What I Learned From A Horse

12 May

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I worked with a horse named Gracie yesterday. This was my first experience with something known as Epona Equestrian Services. Epona explores the healing potential of the horse-human bond.

Who would have thought that a horse would reveal so much about the human heart?

Who would have thought I would go to see a Horse Whisperer? Or think about becoming one?

Horses are sensory based beings. They intuit, perceive, and respond to their environment. They mirror back deeply emotional parts of ourselves, as well as our negative and destructive relational patterns. The horses do everything by instinct and help us start paying better attention to our own. Horses become uncomfortable if we hold our breath or are thinking too much. They help us become more integrated and transcend the linear mind. They help us be less over-reactive and live more from our hearts.

After interacting with each animal at the rescue ranch, I chose Gracie as the horse who I hoped would teach me a bit more about connection. I stood in the ring with her. I didn’t know what to do. Could I walk right up to her? Would she let me? Would she trust me? Would I trust her? Could I touch her or would I need her permission?

At just the slightest bit of tension or cogitation within me, Gracie turned away. When I relaxed and opened my heart, or spoke to her in the soft gentle voice that is mine, she would turn towards me and take steps in my direction. At one point, she came a few feet from me and then stopped and stared. It was most intense communication with an animal I’ve ever experienced. In that moment, she felt more like an other-world-being than a horse. For about 30 seconds, time stopped and she penetrated my soul.

About horses, Linda Kohanov writes: “To horses, emotion is neither good nor bad; it’s simply information. As animals that are preyed upon in nature, it behooves them to know when another herd member is feeling afraid or playful, angry or in pain, depressed or content. Though they ultimately strive for well-being in their relationships, horses don’t consider so-called positive emotions any more important than the negative ones humans routinely try to suppress. To these animals, the ability to intuit fear in a distant herd member and act on this feeling without hesitation is a life saving skill. The innate aptitude for resonating with another being’s trust, joy, or confidence is a life-giving skill. These mindful creatures have developed a magnificent capacity for responding to subtle changes in the arousal of other horses as well as predators, a species-wide talent they easily transfer to interactions with people” (p.105 in The Tao of Equus).

Gracie taught me quite a bit about myself yesterday. She revealed to me how I hesitate at times instead of moving forward with complete conviction and commitment. She also revealed how I sometimes can’t sense my inner knowing and/or negate it. Most important, I recognized yet again, the power of the breath to push us through any sensation and move us into a state of strength, calm, tranquility and love.

Thank you, Gracie. I will be back.

 

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