“The horse is a mirror to your soul. Sometimes you might not like what you see. Sometimes you will.”
20 million people are living with active addiction in the United States. Each one of them has a story and I have come to see that recovery is possible. While each story of recovery is completely individual, I believe my recovery story, including deep relationships with horses, is unique yet highly re-applicable. It is my greatest hope that you may find something in here that may add value to your recovery experience. Let’s get into action with horses.
So far, I have discussed equine-assisted therapy at a high level, the role of horses in my addiction recovery. My passion for these animals over the past thirty years has only increased my deep connection with them. My work as an equine assisted life coach is my soul’s contract. It comes to and through me naturally with ease since I was put on this planet to share this gift. Part of my gift lies in my ability to bridge the worlds of humans and horses. This can result in growth and learning by developing a deeper richer understanding between the species both of which share being social creatures by nature.
In my practice, I focus on three main beneficial skill areas: mindfulness, resilience and character growth. I focus within a holistic rite of passage format. I will help you get into action with horses.This post emphasizes more concrete examples of my work experience in an effort to give you a more tangible understanding.
Because horses are always in the present moment; they have no distortion of the past or future. Therefore, what has happened is recorded accurately and left in a repository. And this is solely for the benefit of making choices in the present moment. The horse transmits this vibration to people who enter its presence with the openness to receiving it.
A horse also unlocks an amazing physiological phenomenon. This is because we are compelled to experience the present moment as the horse’s physical size calls us into mindfulness. This experience leads humans to be in the present moment while in the presence of a horse. This presence will sometimes do for us what we cannot do for ourselves around finding the present moment. There are huge benefits to getting into action with horses. Just grooming the coat of a horse and walking it on a lead rope (aka leash) have tremendous benefit. These acts, for instance, can help someone gain exposure or depth with the present moment experience.
Horses tend to and can act as a mirror of our personalities when we interact with them. As a result of this clarity, the horse will reflect how we are actually feeling emotionally and behaving to create a template for personal change. A horse relies on its emotions and intuition of its surroundings to survive in the wild. A horse must always be aware of potential predators, like humans, for example. This attribute is a keystone component of equine partnered growth.
I stand by the idea that my horse knows how I feel way more than I know how I feel. One clear example of resilience is how things rarely go as planned when working around horses. This is especially true when combining human emotions and energy into the equation. Plan as we may, the horse has an ability to challenge the plan. The horse reacts based on the intuition of what is the best choice at that moment. A person has the ability to toggle and adjust course accordingly while getting in touch with intuition. Because of this, there are immeasurable benefits.
Into Action With Horses, Again and Again
This is nothing like operating a motorcycle or other more predictable machine! With a 1,200-pound living animal with prey instincts, life on life’s terms plays out in motion. Fortunately, horses also give us unconditional second, third, fourth, etc., chances. Because of these unconditional chances, we are allowed to dust off our boots and keep trying until we get it too.
Integrity is a given in the horse’s personality. They are 100% honest about everything all of the time. A horse is a pretty animal and cannot afford to distort reality. That cost may be the horse’s own life. If the horse perceives your behavior to be a threat, he tells you that with full honesty. The horse sets boundaries if we are tuned into his non-verbal communication. And the consequences will be escalated by the horse if we fail to respect these boundaries. The horse may even refuse to do what you want it to do. The horse requires your self-honesty enough for his satisfaction. If you become more honest with yourself, your behavior will change. And if he likes the new behavior, he will inform you by complying.
A happy, contented horse is licking his lips while chomping his gums. Consider this a sign of you and the horse being in a partnership. Horses teach us that there is a whole spectrum of non-verbal communication. As a result, we can tap into through paying attention and practicing our energies with the horse. It offers us the potential of applying this to our human interactions by observing it in horses. The horse even does all this without holding a grudge over what we may have done in the past!
Once a man went up to a horse and the horse immediately pinned his ears back. This response from the horse displayed the horse’s contempt. The man exclaimed, “this horse doesn’t like me!” The man’s friend, an expert on equine assisted learning, explained. “It’s not that he doesn’t like you, he just doesn’t like your attitude right now. All you have to do is change.” This man learned how to get into action with horses.
Rite of Passage – Into Action With Horses
The key life skills I find deeply applicable to the interaction with horses are bundled within my curriculum. There is a suggested 24-point rite of passage modeled after Joseph Campbell’s work. The process involves acknowledging a challenge exists followed by a separation, maturation and return. Along this journey, my hope is to offer growth, although this change may be uncomfortable at times. Yet ultimately this alteration allows a person to awaken to a life beyond their wildest dreams. Horses have had a life or death role in my life. I have also experienced at least 12 significant rites of passage in my life. Above all, the potential impact of this intersection on others I take very sincerely.
I am grateful for the opportunity to share my experience with you over these three posts. There is gratitude for the leadership at Serenity Vista extending this invitation. As a result of this opportunity, I am able to connect with you. If you would like to understand more about equine partnered growth and change, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your presence is a blessing. Your story is significant to me. I hope we may one day meet on this journey and together get into action with horses.
This is the last of 3 posts in an invited article series. Serenity Vista is grateful for these inspirational submissions from Jake LeClair of Emerge with Horses.