Why do horses stir up feelings in us? Why do people feel the need to stop on the side on the road to watch a horse herd in a field? Why are we either drawn to be closer to them or deathly afraid of their size and power? I have yet to meet a person that is neutral when it comes to the horse. There is always a story, always a deep love or a deep fear. What gives them this power?
Is it the fairytale that tells us princes always ride in on white horses? And maybe we are either excited that this will be true for us too or fearful that our prince may never be coming. Or is it the peace they bring to us? Or maybe it’s the majesty and respect they demand, the idea that something out there may be greater, more connected and more beautiful than us? Horses invoke in us a primal need, a deep yearning for a simpler time, a reminder to slow down and breathe, to take in all that is so freely given to us through nature and the wonders of the natural world. A horse doesn’t ask for anything in return as they stand in the field, grazing, playing, galloping…it doesn’t matter what they are doing, they command attention and draw us in with their magic seemingly without even noticing us. A horse is whole in and of itself, there is nothing missing, they don’t seek for more or different and this can either be welcoming or intimidating. “Oh look at the horses, aren’t they beautiful” a parent may say to a young child. Or another may say “don’t walk behind them, they can hurt you”. Where do these beliefs come from?
As we start to unravel our own beliefs and conditioning, by beginning to ask why we think the way we do, we start to see what is true for us and that allows us to experience reality as the horse does, with complete acceptance of the present moment. Horses don’t have conditioning, the ability to judge each other or preconceived notions of how the world should or should not be, they simply are as they are in that exact moment. Through the unraveling of our own though process, we start to find the inner still point and from there where you fall on the spectrum of loving or fearing the horse becomes clear for you. Not only where you land on the spectrum, but why as well. Staring face to face at the truth of that “why” begins to set you free.
For me, my love and awe of the horse comes from their willingness to surrender, their complete acceptance of the present moment and the peacefulness with which they meet their world. Even if a horse herd is at full speed, galloping across the flat expanse of the west, there is peace in the middle of the herd. A stillness they possess which is so difficult to find elsewhere. Finding that stillness and peacefulness within you, the point at the center of the black hole which represents full present moment awareness can be as elusive as the meaning of life itself. This is why working with horses is such a powerful mode of healing. It is the body experience of stillness in motion. I used to be afraid of that black hole, I would shy away from it and go into a freeze response, getting confused in my conversations and then angry that the person in front of me was not showing up for me. What the horse has taught me is that diving headfirst into that black hole is exactly where they live and exactly where I need to go – at that still center point nothing is needed from the outside world or from each other, it is where things are known intuitively and answers arise spontaneously. Horses naturally live at that still point and if we allow them to, they will guide us there. From that point, all things become possible, manifestation happens, healing occurs and worth is inherently known. It is the embodiment of beauty. It is the reason we stop to admire them, why we take care of them and why we revere them in our mythology. Horses hold the key that we as humans all seek and all that they ask of us is to simply meet them there – in the field Rumi speaks of out beyond the idea of right doing and wrong doing, where everything simply is. In the present moment.