Counsellors and horses work together as a professional team
Our staff is trained in Professional Counselling and Equine Assisted Psychotherapy, and the horses have been trained in natural horsemanship techniques to prepare them for working with people. The human and equine staff have learned to trust each other, and know how to interpret each other’s body language. This ensures high standards of safety and means that the cues the horses give are interpreted effectively as they arise.
What is it about horses?
Horses live in the present moment
They do not complicate their thinking with concern about past or future. Their survival has depended on sensitivity to all things in their environment for which they have developed present-moment awareness to a high degree. As predators with the ability to focus and block out unwanted information, human beings can take valuable lessons from horses on how to take a wider, softer, focus and appreciate the Now.
Horses thrive in herds, and so do we
Like us, horses are relational beings who look after each other with both rules of discipline and empathy for each other. Observing horses in herds provides us with effective models of how to live calmly within our own being and in harmony with others.
Horses communicate directly
Horses do not doubt themselves. They communicate with each other honestly through subtle and highly effective non-verbal language. Their model of behaviour leads to valuable self-reflection on our own styles of communication, and helps us to tap into our own innate embodied wisdom.
Horses are emotionally honest
Horses do not lie. They react to us authentically, without hiding or disguising their true emotional states. Through controlled experiences in the workshops and individual sessions, you will be invited to be aware of your own authentic being.
Working with horses leads to a quicker experience of embodied wisdom
Because horses are very sensitive to reading information such as our heart rates, levels of adrenalin, and other non-verbal cues, they provide reflective feedback to our current states of being. Bringing attention to embodied emotion short-circuits the stories we weave about ourselves, and brings us to the truth of our being more directly than entirely talk-based methods.
How horses work with us at Earthhorse Aotearoa
Through both controlled and free-form human-equine encounters we tap into the horses’ uniquely honest point of view and apply it to our own lives. We provide an open space at Earthhorse where both the client’s and the horse’s point of view matter. The invitation to the human is to extend the edges of awareness in an environment where everything is meaningful and nothing is “wrong”. We do this in four ways:
1. Observation and Reflective Feedback
We observe the way horses interact with each other and with their environment, and we reflect on similarities and differences in the human “herd”. Horse behaviour models effective means of communication, a variety of leadership patterns, expression of power dynamics, and emotional health. Horses help us become more aware of both our functional and dysfunctional patterns.
2. Projection and Metaphor
People habitually project thoughts and emotions on to each other, animals, and things, and create stories about their shared space. In this work clients are invited to recognise and explore projections that naturally arise and to create personally meaningful stories while inviting a horse to take a role. The horses always bring added meaning and insight to these stories.
The presence of horses gifts us a special kind of mirror that not only reflects what we think we are, but also what we hide from ourselves (what we really are). A horse can let us know what we are actually feeling, even if we are acting out something else. The horse’s honest appraisal of us provides many illuminating moments.
4. Outsider Witnessing
This is where we ask the horse to bear witness to a new personal story emerging. Most of us get stuck in self-constructed narratives that served in the past, but are no longer helpful or relevant, so instead of continuing to live out an old story of who we think we are, we invite a new one to emerge. Horses take a role in this process as we ask them to bear witness to an emerging new narrative. Through finding fresh narratives, we step outside of our stuck patterns and explore healthier, more truthful versions of ourselves in the present.