EQUINE LEADERSHIP a model of peaceful and positive living for all
Fourth edition March 2019
How often do we casually talk of â&#x20AC;&#x153;never looking a gift horse in the mouth" and stop to think of its meaning? Of course, a gift-horse would still bring a smile to our faces today, but I wonder how much more? There was a time when the gift of a horse was one of real and meaningful generosity. This gift could represent real economic benefit, whether ploughing fields or taking goods to market. Often without our horses our livelihoods were compromised. A cross species co-dependency beyond most contemporary imagination. The original phrase derives from checking the teeth as an indication of age. A practice considered poor manners in the context of a gift. But in these easier times, what is this gift? This gift offers the potential reconnection to that age-old relationship. How many of us acknowledge that connection or feel something of that eternal resonance?
Humans have been fascinated and inspired by them for millennia, we see this in ancient cave paintings. In our dreams they retain something of that magic, we might soar through the heavens on a winged Pegasus. We might reach out and touch the unicornâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s healing horn. In our physical interactions they can serve as a portal, a gateway back to a connection to primitive emotional connection, not just to the animal but to nature herself, to that world we are part of, but we too often neglect. Beside the horse, once again we are nature, authentic and connected. Horses bring us home to Gaia. When we stand open and honestly before them, they become bearers of the gift. First though, we must see the horse, recognise the sentient being before us, and acknowledge the giver and the guide. Only then might we be able to explore what the gift brings.
Editor’s note Four years ago, I published the 1st issue of Equine Leadership. Now we are proud to welcome you to Equine Leadership’s 4th Edition (EL4). I started this paragraph with an “I” and moved to “we” because Equine Leadership is now team based, WE based. I offer my utmost appreciation to Becci Godfrey and Pat Hutchinson for their time and effort put into this magazine. They were here for EL3 and now an integral part of bringing EL4 to life. Never underestimate what a small group of women can do! We have evolved much this year. A new website, www.equineleadership.ca is a nesting place for ALL Equine Leadership articles. A Facebook page where we feature articles and author interviews. What will the year ahead hold for EL? This magazine is deeply rooted in our vision that we believe horses, living as close to nature as possible, can provide a model for living that is clear, authentic and heart-based. We aim to share this equine model of peaceful and positive living. Equine Leadership comes from a desire to share the voice of the horse. And that is how this year’s theme came to be. I share this in my article that wraps up the magazine; Changing the Paradigm to Freedom – Living Differently. Suffice to say the horses spoke, we listened. I believe humans are looking for ways to ‘live differently’ and this is the thread that ties all of these articles together. We start with, Connections. We have been connected to horses for millennia. This article delves into that connection and how it is time for us to reconnect with horses and ourselves. We travel from there to the present with a beautiful story, The Pony That Spoke to my Inner Child in which a very special pony offered the author reassurance on a rainy Sunday afternoon. We all need that reassurance and that is just what the next article offers. Horses and Humans Helping Each Other Heal is the story of HorseLink, an organization that offers reassurance for retired horses who continue to have purpose by assisting veterans and others through life altering events. The Horse, The Human and The Cycle of Somatic Presence shows us how the horses bring us into the moment and teach us to be our ‘authentic, embodied selves’. We loop around again to connections in Respectful Connections. Read about research on how humans and horses connect and in turn how humans connect with each other. In Let Fear Lead the Way we read how horses show us our fears and challenge us to let them go. In Be Still and Know we hear how horses are always there for one child affected by trauma and ultimately guide her into strong and resilient adulthood. Freedom is a Feeling brings us into a state of calm and gives us some tips on how to be at home in our bodies. Giving Voice Through Choice shows us how horses help us make healthy choices in life. One with the Herd demonstrates how presence and breathing can bring us into a state of calm. A new awareness that brings positive changes. It is all about those skills we use and those shifts we make to Live Differently. It has been an honour to travel this journey of EL4 thus far. The voice of the horse coming through so many talented authors. It is always my hope that in reading this magazine you have answered a call from the horses. If an article touches your heart, please let the author know. Then visit a herd to hear from them how you might Change Your Paradigm to Freedom and Live Differently. As always, from my heart to yours! Lynda Watson, founder of Equine Leadership.
Table of contents
CONNECTION By: Mary-Joy Johnson
THE PONY THAT SPOKE TO MY INNER CHILD By: Mark Cavill
HORSES AND HUMANS HELP EACH OTHER HEAL By: Julie Puentes
THE HORSE, THE HUMAN AND THE CYCLE OF SOMATIC PRESENCE By: Graeme Green
RESPECTFUL CONNECTIONS 19
By: Clare Thomas Pino
CONTRIBUTOR BIOS 22
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LET FEAR LEAD THE WAY By: Wendy Firmin-Price
BE STILL AND KNOW 32
By: Emma Rourke
FREEDOM IS A FEELING By: Becci Godfrey
GIVING VOICE THROUGH CHOICE 38
By: Nikki Kagan
ONE WITH THE HERD By: Heather Rusk
LIVING DIFFERENTLY 44
CHANGING THE PARADIGM TO FREEDOM By: Lynda Watson
Glossary of Terms EFL – Equine Facilitated Learning EAHAE – European Association of Horse Assisted Education EAL – Equine Assisted Learning FEEL – Facilitated Equine Experiential Learning (Canadian) IFEEL (was IFEAL) – EFHD/Equine Facilitated Human Development and EFPT/ Equine Facilitated Pychotraumatology (UK) PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder March 2019
N.B. Where necessary client names have been changed to protect privacy Page | - 5 -
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CONNECTION By: Mary-Joy Johnson
I have read a lot recently about how new research is showing us that humans benefit from time in nature. We have the revolution in ‘Green Care’ with GP’s ‘prescribing’ time in nature. To me, that’s like saying fish benefit from being in water, or suggesting that we might do well to draw in the occasional lung full of air. Exciting and timely as this ‘revolution’ is, this is not news. In fact, the ‘news’ is that living the way we have, particularly for the last fifty years or so, is not natural and that so much of what ails us is borne from the stress of disconnection from our true identity, within the wider natural world. It speaks to me, that where I seek to offer a species appropriate environment for the horses in my care, I might do well to investigate, psychologically, emotionally, socially and physiologically, the true nature of a species appropriate environment for myself and the clients who choose to work with me, stripping us down to our most basic identity as a species, i.e.
the horse - Equus Caballus and humans – Homo Sapiens. Where do we need to be and how do we need to feel in order to be content, regulated and in touch with ourselves and others in a symbiotic, full and rich way? I wonder how much of our evolution happened through the attunement and co-regulation
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possible from our interactions with other beings, co-sentient neighbours on the plains, forests and mountains. If so, when did we stop and unlearn this, our most ancient trait, to locate and regulate ourselves through our connection with the natural world?
Evolution Humans are the result of millions of years of evolution, as far back as ‘Millennium man’1 (Orrorin Tugenensis), believed to have existed somewhere between 5.8 and 6.1 million years ago, through to Australopithecus Afarensis2 from over 4 million years ago. (A fossilized example of which was discovered and fondly named ‘Lucy’ which is slightly easier to say!). Then on to the original ‘spring chicken’ herself, ‘Mitochondrial Eve’, a mere 200,000 years ago. We have lain in the arch of time, evolving and adapting, being part of the earth, in rhythm with and connected with the wider ecosystem, for millennia. We are old. We are ancient. But horses (Equids) are older still, having evolved from ancestors (Eohippus) that existed some 60 million years ago. When archeologists found the fossils of one of our earliest ancestors, ‘Millennium Man’, one of the ways they confirmed the age of the fossils was by comparing what other mammals were present in the surrounding strata. Fossils of the early ancestors of horses (Equids) were found. This shows that the early ancestors of man were in the same environments as horses (and millions of other species) for many hundreds of thousands of years - evolving alongside, adapting and changing as the landscapes, climate and circumstances dictated.
a natural setting. But we have to relearn these skills, feel into our nervous systems and learn to listen to our bodies with new (old!) ears. It is analogous to blowing cobwebs off an old, much loved car that’s been left in bits at the back of a garage, on the eternal ‘to do’ (but never done) list. Sometimes we turn the key and there is nothing. No sound, no reply. Other times we might do well to stand back and wear goggles as it spits and farts out toxic plumes of accumulated dust and debris. But before long, through the gentle application of time, care and wisdom, we can feel into the low rumble of our connected selves. Our nervous systems offer us the most sublime journey through life. It was never meant to be smooth. We were crafted within a dynamic and shifting landscape with pitfalls, high peaks and lions and tigers and bears (Oh My!). The joy of connection is to get back into the driving seat of our nervous system; that finessed and attuned, safety seeking and safety making device. This connection is to understand our thresholds, triggers, what soothes us and aids connection rather than being dragged behind on a reactionary, hair-raising, white-knuckle ride! Yet homeostasis, even as a potential, is a miracle! The process cannot be rushed or oversimplified. It is a personal, dynamic journey for everyone and can have complexities relating to an individual’s life experiences, resilience and exposure to trauma.
Interestingly, it is believed that we only learned to speak somewhere between 150,000-50,000 years ago. That’s not very long ago at all in the grand scheme of things. It leaves a whole heap of time prior to language, operating instinctually, using our physiology and subsequent behaviour, and our nervous system, as our primary communication tool. This is something we can reconnect with physiologically, whilst in the nonverbal soup of sensory interaction with horses in Page | - 8 -
teams or with family members and friends. We can turn on our ‘engines’, or more simply, just acknowledge that they are there and have always been there, humming, spluttering, connecting us always to the sensorial soup of being alive. There is a myriad of reasons for why someone’s nervous system may not be optimal. Why anxiety or trauma responses, for example, can be prolonged and embedded. Working with a practitioner who has in-depth knowledge and Trauma-Informed professional psychotherapeutic training is recommended for those who have experienced trauma. They too can ignite a new connection to self, to safety and to the world. Horses can be their exquisite, sentient companion as they travel this road.
Here… Now… I find it reassuring that, like in the time of Millennium Man, horses still live alongside us now, albeit in a different, mainly domesticated way. Our domestication and use of horses over thousands of years has compounded the imprint of this deep connection in our psyches. But remember, our few thousand years of connection with domesticated horses is perhaps a mere blink of an eye in terms of our ancestral connection with them as co-sentient, co-wild beings. We can hold this quality of connection in a light, curious and fun way when with horses: by just noticing where we plant our feet when we stand, what moves as we brush by the trees or hedgerows, how the light and air touches our skin, seeing which birds are moving above and watching them land, perch and take off again. Thus connected we can take in the wholeness of the moment, quietly mulling on where we and the horses fit, right now, in our current ecosystem. Through Equine Facilitated interventions we can create safe spaces to experiment with what connection feels like for ourselves; in groups, March 2019
For those who are experiencing this lost connection - this trauma, particularly in light of the larger political global confusion and climate change challenges we face, at a time when so many have lost trust and connection with themselves and the natural world, horses are the reminder, the ‘evidence’, that you and I exist and have agency. They see you and quietly confirm that your connection has NOT been lost. You may have work to do, but you are here. You really ARE here, with them. Connected. Now. This is the gift of time spent with horses in a natural setting*. The invitation to step back home, where we most feel, know, suspect, or are intrigued to find out, who we truly are - where there is no effort for connection because here, connection is a way of life. Beyond proximity, connection is a quality of presence, regulation and homeostasis. It is a quality of freedom even, as the quiet optimization of our internal world creates new opportunities, choices and outcomes. We, like horses, have been purpose built, over millennia, to live in connection and we need it now, perhaps more than ever. ~*~
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* Authorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s note: I am always mindful to contextualise and consider the compromised environment within which I may be asking my horses to interact with us. In so doing I have been led on my own journey of healing and remembering our profound connection with the natural world. I owe them my deepest gratitude and by way of honouring that I commit to improving the understanding of horsesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; innate needs as large, grazing, herd living, sentient mammals beyond equestrianism, to a paradigm of species appropriate, equine-centric lifestyle and management which promotes liberty and body sovereignty.
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References: 1. Brigitte Senut, Martin Pickford, Dominique Gommery, Pierre Mein, Kiptalam Cheboi, Yves Coppens https://web.archive.org/web/20140226104334/http://ww w2.ku.edu/~lba/courses/articles/ORRORIN.pdf 2. Johanson, Donald; Edey, Maitland (1981), Lucy, the Beginnings of Humankind, St Albans: Granada, ISBN 0-58608437-1 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Johanson
THE PONY THAT SPOKE TO MY INNER CHILD By: Mark Cavill
I have been very interested in Carl Jung’s theories regarding the unconscious and the ‘inner child’ for many years. A decade of discussion with Jungian psychotherapy professionals has helped me explore these ideas within a safe space. I was well aware therefore that the idea of a ‘Women’s Retreat’ would trigger my ‘vulnerable inner child’s’ fear of the 'feminine' and that my complex around it would be ‘alive and well’ in such an environment. I am normally very careful to avoid anything that might trigger my childhood traumas and the idea of such a retreat initially filled me with some nervousness! I have grappled with panic and anxiety for a number of years; it's often a daily challenge and
nothing specific can trigger it. Seeing friends, a trip to the shop, going to work, even seeing family seems to set it off. So, when moments of peace arrive, when inner stillness is briefly achieved even just for a short time, I find it significant and memorable. I suppose that we could call the panic and the fearful flashbacks a form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder; I don't know. This acronym seems more suited to those who have suffered through war. I don't feel comfortable with the term but perhaps the impact of my own history does share most of the necessary post traumatic symptoms and I am currently having EMDR^ therapy to help heal the PTSD.
^ Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing: https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/therapy-types/eyemovement-desensitization-and-reprocessing-therapy
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I certainly wasn't expecting any epiphanies this wet morning in the Cotswolds as I had merely agreed to help my amazing wife with her new horse-related 'Women's Retreats', based on engagement with the natural and equine worlds. Fortunately, I was just a helper that day, happy to make the tea, liaise with catering and build a fire for a ceremony. And as my own inner stuff dictates, as long as no one talked to me very much and I was given my much needed 'space to myself', I could be useful in some way! My most memorable experience occurred as I walked past a line of four clever ponies who had taken shelter in the barn; they were busy observing the actions of the humans out in the fields before them. As I walked past, something inside me made me stop and turn towards the horses. Something, somewhere, had called to me. I quickly found myself joining the line of ponies staring out into the rain under the shelter of the barn.
Peaceful, tranquil and easy Just standing with them was peaceful, tranquil and easy. Taking a break from the tea and coffee making, I was aware of the steady rain, pummelling the iron roof of the shelter I was standing under, as I attempted to take in the vastness of the wet fields and dark skies in front of me. There was nothing but grass and wet clouds in my view and the emptiness felt vast and consuming. Predictably, the sharp edges of panic played around the borders of my chest; it was a familiar feeling and one that is entrenched in distant childhood. It had been triggered by something, a thought or a memory but I wanted to stay present in this very beautiful, natural scene in front of me; so I tried to shake it off. I turned my head and the row of ponies stood on guard behind me about ten yards away. They too seemed to stare into the rainy distance and it felt good to join them. A nudge on my leg was unexpected, and when I looked down, I saw that one of the ponies had joined me.
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This strange creature was a beautiful blue-eyed pony called Bibi and we stood closely together. She didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t move away from me as I stroked her back, and I genuinely felt that she had come up to say hello. Someone later mentioned that horses can act as a reflection to how we are feeling, and I certainly felt that Bibi had very deliberately decided to share my space that morning in a very empathetic way. It was peaceful, authentic and natural, and I felt close to the natural world in this moment; much more than I felt I ever could. I felt my panic and I felt that the pony felt it too. I felt her say that it would all be OK and that was that. I can't say any more about it. A nice day with rain, tea, mud and horses was had by all. The experience has stayed with me since then. I'm not one for seeing too much into this or indeed believing that any of this psychological healing really does take place. However, as I write, I realise that this opinion comes from somewhere in the past and is someone else's view. Surely it cannot be coincidence that horses have played and continue to play such an important role in mental health and our search for inner peace or individuation; call it what you will? The school I work at sends vulnerable school pupils to spend the week with horses, such is the positive, healing experience that these animals offer. Therefore, a pony sensing my own inner stuff and coming up to reassure me on such a grey day feels OK and not that mad! In a way it seems to validate all the inner work that I have previously done and seems to encapsulate what it's all really about. I'm convinced that this very personal experience adds to my ongoing engagement with the internal world, over and above that offered by the external. It appears that our unconscious world is very connected with nature and that horses in particular can sense what is happening deep within ourselves. ~*~
HORSES AND HUMANS HELP EACH OTHER HEAL By: Julie Puentes
In the fall of 2011, a 34,000-acre inferno erupted just a few miles from our farm. For a week we were helpless, unable to reach our farm and not knowing what, if anything, would still be standing or how our herd of cows would survive. When we could finally access our farm, it seemed untouched, while our neighborâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s place was scorched. At the end of our inspection our jaws dropped as we realized the back corner of our property was burned, trees were black, ash was everywhere right up to the edge of a fire line constructed by firefighters we would never know. And then, two months later, due to a significant injury, I had to retire my horse, who was in the prime of his life. I had raised him from a baby. The direction of my life changed dramatically within the span of those two months.
My husband and I felt blessed that our farm was spared, but the devastation and the transition and care of my beloved horse weighed on us. I felt compelled to act on a dream I had, and what emerged was beyond my wildest imagination. What emerged is my non-profit, HorseLink, based near Austin, Texas. Growing up riding competitively, I watched horses generously give their all throughout their careers for many years until they could not do Page | - 13 -
the job anymore. At some point, they could not hold up to the physical demands of their athletic careers. Their owners were often in a dilemma, wanting to do right by their horses and provide good homes, while struggling to afford it or find people who would take of a horse who could not be ridden. The options were limited. Some people were lucky and found great solutions, many did not. Hard choices had to be made and horses seemed to disappear into the ether, no one quite sure what ended up happening to them. It gnawed at me throughout my whole life and then, it happened to me. My horse’s career was over at age fourteen.
horse Padi. Padi had eventually landed in a loving home and that owner retired him with us. But it had been a long, hard life for him before that and, while sweet and gentle, he was also often aloof, in protective mode and sometimes full of anxiety, especially when he came into the round pen to work with someone.
In the spring of 2012, HorseLink was born, becoming a full-fledged non-profit in 2014. It is a dual-mission non-profit that provides a loving home and continued purpose for retired competition horses. These horses, used to high levels of human interaction while performing a job, transition to arguably the most important job of their lives: helping people find courage, hope, and skills to move forward after a lifealtering event or challenge.
Joe went in and started to walk back and forth with Padi matching him step for step, but always letting Padi decide where to walk, when to turn. He just followed him. He also spoke to him and reassured him the entire time. He talked about his own struggle with anger, uncertainty, pressure, and anxiety. He told Padi he understood and would just be there with him, however he was.
In a round pen, Padi would pace endlessly and almost seem to dissociate at times, showing no interest in the people in his vicinity. I watched attentively with my co-facilitators as Joe went into the pen with Padi. Would he be able to get Padi’s attention or make any connection at all?
Profound healing I knew the horses would be incredible and safe for people to work with, and I knew the profound healing that veterans, trauma and cancer survivors, and many others would experience. I also hoped that responsible horse owners who wanted the best for their horses would take a chance on us and trust our new affordable, yet sustainable option for their horses’ retirement (we ask previous owners to pay a tax-deductible yearly amount towards the care of their horse). What I didn’t fully anticipate was the mutual healing that would occur between our clients and our horses and the added joy it would bring to HorseLink. One of the first times I witnessed this mutual healing was during one of the veteran’s programs. One veteran, Joe, who was dealing with severe anger issues related to his PTSD, chose to work with our Page | - 14 -
Joe: “I learned I do have patience and I can project my energy in a positive way. It is a great way to connect with yourself.” March 2018
After about ten minutes, Padi suddenly stopped. He turned his head and looked directly at Joe who then slowly approached him. He started petting him and Padi nuzzled closer. They stayed this way for a few minutes until they both exhaled, and the hardness and strain in Joe’s face dissipated. He dropped his shoulders and he smiled still telling Padi he understood his feelings. He relayed that in the experience he learned he didn’t have to carry around the anger, he could choose to let it go. It was wonderful. However, the gift didn’t stop there. The next time Padi came into the round pen to work with someone, he did not pace. He was present, engaged, loving, and calm. He has been that way ever since. Joe has also seen great change in his life, going back to school and starting a new career.
Mutual healing Over the years, we have witnessed this mutual healing phenomena with many of our horses. One woman, Alicia, chose to work with a new horse, Pilgrim, who was not integrating with the herd. He wasn’t being accepted and did not make much of an attempt to be part of the herd. During a grooming session with this horse, the woman tearfully confessed to feeling like an outsider and that she felt she didn’t fit in with people. How fitting, I mused, that she was sharing this experience with a horse who would have said the same thing to her if he could talk. When she made this confession, the connection that happened between her and Pilgrim was something to behold. She stood for several minutes with her hand on his lowered head and the resonance was palpable. Shortly after that
session, the horse began to engage with the herd more and slowly built up his confidence to integrate. The herd accepted him, and he is now fully a part of them. Alicia left the workshop and began to advertise her own class offerings and experiment with ways to engage with new clients. She wrote to us after her day with Pilgrim, “What struck me most about my experience is how comfortably led I felt with the horse. I sensed authenticity and clarity, and it was easy to trust.” On the last of a three-day veteran’s program last week, we had each veteran take a rock from the property and write a word on it that would help them remember what they learned or gained from their time with the horses. A man we had seen transform before our eyes over the course of the program, wrote the word “worthy” on his rock.
“That word, worthy, shook me to my core.” This journey has not always been easy, and I admit to the times I was terrified HorseLink wouldn’t make it. Would I have the stamina or grit to keep going? Now, I can honestly say it has been the most rewarding and gratifying privilege of my life. I realized as I watched this veteran grin and hold up the rock with the word worthy on it that it captured perfectly what HorseLink has become. It is a place where humans and horses metaphorically rise from the ashes and realize their intrinsic value. Here, people and horses accept and embrace their true worth based in their authentic selves and begin to awaken to the gifts they bring to the world by just being here. ~*~
“What struck me most about my experience is how comfortably led I felt with the horse. I sensed authenticity and clarity, and it was easy to trust.” March 2019
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THE HORSE, THE HUMAN AND THE CYCLE OF SOMATIC PRESENCE By: Graeme Green
I would like to begin with a haiku.
I am no one. And .... In nothingness I become .... Everything at once In its succinctness the haiku form has to express wisdom far beyond its few words. And it does. This verse is an invitation to the present. At first it is an act of silent respect. Further, an ego release which gives us permission to step out of our mental narrative; to open to our wider physical sensation and consciousness; to recognise our whole selves. And so, it is when we step into the presence of horses.
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Often, I refer to “living within the learning machine”. Natural learning is much more holistic or embodied than academic study. We gain physical and sensual information with each experience. This engages the whole being, the somatic, from the Greek soma meaning “body”. Recognising the full experiential expands our awareness; a richer embodied learning. Somatic presence positions us within the moment, recognising sensations, and arising habitual emotions or behaviours, those that normally sit beyond consciousness.
Horses are masters of somatic presence. They stand beside us, a genuine congruence of mind and body. In our connections with them we must find something of that authenticity within ourselves if we are to be effective. With horses there is a direct and intuitive understanding which is aware of the answers while we are still struggling to construct the questions. That is presence.
Freed from the tyranny of words Even when we are aware of that deeper consciousness, the complete felt senses still defy effective expression. James’s body had changed subtly, and his face portrayed something ongoing. “It does not feel appropriate to ask you about that experience “I said, “unless you really wish to share something”. “Inside, I feel like a snow globe” he replied, but left it there. We spent a little more time together; once we were comfortable, we went our different directions. Five days later I had the most incredible moving e-mail. His words spoke of a profound shift around a deep personal challenge; an overcoming of his fear of the horse, which quickly grew into trust, quickly extending to fellow delegates and me. This shift represented what he most needed, a trust which facilitated an honest expression of vulnerability and a new willingness to face and accept that. Throughout we did not discuss any detail of his challenge. We did not need a narrative just the space. Alongside the horse we did no more than invite James to connect with himself and the idea of a change he needed. And to then embody that. The horse very gently guided him through the process, helping him to recognise, to release, and to shift.
James concluded: “since the session my life has felt incredible.... I've shared me with others, I’m at peace, life is more simple now”. I question whether the awareness would have settled so meaningfully if we had to fix that experience into words. Forcing the snow in the globe to ground rather than leaving it to settle in its own pattern.
Step into the life you choose Distraction is never far away; it arises within us as well as from without – particularly in this digital age. Too easily we disconnect from the present and our intentions and the somatic being is lost to some machination of the mind. The problem is the potential all-consuming nature of distraction. Do we observe and move on, or are we taken over and redirected? Metaphorically, how often do we get on the train that pulls into the platform before we have checked its destination? When this happens, our bodies tell the stories, changes in focus or shifts in state all speak somatically, a silent or subtle shift in shape, posture or positioning of the body. Even if we don’t pick it up, the horses do. As a facilitator we need to see this subtle reaction. If we do, we might suggest a simple physical shift – walk like the Prime Minister, for example. This can be enough to create clarity of intention, enough for the horse to get the message. Our physicality can influence our state of mind. In doing so, it influences our social interactions, our performance, our emotions and the list goes on. Developing real somatic awareness is the foundation. Mythologist, writer and lecturer Joseph Campbell (1959) positions us as the hero within our own journey, but the challenge here is to drop the tendency to narrate. Just be the hero. When we step into the person we are truly comfortable with, we do so with completeness; mind, body and spirit. We become the person Page | - 17 -
that we need to be, not the person that we believe is expected of us.
beside horses, not goal coaching, but a reconnection to the authentic embodied self.
The Cycle of Somatic Presence
Author of Presence, Amy Cuddy, describes her topic in a YouTube interview as “the state of being attuned to and able to express your true self. To be able to deliver your true qualities under pressure.” By working within a cycle of somatic presence we facilitate this expression and performance.
There is a practice that I call The Cycle of Somatic Presence, see Figure 1. That cycle is constantly calibrating the connection between social interactions, situations that arise, and ourselves. This cycle of awareness-becoming-channelling is how we maintain the subtle social dance that is everyday life. It is how horses are with each other, and it is how we are when we work effectively with a horse, checking-in and subtly shifting with the need of the moment. This is what I nurture in humans
When we are with horses – in an arena or pasture – we are invited to become the appropriate person for the situation, to understand and embody what that moment demands. In so doing we model and experience embodied difference. Ours is then a simple choice, to keep it, or to calibrate. Moment by moment there is a choice. ~*~
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RESPECTFUL CONNECTION By: Clare Thomas-Pino
As I slide open the barn doors, almost daily I hear that wonderful familiar sound; my filly whinnying to me as she trots across the field to the gate, her gaze focused upon me, eager to connect. My heart leaps, and I feel blessed to have a respectful connection with such a majestic and often quite wild creature. Crescent Moon Humans frequently interact with other living beings with little regard for the non-verbal responses that those they are interacting with are displaying. In the presence of horses, it can be easier to see the impact of our interactions, as they are so large, and at the same time so very sensitive to changes in their environment, and their responses are relatively easy to see, compared to those of humans. In a desire to learn more about how equinehuman interaction could potentially benefit humans, and still be a positive experience for the horses, my undergraduate students and I completed several small-scale research studies. We looked at the early interactions between horses and human, what I call greetings. As seen in the photograph (See next page), in many of these studies the â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;greetingâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; occurs through an opening in the stall and the horse is free to choose how, when, or if they interact with the human participant. Many of our human
participants considered a successful greeting with the horses one in which they make physical connection, the horse consenting to their touch.
Horses interact uniquely During these studies we noticed each horse had a unique way of interacting with people, a give and take specific to that individual horse, with each humanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s behavior at these give and take moments predicting the likelihood the horse would allow themselves to be touched.
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Several small-scale studies were done looking into early interactions between horses and humans Surprising to many of the students, those participants who were successful at achieving the opportunity for touch were those who provided a physical and ‘gaze’ space (similar to the human idea of personal space) for the horses to move away and come back. This was opposed to those who stayed in one place, maintaining a specific posture or gaze focused upon the horse. It appeared the ability to show mutual respect through reflexivity, with the key being awareness of the other beings need for space or readiness for connection, was not something each person possessed.
Respectful connection I have entitled this article Respectful Connection as I believe this is what we humans need in our lives, and something we can learn through our interactions with horses (or other animals) then bring into our interactions with humans to enrich all of our lives. I feel respectful connections are formed by building trust through positive
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mutually respectful interactions and can form the building blocks to develop deep connections with other living beings. Working with horses provides the opportunity to self-correct our behaviors in real time, with the receipt of visible and tactile responses from the horses. This allows the humans to respectfully connect and enjoy the immense feeling of wholeness through truly being present and in relationship with another living being. The basis for respectful connections is awareness: of ourselves, our fears and our potential and our ability to trust ourselves and others. What we think and feel we transmit, and the horse responds to subtle cues we are displaying and changes their behavior as a consequence. Growing up my mother had a golden barn rule. I was never allowed to work with my pony if I was upset, angry or in a ‘mood’. Rather, she said I was to muck out a stall, remove manure from the field, clean tack, or do something that did not involve directly
interacting with an equine. My mother wanted to ensure I was not making physical contact with the horses while I was not fully present in the interaction with them. Using our awareness of self, we then build mutual respect and trust with the horses (and eventually with other humans). Working with horses involves us letting go of our illusion of control. We need to be fully present, place our trust in the horse, allow and honor their trust in us, and when we are worthy of their trust in us we are provided with dependable, safe and positive interactions. Therefore, to achieve respectful connection, we must be wholeheartedly present, aware of our energy, the energy in the situation, our feelings
in the moment, and our impact on other living beings in our presence. It is with this awareness (and its feeling within our being), and the resultant connections we are able to achieve with the equines (and their resultant feeling), which may allow us to take what we have learned in our experience of respectful connection with the horse into the wider world. Just as in human-human connection, we balance our desire to connect in the experience with the horse, with respect for the equine and their desire for connection, quiet and solitude, and social interaction with other living beings other than themselves. In that human-equine relationship we patiently look forward to feelings of harmony, peace, and truly respectful connections. ~*~ .
We need to be fully present, place our trust in the horse, allow and honor their trust in us
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Clare Thomas Clare has a background in Psychology & Animal Behavior. She works for the University of Maine System and Husson University teaching, researching and mentoring students in psychology, counseling, animal behavior, eco-therapies, AAAT (Animal Assisted Activities and Therapies) and Anthrozoology. In addition to her onsite teaching (in Orono and Bangor, Maine, USA) Clare has offered online graduate level courses in Animal Assisted Activities and Therapies and Anthrozoology through Univeristy of Southern Maine since Fall 2018. Clare is a former board member for EFMHA (Equine Facilitated Mental Health Association – Now PATH International) and an HHRF (Horses and Humans Research Foundation) scientific advisor. Clare lives with her family and animals on a lovely 70-acre diversified farm just outside of Bangor, Maine where she strongly supports organic farming and gardening as well as grass-fed humane livestock production. Clare has been around equines for more than 4 decades and sees the immense value in being truly and respectfully present with equines and nature. Clare can be contacted at: email@example.com
Emma Rourke Emma is a confidence coach and founder of Hephzibah Horses. In 2017 she qualified as an IFEAL accredited Equine Facilitator of Human Development. Her career has been interesting and varied, firstly as a riding instructor and competition rider, then a model and baby ballet teacher, and has now gone full circle back to her passion, horses. Growing up with alcoholism, Emma spent many years learning how to reframe negative mind-sets and overcome self-sabotaging behaviour. Her generous husband John of 30 years and their 3 wonderful children are very supportive of her vision for people who feel broken hearted. Horses were her emotional safe place, where she could just be herself, and her heart’s wish is to help others with the horses as partners to heal, transform and feel hope again. Emma believes that names are important, what we have been called or what we call ourselves determines our identity. Hephzibah originates from the book of Isaiah and means: new name, new identity. Emma’s hope for those who feel that life is just too hard and heavy is that they will experience help with the horses. That they will hear the still, small voice, who is love, calling them by a new name with plans to take care of them and not to abandon them, plans to give them the future they hope for. Contact details: Emma Rourke IFEAL Safe Professional, MNCP. Telephone: 07769-682320. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: https://hephzibahuk.com/
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Graeme Green Graeme is firmly committed to the benefits that meditation brings to people, he runs mindfulness programmes for a UK based mental health charity, as well as supporting its development in the workplace and for those around animals. He runs workshops and retreats around the UK and Europe, introducing people to the beneficial experience and insight to be gained through mediation â&#x20AC;&#x201C; sometimes with, sometimes without horses. Those workshops are often supported by traditional drum work. For 2019 Graeme is very excited to be building a new partnership with Athena (www.athenaherd.co.uk) in Kent, in the South East of England. A place where there is a real opportunity to develop and build on the horse focused foundation of his work. Graeme has a broad collection of skills, he is Reiki drum master, an animal/human reiki practitioner and a qualified equine energy healer. He also works as a Business coach and trainer and an NLP practitioner. He is a director of Equilibrium for Life CIC which supports therapeutic interventions for vulnerable groups in the North Kent area. He also delivers Equine Assisted Action Learning programmes for local business teams. To find out more about Graeme and his work visit the Mindful Horseâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s website or his CIC. www.themindfulhorse.org
Heather Rusk Heather is a Certified Equi-Bow Practitioner (equine bodywork) based in Southern Georgian Bay, Ontario, Canada. She has a passion for supporting and exploring new protocols for the rehabilitation of conditions that reduce the wellbeing of horses. A large portion of her time is spent working with horses that have been discarded because of acute physical conditions. She facilitates Mind Body / Consciousness Based Healing support groups and one-on-one sessions with horse and human. She also mentors equine professionals to develop perception and communication skills that are clear and accurate. Heather spends her personal time developing relationship and communication with the horses and other animals she knows, listening to what they have to say and integrating that into the vision of the world she wants to create. Email: email@example.com Websites: Heatherrusk.com Newearthequine.com
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Julie Puentes Working in what she calls â&#x20AC;&#x153;her ideal careerâ&#x20AC;?, Julie is devoted to partnering with clients to develop their leadership abilities and use them effectively in their jobs, communities, and lives. Committed to the principles of self-awareness and emotional intelligence, she helps people see and feel their impact on others and act with clear intention and purpose. Julie has combined her life-long passion for horses with her knowledge of psychology and leadership to bring unique and pioneering approaches to learning and development in her coaching and leadership work. In addition, she is the Founder of HorseLink, a non-profit horse sanctuary offering equine-assisted programs to veterans and other populations navigating difficult life challenges. She is an approved facilitator in Equine-Assisted Leadership, has a Master of Science degree in Organizational Leadership and Ethics from St. Edwardâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s University, and Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from the University of Texas. HorseLink email: firstname.lastname@example.org phone: 512-360-8499 website: thehorselink.org facebook: facebook.com/AustinHorseLink/ instagram: thehorselink
Mark Cavill Mark was born in Weymouth, Dorset in 1971 and apart from a brief stay in London for University and Newcastle when he was younger, he has remained in Weymouth most of his life. He has a 17-year-old daughter and a wife who adores horses and he likes spending time with both of them. Mark has been employed in education since 1996, after a brief spell working in shops and hotels in his twenties. After that he trained as an English teacher and got a job working as a cover or stand in teacher at the school he attended as a child. He enjoyed teaching lessons in that role, ranging from Maths to Sport and it was good on the job training for a young, inexperienced teacher. After a year of that, Mark was offered a permanent contract as an English teacher at the same school. Just as this began, he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma which took the whole year to fix with Chemo and Radio therapy. Returning to school, he worked his way up as Deputy in the English Department, gained the role of an Advanced Skills Teacher, then Assistant Principal and he is now currently Acting Principal. Mark thoroughly enjoys working with and developing the staff there and seeing the progress young people can make. He is still an English teacher though and that means he gets to teach lessons and to interact with the students as much as possible; which is great. Contact Mark here: email@example.com
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Mary Joy Mary-Joy Johnson is trained in the IFEEL Method* of Equine Facilitated Human Development and Equine Facilitated Psychotraumatology and works with the IFEEL Centre*, The Dare To Live Trust and runs a small private practice, Equine Centre For Change, in East Sussex, UK. She is passionate about Trauma Informed practice for all models of EFL, in recognition of the profoundly powerful nature of this field, emotionally, psychologically and physiologically and its potential effects on clients, our equine partners and facilitators. As well as being guardian to 4 wonderful horses she is also a mum of 3 beautiful (human) bubs (who are old enough now to not want to be called ‘bubs’, but they will ever be thus!) Mary-Joy is a birth and adoptive mum and advocates for better, more effective, Trauma-Informed statutory services to support families with children from difficult beginnings. In her private practice she is now focusing on supporting adopters and foster carers to care for and nurture themselves, so they can become the well regulated, congruent, empathic and attuned caregivers their children need *IFEEL Centre is the new name for IFEAL Qualifications from Spring 2019 www.IFEELcentre.com www.daretolive.org.uk www.equinecentreforchange.com
Nikki Kagan Nikki Kagan is founder of HorseSense International, an organization devoted to cultivating and strengthening leadership consciousness. In her 30 years as corporate facilitator and coach, she has found that the most effective leaders are those who can look deep inside for their own “truths” and courageously express them to colleagues, clients and employees. Nikki’s path to leadership is through horses. Horses personify the behaviors of successful leaders and in their presence, we seem drawn to be our best selves. Learning leadership from horses has served her well as clients openly appreciate her sensitive, direct and honest approach to even the most difficult issues. As a certified Masterson Method, Reiki and Acupressure practitioner, she spends her free time helping horses release tension and create greater ease of movement. She recently published “Instinctive Leadership” which reveals the strong connection between her two passions— leadership and horses. A certified focus group moderator, facilitator and creative planner, Nikki holds certifications from the Burke Research Institute, Cincinnati, Ohio, the McNellis Group, and "The Great Facilitation Training Program." She is also certified in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) and has a B.A. and an M.B.A. in Marketing and Management. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.horsesense.co.il
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Wendy Price Wendy Firmin-Price, proprietor of the HEART centre UK, transforms people’s lives, relationships and confidence levels through the Healing Power of Horses. Through sharing successful spiritual principles, the importance of self-love and spending time with her special herd of horses, Wendy transports you on a journey of Self-Discovery with life-changing results to all your relationships. As a pioneer of Holistic Riding and Equine Assisted Therapy (30yrs), Wendy helped many people overcome their fear and increase their confidence. Her powerful work enables children, families and adults to transform even the most difficult and seemingly hopeless situations with the help of the horses. Wendy’s flagship courses, the HEART fundamentals and HEART Equine Assisted Coach training programme, are hugely transformative and sought after by those wishing to upgrade their life and help others with the healing power of horses. Wendy’s HEART at Work corporate equine assisted training programme helps businesses reduce stresses and conflicts within, increasing their success and harmonious working conditions. Her highly acclaimed work has been featured on BBC Radio 4s ALL in the Mind, Daily Mail and magazines. Her qualifications include, Metaphysical Practitioner (Supervisor) and H.E.A.R.T equine assisted therapist, spiritual mentor, international speaker and award-winning author of The HEART of Stable Relationships. Wendy’s passion for helping people and horses comes through in her unique style of warmth, wit and Wendyisms and wonderful herd! www.theheartcentreuk.com www.theholistichorseandponycentre.com email@example.com
Becci Godfrey Becci is a passionate horsewoman since birth. Always praised for her discipline, consideration to others and ability to read a situation, she was forced to stop and think where she had learnt these skills from? Time and time again the answer would be waiting in the stable for her. Now, more than thirty years on and with a firm understanding of how crucial these skills are for success, she has committed to making that same learning opportunity available to others. A career as an editor, Farm Conservation Adviser, and then a stint in the National Health Service convinced her she needed to step up and lead in a way that people didn’t know they needed yet. Becci has since trained in Reiki Healing, Meditation Coaching, Mind Detox and the EAHAE model of Horse Assisted Education, starting her Leadership and Development business HorseSense UK in 2010. Along with corporate training programmes and a thriving health and wellbeing business teaching Peace with Life, Becci leads regular EFL development training in the UK and is currently training to become a Calmologist. HorseSenseUK.com MindDetoxTunbridgeWells.co.uk ReikiMarkCross.co.uk.
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Pat Hutchinson Pat is a certified Advanced FEEL Facilitator working in the Durham Region, Ontario, Canada. She discovered the world of horses later in life. She intuitively and experientially knew there was more to the horse/human relationship. Her excitement grew as she experienced, first-hand, the healing ability of the horses. Pat observed their innate strategies to manage their stress reactions. Since stress management was Pat's passion, seeing this in the horses stoked the flames! Pat felt that these beings had much, much more to teach humans, if we would only let them! They had a way of being that was so completely in the moment, a skill that normally takes us a lifetime to learn to practice consistently. When living from this place, a deeper emotional vitality, spiritual connection and mental serenity are possible. This is what drives her to share this way of being. These beings point us in a direction of self-empowerment, self-knowledge and self-respect through their willing co-operation and collaboration. Their teachings are gentle, subtle, rapid, extremely effective and always authentic. With the help of our equine partners, we learn to be present in this moment. We can live a calm, healthy, powerful life. Horse & Human = Power & Presence. Pat can be reached through her Facebook page or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lynda Watson Lynda Watson is a passionate and joyful human being. Life couldn’t be fuller and she is grateful for every minute of it. Along with her Equine Facilitated Learning (EFL) business, HorseTouch Life Design she founded the community organization, Dreamation that bring the values and skills learned from the horses to diverse audiences in various social settings. At the time of this publication Lynda is carrying out several contracts in the field of case management. One for the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women & Girls and one for the Canadian Red Cross. Both roles she fulfills with great honour and respect. Lynda has enjoyed many fabulous adventures on her journey through life so far. These include; mother, equestrian coach with her own farm for 20 years, equine photographer, working in the humanitarian field, avid traveler and lifelong learner in the field of human potential. She also works as a professional facilitator with positions such as senior facilitator with the Canadian Red Cross. Lynda’s life mission is to make positive and peaceful change in the world while inspiring and supporting others to do the same. ‘Equine Leadership’ is one exciting endeavour she adds to her always growing list. www.horsetouch.ca/ Lynda.email@example.com www.dreamation.ca.
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Mirror, Mirror in the Field I step through the gate dressed in tears, fears, anger and hurt. You gently hand me a photo that shines my inside world back to me. A snapshot saying, ‘here is the true you, own it’. A gentle non-verbal declaration. I have no choice. If I wish to be with you in any kind of unity I must first look deep into that reflection, my reflection, and ‘own it’. If I insist on keeping those loops forever looping and the incongruency sharpened then we will not walk together. Yet you don’t look at me with deflective eyes. You never tell me I am wrong. You embrace my peace and keep the reflection strong. Your patience is the patience of nature. It holds and grows as plant from seed to bloom. I have no choice. To be with you I must listen to my whispers, I must see that reflection in you with love and compassion for myself. Only then will you feel safe with me. Only then will you kiss me a thousand times over with your soft whiskers and breathe gentle breezes into my soul. There I can begin the pilgrimage to authenticity. Then, and only then will you walk beside me. Mirror mirror in the field…
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LET FEAR LEAD THE WAY By: Wendy Firmin-Price
You are often taught fear is a bad thing and that you must overcome it at all costs. Certainly, fear can hold you back in life, stop you fulfilling your dreams and cost you a great deal, and not just financially, but in lost opportunities, low self-esteem and loss of confidence. Fear can paralyse you, cause palpitations or other unpleasant physical symptoms. Prolonged exposure to fear, anxiety and stress create chemical responses that slowly poison your body, weaken your immune system and eventually cause burnout, depression or some other form of breakdown. Even the movies in your mind are so dramatized from the “what if” scenarios that Steven Spielberg would want to sign up the film rights!
alcoholic partner to return home. The fear of what would happen when he got home was the same sick, toxic feeling I was experiencing with the horse. As luck would have it, I had the “helpful” friend. You know the type, the ones that can sort everything out about you and your life whilst theirs is equally in a mess! “Read this” she demanded.
Experiencing the terror zone Just over 30 years ago I had to face completing an equine exam. Feeling sick to my stomach, my mouth was dry, and my heart was racing. So much so that the horse I was working with was also acting jittery, reacting to my nervous state that I was transmitting to him. I was in terror. That’s when I clocked it. The feeling I was going through, right there, was the same feeling of terror I experienced, pretty much most nights, as I lay awake anxiously waiting for my violent March 2019
It was my first introduction to self-help books. “You can change your thoughts!” “You can change your feelings!” “You can even change your reality” was the claim. Naturally my disbelief was enormous, given the life I was experiencing, but nevertheless I ended up giving it a go! Heck, what did I have to lose?
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Resistance was futile Well the very shortened version is, I did get through my exam. I did change my reality and I did change my partner! This “woo woo” stuff really worked, even for me. And then I had the crazy idea of, “What if I introduce these concepts to my own equine clients” Well, I resisted going public for a couple of years because I thought I would get laughed off the planet. However, the more I worked with my clients, the more I could see how everything that was out of balance in their lives affected their relationship with their horse. How they interacted with their horse (or one of mine), in the first 5mins told me everything I needed to know about the beliefs, feelings and behaviour patterns they had, that were either getting in the way of success or getting the best from their partnership with their horse. It was time to feel the fear but do it anyway!
The real truth behind my resistance was, I was terrified of my life purpose My anxiety about “what others might think” (social acceptance is a primal need), was just a cop out. Eventually, using my newfound tools, I worked with overcoming my own fears and I pioneered working therapeutically with people and their horses.
The key point of the story is, it was my fears that, far from stopping me, became my conduit for change. How do horses respond to fear? As we now know, horses are very tuned into energy. Emotions are simply energy, in particular, fear. Horses can sense and even smell it. Your beliefs, feelings and even behaviours carry an energetic vibration. As highly sensitive Page | - 30 -
beings, the horses pick up on this and cause them to react with their own behaviours. The number one priority for a horse is to feel safe (contrary to misguided advice). Trying to not show you are afraid when you are with a horse only makes the horse feel more insecure because your energy is incongruent.
Is resistance just fear of going forward? My client was struggling to get Sam the shire to move. No amount of coercing, placating or pleading would get him to budge an inch, to step forward towards the obstacle that represented my client’s career goal. I asked my client what Sam’s resistance could be representing as her own block to moving forward. Initially she believed it was her husband who was stopping her from moving forward with what she wanted to do in life. Therefore, the stress, worry and frustration she felt must all be his fault. Because of feeling so stuck, all she really wanted to do was scream and run away from her situation at home. So, I suggested she act that out in the arena. She looked at me as though I was mad, but decided to give it a go, despite what everyone else in the group might think. She let go of Sam, ran away (interestingly in the opposite direction of the obstacle), screaming at the top of her voice. With that Sam, completely of his own volition, walked over to the career obstacle and promptly knocked it over. My client was gobsmacked. In that moment she realised that her career goal had nothing to do with her husband stopping her. In fact, if Sam’s actions were a metaphor, she could see that her husband would support her and help her overcome any obstacles. She concluded it was her own fear that was stopping her. We consequently worked with her fears that day and, fast-forward the movie, she is now doing what she dreamed of (and is still with her husband)!
You can’t fulfil your future dreams when you are still anchored to your past nightmares. The important message is to realise that fear is not out to get you. Your fear is desperately trying to protect you from overwhelming feelings, failure and future unknowns. However, taking time to sit down and “talk” to your fear and uncover what is really going on, will help you heal past wounds, turn unhelpful limiting beliefs into expanded supportive ones and find the courage to move forward to your dreams. Giving yourself permission to feel your fear is the quickest way to overcome it. Is your real fear having what you truly want, doing what you truly love and being your true self?
Sam, the healer
Work with a horse and you will find the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. ~*~
“Giving yourself permission to feel your fear is the quickest way to overcome it.”
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“BE STILL AND KNOW” By: Emma Rourke
For as long as she could remember it had been there. The image of the small girl pointing out the grey horse over the fence to her father, and the need to be close to it, as he scratched his head bemused. At school she daydreamed and drew horses all over her maths book and in English language they galloped their way over the crisp white pages. In art they found their way into whatever topic was there. In the playground, many spirited ponies pranced their way around the netball court. Childhood dreams of horses that never faded over time. Breathing in the strong, comforting smell of horse. Steady breaths, soothing jangled nerves. Soft velvety muzzle exploring her hair, as she crouched in a ball of misery. She slowly began to uncurl, the rhythmic sound of hay being munched, the solid black pony, allowing her to Page | - 32 -
“just be!” No need to think or try and understand the chaotic overthinking in her exhausted brain. As she picked up a brush and began to groom the pony steadily, the world didn’t seem quite so bad and she began to feel more hopeful. She could enjoy this time now, luxuriating in sensory feelings of safety and comfort. She knew they had been there when she was depressed, the legacy of growing up with alcoholism. They helped her to overcome anxious fears and helped her to be brave. They taught her that she could be herself, and to silence the inner critic giving her hell on earth. No judgement, she was ok, not perfect, but ok. March 2018
As she grew up special horses came into her life to teach her different lessons The stunning palomino with the flaxen mane and tail, every little girl’s dream pony, taught her to trust her gut feelings. Hyper-vigilant, her stomach would contract moments before he would spook at the imaginary monster in the hedge. Embodied connection, senses at one with each other. The chestnut mare taught her to be patient. As a child of the 80’s, she was reminded of the indomitable Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher. “This lady was not for turning!” She learned to discuss things. Boundaries were staked out. The bay mare taught her to be brave, to turn her fear into faith, having confidence in a relationship of deep assurance. The grey gelding taught her kindness, a rebuilding of confidence in mid-life and tender love and respect. He helped her to navigate the deep waters of grief and build her emotional resilience. The grey stallion; unwavering belief and unconditional love.
They were her friends, her family, her world As the years went by, she grew up, but the love affair never ended. It grew stronger and stronger by the day. Horses taught her to surrender her need to control outcomes that were beyond her control, to “let go”, and gently nudged her back into the present.
They taught her to play and be joyful, to be silly and not take herself too seriously. To look on the positives and not stay fixed on the negatives. They taught her, and are still teaching her, to ‘mind her own business’. That she is only responsible for her own feeling’s, attitudes and behaviours, and she doesn’t need to save the world. It will keep turning without her input. She learned to trust the still small voice that spoke to her heart, comforting, healing and teaching her that she was unconditionally loved. Respite from the chaos of anxious overthinking, a legacy of the hypervigilance of a child fearful of angry outbursts and arguments that had become her norm.
Fast forward to 2019 I, Emma, have learned to overcome the challenges of someone who grew up in an alcoholic home and experienced the things that most individuals who have grown up in addiction-based homes are exposed to; low selfesteem, fear and anxiety, difficulty in decision making, difficulty in committing to intimacy in relationships, and other self-sabotaging behaviours. After spending over 20 years of moving myself out of negative thinking and behaviour, I am, today, living a positive, faith filled life. As an IFEEL confidence coach and facilitator of Human Development, Personal Development and Wellness, I wanted an opportunity for others to learn and benefit from my own real-life experiences, my passion and knowledge of horses and love of helping people to grow in confidence. With that, Hephzibah Horses Equine Assisted Personal Development was launched in Spring 2018. There’s something profound that draws humans and horses together. Research has confirmed^, the effectiveness of Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) is a most effective modality. It shows that
^ The Effectiveness of Equine-Assisted Experiential Therapy: Results of an Open Clinical Trial, Klontz et al (2007) www.keulseweg.nl/media/onderzoek4.pdf
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EAL not only lowers blood pressure and heart rate, alleviates stress and reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression. It can also assist people struggling with addictions and mental health disorders to develop skills for healthy living. So, here is my vision and nod to the future. To have Equine Assisted Learning recognised as a most effective therapy of its kind for people, particularly women, who may be "stuck" in their life, partnering with the horses and the unique gifts they offer for self-reflection. To enable people to move forward from self-limiting mindsets, to having clarity, confidence and connection: attributes that can be taken into every area of their lives.
My story has a happy ending with positive outcomes personally and within my family. Partnering with my amazing horses, has helped many people going through tough times by offering them an empathetic, non-judgemental and safe place for them to begin to heal. If you hear the call of the horses, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s best to listen. My favourite time of day is in the evening, when all heads are down munching hay rhythmically, the sweet smell of horses, hay and the feeling of contentment, comfort and security. It is then, in that intimate moment, I experience love mirrored through the liquid brown eyes of a horse. ~*~
Emma and Seve
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FREEDOM IS A FEELING By: Becci Godfrey
I have spent the last two years, learning to “see the mind, not be the mind”, to find and calm the conflicts in my life, and to know my true Self. I do this so that I might always experience absolute freedom and can navigate others to that place also. My journey to freedom started because I wanted my body to be home, not my physical location. I wanted the freedom to live anywhere in the world, and still feel ‘at home’. I had become aware that I’d gone through life attached to being around horses and living in beautiful countryside, but that perhaps my fortunes wouldn’t always dictate that could be so. I didn’t want to live in fear that happiness could be taken away from me. I felt an inward desire to be free of the need for outside circumstances to be a particular way in order for me to feel complete, peaceful and happy.
When I started my Calmologist training, it was inspired by one very troubled client. This client stretched my need to be an anchor of connection to the present moment no matter what my outer circumstances. I worked with this individual for 9 months, the horses being big part of my support team, helping me to hold a space for a person that could not yet do that for themselves. This client’s life experiences had caused them to reject everything that was positive, like love and secure and stable relationships. It was their expectation that people would ignore them. They waited to be let down and skillfully covered up the inward chaos of the emotional pain they lived in. Page | - 35 -
This particular client had successfully unconsciously biased the medical profession to dismiss them for 5 years, leaving them with a slew of diagnosis', but no meaningful or consistent follow up treatment or support. They were desperate. My only hope of supporting them to a different outcome was in part I had been there and come out of it with my own health journey, and my fundamental and unwavering horse-given belief that with the right support, we can accomplish anything. What this client taught me was how deep we need to become connected to stillness to heal all aspects of ourselves. It is in this space we let go of what is difficult for us, regain balance and live a life of limitless possibilities.
Freedom is applying choice Through my training I learnt that no matter what my outside circumstances, I always have a choice where I put my attention. I can put my attention on the stuff in my life â&#x20AC;&#x201C; my daily activities, thoughts, emotions and how my body is; or the space that all stuff exists in. The stuff is the domain of my fight/flight sympathetic nervous system. Putting my attention on space turns up the dial on my rest and relax parasympathetic nervous system. Attention on stuff generates stress, and space helps me to return to a resting state where the body can heal. Knowing I have a choice and how to engage either, is crucial to know absolute freedom.
Horses naturally live in an open, expansive space Horses are prey animals and their survival strategy when threatened is flight. Therefore, a horse is constantly present and alert to the environment and space around them. For this reason, horses tend to have healthy and engaged rest and relax parasympathetic nervous systems. This makes them great teachers of a way of being that is sometimes tricky to describe through words but can be easily mimicked and experienced from those that have a high degree of competency at it. A rustle in the bushes, a voice on the nearby road, a whinny across the valley â&#x20AC;&#x201C; a horse will be attentive to it all whilst carrying out their current task of grazing, grooming, exercising, socialising or dozing.
This is a living-state we can positively learn and benefit from; one of being anchored in the space (present moment), whilst completing Stuff Space the stuff (tasks) of the day. We call it the 200% experience of life. The invitation is to intentionally develop a strong and permanent awareness of omni-present space (the inner 100%), so that we can choose for it, no matter our stuff (the outer 100%). It means we can be experiencing chaos (including our thinking) on the outside, but still have an experience of spaciousness on the inside. Free Where we focus influences our behaviour and how we feel from the constricts of life. Free to be. Page | - 36 -
A client’s story Martha was a coaching client that wanted help dealing with stress. One thing I am mindful of is the energy I take into the horse’s space. Like most people, Martha had been living life highly focused on the stuff in their life, particularly the stuff she didn’t like. Before we entered the field, I invited her to do an awareness meditation. We started with a whole-body scan, finishing with her putting her attention far and wide, up and down, forwards and backwards. From this space I invited her to step into the field and start by simply and gently observing the environment. This included the smell of the earth, the sounds of the birds, the feel of the wind on her face and the solidness of the ground beneath her. We both commented on how wonderful it was to do this, and we agreed, we don’t stop and just be in nature and around animals enough. After a while the horses seemed keen to be included, so from this space I invited Martha to connect with each of the horses. The first horse went well and was keen to engage. The second horse seemed less interested. As Martha approached the second horse you could see from the tension in Martha’s body there were a lot of thoughts happening for her around how this experience might go. As she had already seemingly predicted, as soon as she approached the horse moved away, choosing not to return the invitation to connect.
Despondent, she looked back to ask why? In truth, I didn’t know what the horse was saying, but as with much of this work we let expectations and outcomes go and let ourselves to be present to what arises. After a while she’d managed to stroke the horse’s neck, before the horse indicated she was done and moved off to another part of the field. When I commented as much to the client, she dropped the task and headed back, lifting her eyes and opening her field of awareness as she did. At that moment, the horse stopped eating, walked the 3 meters between the client and her and made a purposeful connection with her. When Martha let go and was in an open and expansive space, the horse chose to connect.
Being self-aware The words I hear from clients the most when they have been around horses are peaceful, calming and relaxing. It’s because the horses have helped them broaden their horizons and put their awareness on something much bigger – the space they are in. By sharing this, whenever a client notices they are tense they get to choose again to be like the horse and put their attention on space and the stuff magically just melts away. That is what the horses and I are here for; to remind our clients that freedom is always present, wherever they are and whenever they remember. Now, that is freedom! ~*~
GAAWO – Gently Alert Attention Wide Open I am trained to teach a technique called GAAWO. GAAWO is an acronym and stands for Gently Alert Attention Wide Open. It is a way to describe to people how to open up their awareness from being focused on one thing and feeling it very intensely, to be open focused and feeling open, resourceful and expansive. It is necessary to play with GAAWO; you can’t think about it and you can’t do it later. We teach GAAWO by asking people to find something to look at about eye height and to gently rest their gaze on it. From there, we invite them to remain looking directly ahead, but now expand what they are able to see by taking in everything above and below, left and right. It means whilst still looking straight ahead, we are now using our peripheral vision to take in the whole vista equally. Perfect to do in an open space. Ask someone what their experience is when they do this, and they will typically reply vast, expansive, empty-headed, open, free-ing and clear.
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GIVING VOICE THROUGH CHOICE By: Nikki Kagan
Piloni Those of us who share our lives with horses spend much of our time trying to help them “make the right choices.” If I was the horse, which would I prefer? Would I prefer being given the opportunity to act from a place of free choice? Or would I prefer being given a set of expectations to meet? Ray Hunt, an American horse trainer and clinician once said that one way to persuade others to meet our expectations is to “…make the wrong thing hard and the right thing easy…”. But is that in fact offering a choice? I challenge that notion because at the end of the day, there are always expectations, and according to Rudy Rasmus, pastor, author and global humanitarian, “expectations are premeditated resentments.” When I first became a horse owner at the age of 42, I wanted a horse I could “manage”—one who wouldn’t overpower me — one who would do as I asked. I bought Piloni, an 11-year old gelding—a retired competitor, and he was indeed a “good boy”. He rarely challenged me, was cooperative and quiet, and made my learning experience pleasant and easy. Page | - 38 -
But Piloni suffered a serious eye injury that changed the nature of our relationship, and my path with horses. For 18 months he was unrideable, so we began taking long walks together, with me by his side rather than on his back. I became interested in how I could help his healing, so I studied acupressure, Reiki and equine bodywork. The more I learned, the more aware I became of his unique voice. The more Piloni used his voice, the more I found mine. March 2018
I became a better advocate for him in the face of people who I assumed were “more experienced” than me. Through him I learned to honor my own truth, speaking up when I might previously have remained silent… For 8 years, I had almost never heard Piloni neigh, nicker or whinny. He would come to me when I called, but he would come dragging his feet. Little by little, by giving him choices, he began to open up. Now, Piloni nickers every time he sees me. He heads to the gate even before I have a chance to grab the keys! Gradually I learned what types of interactions he likes and what he doesn’t. For example, at age 23, he loves to run, skip and play alongside me. He has definite opinions about which direction to go when we’re on our walks — so I leave the navigation up to him.
And it just gets better. I learned that Piloni has a very funny sense of humor! I learned that the more I listen, the more feedback he gives me. He is more alive — more motivated, more vocal, and more quietly assertive than ever before. What’s behind it? In a word, “choice”.
• Acknowledge their attempts to engage us • Reward their efforts unless those efforts lead to our desired goal • Try to make their interactions engaging and interesting I don’t know anyone who doesn’t prefer to be given a choice.
Leaders to provide choices In my work with leadership teams I always encourage leaders to provide choices as a way to promote self-motivation. By giving choices we invite and inspire others to show up through selfexpression — to take a stand. We learn more about how they think and how they make decisions. We understand better what motivates them -- and what drags them down. Trust deepens, and collaboration strengthens when we give others the right to express disagreement with us or to simply ‘just say no’.
My horses are free to choose just about everything. I don’t tie them for grooming, tacking, the farrier or vet so they are free to express themselves openly and without fear of reprisal. If they walk off, I invite them to reconsider, and only if it’s a matter of safety or health do I ask again through calm and soothing words and gestures. However, it’s not only about what we do, it’s often about what we DON’T do when we interact with horses. We often fail to: March 2019
Niki and Rainy Page | - 39 -
It’s not that hard, but it does mean learning to:
• • • • • •
Accept what is being offered Listen/observe BEFORE speaking/acting Simply “be curious” ‘Let go’ of the need to control Demonstrate infinite patience Find the balance between completing the task without compromising the relationship
The experience is not limited to what we can learn about our horses, or about one another.
When we give choices, we learn a lot about ourselves too. Because giving choices does mean giving up some control. Giving up control provides us with the opportunity to learn whether or not we really mean it when we say; “It’s your choice.” We learn about our threshold for patience and we learn to get creative in finding new and different ways to engage with others. Giving choices creates partnership. Giving voice through choice is about engaging with heart. Unfortunately, the author quoted below is unknown, but their simple sentence sums it up beautifully. ~*~
“Our days are happier when we give others a bit of our heart rather than a piece of our mind.”
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ONE WITH THE HERD By: Heather Rusk
It has taken many years, and a health crisis to realize the benefits of meditation, mind/body stillness, and presence within myself as well as in the horse/ human relationship. Heather Rusk
I came to horses as an adult. From time to time, it felt like it was a bit too late to start, but then sometimes I actually appreciated the wisdom and clear set of discernment skills I began my adult equine adventure with. When I was in my late twenties, I worked as a successful Art Conservator. I was the youngest Conservator at that time to achieve professional accreditation by over 10 years. I had published internationally, but something was terribly wrong in my life. Not only was I not happy, but I was sick and getting worse. Before my thirtieth birthday I was on short-term disability from my job. I was told to prepare myself for deteriorating health, that my mobility would be drastically reduced in less than ten years and if I wanted to have children the only way I was going to be able to do it, would be if I had full time help.
Within a year, I quit my job and made a commitment to discover what the root cause of the illness was. Not just my own, but what is at the root of all illness. The first thing I had to do was to set up a whole series of changes in my life. I realized that I had not been a participant in my own life, but that I had allowed myself to be defined by a whole series of external circumstances. I was not the director of my life, but my life circumstances were directing me. I was not present, and I had to figure out how to get myself back (although from my perspective today, I am not sure I ever knew who I was in the first place). Ten years later, after a marriage break up, I found myself sitting watching my children in their Friday evening group riding lesson, when I realized it was the happiest hour of my week. That day I signed up for riding lessons. What I
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found was that I didn’t love riding. I wanted to be face to face with a horse, not on their backs trying to master balance and a form of communication with a horse, when I didn’t understand myself. I started enjoying the time I spent wandering the paddocks interacting with the horses, more than the lessons themselves.
Benefits of Stillness Different forms of meditation and meditative practices had become a part of my recovery process. I started going and just standing beside a horse; slipping into a still and meditative state. I found that the horses I enjoyed the most would usually end up coming to stand near me and they too would just relax; they actually chose to be with me when I was in this quiet state of stillness. It was really only when other horse people would make observations about the horse's preference for human interaction that I started to notice it myself. Some curious horse owners would observe that their horses chose to stand close to me; and they would ask, "What are you doing to attract my horses?" It wasn’t until this started to happen regularly, that I realized I was onto something with this simple practice I had spontaneously developed years earlier. I began to see the value in the practice and witness the benefit it had on me. I had the privilege of a flight animal not only feeling safe in my presence, but also sharing in a way which made me feel that they considered me a part of their herd, or as close to that as possible. This was and continues to be something that fills me with immense humility and gratitude. I realized that when I was present with myself, not only did the horses want to be with me, but they chose to trust me. They are, for the most part, ever present. They live in the moment and they don’t understand projections into the future especially, and as a rule not into the past either. The horses were just there with whatever was going on, even if it was nothing; in fact, especially when it was nothing. Page | - 42 -
I began getting excited about sharing these moments with others. However, I often found the barn to be an exciting place and the time spent there was channeled into DOing rather than BEing. Barns can be busy and active places where social chatter is a big part of the experience. One day I brought lawn chairs out for a friend from the city and myself. I asked her to find a place close to a fence, so she could keep herself out of flight lines if the horses felt they needed to leave in a hurry. We sat quietly. An entire herd of 7 horses came to stand with us. We ended up having gentle and intimate interactions while they shared their rest time with us. Most of the horses actually came close and chose to sleep, as they sleep with their own herd. This was a turning point in the life of my friend. Sitting with the horses, bringing stillness to her body, changed her ability to bring stillness to her mind. Bringing stillness to her mind allowed her to connect to herself, so that she could be present with the horses in a calm, quiet, connected and peaceful way. It is really very apparent that this state is a state horses not only love but feel very safe within. The results are instantaneous as the behavior of the horses changes in response to the changes in the human. This experience supported her, bringing greater calm and presence to everything in her life. She shared that, “The experience felt like I was in another dimension, one of peace and calm where I felt “at one” with the horses”.
Why breath? Consciously used, the breath can be a very powerful tool of relaxation and supports high vibrational states of being. It seems like a simple bodily function, but its benefits, when consciously applied, have a very broad and deep altering effect on both the physical and energetic bodies. Consciously modifying the breath is the simplest form of meditation. It fosters a calm sense of wellbeing, and it clears and brings stillness to the mind. Breath is my primary tool for becoming present in my body and therefore in my mind. It is the foundation for all the work I do in myself and with others. March 2018
Our society and lifestyles are full of low-grade stressors. When we become stressed or afraid, our nervous system causes our breathing to quicken so that it can better respond to a stressful situation. It also works the opposite way. If we slow our breath, it has a calming effect on our nervous system. The endocrine system secretes hormones that calm the body as a response to the slowing and deepening of the
breath. Imagine the implications this simple practice can have on our generally high stress lifestyles. I invite you to check out this article on diaphragmatic breathing: https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/the -athletes-way/201705/diaphragmaticbreathing-exercises-and-your-vagus-nerve.
Try this short, simple meditation and see if you feel any differently afterward. This breathing exercise uses the basic technique of taking breath in through the nose and out through your mouth. Sit down in a quiet place with your feet flat on the floor and your eyes closed. Choose a place where you will not be interrupted. •
Take a slow, deep breath in through your nose. With each inhale imagine the breath going right down into the base of your belly. Exhale slowly imagining all the breath, right down to the base of your belly goes out through your mouth. Imagine your belly softening and all the tension clearing from your body. Continue this process until you feel calm, peaceful and as though your belly has released every particle of tension and every muscle in your body feels relaxed. **How do you feel? Differently than you did before the exercise?**
You can try this simple breath meditation any time you like. Sit out in a pasture on a chair, or just bring horses to mind while you are quietly at home. As seen in my friend’s experience, these relationships with horses can provide us with profound benefit in shifting our internal and external relationships. I am healthy and active today and have been for many years now. I credit simple adjustments, like bringing this type of breath meditation (presence) into my daily life. ~*~
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LIVING DIFFERENTLY – CHANGING THE PARADIGM TO FREEDOM By: Lynda Watson
There is a reason for such a title. Last year I had the honour to attend the ‘Voice of the Horse’ conference of the Equine Assisted & Facilitated Practitioners Network and to speak about Equine Leadership. Knowing we would be heading into the 4th edition of the magazine in the upcoming year and we didn’t have a theme for it yet, my intuition told me that this would be the perfect time and place to find one. I decided to ask participants to connect with the ‘equine collective’ and ask them what they wanted the next edition to be about. Many wonderful equine voices were heard. I asked participants to write their equine messages on a sticky note and stick it on the wall. The wall was covered. The sticky note that jumped out was the one you see here. It was clear that we were to write about the skills and qualities that we need to live ‘differently’, to change our own paradigms to freedom. Page | - 44 -
The horses wanted us to go deep... to write about the emotions and feelings that they help us discover and connect with. But how does that all tie into ‘freedom’? And how can they help us create a change in our paradigms? It does, and they can, in a very big yet gentle way!
Where this magazine’s theme came from March 2018
Let’s step back a moment and create a visual. You stop along the side of the road to watch a herd of horses galloping across a field OR you close your eyes and imagine a horse galloping across the vast wilderness that is its home. (Think the Black Stallion galloping along that beautiful beach.)
“Because Freedom is something every human strives for.” What do most humans see in that moment? Yup, freedom. Why? Because Freedom is something every human strives for. Some attain it - some do not. But we all have a taste for it. We know instinctively what it ‘feels’ like. Can we get there? Yes, we can... with the help of the horses for sure. Let’s define a few of these first just so we are all on the same page.
Paradigm: a typical example or pattern of something.
The power to act, speak or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint. We can think of that in 2 ways. One, from the internal and another from the external. The internal: how am I hindering myself from doing what I wish to do? What is preventing me from being/feeling ‘free’? That’s a big one... NO a huge one. And the external: Am I able to stand up to external hindrances that may be holding me back from doing what I wish? When we think about the second it often relates back to the first. Do I have the courage to use my voice? Is there something in my past I have to let go of to be able to stand up in the present? Is there a conversation that I need to have that I have been putting off? Let me tell you a short story that will demonstrate. The horses and I had worked privately with 3 ladies, 3 sessions each. They knew each other but had not shared about the sessions amongst themselves. When we were done with the sessions, I took them out for coffee. I wanted to ask them a few questions. They didn’t not know what the questions were beforehand. Off to coffee we went.
Freedom: Oxford defines it as, the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint. OR The power of self-determination attributed to the will.
Coffees made, and everyone settled in, I pushed ahead with my first question. What was the number one take away that you received from your sessions with the horses?
Of course, freedom is such a huge subject. Books and papers have been written on the philosophy of freedom with mention in literature as far back as the bible. If you wish to go down the proverbial rabbit hole and delve into the history, philosophy and multiple concepts of freedom may I suggest:
Interestingly they all had the same answer, said in 3 different ways. They had learned to let go of that which was not or was no longer theirs. To quote one of these lovely ladies: “I was able to say to someone: That is yours, it isn’t mine!”
http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/F reedom_(philosophy) For the sake of this article let us go with the Oxford definition.
First: understanding what was theirs, and what was something they were ‘holding’ for someone else. (That could be someone else’s expectations, fear, anxiety, anger, etc.). Second: to realize it or become aware of it – knowing it was not theirs and take the actions to let it go. That took numerous forms, but the end result was that they freed themselves of something that was ‘perceived’ to be their own challenge. Page | - 45 -
What does freedom mean to you? Is it to: Cast off the chains of the past? Release the burdens of the future? Stand up for something you are passionate about? Stand up for yourself?
So how can a horse help a human change their paradigm to freedom? Let us start with: what is freedom to a horse? We can go back to the picture I painted at the beginning of a horse or herd galloping across a field. Perhaps they are stretching their legs after some time inside or enjoying some good footing after a particularly precarious winter of treacherous ground beneath their feet. Or youngsters playing with their pals, stretching and building muscles and working on their agility in practice for being a grown up. Are they domesticated or wild? Freedom is different to both. A wild herd is ‘free’ (they don’t have stalls, fences, etc.). In the wild, herds only run for one reason – away from something when there is a threat or perceived threat. You rarely see them run, because they are conserving their energy for when it is needed. Youngsters will play and stretch. Young males will play fight to learn how to protect their herd later on in life. For the most part a herd’s existence is quiet and peaceful. They need the 3 F’s: Friends (social structure), Forage (food/water) and Freedom.
Freedom = Safety = Presence Anything that takes them out of the moment threatens their freedom. To be present fully allows them to be hyper vigilant and read their environment for threats, which could be a change in energy, a movement in the bushes a distance away. If they were to spend their time worrying about each other’s expectations or emotions or even their own, they put the whole herd in danger. Page | - 46 -
And so, it translates that when we spend time with horses they react to our energy. They want to remain safe and that means remaining present. If we step into their environment and are not fully in the moment, then we present a threat to them. We aren’t threatening them directly, but if their attention is drawn to us because we aren’t present, then they aren’t able to watch the rest of their environment. If I am worrying about what others think of me, if I am tied up in anxiety from the past or worry for the future, if I am spending my time and energy on pleasing others, am I truly present in this moment??? NO. Therefore, I am not creating a safe space for the horse to be around and he/she will act accordingly. The horses might want to leave my proximity, or they might dissociate with me altogether.
Free to be present Like my three ladies who found freedom in their interactions with the horses. These ladies will forever be able to look at a situation/person and say (with kindness) that is yours, it is not mine and I choose to be FREE! Will they act differently with that knowledge and paradigm shift? Absolutely for they now have a new way of living and the tools to do it, they changed the patterns they were living by. With a skilled facilitator assisting, I am able to read the message the horse is giving me. I can then connect with my body and mind to read what is going on inside of me and make necessary changes to show the horse that I can be a safe being to be around. In turn I can be FREE! Free from that which is keeping me from the present moment. From galloping across the proverbial field with the wind in my mane and the grass under my feet. And I can run as fast as I wish! Truly FREE!" Thanks to some wonderful 4-legged masters.... masters of Changing our Paradigm to FREEDOM. ~*~
Gratitudes With my utmost gratitude to: All of those that assisted in making Equine Leadershipâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 4th Edition a reality and success. The EL4 team: Becci Godfrey and Pat Hutchinson. Once, twice and beyond is never enough. Thank you for your time, your passion and your shared vision. The authors that took the time share the stories of their own lives, the stories of their clients and to ultimately listen to the horses and share their profound wisdom. All of the photographers that captured the magic of the horses in images for this edition. Stunning! A picture paints a thousand words and can convey one deeply resonant feeling that connects to our soul forever. And YOU the reader. Thank you for hearing the horses and sharing our vision. AND of course, ALL of the horses from around the globe and beyond. Thank you for offering us a model of peaceful and positive living that can change us forever!
From my heart to yours, Lynda Watson Lynda.firstname.lastname@example.org
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