This provides an opportunity for self-development and growth. The two-way street of connection encourages insight and reflection from the human participant. The horse and human ask the same questions of each other and the world around them. The questions are: Am I safe? Are you safe? Is the environment around us safe? These same questions are echoed in the Polyvagal Theory and Dr. Porges’ definition of neuoroception.
Horses teach us about adaptability and flexibility. In a moment they can go from fight or flight to resting. They seem to move seamlessly from an activated state to a state of regulation. There is so much to learn from them about letting go of anxiety and moving to a state of rest.
Over the years, the answer to the question of “why incorporate horses into therapy?” has changed. You can still find evidence of the old perspective that horses are mirrors on long-abandoned websites, but as the field of animal-assisted therapy evolved so has an awareness of the central role of relationship and connection to both human and animal well-being. When working with horses, we are reminded that what we bring to a relationship is influenced by our nervous system and the nervous systems of others. To connect with others, we need to embody a state that encourages and supports calmness. Horses ask that we are in the present moment with them, communicating messages of safety. There is so much more to say, but to hear it all, please tune in to our webinars.