For anyone who has spent time with horses they will know just how wise and loving these gentle giants are. My first encounter was at the age of three when my new best friend, who had a pony, shut me in the stable with it. I was smitten from then on. My childhood consisted of as much time on my friend's farm cadging rides and hanging out with the ponies playing pretend Cowboys and Indians. Horses were the key to my childhood happiness.
In my early years I worked with horses - from a stud farm on Australia where we weaned the horses by sitting in their fields ignoring them until their curiosity got the better of them and they literally were chewing our hair for attention - to a hunting stable where we loved and learnt from ten beautiful, strong hunters. All their characters were different and we got to see what they loved, hated and how they told us what they needed. They also mirrored back to us just how we were feeling. If we were cranky - so were they. If we were feeling fun, they joined in too and if we felt sad they were comforting and loving.
Horses are the most wonderful mirrors for whatever is going on in life. Many people have heard of horse whispering where a person bonds and leads the horse through mirrored body actions so that they horse bonds to the human as it's leader. Building on that there is now a growing movement of equine assisted growth and learning.
Equine-assisted coaching can be more effective and quicker than traditional work helping people change and learn about themelves more deeply. That is because this kind of learning is inductive. Rather than pointing out what they need to learn the horses demonstrate the learning and then the people working with the horses have to notice that reflection. We all learn better by doing than by being told. These insights take a deeper root when people 'get' them - both in their bodies as well as in their minds. Working with the horses is hands on and real for people - you can't ignore what they plainly show. The experience is immediate and visceral.
Horses are strong and powerful animals. As well as what they can reflect back to us, working with them also creates a perfect opportunity for anyone who carries fear or feel they lack in confidence. Working alongside a horse, in spite of those fears, creates confidence and provides a clear insight when dealing with other challenging or intimidating situations in life.
We use horses to reflect back where a person is in their life and to help them understand what is happening we can often bypass the mind where we can churn thoughts or emotions round for hours and go directly to the insight.
Horses are very gifted responders to whatever energy they are surrounded by. One reason is that their very survival depends on reading us right. Take horses into a coaching situation and they can begin to play the roles of our partner, colleagues and children as well as our fears and dreams. In this way you create the opportunity to work through these situations and issues in a safe non-judgemental way.
For many people who feel burnt out and exhausted by the intense way we live our lives in the western world having horses reflect back what needs to change can be a life changing experience. The retreat - away from the busy world, and taking the time to nurture our soul, stop for a while and be in the healing company of horses is often the beginning of a lighter more joyful phase of life.
I know personally that when I have felt down, heavy and unsure of what comes next to just spend time with a horses can lift my spirits. Having someone who can help me understand what the horses are reflecting back to me is wonderful. It is like the light going on. Combine that with some bespoke coaching and the week you spend with the horses is literally a shift in consciousness.
The Healing with Horses retreat on the private island of Mustique in the Caribbean provides a nurturing haven to connect with horses to reconnect with life. It combines the magic of individual coaching with the beauty of horses and will send you home with a new vision of yourself and how you want life to feel - and the tools to ensure you follow through.