Why horses don't heal anyone


 Or why it isn't about healing at all...

How do we "heal" from trauma? (that broadly speaking is anything that overwhelms you and you do not have "room" to contain, and therefor have to look at piece by piece until it is integrated in your life.

It can be any hardships in life, broken relationships, deaths, sickness, injuries, accidents, war, natural disasters, robbery, an adverse childhood – just anything). If it is an old trauma (or series of traumas), you have used different defense and coping strategies that has served the purpose of protecting you from the trauma(s) and the pain and overwhelm they have caused you. Now these defenses and coping strategies only give you problems and stop you from taking part in your own life.We heal – or better, we find ourselves, we become us, in relationships with other beings. Who witness us, comfort us, guide us, support us, cheer us on – and if it is a therapist – uses all therapeutic skills, knowledge, experience and techniques they posses, to assist and facilitate you moving ahead on your "healing" journey – on your self discovery exploration adventure.

But a horse is not a therapist. And even if he was, he can not heal you, or me, or anyone. He can not find you for you, discover you for you. He can only give you his perspective.

Who does the healing? The finding? You do. I do. Everyone who goes through a process of healing old, or new, wounds – are doing it by themselves. It is the person who is suffering that does the healing. Because nobody else can. Nobody else can heal another being. Not even if the other one is a horse.

So what can a horse do? He can give you support and comfort. He can keep you company on your healing journey. He can show you his perspective on life. He can be someone you learn and explore relationships together with. He can be curios together with you – at what is around you, and at you. He can try new things together with you. He can listen. He can let you into his space. You can breathe together. You can touch him (if he wants to) – and you can regulate your emotions together with him, you can ground yourself with him. And a lot more – just depending on who you are and who he is, and where you are – on this exploration journey.

But he can not do anything that you are not doing. He can add himself, his perspective, but he can not reveal yours, he can not bring you out, heal you, make you understand yourself.

He will be at the place you are.

He will keep on giving you his perspective, and for things to change, you must listen, look at your own perspectives – and think about the difference.

You have to show up, take part, dedicate yourself to your growth, you need to (allow yourself to) fail, get disappointed at yourself, not give up, but try again. You have to reflect, on your own thought patterns, belief systems, behaviors, your role in relationships, with others and yourself. You have to be courageous and choose to do things that are new, different and seem scary. You have to change your relationship with yourself – and watch and reflect, over and over and over again.

Nobody can do this for you. Not even a horse.

He can be there for you – when YOU do this. And if given space to do so – he will grow too.

It is true that we "become" in relationships with other beings, be that horses or humans, or any being, but it is a choice. You have to actively take part. Or not, you can always choose to stay the same. Your growth, your healing, is your choice.

A horse can not heal you more than a therapist can, or a new love, a new place, a new job, having children – what they can do – is be there. Witness, support – and give you their perspectives.

And maybe it is not about healing? But about finding yourself, re-discover yourself, re-claim yourself and your life. It can feel like healing, because you have been hurting, and you feel wounded and are in pain. But you are not damaged or broken – you are you.

As the horse is him (or her). Nothing else.

Horses are not like humans in this aspect. They do not assign titles to themselves, or their peers, or us. That is part of why we feel so comfortable with them. They are just them, and they do not judge you on the basis of your titles, income, the masks you put on to move around in society, your relationship status. He sees you.

So what happens when we give them titles as therapists, healers, coaches, mentors, teachers? How does this change us? How we view them?

Can we then see the horse for who he is? See what he needs? From his perspective, not ours?

When we call horses healers, mentors, teachers, coaches – are we then using them? Objectifying them? Instrumentalizing them? 

Do words matter? Does it matter what we call them? How does it change the relationship dynamics between you and him?

If you call a horse a therapist (co-therapist), coach, healer, mentor or teacher when you speak to your clients and customers – what does that make with their view on the horse? What picture are we then giving our clients and customers? Of whom the horse is? What he can do? Of whose responsibility it is to "heal", do the discoveries of themselves?

Just some food for thought inspired by a discussion I had here on fb. Text and photo © Katarina Lundgren 

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Wednesday, 17 April 2024