“There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” - Albert Einstein
The crisp heat of winter’s morning light shone on Zip’s fur, illuminating its redness for all to see. Anxiety reigned in the round pen this morning. From the moment we arrived, mother nature conspired to unseat our peace.
Staring at us upon arrival, a coyote who frequents our pastures seemed particularly bold on this cool winter morning. He stood unmoving just thirty feet from us. Zip and Dancer responded with high heads, loud snorts, frightened stares, and pacing bodies. I assured them that they were safe. But, horses speak in movement, so I decided to show them.
With a training stick in hand, I marched toward the coyote. He just stared at me, wondering at this strange human who dares to challenge his territory. I was struck by his boldness, but buoyed by the stick in hand, continued my approach with rising mother bear energy. Ten feet from him, he finally turned and began to trot away. Looking back periodically, I found that he continued his retreat only when I continued my pressure.
As the coyote receded from view, a new distraction appeared. Two horses from another herd galloped down the hill to see what the commotion was about. Zip and Dancer responded with excited calls and continued pacing. I worried to myself, “Will this session be effective? Will their anxious energy ruin everything for my client?”
As the client neared the round pen, both horses continued their fearful movements and loud snorts. We exchanged welcome and intentions while both horses paced. This was not our first session, so the client knew something was up. I asked, “So, what do you think is happening right now?”
“I’m feeling distracted and emotional, so they are too,” the client replied. Enough time spent with these horses in the round pen and we come to see that there are no accidents here. What comes up is for you to look at, nothing more, nothing less.
“Shall we get grounded?” I invited the client. “Yes please,” they replied. Together we strode to the center to say a prayer and take a few moments with eyes closed, soaking in the sunshine and grounding our feet. The practice took only moments, but the shift in our energy had immediate effect. Zip and Dancer blew out their tension and lowered their heads. By the end, the horses had left their worries behind and found their way to stand with us at the center, breathing deeply and resting their bodies.
“What do you feel now?” I inquired of the client, as Zip lightly moved in for a horse hug at their belly. “Happy,” was the client’s response. When we change, the horse changes with us.
The session that followed was filled with blessings and revelations. At times, the horses showed the anxiety of the client. At times, they expressed the client’s peace. What amazes me is how nothing happens arbitrarily. There is a message in every moment.
As I attune to the language of subtle movement and energy, I’ve begun to recognize that the horse not only mirrors our truth, at times the horse also supports us to process emotions that harm our peace. They yawn, lick and chew, bob their heads, blow out air. At first I read these movements as affirmations of truth in the client, which they are. Now, I notice also where these movements take place. More often than I realized, horses are directing their energy releases at a point on the client’s body - the heart, head, back, or belly.
By the end of a session, clients consistently express feeling positive, uplifted, peaceful. Often they end feeling brave, strong, and ready to face a challenge. Most of all, clients leave knowing that they are unconditionally loved.
What happens in the round pen is natural to the horse. For the horse, peace is the goal. Munching grass in a field with all of their friends, no lion in sight, is equivalent to horse heaven.
Through millions of years of evolution, the horse has learned to support the herd to create heaven on earth. Through movement, cooperation, and the subtle ways that they release tension, they help each other. Now partnered with us, they do the same without question. We are blessed to spend time with the horse. Through these experiences, we are able to heal and grow in ways we perhaps had never imagined.