There are a number of different forms equine therapy takes, from activity-based programs (experiential) to cognitive-based (thought and belief based) to somatically-based (developing body awareness through observing sensations and emotions in the body) to neuro-scientifically-based models to navigate and retell trauma events and adverse experiences.
My interest and background is in energy work – working with Qi. I believe we have a strong desire and need for spiritually-connected living, but one that is grounded in the material world. The approach I am trained in, and take with equine therapy work is an integration of mind, body and soul, of somatic coaching underpinned by reviewing belief systems and using neuroscience to support change awareness and processes in the body.
Horses are highly energetic beings. As herd animals, they are incredibly sensitive to the feelings and sensations of herd members, which can include humans when we are close by. They are not mirrors for us to find ourselves in, but through their responses to our energy systems and emotional states, can let us know when we are out of balance, incongruent and not aligned within ourselves. Horses, like us, have a need for safety, and will demonstrate when they don’t feel safe. This is information we can access during a session. When we are calm, grounded, congruent and comfortable within ourselves (even if we are feeling angry, and owning it) horses feel safe. When we deny how we are feeling, or pretend to be something other than how we are feeling, horses feel unsafe.
There are two stories – one the mind holds and retells, and the one the body holds. Our bodies have their own innate intelligence and memories, and it is this intelligence, and memories, we uncover and explore when doing somatic coaching.
I believe addiction, auto-immune responses and disease, ADHD, PTSD are the body’s intelligent responses to the pressures of modern life. Pain also has its own intelligence and messages for us. EEL and somatic coaching provide pathways to accessing that intelligence and hearing the messages, as well as exploring appropriate actions to carry that intelligence forward into our daily lives so that we can grow towards our best selves.
Horses live in the present, and can teach us to be present to ourselves, how to be in our bodies rather than our chattering, critical heads. Horses have a very fast response system and are incredibly responsive to any changes in psychological, physical and emotional states. We can use these responses to guide us when we become unbalanced and as we work our way back into a more harmonious state. In this way, they guide us in self-regulation through co-regulation, allowing us to feel calm, present and a deep sense of well-being. When we are in that deep state of well-being, we are tuned into healing, learning and growth.
My work with horses allows clients to tap into their innate embodied wisdom, and to open up the messages that intelligence has for us. Receiving these messages guides us towards clarity, growth, deeper resilience and creates space in the body for greater capacity and emotional resilience.