This article is part of our Mental Health Awareness Month. Brought to you by Touched by a Horse.
You’ve gone to the barn after a long, stressful day at work and you have strong emotions flooding you. At work, you have a fellow employee who has made your job miserable and now you want to quit. You’ve been to human resources about him because he’s loud and reactionary. When you’re in the boardroom and he wants to get his point across, he stands up and talks in a loud voice. He might even toss his pencil or pad as he’s talking and pacing around the room. As you’ve been struggling with your ability to manage your feelings toward your coworker, you carry those emotions everywhere with you. You try to avoid those emotions while riding. But notice that your horse has begun to pick up on how you feel.
Working With an Equine Gestaltist
Rather than trying to continue to work through the struggle with your co-worker by yourself, you decide to reach out to an Equine Gestaltist. When you participate in the session, you have your Gestaltist and their horse both present to facilitate. As you learned during your ride, horses are very perceptive about what we carry in our hearts, minds, and bodies. It’s through keen intuition horses can support us in solving very human problems with horse sense.
During the initial session you’ll explore if this coworker has been threatening with you in any way. You say “no.” As your Gestaltist leads you deeper into your reaction, you begin to remember a past trauma. You recall being at the dinner table as a 5-year-old with your parents and older brother. When suddenly your father and brother are yelling. You remember being terrified. And realize that emotion is similar to how you feel when your co-worker reacts during a meeting.
Now you replay the events again in your mind. At liberty, standing on the opposite side of the round pen from your coach’s horse, your coach asks you to speak the truth about the trauma. When you speak the truth of how when you were a little girl the fight between your father and brother was difficult for you, the horse begins to walk toward you. About halfway to you, the horse stops. Your coach explains that the horse hit a wall of protection that you still have around yourself. As you say the truth a few more times, you finally express that you’ve held the terror and confusion from that fight for your whole life and that you release it. When you express and release the truth, your coach’s horse comes over and rests his head against you. You were able to finish the unfinished business with the trauma and will notice your body relax and find peace.
Healing With Horses
When you return to the office, the co-worker who had once scared you no longer seems as loud or as frightening. Although your co-worker had not changed and demonstrated the same behaviors he had the week prior, you see now see that he’s just passionate about his work. It was the trauma that your body had been holding onto from the past that was triggered when your co-worker displayed similar body language.
So, when you have a problem that you’ve pushed down into your subconscious, whether that be a recent thing at work or a past trauma that hasn’t been resolved, your body starts to express those emotions before your mind is willing to let it go. We are wired in a way that if something terrible happens, our brains protect us from that memory. But our past still haunts us and that trauma still lives within our body. So we will do anything to avoid it.
Listen to our The Ride’s Winning Insights multi-part series on how horses can help us heal here: