Many of us who become involved in Equine Assisted Psychotherapy and Learning (EAP/L) have had some previous involvement with horses. Perhaps you were among the lucky kids who grew up with a horse in the backyard or maybe you looked forward to horse camp each summer with intense joy
and anticipation. Some have always loved and appreciated horses from a distance but were not able to realize their dream of horse ownership until adulthood; others have a deep tradition of spiritual connection with the horse as is the case with the Lakota. In her book, The Tao of Equus, Linda Kohanov writes about the “horse ancestors” who serve as spirit
guides in her life and work.
Within the world of horses, humans have developed a variety of relationships with our equine companions. On one end of the spectrum are the individuals who see their horses as
important members of the family while at the opposite end are those who see horses as property used to make money; in between are those with some combination of values along the spectrum.
I have been on both ends of the spectrum; an owner who sees my horse as part of the family and as an employee of those who have horses solely for the purpose of making money. So long as the welfare of the horse is the top consideration; I don’t believe there is a universal right or wrong answer regarding the most desirable horse-human
relationship – just as in all of life; it is a question of what is right for the individual.
The path which led me to my career in the field of EAP/L traveled both ends of the horse spectrum. When I was in high school my goal was to work as a professional horse trainer. I went to a college with an intensive, horse-focused degree program and went on to work in many areas of the horse industry in a variety of roles. In the worlds of high-end show horses and famous Thoroughbred racehorses, I lost what originally drew me to horses in the first place. I lost the relationship.
Even though I was living and working on the world renowned Claiborne Farm (former home of Secretariat) and should have felt very successful; I, instead, was feeling shiftless and unfulfilled. I had lost my connection with the
For me, building a relationship with my horse, Farletta has led me to a greater understanding of myself and my place in the world. She does not allow me the incongruence of presenting “happy” on the outside and sorrow on the inside.
She finds a way to touch my pain and bring it to the surface where it can be healed. I am following my own Path of the Peace Horse to find my way to the future God has planned for me. It is no accident Farletta and I ended up together; I believe God placed her in my life to lead me on the path to not only my own healing but also to aid in the facilitation of healing for others. In my case, Farletta is the Peace Horse.
Do you have or have you had a special horse in your life?
Have you found your Peace Horse; that one special horse which changed your life? Please share your story in the comments section below; we’d love to hear it.
Cheryl L. Eriksen, MSW, Equine Enthusiast, EAGALA groupie and writer of interesting, educational and entertaining blog posts!