What is it about horses, compared with another type of animal like dogs or birds, that you find so appealing?
That’s a great question and one that I could speak about from a variety of perspectives. Like many women who come to my classes, I’ve had a deep love for horses all my life. Although I did not own a horse as a young girl, or have the ability to ride on a regular basis, horses have always been in my dreams, my internal landscape and my psyche.
Many a time I have buried my face in my horse’s mane when life seemed overwhelming. I’ve squealed with girlish laughter as my horse carried me over the land at a full gallop. The horse has not indulged my romantic notions of who they are, but required instead that I show up engaged and fully present in their company. They have taught me about self-leadership, overcoming fear, dedication, commitment and forgiveness. Horses have celebrated and encouraged my intuitive gifts and deepened my faith and my spirit more than any other life experience or relationship. I have a thousand words to express my love for horses, none of them truly adequate or satisfying enough to thank them.
What is it that people who have had interaction with your horses say they experience that is different from other experiences?
One of my newer students called this morning to say that she was still feeling the experience of being with horses from three weeks ago. In her words, the horse gave her encouragement to have authentic conversations with her mother. She reported that the holidays were always a trying time and it often felt like a power struggle between the two. She remembered how grounded and centered her body felt, how brave and authentic the horse reflected she was being in her session…she recalled this state in her body whenever she interacted with her mom over Christmas and was astonished at the harmony that seemed available for the first time in years. Under many varied circumstances, this is the kind of feedback I receive from students on a fairly regular basis.
Does interacting with the horses sometimes awaken a commitment in people to remain dedicated to personal change for the long-term?
My sense is that many of us are re-examining life very differently these days. Perhaps even since 9/11, the desire to find heart and meaning in one’s life has become more urgent. Today’s world has a multitude of complex issues; people are often overwhelmed and unsure how to initiate change, and if one person can truly make a difference. One of the biological similarities of both humans and horses is the need to be of service, to contribute to the whole, finding our place of belonging in relationship to something of value. Horses evoke passion, purpose and strong desire to be connected and in authentic conversations. Often just standing next to these 1,000 lbs. of energy takes us out of our logical or rational thinking and into our feeling animal body; where both curiosity and possibility live. Horses are excellent training partners as we notice the relationship between their cooperation when our mind, body and spirit are aligned.
Long term and sustainable change happens when we have practices that support the changes we say we want to make. Our culture has an instant gratification and quick fix mentality in many instances. We are largely hooked on the big “ah ha” moments (especially in California), and we’re not necessarily saddled up to the process of how embodied change occurs and is sustained over time. One of my teachers, once said, “it takes 20 years to be a masterful horseman or horsewoman, and if we told people this up front, most would never throw a leg over the horse.”