Frustration starts where knowledge ends
- Clinton Anderson
There is a point in many equine experientials where the individual or the group begins to experience a level of frustration. Some of the experientials in equine therapy often create feelings of frustration.
The horse can exhibit frustration in many of the same ways a person can. They can shut down or freeze, leave or walk away, and even at times keep trying new things until there is a pay off. For example some horses can work a gate latch different ways until they are able to get it open. If the horse is frustrated with being in its stall it will use that frustrated energy to figure out a way to get loose. On the other side of that coin, some horses who feel large amounts of frustration and stress can develop unhealthy ways of coping with it such as aggression, cribbing (sucking air compulsively), or weaving back and fourth continuously in a stall. Left unaddressed the horse can be permanently emotionally affected by this.
Often frustration in day to day life is an experience that tends to be avoided. In working with horses therapeutically frustration can be used to help cue healthy change and progress in recovery. Instead of repeating old behavior patterns when frustrated, Participants are encouraged to practice new tools and new skills. A horse is very tuned into those shifts in energy. A horse that has refused to move his feet all session will suddenly become willing and move with ease once a Participant has reframed their frustration, and began drawing on it as a source of motivation and intention.
Often times Participants come to that place in their frustration where they can shut down, withdraw or move forward. At this very important crossroad the horse is always willing to practice the new ways of using the energy around frustration to meet needs. The horse is willing to wait as we work through our process around frustration and let go of what has not worked.
Because of their forgiving and patient nature the horse is willing to journey with us through these trial and error periods. They will stand beside us as we discover what works for us when we are feeling frustrated.