“I’ve been on this planet for more than half a century and I have yet to see a human being invent a version of themselves that’s superior to the original,” writes Wyatt Webb in his book, It’s Not About the Horse.
Webb has been a therapist, horseman and leader in equine assisted psychotherapy programs for over 20 years. He goes on to say, “And, much like the horse, humans don’t like phonies, either.” He’s referring to our humanistic response of presenting ourselves how we want others to see us while hiding our true emotions, a result of fear, pain, self-doubt or an unresolved past. Forget the issues that need attention, we just want to appear strong, be liked and accepted by others. Stand in the presence of a horse, however, and they will require that the mask come off.
It’s a great gift the horses have – that reflection of our energy as we approach their space while they pull out from us what lay beneath our disguise. A horse will move towards calmness and congruency and back away in confusion from a person whose emotions and behaviors are not aligned. Whether it’s good or bad underneath, addressing it is the first step to growing and healing. What better way to discover it then being with an animal so true in nature we can’t help but open up, be lifted in spirit and become more grounded.
Horses do come in all colors. Some equines are solid as a rock, secure, with a strong foundation of training and intelligence; they expect the same from us. Others come from unstable conditions where they have experienced fear, pain, abuse and neglect; they look to us for leadership, safety and strength. Then there are those that appear solid and calm on the outside, but surprise us with some impulsive action. They are an animal whose behavior is real. That behavior brings out in humans what is real and what is not. We discover who we want to be or don’t want to be – on real terms.
Equine assisted therapy not only touches on weaknesses, but taps into our strengths. By confronting the former and fostering the latter, we can build a better foundation for personal growth, healing and happiness. Let the horse create an outlet for your authentic self to flourish. It will be a much more rewarding story than a made-up one.