“There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man”
~Sir Winston Churchill
Horse therapy is not a modern concept: the Greek physician Hippocrates wrote about it in 400BC and the term hippotherapy (using riding for occupational therapy) is drawn from hippo, the ancient Greek for horse.
Horses are a prey animal and are hypersensitive to body language. Many humans have lost the ability to rely on body language but 93% of communication is indeed non-verbal. Because they can interpret our true feelings in our body language expression and energy horses are able react to what they see – hence the phrase, ‘a horse is a mirror‘. So the horse is perfect for instant, honest and accurate feedback creating experiences which get to the core of issues quickly, powerfully and effectively. They are true masters of teaching ‘mindfulness’, of living in the present… If you are a Star Wars fan then it really is a case of ‘be mindful of your thoughts, young Jedi’! If you want a horse to cooperate and follow, you must demonstrate real leadership through clear communication, fairness and trust.
“Be mindful of your thoughts, Anakin, they betray you.”
~Obi-Wan Kenobi quote from Star Wars
Head horseman, Jason has great empathy for the horse following a traumatic car accident which led to PTSD. Horses have helped him cope with PTSD which is why now he devotes his life to improving the life of the horse by using horsemanship as a common language. Most people today are glued to their mobile phone. Imagine trying to take a phone call with your mouth firmly taped up with duct tape – how frustrated would you feel? The horse needs a language that it understands to communicate with you.
Through horsemanship, you can understand how to clear your thoughts, emotions and body language so that they become consistent and clear so that the horse can understand. This translates into everyday life as a coping strategy with PTSD.