Horses as Mirrors
by a ROTH Student
My life has been filled with horses of all kinds from the time I was about 7 years old. I grew up next door to a farm and the children were the same age as my brother and me. We lived in the country on dirt roads in Illinois and everyone had horses. We would ride our horses bareback to other friend’s houses, play all day and then ride home. Many days were about racing the horses around and getting bucked off or fall off. The older boys would come by on bikes and the horses would love to take off and race with them down the road. All we could do was hang on to the mane, end up on the neck and pray they don’t drop their head. I remember the fear and terror of it all. Every time we decided to go riding I would spend the first 15 minutes or so feeling like I was going to be sick. I would get on and after a while I would relax and start having fun.
Horses were a love and hate relationship for me. The one thing that stands out is that, even though the horses were scary, being in the house was worse. Growing up in a sexually abusive environment, having a father that would explode for no reason, and a mother that was a suicidal alcoholic, was the last place I felt safe. The horses kept pulling me in. I always found myself spending time around them and talking to them. They never judged me and I loved them for it.
On the spiritual side, also as a little girl, I loved being outside. I would always see God in the clouds and felt him touching the top of my head with the sun. I believe and have faith that God had the horses taking care of me. It is what I know now as the heart to heart connection and their ability to feel what we feel. The faith part is, well, how do you describe faith? The only thing I can come up with is that it is trust. An example of faith would be that when you are driving down the road and a car is coming towards you in the opposite lane. You have faith that the car will stay on the correct side.
As the years went by, I always managed to find part time jobs at show barns, mucking stalls as a trade for lessons and using school horses for jumping shows. I loved it and wished I could own my own horse. I finally was able to buy one for $500.00, brought him home and he pretty much bucked me off every time I rode him. I sold him and bought my first sports car.
It wasn’t until years later that I started taking western lessons from a new friend of mine that I bought my dream horse. Sam is the most beautiful Quarter Horse Palomino that I have ever seen. He truly is the love of my life. He literality saved my life. He was there for me when I was going through the toughest times of my life. He was my strength and my mentor. Whenever I was with him nothing else mattered. Today we spend a lot of time just hanging out and loving our time together.
This brings me to the part of this report. How do horses act as Healers? How do they mirror what we are feeling?
In our culture we are experiencing a strong focus on moving fast, the faster the better. Fast food, fast cars, and fast Internet speeds are only a few examples. We have become disconnected from the wonder of Mother Nature and from our internal nature. Even the word “natural” has been exploited as a marketing ploy to lure people to buy products and services that are nowhere near natural. In Webster’s Dictionary, the word natural has several definitions: Present or produced by nature; not artificial or man made; pertaining to or produced solely by nature; pertaining to or resulting from inherent nature – not acquired; free from affectation or artificiality; spontaneous; not altered, treated or disguised.
In many ways humans have forgotten their natural gifts and how to live from the Heart. Horses may be able to show us the way back to ourselves. Their hearts are thirteen times larger by weight than the average man and over 20 times larger than the average woman’s heart. They do not toil over what happened yesterday or even five minutes ago. Many ancient and modern spiritual belief systems are based on “living in the present”. Some of us spend a lifetime trying to embody this principal. Horses seem to demonstrate it effortlessly.
In the human body, the heart is the beginning point of communication that connects emotional and mental systems. Heart rhythms affect physical health, emotional well-being and mental acuity – all three of which can be enhanced or depleted depending on how the heart “thinks“. The heart intuition we need to recapture comes through thoughts, images or feelings. Anyone that has worked with horses from a compassionate perspective will tell you that horses think and “speak” in images. Their brain breaks down the images into different frequencies.
They are so sensitive to unique frequencies being emitted by humans they essentially and efficiently mirror the outside world. They have the ability to decipher emotions in humans that may be displayed as an attitude shift or a minute change in posture. A shift in human posture, whether it is physical or emotional, may result in a perception shift on the horse’s part. Quantum physics suggests this occurrence is possible. In the words of Dr. Wayne W. Dyer, “When we change the way we look at things the things we look at change”. I believe that because the horses are in touch with their innate sensory awareness they are able to detect in humans the emotional and physiological changes we are not always aware of.
An emotion results when the heart and the brain act together. It may be that the heart can make independent decisions without the brain. The Institute of Heartmath research has shown that during the experience of negative emotions, such as anger or frustration, heart rhythms become more erratic and disordered. Positive emotions, such as appreciation, love, or compassion, are associated with balanced and orderly patterns.
Fewer stressful reactions allow the heart and nervous system to work together instead of against each other, which has been found to enhance mental clarity, creativity and problem solving abilities. Although horses might not differentiate between various emotions as humans do, they may be reacting to changes in human heart rhythms. To be successful around horses, it is important to stay calm. We have all heard the saying “horses can smell fear”. I believe they can feel fear based on how they are experiencing the status of our heart rates. I’ve experienced a variety of emotions in the presence of different horses. Horses react to my unseen emotions and act them out for me. We cannot “see” emotions yet they affect the way we perceive our world and ourselves.
Openhearted communication between horse and human has the potential to promote self-healing by enhancing one’s ability to recognize emotional congruence. Energetic communication and more acute sensory awareness results when a heart-brain connection is made in the presence a horse. From this place-in-the-heart, we can experience a sense of love, gratitude and finally, the willingness to give up what doesn’t work in our lives without blaming ourselves, others, or our animal companions.
The potential of a greater production of electrical energy from the horse’s heart may also contribute to their natural healing abilities. According to Farokh S. Sadr, author of Heart Matters, a normal heart in an average sized person will pump 4 to 5 liters of blood per minute. He estimated that the energy required to pump blood at these rates is almost 5 watts of power per hour. Because of its greater size, it may be possible for the average horse heart to produce 65 watts of power per hour. How does it affect humans to be in the presence of this amplified electrical heart energy?
Heartmath Institute Engineers performed a study about how human heart rates affect each other. By connecting two people to heart and brain monitors they examined energetic interactions between them. An important factor in the interactions was the people’s heart rhythms or “Heart Rate Variability patterns,” which look like wave forms. When they held hands, one persons heart beat could be measured in the others brain waves. In some cases when one of the people was in a loving or appreciative state their heart rhythms become what they call coherent and the two people’s heart rhythms became “entrained”.
If the Heartmath study works human to human, it may also work horse to human. Do our hearts become entrained with theirs when we are in the presence of a horse? At rest the horse’s heart rate is 26 – 50 beats per minute. This is much slower than a human’s heart rate of 70 – 75 beats per minute. Since a horse’s heart beats so much slower, can we lower our heart rate simply by standing in their presence? An occurrence that many people experience after they spend time with horses is they feel calmer. Is the end result for them a lower heart rate or a more coherent heart rhythm? Horses know instinctively how to stay in the optimal healthy heart rate zone and may be able to help us to do the same. When they aren’t being interfered with, horses are rarely stressed. They instinctively conserve energy for when they need it to engage in life saving activities – like running from predators. They don’t fabricate events to agonize over.
The Navajo felt that horses had the stars in their eyes, and that they connected us to the universe. This may have been what Einstein envisioned. When he formulated his famous equation E=mc2, he imagined the ability to travel on a beam of light. In her book, The Hidden Power of the Heart, Sara Paddison mentions the next step for human kind is to become comfortable with E=mc2 as an equation that can also prove energy moves matter. If “E” is congruent heart energy and “m” (MASS) includes mental and emotional frequencies, then “THOUGHT MATTERS”. Energy would then have the ability to balance and change “mass”. She further notes that with practice we can see how focused heart energy and heart intelligence can balance external situations.
This theory has been demonstrated in a study by Dr. Masaru Emoto. He found that when water is shown the word “love” it takes on a completely different molecular structure than water infused with “hate” or “anger”. I’ve experienced the same power of intention with my horses. I can move them from 15 feet away by focusing my heart energy similar to the way a martial artist moves “chi” or life force. The horses move depending on the emotion and strength of energy I send them. If I send a “moving away” energy or mental picture they move away. When I picture in my mind the horse walking toward me with a feeling of inviting gratitude they usually do. The point is that what we think about changes the world around us. The horses allow us to see the effects of what is working in an otherwise invisible realm. Understanding the effects of intentional thought can empower us to create what we want, instead of what we don’t want. Through listening to our hearts and focusing our intentions, we can find balance moment to moment, as the horses demonstrate. They don’t get attached to what doesn’t matter.
Horses are very sensitive to the slightest change in their surroundings. They do not see like humans do. With eyes on the sides of their heads they have, for the most part, monocular vision. They rely very little on detailed sight to let them know what is happening around them. They will act on environmental changes that cannot be seen or felt by humans. Their bodies detect the location of a fly and wiggle the corresponding area of their hide to remove it. They sense a storm coming long before it arrives by detecting changes in the barometric pressure or sense a predator long before we can see or hear one. They teach us about living in our whole body instead of exclusively in our heads.
We may have forgotten how to access our innate sensory awareness because for centuries it has not been necessary to depend on our senses to survive. The first step in awakening our long buried awareness is to open the heart. An open heart allows us the courage to be vulnerable and innocent. It helps us reconnect to the child like wonder we have forgotten. Horses offer us an opportunity to remember our inner natures and reconnect to the life giving embrace of Mother Earth. So if you want to slow down, open your heart, honor incongruent or buried emotions, and recognize your inner gifts, I would suggest putting yourself in the presence of a most magnificent spiritual teacher and healer – a horse.
I cannot say this any better than that. I feel exactly the same way and know it to be true for me. Horses are the most magnificent spiritual teachers in the world. My best teachers are horses. I trust them more then any human being on this planet. Having spent 2 weeks in this course has been a new chapter in my healing. I have found a new layer of fear that needs to be addressed in order for me to move forward. The horses have been so willing, patient, kind with me through this process. I am truly humbled and honored to be with them everyday. They are the true healers and angels on this planet.