6 Things Horses Can Teach Us
By Keri Stella, Animal Reiki Practitioner and Intuitive
What can us humans learn from horses? That was a question I asked myself when I attended an “Awakening with Horses” event this past weekend in Andover, MA at Ironstone Farm, led by Cowboy and Seth Monk. Initially, I attended the event to just gain more experience with horses and learn more about them. I am an animal reiki practitioner and intuitive, so I was thinking maybe I would focus on that aspect with the horses. I was completely wrong! Throw that out the window – I needed to just focus on just being present with the horses – no other agenda. Going into an arena with 4 loose horses that were all together for the first time themselves and not tied up – that took me out of my comfort zone! Luckily, Cowboy, Ironstone Farm’s horse trainer, was there, and I completely trusted him. He put us humans all in a circle and protected us by directing the horses away from us as they ran, kicked, whinnied, charged, challenged each other, established who was the alpha, etc. I saw Cowboy in action and felt this horse whisperer had my back. I didn’t doubt him for a minute.
When each of the horses was tied to separate areas of the arena, they calmed down, but it was the alpha horse that was nervous about this. He broke loose two times and would go over to one of the other horses. He was nervous and uncomfortable with this new situation. The analogy that was brought up was that the “bully” was the most insecure. Seeing that in action was eye-opening.
Throughout the day I absorbed what was going on with the horses and what happens when they (and we humans) were put into unfamiliar environments. This is what I learned from being with horses:
- Perseverance: Me and my partner, Emerson’s, horse ended up being the alpha horse. I’ll call him “the General”. We were all supposed to groom our horses. The General did not want me to groom him. He moved his head away and swatted me away with his head. He ran away from me and, mistakenly, I tried to block him from doing that. Talk about making things worse! I knew he didn’t want me to groom him. Cowboy insistently brought the two of us back together to attempt the grooming session. It failed a handful of times, and I was upset and about to give up. But Cowboy didn’t give up on me. Finally, both the General and I were both comfortable enough with each other. In the end, we both enjoyed the session and both relaxed at the end of it. This experience was very different from when I am providing reiki to horses, because if they don’t want it, I don’t conduct the session with them!
- Respect: I don’t like to be kept in a cage, to be tied down, to have leaders I don’t respect. I don’t want to be held back – I want to be free! This may be what our horse felt in introspect. He sensed my uneasiness during the whole grooming scenario. I was also blocking his freedom – standing in front of him, trying to block him as he ran away. He defied me like I would defy a leader I do not think is fit to lead me.
- Trust/Safety: With most of the horses I came across, trust needed to be earned. It was not automatic – very different from me (although, this didn’t appear to be true for all horses). I’m still learning. I can understand the importance of trust for horses, given they don’t have their freedom and must rely on humans for their daily needs. I suppose also that much like horses, I feel safe when I am around people that know what they’re doing – especially in situations that are unfamiliar to me. I trust people who are strong, confident, but not mean-spirited. I am experienced and confident in my work environment, for example, but I look for safety and comfort when I’m out of my element and act differently in unfamiliar situations, like this past weekend. Horses are the same way! We found that the horses would act differently when they were with all of the horses vs. when they were alone with just the humans, or when they were put into unfamiliar situations with us.
- Sense of Energy: I learned I have good energy. Some horses came up to me and started “grooming” me with their mouths. They may have wanted the reiki energy, but I did not offer it up, as this was something not discussed with the owner. I am grateful that those horses felt comfortable enough to come up to me – a stranger – and show their comfort with me. It made me feel good. In a situation with the General, he came into our human safety circle when he was unsure of a new situation Cowboy had put him in. The General felt safe with my partner and I in that scenario. From what I have been told, and what I experienced, horses feed off of the energy put out by humans, that it was important not to be fearful, have low confidence around them, etc., because they can sense that.
- Vulnerability: I learned how to be vulnerable and to trust. I trusted Cowboy as I sat on a chair in the middle of this round, gated circle with the horse running and walking around me and my partner. I trusted him and how he handled the horse and felt comfortable being vulnerable (and I am NEVER comfortable with vulnerability). Being vulnerable wasn’t easy – I had to be directed to do something that forced that situation. I was nervous at first. It took someone like Cowboy to be able to be able to give me that comfort. I was vulnerable with the trainer and the horse.
- Love: I can extrapolate that experience to my love life. I have a hard time being vulnerable. I am rarely vulnerable in love. I realized that any man I choose to have in my life must display the confidence, self-assuredness, strength, and kindness that Cowboy displayed. I knew I was safe, and I had no doubts. I know what that feels like now. I know now I can trust my intuition – to listen to myself and to know to look for that element in love. Although my intuition was heightened in the unfamiliar situation, I need to harness that heightened sense of intuition in familiar situations as well.
So, that was what I gained from just one day. I’m sure there were many other lessons to be had. As Cowboy said at the end of the session, “we didn’t even scratch the surface”. I recommend to anyone to spend time with horses, and make sure you work with an amazing trainer like Cowboy. It’s certainly a blessing in so many ways!