All around the world people are discovering what our ancestors had perhaps sensed in their bones: that to spend time around horses is a transformative experience.
Way back in our distant memories, somewhere in the deepest recesses of our psyche, we remember those early days when humans and horses forged a new alliance. Horses went from being a source of survival and food to partners, as we discovered that we could ride these powerful, swift beings and that they could carry humans as they hunted, ensuring vast leaps forwards in human development, particularly in terms of their ability to travel greater distances and thus accelerate the progress of human civilisations.
It is striking that towards the end of the 20th Century humans once again turned to these mindful and generous companions for another form of progress: To steady our racing minds and erratic heartbeats that unfortunately comes as part and parcel of being a modern human. We learned that we can heal ourselves from past traumas; remove our false pretences and address our unfulfilled lives. Steadily, more and more people, young and old, have been drawn to feeling what happens when in a peaceful and mindful interaction with these beautiful creatures.
Dropping our equestrian pursuits, ego-driven needs for prestige and desire to control such spirited animals has led us to this place: A place where a more equal relationship can be nurtured. A space which horses and people can share on more equal terms. Where each explores what can happen when we dial down-down our busy minds and dial-up our somatic presence; where our hearts can entrain and even yes, where profound shifts of healing can occur in both species, when we are quiet and still enough.
In that most sacred and special space the traumatised person can learn to let go a little more; they can allow another being to come closer, even touch them, and they can at last feel safe enough to let the tears of so much pent-up grief slowly drip down their cheek. In turn, the horses are discovering that they too can learn to trust humans in a completely different way: no longer out of necessity for their dependence on us, but instead as an equal. And in THAT moment, the horse can drop their guard too and the potential for healing Equus is also present. Human and equine. Together. Exploring what CAN happen when each learns to trust; when they come closer to connect and when the human relinquishes their need to be the one in charge of another being. The profoundest of shifts can take place in this space.
We have come a long way to be sure. Yet, I also wonder if those earliest humans perhaps sensed this sacred shared space, when they finally find a way to get closer to and eventually ride these magnificent animals, all those thousands of years ago. I like to imagine they glimpsed the sacredness of their actions in bringing horses and humans together. That they were forging the beginnings of a partnerships which to this day still astounds many of us who spend time in the presence of horses.
Today, horses provide us with a very different form of nourishment and movement. Today, if we let them and if we treat them well in the process, they carry the potential to nourish our mind, body and soul. They even carry the potential to heal families and communities. It still astonishes me that two species so different can find such shared ground to forge these unique partnerships.
And, although science is now helping us to learn and understand some of our shared mammalian traits and in particular, how we resonate via the heart, the central nervous system and our emotions, there remains still the pure mystery and the magic of this relationship which continues to evolve in ways our ancestors never would have dreamed of…
Angela Dunning, The Horse’s Truth, 4th November 2021.