Although there exists some confusion about who uttered these profound words, the sentiment is luminously clear; In the presence of horses, human emotions are exposed, stirred and restored.Interacting with horses on a level that engages their natural form of communication, (body language), enables us to develop skills we can apply in our relationships with family, friends and coworkers.
Equi-Reflection™Erica is a mid-thirties mother of two small boys. She is typical of her demographic; raising a family and running a business with little time to connect with herself. Erica has loved horses since she was a child, having looked forward to the time she spent with them every summer at camp. The comfort that these animals provided for her has never been forgotten and Erica has been anxious to reconnect with horses in her adult life. That is why I invited her to be a guinea pig in my fledgling Equi-Reflection™ program. A desire to spend time in the presence of horses was the only prerequisite.
On a blustery winter day Erica arrived at my barn late in the afternoon to engage in a one on one session with horses. Gatsby, a ten year old bay quarter horse gelding is a rather vivacious creature. Overconfident, he tends to venture into human personal space without invitation. Gatsby is a work in progress with evidence of a good soul deep within.
Erica entered the paddock where Gatsby stood waiting for the session to begin. Instinctively, she put her hands on the inquisitive gelding’s face and neck. After hugging him she turned to me with tears in her eyes.
“You have no idea what being with horses does to me,” she beamed. “I love everything about them; their smell, the way they feel, everything. I just love being with them.”
I allowed Erica a few minutes more to bask in the sensuality and aromatherapy of the moment. The result conjured up positive, youthful memories of the camp horses she loved so much. I knew right then that this program will be meaningful to those who experience the emotions that Erica and I both feel in the presence of horses.There is evidence that oxytocin, the hormone that bathes our brains while we fall in love with a mate and bond with a baby is also stimulated when we are in the presence of horses. The feel good effects of oxytocin promote a state of contentment, peace and relaxation.
Equi-Reflection™ offers the opportunity to analyze oneself in the mirrored reactions of the horse. Through blatant honesty and a lack of ego, the gentle equine provides guidance toward a humble existence while forging a significant bond. It is a powerful experience!
After her initial Equi-Reflection™ last winter, Erica returned this spring to work with Joshua, a fifteen year old paint gelding. The following images help define the various phases of a typical E-R session.
At first Erica uses a lunge whip to inspire heightened energy from Joshua.
He gallops about the paddock freely as she "chases" him.
Eventually, Joshua stops and faces Erica. This indicates that he is ready to connect with her.
Confidently, she steps to his shoulder and begins to walk forward.
Joshua chooses to follow Erica; his demeanor is relaxed and accepting of his human leader.
The only reward he receives is her touch and verbal praise.
It's not uncommon to revisit the inspired energy phase...
...in order to reestablish the connection.