Sentient Horse:: The Human Horse Partnership
May 06, 2014 02:16AM
By Jennifer McDermott
No matter what stage of life we are in, the “Aha!” moment resonates with the greatest force. It is especially so when the source is surprising and unexpected. The experience invigorates us and invites us to go further down a path we may have never known existed. In the Year of the Horse, exploring man’s relationship with Equus will cast light on what it is to be human. The horse is a conscious being capable of creating change in the human mind and body. Why the horse? Why did this 1,000-pound prey animal come off the plains away from their herd and join man thousands of years ago? Why do they remain “the unusual, unsuspecting, unassuming” teacher and healer today to the many who have sought out their wisdom and touch? It is the horse’s journey with man that helps define him as a sentient being. Though they are silent, it is their actions that demonstrate their unique consciousness.
To understand the partnership that evolves between man and horse, consider a brief history. Animal behaviorist Temple Grandin cites sociability both within the herd and on the plains as the reason for first contact nearly 4,000 years ago. Some might see curiosity and others will look at the horse’s lack of ego for the survival of the herd. All of these qualities inherent in the horse drew it to man in hope of finding something worth knowing. By understanding the communication piece, man caused the horse to stay. It was cited long ago that a common language could be built through a series of cues. As early as 346 B.C., the great horseman Xenophon writes about the intelligence of the horse. He notes a forced horse, through whip and spur, is not unlike a ballet dancer taught by the same abusive hand. We can expect only so much beauty and fluidity to come through. Horses learn as humans do, understanding the concept of reward. As they seek safety in the herd, they are remarkable students who value acceptance. The horse will seek out leadership from man, a predator.
Horse lives in the moment. A horse trusts the authenticity of their intuitive selves and they do not break from it or mask it like us humans. Nature dictates a predator has means to compromise its life, but if the horse senses fairness and calm, it will follow. When it senses no danger, there is no danger. When horses sense goodness, they want to be a part of it. Horses are truly mirrors. So how does this help with the human journey? Equus takes our core energy, our inner authentic self and shows it to us whether we want to see it or not whether we understand it or not. They can help us come to an understanding of ourselves, and from there, healing can begin. It is also this unbridled honesty and awareness that enables a high-energy polo pony to quiet down when a disabled child is placed on its back. It is this inner understanding that allows seriously abused horses to exhale deeply and go where no human thought possible alongside a kind and gentle leader.
The sentient being waits patiently for our aha moment and will take us on a journey of a lifetime if we allow for the discovery of what lies within.
Jennifer McDermott has been around horses since the age of ten. Her exploration of horse energy began while rehabilitating horses in Fairfield County over 12 years ago. In her equine Reiki practice, she approaches equine rehabilitation with nutrition, bodywork and positive reinforcement teaching. She lives in Guilford and devotes herself to the rehabilitation of the Off the Track Thoroughbred.