Learning about Intent and Body Language through Horseplay.
Every Wednesday morning for the last nine months you could have found me picking up horse poo! That’s 36 trips or over 200 hours (voluntary work/travel time). It’s actually a Zen-like activity but you may well ask why?
My friends at PaintedHorse – human and horse (dog, goat and sheep) – gave me the opportunity to get to know the herd. And, I was extremely grateful.
‘Finally, he described how human beings could tune themselves to the equine frequency by living with a herd and mimicking horse behaviour patterns, moving when they move, resting when they rest, eating when they eat, playing when they play.’ Linda Kohanov, The Tao of Equus
Around ten years ago, I completed three equine facilitated learning (EFL) courses, but this experience took my understanding of how horses live and work together, to a different level. Once the horses trusted me (as a temporary herd member) they began to sense my energy fluctuations and demonstrate a form of telepathic communication. They incessantly mirrored my suppressed emotions and unresolved issues. As prey animals – among the hunted out in the wild – this ability keeps them safe.
Over the months, we did a number of EFL-related exercises but the most poignant was something akin to family constellation work.
Six horses stepped forward to role play my family members including myself. Is this possible? Whatever, you might think of my interpretation (written up in the Companion Guide section of Becoming and Beyond) one thing was for sure. Their work helped me to assess my family situation and any resistance between family members became more obvious. I could observe and understand the parameters. With that, alternative (ways of behaving) presented themselves. And the horses seemed to rehearse them (for my benefit)!
My family’s dynamics changed as the horses entered new relationships. Due to a bout of ill health, the alpha mare and a lower-ranked herd member had to become stable mates and get to know each other, the herd leader had an enforced rest, and the ‘youngster’ was taught mutual grooming by a maternal cob. With practice – change of intent, body language – a different balance came into play.
‘By learning to recognise how her body language didn’t match her message … was surprised to find that she could get the desired result almost effortlessly.’ Linda Kohanov, The Tao of Equus