“The horse knows, he knows when you know.
He also knows when you don’t.”
He has the biggest most caring and curious eyes. Light flurries of grey hair accent his brows and hint at his age. Every time someone walks past his stall he nickers invitingly. Rooster is by far the most welcoming horse at the barn.
Our horses can read a single participant or a group of people rather quickly. It’s simply their nature and they are very good at it. Rooster is unique in that he will actually look at you and take time to “See” you. Rooster considers what’s on the inside of a person just as much as what is on the outside. There is a sharing with Rooster that is not like all horses. When he looks at you it’s easy to tell he is learning. He is honestly studying you like a beautiful work of art. He seeks out those subtle things and those hidden things. With of his ability to make this connection, Rooster can often go father with people in a difficult situation than words can go.
Because of his eagerness to be with people he is often in session or out on a ride. Rooster has a definite passion for his work. He is in his niche and we are very thankful for him here at the barn.
The Meadows recently added three new miniature horses to its equine program. They are Comet, the baby, and his parents Nutmeg and Charlie. As you can see from the photo, the other horses are very curious about their new stablemate, Comet.
When working with a horse in a therapy session push and pull equate to assertive and passive. When horses communicate, it is through pushing. Boundaries are demonstrated through pushes in body language. A horse can push another away with an assertive look or swing a rear end around in a gesture to kick. Getting needs met is demonstrated by moving near and leaning toward or pushing into.
Horses don’t pull at each other. The closest thing to a pull to a horse is one calling out to another vocally. So what is the push about and what does that have to do with a therapeutic encounter?
During a therapeutic equine session a Participant often needs to move the horse in order to accomplish the task. Given that there is no halter or rope available this can present a challenge. More than 90% of the time the Participant tries “pulling” the horse by:
This type of “pulling” is coercive, indirect and passive.
All of these things are done in front of the horse. There is no pressure/push for the horse to respond to. It’s a passive way, a least invasive attempt to convince or appeal enough to the animal that it may want to move toward them.
How often to do we pull when direct communication would be so much more effective?
Other than literally pulling with a rope, a horse does not register a pull as pressure. It is just something occurring in the space at the moment that has no direct affect on its current state of being. Looking at how they communicate gives us a clue to healthy communication. The push is a natural pressure toward. It communicates intent in an assertive clear way. Participants push a horse by:
A push does not occur directly in front of the horse. It happens from the shoulders back. The most obvious difference is the feeling associated with a push. Although initially uncertainty is common, practicing it causes an internal shift. Moving with strength and intention creates energy. This is energy and pressure that the horse can clearly feel and will respond to. The horse now understands what you are saying and can move accordingly.
Learning how to push a horse changes the way Participants ask for needs and wants. It is a tangible way to experience healthy communication in a safe place.
The Meadows recently announced the addition of “Spirit: A Somatic Equine Workshop” to be offered beginning the week of November 11-15, 2013 from 7:15 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The 2014 dates include January 13-17, February 10-14, March 10-14, and April 14-18. This workshop will be offered at a ranch near The Meadows’ campus.
Combining The Meadows Model, Somatic Experiencing® (SE), mindfulness, and natural horsemanship, this cutting-edge workshop allows for a distinct healing experience. The program consists of experiential activities with horses addressing self-esteem, boundaries, honoring reality, wants and needs, emotional regulation, and spontaneity. Created exclusively for a small group of no more than five participants, this workshop is an outdoor five-day experience facilitated by a seasoned therapist trained in SE, along with a highly skilled, horseman and notable trainer. Individuals, couples, families, and professionals are welcome to enroll.
“We are thrilled to launch “Spirit,” said Jean Collins, MSW, LISAC, CSAT, Director of Workshops at The Meadows. “Due to the unique nature of this workshop and its prospective gifts for the participants, we have been awaiting this with great anticipation.”
To learn more about Spirit: A Somatic Equine Workshop visit http://www.themeadows.com/workshops/spirit-a-somatic-equine-workshop.
Attending a Meadows’ workshop offers an individual many benefits. A workshop can be a cost-effective alternative when long-term treatment is not an option. Individuals who cannot be away from their work or families for an extended period of time can attend a workshop and work on sensitive issues in a five-day concentrated format. This allows individuals to jump start their personal recovery by gaining insight into patterns and practicing new relational skills within a safe environment.
The Meadows is an industry leader in treating trauma and addiction through its inpatient and workshop programs. To learn more about Spirit: A Somatic Equine Workshop and The Meadows’ work with trauma and addiction contact an intake coordinator at (866) 856-1279 or visit www.themeadows.com.
For over 35 years, The Meadows has been a leading trauma and addiction treatment center. In that time, they have helped more than 20,000 patients in their inpatient center and 25,000 attendees in national workshops. The Meadows world-class team of Senior Fellows, Psychiatrists, Therapists and Counselors treat the symptoms of addiction and the underlying issues that cause lifelong patterns of self-destructive behavior. The Meadows, with 24 hour nursing and on-site physicians and psychiatrists, is a Level 1 Sub-Acute Agency that is accredited by the Joint Commission.
Blue Roan Appaloosa
When looking out on our herd here you will notice many different horses. Some are flashy and really eye catching; others are striking in conformation or personality. It is a nice remuda of horses and full of some of the most talented therapy horses ever. We however, are going to take a closer look. Past that flash and personality is a dark colored old man standing back outside the herd. He would be easy to miss if you did not take the time to really notice.
Dude does not have all the flash. Despite being an appaloosa Dude’s color makes him look more dirty than anything else. He is not the class clown or even a very affectionate horse. He can be agreeable or not depending on the day. He stands in the warm fall breeze and looks like he is asleep. The winds play with his wispy main and tail. His head is down, eyes heavy. From where we stand it seems like he is disinterested in the daily goings on of the rest of the horses. He comes in to eat but won’t share a feeder. When he is done he goes back to his little hill and there he is…”being” in the sunshine.
He is a horse that would not get your attention right away. He is not physically as appealing as the other horses and makes himself unavailable. So what makes him such a wonderful therapy horse? It’s in the way that we had to slow down and look past the exterior “noise” to notice Dude. His personality challenges us to look past our initial assumptions and distractions and search for something deeper. He is confident and intentional. He is the head of the herd for certain. Dude has an internal strength and is completely comfortable in his own skin. He spends his day on the hill because he can see what’s going on. When there is a disagreement in his herd he meanders down…deals with it and heads back up again. He can see who leaves to work and makes sure everyone is back at the end of the day. He lives every day in simple confidence. Standing with him is like breathing for the first time. It’s a calming weight of internal strength that not many have felt.
He will show you how to slow down and be mindful. He teaches us how to recognize problems before they reach crisis as well as how to be comfortable with yourself. There is a wonderful calm knowing in Dude. His personality is not one that will just give it away, but the simple act of asking to share space with him will open a door to an old horse that can change your perspective from that moment forward.