In times of uncertainty we often turn to something outside of ourselves for answers. What if that something was a horse? What possible benefit could there be for our personal growth in spending time with a horse? This is what the field of “Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy and Learning”, or EFPL, is all about.
EFPL is a rapidly growing field that uses relating to horses as a means of exploring and expanding your ability to create meaningful relationships with yourself and others. When you spend time with a horse with the sole purpose of creating a connection, you learn about your own fears and thought patterns that prevent you from being truly who you are in the world. Horses will mirror back to you what you need in order to trust yourself more and have more harmony in your relationships.
Why is this so? Horses are herd animals. Their survival and safety depends on being part of a herd. Within the herd they are very tuned in to each other, sensing boundaries, safety, and trust. They need to be able to move together at a moment’s notice. And they are very heart-centered: they bond with each other and support and nurture each other. They, like humans, have a social structure and want to belong.
Horses are also prey animals; they view us humans as a predator. We have to earn their trust. When you make a real connection with a 1000 pound animal, it is a profound experience. Horses can reach a place in your heart that other therapeutic modalities may not. True connection is a state of being with no expectations or attachments. In this state we are free to remember who we are.
Horses are who they are. They are authentic. There is no mask presented to the world. They demand that of us if we want to connect with them. If we are caught up in our story, we can’t connect. When we tune into our senses and are present with what we are feeling, we can open our hearts to our selves and others without judgment. This authenticity is often a vulnerable experience. However, it is what allows for a true bond and deep connection to happen. Without this congruence we remain separate and conflicted.
Opening your heart to a horse and being received unconditionally is very empowering and ultimately connects you with your joy. When you gain their trust and respect, they become willing partners in working together towards a goal. And then the fun begins!
And as I say regularly to my clients, “May the Horse be with you.”