Friday, February 26, 2016

The Horse Does Not Care About What You Have Done. He Only Cares About What You Do.

How do horses heal human suffering? The question has plagued me. Tim Hayes has a great book out, "Riding Home", that deals with the question. One must first of all understand how different the result is between working with other animals and working with horses. Canine therapy provides recreation and a sense of calm. Horses provide the opportunity to completely open up one's being to allow one to trust something. 

The horse seeks security. So do those who suffer. The horse needs to able to trust someone in order to feel secure. So do those who suffer. The horse needs to let out his emotions, both positive and negative. So do those who suffer. The horse speaks a language that few humans understand or care to learn. So do those who suffer. The horse responds only to honest, sincere communication.  So do those who suffer. 

The horse lives in a just world. The horse understands that it can control its environment with its behavior. (e.g. If I turn my head he will release the pressure on the rein. If I do not he will increase the pressure.) The horse has no regrets. He does not worry. Instead he responds to threats by seeking the security of moving away at top speed. He is a prey animal yet exerts a tremendous amount of influence on what happens to him. He feels no guilt. He has never spent a moment of shame in his life. He is not helpless. He is powerful.

And he could use that power to kill the human who interacts with him every bit as easily as a lion could. But he does not. 

Not because he fears the human, but because he trusts him. And when those who suffer learn to trust a horse and when a horse gives them their trust an entirely new world opens for them--a world with some sense of justice, predictability, characterized by being able to trust other people and to be trustworthy one self.

Is that the end of the healing? No, it is the beginning. But it is a beginning made possible by something as simple has working a horse in a round pen. It opens doors where those who suffer not only saw locked doors--thy simply saw walls.

We see it work with our riders. We see it work with patients at our local Veterans hospital. We see it work through the tremendous programs that Ashley Edwards runs in our horse lot. I saw it work when JK and Rebecca drove me out to see Ghost Dance the day Lido died. 

It is hard to understand without seeing it happen scores of times, but remember modern humans  descend primarily from those who were drawn to domesticate and use horses. Through out history horse cultures flourished. It is not a leap at all to say that we are likely genetically conditioned to connect with horses.

The horse cannot judge you, but he can help heal you. And best of all no horse is better at making that connection than the Colonial Spanish horse.

 He is looking for something too. He is looking for a herd, be that herd human or equine.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Really great piece, up there with your best. Very thought-provoking, almost a meditation. I will be mulling on it today as I handle, groom, and train my horses, reminded that while my own thoughts are muddled with yesterday and tomorrow, they are always in the moment. Thank you for the reminder.

Deb in CA