By Bridie Lavery
There is much that can be said about a horse’s ability to trust. Horses are considered prey animals. They have eyes situated on the sides of their heads which means that they can see almost 180 degrees. It is said that their hearing is so in tune that they can hear the leaves move on trees up to a kilometre away. This evolutionary system, coupled with their incredible speed, means that horses can flee at the first sign of danger, as their lives depend on it.
Horses communicate silently. They read body language with such an accurate perception that there is no room in their world for dishonesty. They do not hold on to previous emotions. They perceive, they express and respond, and they get back to grazing. Their safety depends on their ability to sense incongruences and danger and to regulate themselves. They have very clear rules and boundaries that organise their herds.
Humans also respond well to structure, rules and boundaries and the ability to authentically express. It is important for humans to balance nervous system regulation also and to feel comfortable in their bodies. Together in partnership with the horses we can learn how.
Peninsula Equine Assisted Therapy (P.E.A.T) is an equine-assisted learning centre that supports and encourages a unique approach to human healing. Combining a love and deep appreciation for horses, our sessions support and encourage opportunities for growth and change.
People are considered predators. We have eyes at the front of our heads, and claw- like fingers and hands. We make direct eye contact and often eat meat. We regularly walk towards horses in a direct line with intent and focus, often to catch this flight-prone animal. Through the eyes of a horse this can be considered predator-type behaviour. It is amazing that horses have come to trust and connect with humans, even so much as to let them ride on their backs. This relationship of trust depends on the quality and integrity of our communication and the deepening of our relationships with our equine companions.
There is so much we can learn about ourselves and our relationships with others from being associated with horses. Horses allow us opportunities to learn about our own feelings and deepen our awareness. They teach us about connection to our inner and outer worlds, how to be attuned and perceptive. We even become aware of how we are holding our body. To establish a relationship with horses we must display trust and we must communicate clearly and honestly.
In Gestalt therapy, which is the foundation that Peninsula Equine Assisted Therapy is built upon, there is a saying that relationships have the power to hurt, but also have the power to heal. In our equine-assisted sessions, the relationship between the client, horse and practitioner is one of mutual respect, acknowledging the value of our respective contributions and working out how we can co-navigate the space created between us. Within the uniqueness of each moment we open ourselves up to the possibility of change. In Gestalt, we call this I-Thou relationships.
Our clients are offered a safe, equine-assisted learning experience with our horses and ponies that supports their own personal growth. Our sessions are also wonderful for professional development, team building and leadership. Many clients who have experienced moments of anxiety or depression or post-traumatic stress disorder have found that, through the support of an equine-assisted practitioner, they have discovered a safe and effective path that provides opportunities to create a new way forward. Children and teenagers are most welcome, and we have a safety-built working environment for their sessions that are separate from the larger horses. Each session is as unique as the horses and the people experiencing them. Everyone is welcome.
P.E.A.T is now open and taking bookings for the upcoming months. Please give us a call today.
Bridie 0417 603 172