the power of horse therapy
I first heard of equestrian therapy being used with disabled children in my local community at a non-profit organization called Carousel Ranch. Since then, other organizations have popped up, tapping into the power of horses for other special needs. Straightening Reins uses equine-assisted learning and interactive therapies to focus on at-risk youth and their families. Even one of our Friends of Ricki, Rebel Brown, has built Unstoppable U, a program starring her horse, Maverick, that includes both classroom teaching and hands-on experience where kids learn about the history, herd behaviors, communication and energetic sensitivity of horses, ultimately teaching them Horse Sense techniques to balance themselves. I asked Rebel to share her knowledge of these powerful animals and how they're able to share their special gifts to make such an impact on human beings. Check it out and tell us what you think. - Team Ricki Jackie
Friend of Ricki Rebel Brown: Horses are prey animals. Thanks to their instincts, they have roamed and survived this planet for thousands of years. Consequently, they have a very very finely tuned intuition and sensing of emotional energy, or frequencies. It's how they survived as prey animals. Using this sensing, they can and DO reflect a person’s emotional state at any given moment. The gift of the horses allows us two-legged humans to become aware of our own emotions that we might not have noticed (or are burying). Our culture programs us not to feel or emote so we don’t upset others or make anyone uncomfortable. But our society and our experiences program each of us and, in the cases of negative and limiting emotions and beliefs, our programming shifts away from our "true" emotional states and, toward patterned responses. That means human beings are often incongruent with our own true feelings. The horses—by mirroring emotions—reflect back what's happening with us and help us come into congruence—if we allow it.
As a coach, my job is NOT to heal the person. My job is to help the client focus in on their body and their emotions, getting OUT of the mind and all its programming. By guiding a client into their body, where the emotional energy and trauma energy is stored, and then settling and listening/feeling that frequency of our emotion, we come into a state that is similar to how a horse lives. Then, when the person enters the round pen with the horse, the horse connects with them and reflects whats going on. I'm simply there to observe and point out responses etc., the horse does ALL the work.
Its like magic. The next thing you know, if the person is truly in their body/energy/emotional truth, they literally hear a message from the horse. And that message is almost always exactly what they needed to hear to heal any emotional charge/trauma they are focused on. I've seen it time and time and time again... kids, women, men—it just works. I've seen our horses reach into the human heart in ways that more traditional therapies can't. For example, Maverick puts his muzzle on a kid's chest (showing that there's a heartache) and the next thing I know the kid is sharing how sad she is over mommy and daddy's divorce. Or I had an experience with a woman who was so pinched and up tight, my horse, Shadow, woudn't come near her. I kept guiding to help her truly sink into her body and emotions. When she did, Shadow walked over and prodded her in her right shoulder and she heard him say "Let go of that fear." The woman had been beaten by her father and broken that collar bone as a kid, the trauma energy was stuck there. She told Shadow her story, relaxed into the terror, cried it out and, then, came out of the round pen and hugged me, saying she felt better and lighter than she had in years.
For me, I tend to hold my breath when I get anxious. I never understood why Pearl often bolted with me, until I realized I was holding my breath. That, to her, felt like a predator getting ready to pounce. When I stopped holding my breath, she stopped bolting. She was sensing my breath and responding in the emotional frequency that goes with breath holding—AKA FEAR.
Read Rebel's latest personal experience at a recent class HERE.
For more on Equine Therapy and some of the ways horses can help, check out the resources below.
EPONA and Linda Kohanov, author of The Tao of Equus, Linda tells the story of feeling out of control, finding herself sobbing under a tree, when she her mare, Rasa, tell her to "give me your pain." That experience led her to find the energy connections and frequencies of her own herd of horses and to begin using them as part of her on-therapy coaching practice. Linda tells story after story of women working with the horses, sharing their pain and having the horses help the woman to heal.
Kathy Pike is an EPONA trained equine facilitator who certifies coaches and therapists in equine-based learning and coaching. Her approach focuses on connecting through body, spirit, emotions and energy, to find our true selves and move away from the false self programming created in our society and our experiences.
Eagala is a leading program with a more psychotherapy focus (therapists all have medical degrees). One trainee from Eagala shares she experienced pretty amazing results with trauma clients—using both horses and EMDR.
The Horse Boy, therapy for kids on the autism spectrum. While some believe you need a medical degree to work with horses and "at risk" kids, Rupert has opened and changed some minds. As a dad, he trains parents and others to do the work, seeing more success than some MD-run programs.
About Horses as healers:
Rebel Brown is the author of Defy Gravity, a best selling business strategy book, a corporate speaker and 30-year executive coach and consultant to complex businesses. She is the founder of Unstoppable U - a program for kids where Maverick the Mustang and Rebel share inspirational stories and practices to help every kid know and live by one simple truth - we are all UNSTOPPABLE! Unstoppable U offers a face-to-face program in Northern California and an online program for kids everywhere - complete with videos, blogs, storyboards and a daily Kids Kuote. Rebel is an experienced life strategies coach, a certified NLP practitioner and Level One Equine-facilitated coach. You can find Rebel on Twitter and on Facebook.