able to earn their trust on an even deeper level.
It turns out that the qualities that we need to work with horses are essential to connect with
humans, too! When we practice them with our equine partners, we learn to apply it to our lives. We learn to be more present with ourselves and in our relationships, we learn how to be more aware of our feelings, needs, and wants, and we realize that we can ask, respond, and trust ourselves and others again, which can bring joy back into our daily lives. Thanks to our equine partners, we connect and thrive!