Horses live in the moment and trust their intuition.
As people, many of us often get lost in our own thoughts, making it a challenge to be fully present to our surroundings and to trust our gut reactions or instincts. This is especially true for folks who have experienced trauma. Horses model for us what it means to live truly in the present and to trust the subtle emotional signals they are receiving from those around them.
Horses mirror back our own emotional responses.
Horses don't judge who we are or where we come from. They simply watch us to see how we show up in the moment and whether or not we feel like someone safe to be around. They then respond to us based on that information they have taken in, which will sometimes resemble our own emotional state or reaction. To work with a horse is to build a relationship based on mutual respect and trust, with clearly defined boundaries and communication.
Potential Benefits of Equine Assisted Therapy
Increase awareness of emotions
Increase in ability to regulate emotions
Forming and understanding your own and others' boundaries
Increase in ability to problem solve
Build trust and empathy for self and others
Build confidence and assertiveness
Build leadership skills
Improve ability to build and maintain relationships
My Journey with Horses
Horses have always been present in my life, though mostly in a peripheral way. Both of my parents were horse people when they met and my dad has made a career as a horse trainer. Horses were such a normal part of my life when I was very young, that I never really appreciated how accessible they were to me and spent most of my adult life far removed from them. However, when I started working as a therapist they re-entered my life simply through circumstance and colleagues championing equine assisted programs. Since 2018, I have had the opportunity to participate and help facilitate equine assisted workshops and personally experience the connection that can happen between a horse and their person. I believe this can be a healing experience on many levels and can be a valuable addition to the therapeutic process.
Jodi Clarke, LPC, "Using Equine Therapy as Mental Health Treatment." https://www.verywellmind.com/equine-therapy-mental-health-treatment-4177932
Juli Lynch, PhD. "Epala: Equine Partnering." http://www.epala.org/