The Importance of Time

just being in the pasture
I'm in the middle of a research study that asks participants to go out into the herd and spend time with horses without agendas or pre-determined activities. I have restrictions on the kinds of interactions they are allowed to have, but give them permission to approach the horses and let the horses approach them. But if the horse leaves, they are not allowed to pursue. There are lots of reasons why I'm doing this study. I want to look at how individual horse behavior changes with different associations with individuals and the choices participants make with regards to their interactions. They ...
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I see you – the necessary skill/art of observing/noticing

observation
I have been interviewing and talking to horse nomads, horse herders in Mongolia, and I asked them, how did you learn about horses? How do you become a good horse professional? And with smaller variations, they always answer the same: You need to spend a lot of time with horses, be with them, watch them, get to know them, and let them get to know you. By doing this constantly and for long periods of time – you develop a way of understanding them, without having words for it, and they, in the same way, develop a way of understanding you. It is a mutual and reciprocal process. And almost all of t...
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Thoughts on rewilding and human-horse parallels

rewilding you
Here we are, at the doorsteps of winter, welcoming holiday season once again. Are we appreciating the seasonal cycles and changes that come along with it? Instead of performing the holidays, can we allow ourselves to literally rest and digest? Ethics and welfare of equines touch us. We care. We study. We try our best to accommodate our hairy counterparts in our human environment. We begin to understand the natural needs of equines on different levels and find ways to facilitate the wild nature inside of domestication. We switch from single boxes to large pastures with friends. We let the horse...
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From the mind to the bodymind, finding embodiment with and without horses

Embodiment with horses
I step into the presence of horses and a felt sense of release and increased awareness travels through my body. It is almost as if I could feel the body and the mind reaching their fingertips towards each other and finally finding a way to hold their hands again. At that moment, I ask myself, where was I just a moment ago? Am I really hanging out here, out and about, in the world, most of the time, cut up into bite-sized pieces, handling only one part at a time? The mind going on about its hassles and busy times somewhere out there, leaving the body alone to the playground like an oblivious pa...
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Why horses don't heal anyone

horses-dont-heal
 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 ...
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How to connect with a horse – the science side of it

How-to-connect-with-a-horse
How do you connect with a horse? Is it important that a horse always is in connection with the human he is interacting with? This seems like straightforward questions, right? But to answer them, we need to look closer at the horse-human interaction, but also at the concept of interaction between subjects (individuals). And we need to define what we are talking about.  Follow me into this discussion – and you will see that they are far from easy questions and that there are no simple answers. But this is an important topic, and we need to untangle some common use of words and concepts. It ...
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Giving the horse a sense of agency – positive equine welfare through Equine Assisted Therapies

Agency
 When we talk about horses in Equine Assisted Therapies, we are more often concerned with the negative impact meeting clients and dealing with their emotional hardship can have on them, than with the positive impact these meetings can have for their welfare and well-being. Before I continue. I'm an avid spokesperson for better equine welfare on all levels. To be able to call it welfare, I think it is necessary for equines to have their biological, as well as their social, emotional and cognitive needs, met. And my welfare standards are set high. So high, I can't reach them myself, for my ...
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Horses and Time

Horses-and-Time
How do horses perceive time? Do they have agendas? Are they always in the here and now? Cognitive scientists are now debating how good non-human animals are at planning – which imply they have an inbuilt sense of time, and are not always present in the now. That they understand the passing of time and can act out of this knowledge. That they can plan ahead. But also that they can mix up the now with the past.  In the horse world, I have many times heard the "truth" that horses have no agenda and always are in the here and now. Is this true? Or is that purely human projections? Do we want ...
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Wild horses in Mongolia

Mongolia A family group in Saikhanaa's band. A youngster looking up.
Wild horses. Listen to the sound of the word. Wild, as in free. Every human has a relationship with horses. If you never met one in real life, you have seen them on TV, read about them in books, met them in commercials. Beautiful, proud, free horses. We, who have met them in real life, almost always get forever spellbound by them. Because the horse is a strong archetype, a primordial image, means something to us. Some kind of a horse is there, somewhere deep inside of all of us. Most deeply the horse lives, ingrained, in the soul of the Mongol. The horse is by far the most important animal in ...
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