HOW HORSES HELP
Benefits of Therapy with Horses
There are a number of answers to the question, “why horses?” The most obvious being that it is virtually impossible to feel neutral in the presence of the horse. Their sheer size commands an alertness that immediately brings us home to our bodies . . for safety. At the same time, their beauty and power draw us in. They ignite our imaginations; we begin to feel curious about who they are and how we can connect. Thus, begins a dance of inward and outward recognition, and conciliation, of learning to see yourself in the eyes of a sensitive, emotional, and vulnerable being and learning how to develop authentic reciprocal relationships.
Core Concepts at PEP:
- Trans-species Psychology – Horses are sentient and social beings, just like us. Neuroscience has confirmed that non-human animals share primary social-emotional neural circuits akin to humans (see Resources). This means, 1) that when we relate to a horse, we do so with respect for the full autonomy and wellbeing of the horse, and 2) horses do not merely “mirror” back to us what we put out; rather, horses actually relate to us and seek connection that is clear, attuned, consistent, and mutual.
- Attachment Theory – How secure we feel in our primary attachment relationships, is fundamental to our ability to grow and thrive emotionally. The horse helps us face our fears of loss and abandonment without shame or criticism. We can experiment with how to find the boundaries we need for healthy relationships and practice creating secure, loving relationships.
- Trauma Theory – The body holds memories that can influence us at a preverbal, unconscious level. Automatic patterns of defensiveness are very difficult (often impossible) to access through talk therapy. We all hold somatic memories with or without significant trauma. As an experiential (i.e. learn by doing) therapy, working with the horses will allow you to work with emerging sensations that are clues to how you have learnt to cope with life.
- Buddhist Psychology – The benefits of mindfulness practice are well documented (see Resources). Being with horses naturally lends itself to coming home to our senses, being in the moment, and developing inner compassion and emotional resilience.
At Philly Equine Partners, our goal is to provide you with take-home insights and tools to move beyond limiting beliefs and behaviors. Through therapist-guided equine interactions . . .
Learn skills that will help you:
- Become less emotionally reactive in all settings of your life.
- Feel more confident in negotiating emotional, intellectual and physical boundaries with others.
- Become less self-critical and more compassionate towards yourself and others.
- Reduce physical and emotional symptoms of stress, anxiety, depression and trauma.
- Find a place of wholeness despite an illness or disability.
- Empower yourself as a leader (parent, coach, manager, teacher, professional).
- Discover the joy of play again.
“Being in nature and engaging with horses through focused and reflective activities reveal challenges and solutions that are directly transferable to everyday life. Horses, like people, respond to a congruence of intention and action, trustworthy and connective leadership, a desire to understand and be understood and to committed and engaging teamwork” ~ Drea Bowen
Meet Your New Therapist. He’s Wise, Compassionate… and Likes To Eat Hay
On a quiet California ranch, Koelle Simpson helps people confront their greatest fears and heal their deepest wounds—by asking them to enter a pen, hold very still, and allow a half-ton creature to guide them toward peace. Martha Beck reports.