Emotional and Body Intelligence on the Ground and in the Saddle
Show me your horse and I will tell you who you are.
— English proverb
Our horses are more than just a mirror. They are family members and we engage in real relationships with them both on the ground and in the saddle. And, just like with our human relatives, our relationships with our horses can at times be triggering, marked by conflict and miscommunications, and shed light on our growing edges.
The interspecies dynamic that we have with our horses is impacted by a number of common factors. We each have a personality, a nervous system, attachment patterns, and a history of both positive and adverse experiences that leave an imprint. Challenges arise at the intersection of these elements, especially if there are specific patterns or past traumas (human-based, equestrian-related, or otherwise) that linger unresolved beneath the surface. Re-enactments are common — re-experiencing familiar yet frustrating scenarios over and over again as we ping off one another, with unsatisfying outcomes for both human and horse.
Fear, anxiety, emotional dysregulation, chronic frustration or impatience, shame, lack of agency or assertiveness, inadequacy, survival responses (fight / flight / freeze / dissociation / submission / shutdown), helplessness, defeat, projecting, enabling, self-criticism, boundaries that are too porous or too rigid, perfectionism… each of these is a COMMON, normal human experience that arises as an adaptation to life conditions. Each poses particular difficulties when it comes to effective horsemanship and the equine-human bond. And, most importantly, each is an area of growth that can be addressed with awareness, skills and self-compassion.
Start shifting old patterns of relating and reacting to build a more satisfying partnership
Regardless of your focus, whether enjoying horses without an agenda, learning groundwork or liberty interactions, or participating or competing in a particular discipline, getting a better understanding of yourself and the things you carry into your interactions with your horse is an important part of horsemanship.
Therapist-Assisted Horsemanship™ involves horsemanship instruction for groundwork interactions or horseback riding, with a therapist on hand providing skills and tools to enhance emotional intelligence and body awareness. The horsemanship lessons are offered in group clinic format.