• Stephanie

Did the title speak to you? Maybe you have always been someone who is drawn to horses. Maybe when you were younger, you dreamed of riding, imagined yourself as a "horse person," even figured out what kind of horse you would want. And yet to this day, when you think about actually taking a lesson or asking that friend with horses to introduce you to them, you can feel the nervous knots building in your stomach and so you never pursue this intense interest or respond to this soul's calling.

Or maybe you did take a lesson or a bunch of lessons but you had a teacher who pushed too hard and too fast and didn't take your fears into consideration. Or you started to ride but had a bad fall -- or a fall that didn't result in any injury but left a mark on your courage.

You are not alone.

There are so many of these sorts of stories out there. I hear them all the time.

I hear those stories all the time not just from people who still can't face their fears but from countless people who come to me to do just that. There is a way beyond the fear and you can fulfill those dreams and longings.

Do these sound familiar?

Myth: "Don't show the horse you're afraid".

Truth: You can't hide fear from a horse.

Me: AND THAT'S OK. The truth of the moment is an EXCELLENT starting point AND there's a way forward from there.

Myth: "You have to get right back on after a fall".

Truth: You don't.

Me: But if it's something you choose to do there's an empowering and safe way to go about it that honors you and the horse.

These are only two of countless examples.

I have a successful way of working with people that addresses both the physical and emotional aspects of the horse-human relationship that helps them regain their confidence and joy with horses again and... fear is welcome here.

The horse-human connection is unique in our animal-human connections. Though some dogs are working animals, we don't ride them, and cats, well, cats are pretty much the bosses of us. And most other large domesticated herbivores are livestock raised for food.

But horse and human became something very different, and it's a lot about the shared energetics and body language that have evolved and that each of us must develop on our own if we are ever to become accomplished, effective, and compassionate horsemen/women.

In a relationship-based interaction, we don't just simply get on the horse and go, and we don't coerce the horse through violence or threat.

Ideally, the horse is not just a passive recipient of our commands, and each horse, as with each rider, deserves to retain and express their own unique personality in the context of relationship.

So how is it that we connect to these noble animals? How is it that they connect to us?

I find the idea that awareness is the foundation of this relationship compelling, as a rider, a teacher, and as someone who guides others in horse-human interactions, and this section from a larger piece says so much: "Research has shown that horses and humans have developed a unique way to communicate with one another, a kind of third language, neither fully human nor fully equine. What linguists call an “embodied language system” seems to have developed – a way of communicating that’s reliant on touch, emotional connection and becoming attuned to physical’s a symbiotic and dynamic process that recognizes horses as sensitive, decision-making beings." You can read the whole article here.

Exploring and developing skills within this awareness can happen on so many levels. Physical body language is just one piece which encompasses such things as touch, movement, posture, and breath, just to scratch the surface. Our relationship with horses is also influenced through our emotions, intentions, focus, and energy.

Regardless of which level you're learning about or working on, the first step starts with awareness.

​© 2016 by Stephanie Sawtelle