Archives for December, 2011
We all make resolutions, and sadly, many of us will never realize these often lofty goals. And what do we do then? We wonder why. First, why did we make the resolution in the first place, and if we are the introspective type, what is it about us that prevented us from reaching our target? But to answer these questions, we’d probably have to have a window into our unconscious. And really, we may just not have the time or patience for psychoanalysis. But, maybe, just maybe, we can learn something about ourselves through time spent with a horse. So, in honor of resolutions, here are ten reasons to try equine therapy.
How many times have you heard the phrase, “Just live in the moment”? It seems so easy, right? Just temporarily place your mind on autopilot, yet the thoughts continue, and your mind rambles from what you need to pick up at the store to the last remnants of holiday shopping you forgot. The truth is, unless you live in a tent and practice enormous amounts of yoga, you, like most people, probably struggle with being fully present. So just how do we learn to live in the moment in today’s ever more distracted world? Is it possible that the same animals that spend the majority of their time blissfully grazing in the sun, can teach us something about living in the moment?
While the power, beauty and grace of a horse can easily fascinate those who are both new and old to horses, are we sometimes so overcome by the physical appearance of horses that we fail to understand the emotional makeup of our equine friends? Or, perhaps, even worse, do we simply not believe that horses can be profiled on an emotional level in the same way people can? There is one man who would strongly disagree. Kerry Thomas is a simple man. Born color blind, he sees the world in black and white, but more importantly, he sees the world much in the same way horses do, having studied wild herds in Wyoming and Montana. To him, the emotional makeup of the horse is more important than the color, conformation, or even athletic ability of a horse. As far as he’s concerned, the mental capacity of the horse controls the physical output, and to that end, he is looking for a trainable mind.
The client shifts around nervously in her chair, her darting eyes revealing a weak defense system. As she searches for a disguised response to an honest question, I wonder to myself, ‘Why must this be so difficult?’ The truth is, she is only doing what she knows -- hiding that is. The problem, however, is that she is also uniquely attached to her only familiarity, and it -- her unconscious desire to remain a victim, perpetrated upon by a long line of offenders -- is killing her. And again, I wonder to myself, ‘I wish there were a way for me to show her this’. It is at this time that I wish for a horse. Horses, unlike people, don’t disguise much, if anything. So a person’s unconscious wish to remain a victim doesn’t go unnoticed. Neither does the anger behind it. Because at some point in this person’s history, she was truly a victim, and what should have happened simply didn’t. So now she must replay this history with new relationships -- and sometimes old ones -- hoping to finally be cared for. Unfortunately, the kindness that is now offered to her doesn’t make up for what was missed, and, naturally, she is angry about this. But this is a hopeless cycle, because her anger now pushes away the kindness that she needs so much.
“Most of psychology has been aimed at simply getting out of pain,” explains Martin Seligman, considered by many to be the father of positive psychology. Positive psychology, he explains, is about using your signature strengths to increase positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning and achievement. Seligman further explains that when positive psychology moves daily functioning into the realm of wellbeing, the faults that one has are naturally disarmed of their power. And while there are now a multitude of positive psychology practitioners, one wonders if the experiential methodology that positive psychology seems to lend itself to is utilized to achieve its ends? One such method is equine therapy.