Horsey Therapist

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Time it takes to connect?

Someone wrote on a list where involving horses in mental health treatment is discussed:

"Connection is subtle and relationships grow slowly."

I see things differently.

With horses, connection exists at all times, it is not severed and withheld and covered with mistrust, especially obvious at first meetings -- all energy and emotion and expression is right at the surface. (I'm not including horses who have been caused to cringe and shrink psychically and/or physically due to their contact with humans or due to poor health.) Our human relationships grow slowly once we've been wounded by others, but we still have our first impressions antennae intact even if we don't pay proper attention to or we misinterpret the information we experience during an encounter, a meeting with someone new, whether that someone be a horse or human or of another species.

Human caution causes relationships to grow slowly, if at all. Look at young kids raised with appropriate confidence and dogs in a dog walking park who are let off leash and horses introduced to a new herd without being confined and separated. They jump right into relationships. It's about "now" for them because that is all they know.

We have much to learn from the innocents -- from those who have not developed the need to protect themselves from others. I think that is much of what draws us to horses, and much of the core of what we have to learn from our contact with them.

To work with unknown horses is refreshing as no patterns of reactivity have been established. It is much more challenging in my opinion -- doable but challenging -- to develop the ability to remain fresh and in the moment with a horse I've known for days, weeks, years.

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