I am fascinated by equine therapy, which is rapidly growing in popularity, and I knew I had to experience it for myself.  Equine therapy is different to traditional therapy in that it’s non-verbal.  If you get release from talking about your problems, you won’t get it from this sort of therapy. But if you are willing and ready to grow to be the best person you can be, it can take you to a whole new level of understanding yourself.

At the beginning of my session I was asked by the therapist what issue I wanted to work on and I said, ‘Fear’.  So one of the exercises I was asked to do was to build a safe place from the materials supplied and take all four horses in the arena to that safe place.  Now I have absolutely no experience working with horses, and the horses didn’t have bridles that I could hold onto to lead them so I walked up to a horse, and said ‘follow me’, and to my surprise he did.  I did the same with the next horse and got the same result.  By this time I was feeling quite chuffed and thinking to myself, ‘I’m really good at this’.  The third horse that I approached followed me for a few steps then walked in a different direction and no amount of coaxing would budge him.  The fourth horse was hostile.  Every time I approached he put his head down, ears back and sometimes took a step aggressively towards me with bared teeth.  I must admit I was a little bit afraid of him.

So I walked back to the therapist and asked her what to do and she asked me what the body language of respect looked like.  That made me stop and think because I had no idea what a horse interprets as respectful.  So I approached him front on and asked him to follow me, I tried visualising, relaxing, feeling my fear and then letting it go.  Nothing worked.  The therapist then asked me in what order I would place the values, ‘safe’ ‘respect’ and ‘trust’.  After thinking about it for a minute I said, ‘respect, safe and trust. I then went back to the remaining two horses and tried projecting being a respectful person to the horses.  Nothing changed.

As the end of the session approached I was feeling frustrated when I experienced a moment of insight. I realised that I needed to feel safe, only then could I trust, and give and receive respect.  As soon as I made the decision to feel safe, the two horses, who had ignored all of my pleas and commands, voluntarily walked into my safe place.

Feeling unsafe had been one of my life issues.  I know where the feeling came from and I’d done all the emotional release work and forgiveness, yet despite all of that I often didn’t feel emotionally safe.

We all have different ways we manage fear.  Some people attack, verbally or physically when they feel threatened.  Some avoid by working, drinking, eating or even doing so much for others they feel overwhelmed. Some talk about their fears endlessly but do nothing about them. Some go looking for solutions.

Equine therapy can show you your fears and how to handle them. It can build confidence. It can show you how to lead teams and gain a host of valuable life skills. Horses can help you be the person you were born to be.