"Melanie Marklein's workshop with horses and empowering self was a wonderful time for me. Both the indoor activities in her comfortable house, as well as the outdoor and stable meetings with horses were novel and well-led. I learned a lot, especially with the unique opportunity to work with a beautiful, spirited, white horse."
Horses provide immediate and accurate feedback. Because they respond to the subtle energy and nonverbal cues we are (often unconsciously) sending, horses make us more aware of what we are actually communicating. If our posture is meek and passive when we ask a horse to move, it's pretty likely that the horse won't budge. But when we stand up tall, pull our shoulders back, and ask again with focused intent, we will have a much better chance of getting a horse to take us seriously. It's no different with people. So not only do people start noticing their nonverbal behavior and how it is tied to what they are thinking and feeling, but they have an opportunity to try something different and receive immediate feedback from the horse. This is how interacting with horses leads to greater self-awareness and helps us break out of habitual patterns that aren't working anymore. And what happens in the arena with horses is directly translatable to what happens in our lives with people.
"The workshop was wonderful. I knew it was going to be a cool experience, but it turned out to be absolutely incredible. Connecting with the people and the horses in such an honest and open space, I also found a sense of connection within myself. I was engaged and present in every moment. I felt every moment. In that single day, I found strength that will live with me forever."
"The workshop was absolutely enjoyable and helpful. Melanie used so many different tools to discuss the authentic self, and I left having learned so much. Working with the horses was a completely unique experience, and I left feeling like a stronger person, for knowing myself better."
Horses draw us into vulnerability. They are large, powerful, and strong. It can be quite intimidating to stand near a horse, let alone groom one or walk beside him! When we interact with horses, we have an opportunity to observe how we think, feel, and behave when we feel vulnerable. Some of us shut down and disconnect. Some of us might cry or seek comfort. Some might become aggressive and try to assert control over the horse. Whatever it is, it often reflects what we do in other life situations when we feel vulnerable, and therefore gives us an opportunity to practice effective ways of moving through those situations. Experiencing vulnerability and taking risks is absolutely necessary for personal growth - horses teach us how to get outside of our comfort zone and try something new.
Photo above taken by Stephanie Lenchard Warren
Horses have an uncanny knack for emotional resonance. They can help us access and let go of deep-seated emotional wounds in a way that traditional "talk therapy" often cannot. As creatures of prey, horses have developed a sophisticated ability to sense their environment and communicate nonverbally. Horses can even sense our emotions when we are trying to hide them or are completely unaware of them. Simply being near a horse can trigger memories and feelings that may have been buried in the unconscious.
Horses do not judge. They do not care what you do for a living, how many friends you have, or what you look like. It has been said that horses can see directly into your soul and reflect what is there. An interaction with a horse will always be genuine - they have no hidden agendas and they do not lie. This kind of mindful and genuine relationship is tremendously healing for most people.