The Horse and the Heart

animal wisdom horse wisdom horses therapy wisdom of animals Aug 23, 2023
A horse on each side of a woman

Sounds like a great title for a children’s book. If you were writing about it, what would it mean to you?

To me, it has to do with how horses have a way of having such a big heart that they forgive our human foibles maybe even when they shouldn’t. Not like dogs - dogs have this extreme need to be loved and wanted, so they are also willing to forgive. Not like cats. You may think cats are unforgiving, but they also are willing to forgive and forget. Just look at rescue cats that have been treated poorly. With the right person, they melt. They are perhaps a little more discerning, a little more careful and skeptical. But they are huge love bugs.

A horse, though. A horse is a prey animal, so they are always looking for the worst case scenario. It’s what keeps them alive. At the same time, they have a huge heart bubble, and if one is open to it, it can be felt. The HeartMath Institute participated in a study about how the horse’s heart bubble affects humans. You can find it HERE. The quickest way into a horse’s heart is to be honest in what you’re feeling, and to express it. 

Horses are incredibly empathic, which makes them really good at helping people see what’s going on inside themselves, and they are willing to help us get it out. Most animals, so long as they know the emotion we’re trying to release is not about them, will do the same. Horses, however, seem to have made a pact with humans to be kind, forgiving and ever willing to put up with our shenanigans. 

They have different personality traits, too, strengths if you will. My mare Wilma raised nine babies. She was no stranger to beings acting out, and when a reminder was needed, she could give it with a glance. She was subtle, and loved the young ones (or the young at heart).


Wilma working with women who had suffered trauma while in the military

Gelding Tango is quiet, submissive, and a confidence builder. Treat him with respect (which in turn becomes treating yourself with respect) and he’ll try anything for you. He might not be able to do it because of some physical constraints, but he’ll try. 

Tango the confidence builder

If you get too much in your head with Phineas, he will run away. Literally. In order to be around Phinn, you have to stop thinking and start feeling, be in your body, and drop any agenda you might have. Then he is sweet and gentle. He’s known too many people with an agenda (usually to his detriment), and he avoids people who move too fast, who have false confidence, who aren’t being honest with themselves. “Fake it till you make it” doesn’t work with this boy.

Gentle Phinn helping a client “get real”

And then there’s LiLi, who takes no prisoners. She is a big horse, not hugely tall but with a presence that says “HEY.”  She loves working with strong men who are hiding feelings from themselves. She will (sometimes literally) push push push until the person lets go of what is bugging them, and then she softens as they do and provides much-needed solace. A lot of tears have been shed on her neck, usually by big strapping men who needed a strong presence to help them over the trauma they’ve experienced in their life. 

LiLi and one of her guys

Every horse’s heart is a little bit different, and anyone who has spent any ego-less time with horses will tell you how special it is. The heart field is huge. It spreads out from a horse’s body something like 15 feet around them, which is why, when you step near a horse, you can feel something in yourself change - if you’re paying attention. They’re big animals. It’s good to pay attention.

What is your most profound experience with a horse?

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