by Jayne Nuutinen Wolff
Horses are fascinating animals full of grace, insight, and strength. For centuries, mankind has found many ways to use them as helpers in their daily lives. In the beginning, horses were used to carry us farther and faster than we could go without them. People still ride today, but mostly for pleasure and showmanship. In the last few decades, horses are also being used to help us heal in body, mind, and spirit, including conflicted areas of our lives. Let’s take a look at how this evolved.
Based on early literature and the discovery of cave paintings, people have been using horses for almost as long as we have been here on Earth. I often wonder how the earliest people trained horses to be in relationship with them. I believe it would be similar to how humans build relationships with one another.
Training methods for horses have progressed from being down right nasty and hurtful (Breaking a horse), to a pressure release model (Natural horsemanship), to the newer Partnership model – that of observing, listening, and creating a trust relationship. This newer way of thinking and relating to horses nurtures a relational bond helpful to people as another tool for healing. Horses are prey animals that are eaten by predators. Their instincts require them to be alert for their safety minute to minute. Realizing the wisdom horses can impart to us, due to their prey status, can help us gain perspective for our own lives.
For their safety and survival, horses need to be aware of everything that surrounds them, including people (who sometimes act like prey animals). They can sense from miles away whether a mountain lion is hungry or satisfied. Thus, they know whether they should go into a fight or flight response or to be peaceful. This is similar to the way people respond to fear in their lives. Horses can use this safety instinct to decide how they will work with us and how they will mirror what is going on within our subconscious.
We can determine the meaning of their reactions towards us based on their body language, which helps us to become conscious of our inner thoughts and emotions. This knowledge helps us understand why we are living our lives the way we are and can allow us to see where changes might be helpful. Since being aware of everything that comes into their presence is a horse’s natural instinct, we can trust they will communicate this awareness to us through their body language. Horses only see what is happening around them at this very moment in their lives. In most cases, they don’t fret about the past or worry about the future.
By observing how horses communicate with other horses in their herd, horse-loving people have learned how to communicate with them. Horse communication is typically done through body language with very little vocalization. Humans vocalize more and are often unaware of what their body language is saying about them. The words spoken may not always match subtle nuances of facial expression and body postures. We tend to cover up our true emotions for various reasons. Horses do not know how to manipulate; they only know how to operate in the present moment. They sense the feelings behind our words and actions. Thus, horses are a great tool to discovering our subconscious thoughts and feelings.
So for those times when we are stuck in our lives, horse insight can be helpful in our self-discovery and healing process. We can learn a lot from horses, if we are willing to give them the chance to speak to us. Horse coaches and counselors use horses as teachers to help people to become aware of the things in their lives that may need to change or heal.
Here is a partial list of things horses may help people looking for change accomplish: knowing their life purpose; recognizing and honoring their most important values; having more balance in their life; following a healthier lifestyle; building closer relationships; personal growth; and deeper spirituality. Horses, in general, have a gentle spirit and usually choose to work with us even though they wouldn’t have to. And by showing respect for their power and wisdom, we can gain much from them. I am among the growing number of horse lovers who are using horses to help people transform their lives with the awareness that horses reflect to us.
Jayne Nuutinen Wolff is a Licensed Massage Therapist, Master Herbalist, and Equine Enthusiast. Her specialties include: CranioSacral Therapy, Emotional Release Work, Flower Essence Therapy, Horseback Riding Instruction, and Building Relationships with Horses. She uses all these modalities in a unique way to restore your inner peace so you can become who you were born to be. For more information, please checkout my website www.amtamembers.com/healthessentials.