Horses Teach Us How to be Authentically US In Relationship And That Translates To Every Corner of Our Lives Personally And Professionally
Creating and living our lives around the value we learned to place in external stimulus is far more natural to most of us than creating and living our lives by naturally trusting our bodies wisdom as a sensing device biologically designed to help us navigate life’s choices and to have the courage to be authentic to who we are.
Horses get us out of our left brain thinking, into our hearts where we can experience authentic emotion and connection.
We live in a society that has largely stopped listening to and interpreting the information that our bodies are constantly communicating to us for our survival and our ability to be true to who we are on the inside.
Horses know no other way to live and their survival absolutely depends upon it.
In our human society we learn early in life to place value in external information to decide how we feel, how to be, what we “should” do, who we “should” do it with, what success “looks” like, and we are always judging ourselves as to whether we are smart-rich-young looking-sexy-educated enough.
We spend a tremendous about of time and energy in our heads thinking in loops, worrying, self judging, being afraid to speak out, and planning how to be “good enough” so we are acceptable and approved of.
Horses are social bond oriented herd animals and they react to external information based on the trust in their relationships, and they rely on instinct and it will trump most everything when it comes to survival – should I be afraid for my life or not; friend or foe, leader or follower, safe or dangerous, grounded and clear or chaotic and confusing?
If there is anything unclear, they will err on the side of survival and respond with caution.
Simple – clear – honest. No loops, no human intellectualized baggage, posturing, or defensiveness, just clean, clear, honest communication.
We can learn about our congruence by how they respond to us, if we choose to become aware of what is happening in the moment.
And we have the opportunity to make a shift, with no judgment (unless we are judging ourselves), to affect a change in the relationship in that moment.
So what does that have to do with helping humans grow and change?
Horses are very relationship oriented animals and they form strong social bonds with members in their herd, their survival depends upon it.
As a result, they have highly functional relational skills that are clear and honest.
This is where they can most help us. Most of our challenges in life come from what we learned in relationship with significant others and often in our first families; about ourselves, what we are capable of, how we relate to others, and what our potential is.
Horses respond honestly to what they see and feel from the energy of our intention, what they see and feel in our body language, and if we are congruent with how we are feeling on the inside (regardless of whether we are even in touch with that), with what we present on the outside (regardless of whether we are even aware of that).
It doesn’t matter who we are, what we wear, what our life story is, how much we weigh, what degree we have, how athletic or intelligent we are, we are all “just” a being in their space. They are wired to create social bonds…can they connect with us?
They help us find our way to experiencing acceptance and authentic relationship that has nothing to do with our status in the human world and everything to do with who we are on the inside and our ability or willingness to create mutually beneficial relationships.
In the book A General Theory of Love (Lewis, Amini and Lannon, 2000) explains the neurological re-wiring that can happen within a bonded relationship-horses and humans are social bond oriented beings.
Limbic neuroplasicity – the remodeling of affective neural pathways and responses (the conditioned automatic thought and reactive patterns in our brain that influence every aspect of our lives) — happens in three stages:
- limbic resonance - shared empathy (sense of connection) in which two mammals become attuned to and aware of each other’s inner states
- limbic regulation is defined as reading each other’s emotional cues, adjusting to each other and soothing or regulating the physiology of the other. This is non verbal, nothing intellectualized, this is feeling the emotion of another and responding to soothe or connect.
- limbic revision is the result of experiencing resonance and regulation and is responsible for the remodeling of old neural patterns in all areas of life and relationship. When we can literally change our brain based on positive, healthy, meaningful emotional experiences, we can create the life we intuit for ourselves.
“Because Our Minds Seek One Another Through Limbic Resonance, Because Our Physiologic Rhythms Answer To The Call of Limbic Regulation, Because We Change One Another’s Brains Through Limbic Revision, What We Do Inside Relationships Matters More Than Any Other Aspect of Human Life.”
A General Theory of Love, Lewis et al. 2000: 177