We acknowledge and appreciate the power of horses and their ability to help us tap into our feelings, behaviours and capabilities. Horses are very responsive to human emotion and actions – they respond to what we do and how we feel. They are honest and non judgmental. They know if you mean what you say, and as such challenge people to be authentic.
Horses give immediate direct feedback about any change in behaviour – what works, what doesn’t work, what is helpful and what is not helpful. From this you can learn to change your responses.
Legendary horseman Ray Hunt believed the horse is a thinking, feeling, decision-making animal, and each one has a distinct personality They are social animals who prefer to be with their peers and communicate predominately through non-verbal cues such as body language, energies, and behaviour.
They are non-judgmental and live in the moment. Horses are a prey animal and as a result have a heightened sensitivity to any subtle changes in their environment, including human behaviour. They tend to flee from perceived danger or change. These attributes give important feedback to the treatment team when observing the horse interact with the client and vice versa.
In the documentary Buck (2011), horseman Buck Brannaman says, “Your horse is a mirror to your soul, and sometimes you may not like what you see. Sometimes, you will.” Horses are very responsive to human emotion and actions, reflecting back your feelings, thoughts and intentions, even if you try to hide them. For example, if someone is scared to approach the horse but is acting as though they are not frightened, the horse will feel the conflicting energy within the person, become be very wary and may not allow the person to come near them. When the person acknowledges their fear their whole body language or energy can change, they become more ‘honest’ to the horse and as a result the horse may trust them to come closer.
This feedback is immediate to the client, and can create great metaphors for discussion or activities, which effectively assists people to take responsibility for their emotions, decisions, actions and choices.