Several years ago as the medical reporter for our local news station, I did a television segment on Equine Guided Education also known as horse therapy. This is a type of therapy that uses horses to actually help people. Horses are very intuitive. They can pick up on our intent and do what we ask if we are very clear. That is where the therapy piece comes in. Many of us are not sure of our intent or how to implement it. In the session, I started by grooming the horse. Of course, being the type-A person that I am, I started brushing the horse very quickly and June, who holds a doctorate in education, pointed out the fact that I was rushing and suggested I slow down and experience what I was doing. Once I did that, it was almost like meditating. For about 15 minutes I relaxed and found myself completely in the moment.
My next activity was to get into the training ring alone with the horse. With just my intent, I was supposed to get the horse to run around the circle. At first, I just stood there not knowing what to do. Then, I focused my intent and started running around the circle myself; talking and cajoling the horse to move. For one, very brief instant we were one. I completely communicated with the horse and she started to move. For that short moment in time, it was like an electrical charge between us, and then it was over.
June wisely pointed out to me that although I was able to get the horse to move, I was the one doing all the work. She asked me if there were any similarities in my life. I had to admit that I have always overdone for others. I overdid for my children, for my patients and for my friends. This experience occurred over 10 years ago and her words are right there in my ear every time I find myself in that same situation.
I have stopped going overboard for my children and that has been a very good thing. They are empowered and self-sufficient these days. They have problems, they ask for advice, and I am okay with whether they take it or not. I do not go crazy trying to convince them or stop them from making what I see as a potential mistake.
For my patients, I have also improved. I no longer send them audio cards to put on their fridge that say (with my voice) “Step away from the refrigerator!” I have stopped calling them in the morning to remind them to exercise. It never worked and was way too time consuming for me. And, I was doing all the work. If they are going to be successful they need to find the strength within themselves.
Where I still have trouble these days is with my friends. I am not sure why that is. I find myself trying way too hard. I feel like I am back in the ring with that horse again. I bend over backwards to help them medically and emotionally, and when I look back I find the return is fairly small. I rationalize what I do by convincing myself that I do not need anything in return. But, I am lying to myself. I do. I need at least a modicum of gratitude and to know that I am making a difference and not being used. I have a feeling that I am not alone. Those of us in helping professions have a tendency to bend over backwards for all of those in our lives.
So, today I declare that I am no longer going to cajole, jump up and down, and do all the work. I am slowing down and stopping in that ring. I will clearly communicate my intent and watch what happens. I am going to try very hard to stay in the moment and remember what I learned from my Equine Guided Education/ horse therapy experience. It has taken over 10 years, but I think I am finally ready! Thank you June, for all your great lessons.
If you ever have the opportunity to do something like this, I highly recommend it. One session has given me life lessons for now and many years to come. Horses and horse therapists are simply amazing.