Horses, like humans enjoy interacting with each other.
They have a herd leader, like a head of the family or organisation, and each member has their own role. Within a herd structure, horses relate to each other in many different ways; through mating, playing, grooming each others hard to reach places, communicating with each other with their body language, eating together.
Some, will even form bonded relationships much like our romantic partnerships. An important aspect of herd life is that it provides them with security, knowing that each horse has the others back.
A key part of their ability to form relationships is the setting of boundaries. Each horse will set their own; however, the herd leader will teach the newer members about acceptable behaviour, and if necessary, will keep them on the outside of the herd, or kick a butt or two until they have learnt to behave. As horses are prey animals this is essential teaching for the safety of the herd.
Body language and Boundaries
Humans have the ability to read, and act on what they see, in each others body language. For some, these abilities can range from highly effective, and to others, they can be completely non-existent, for a whole host of reasons.
Horses don’t only read body language but, compared to a human, are more inclined to trust and act on their instincts. You see, for them acting on what they feel and experience through their assessment of a potential predators body language could be the difference between life and death.
Humans, on the other hand, have a tendency to second guess what they read and feel from another’s body language. More often than not, we live to tell the tale.
Often times; however, second guessing can lead to uncomfortable situations in our relationships, and we leave ourselves open to being treated with disrespect; emotionally, mentally, physically, socially, sexually.
In such situations, either we have pushed or crossed a boundary, or have allowed another to push or cross ours.
Humans like horses have the ability to set and negotiate boundaries. And yes, they do it much better than we do.
If they perceive our behaviour to be incongruent, for them, this is a sign to keep their distance. Being incongruent is when we pretend that all is well on the outside but inside we are unhappy, angry, stressed, etc. Experiencing us in this way, can be confusing to a horse, so they air on the side of caution, and give us a wide berth by setting a boundary.
Working with Horses
This is why working with horses, in any kind of human personal development or transformation work is so powerful.
Horses, do not pass judgement, they don’t care where you stand in your community, or how you you look.
They are interested in
Whether you pose a threat to their safety or their survival?
What your intentions are?
Whether you are being congruent? The same on the inside as you present on the outside.
However you come across, a horse will give you immediate, honest, non-judgemental feedback on who you are being in that present moment, and demand that you be your full and authentic self, with nothing added and nothing taken away.
Through interacting with a horse, they will invite you to explore different ways of perceiving and experiencing your world, showing you new ways of relating to yourself and those important to you; whether in your work or home life.
They will help you to address issues, difficulties, fears and challenges you may be experiencing and open your eyes to new approaches and solutions that you will not have considered.
A lot of the time, we are unaware of how we come across, as a result, we are often, unaware of all of the messages we are putting out there. It gets especially confusing
- when we are not being entirely truthful,
- are not saying what we mean,
- trying to please others,
- feeling obligated,
- following the crowd by saying what we do not believe or feel is right,
- trying to cover up how we really feel
What we may not realise is that how we feel about difficult situations will be displayed through our body language.
Especially, if the situation has been going on for years, we are likely to have created a pattern of behaviour that will be clearly visible through our posture, facial expressions, body language, and also in how we speak about it.
It is through our interactions with horses where we will be able to shift some of those patterns of behaviour and learn new ways of being.