Much has been written about the myth and magic of horses. Humans have been bonding and sharing life with horses for thousands of years. Although horses’ natural inclination as prey animals is to protect themselves from all predators—including humans—somehow they find it within themselves to trust us, to connect with us, and to allow us into the unique space that is created when a horse and human find a way to communicate with each other. At Stable Place, we believe the best gift our horses can offer is simply their innate ability, as horses, to be fully present and to communicate immediately and honestly with their human partners. Unlike humans, horses do not edit or filter their communication; they have no ability to deceive or manipulate. They simply respond, with honesty and directness. And this, surprisingly, is enough. As clients experience this immediate and open response to their actions, they learn to try new behaviors, to figure out what works and what doesn’t, and to embrace new ways of approaching the struggles in their lives.
We have seen couples who are struggling to find trust and forgiveness in an intimate relationship show each other, through their interaction with our horses, what it’s like to be in that place of fear and mistrust. And we have watched as they move through the fear and anger and find a way to reach out to their partner for the first time in months or years. We have seen adolescents who are alienated from parents and friends discover their own sense of accomplishment and autonomy as they move a large and powerful animal simply by developing a connection and offering clear communication. We have witnessed as adults fighting to move beyond addiction learn the ways they typically make their lives more complicated than necessary. With our horses as partners, they explore these patterns and find ways to simplify and respond to challenges successfully. And we have been privileged to work with students learning to be therapists, as they explore and find the particular gifts they bring to the therapeutic relationship, honing their skills and enriching their ability to connect with their clients.
We consider it an honor and a privilege to be a part of these experiences with clients, community partners, student therapists, and of course, our horses. In all of our clinical sessions, trainings, and events, we strive to offer safe, positive, respectful, collaborative experiences that provide opportunities for growth and learning. To that end, our staff members work closely with each other and with our horses to develop activities that maximize our horses’ potential as teachers and collaborators, and that offer our human partners a rich context in which to explore and experience change.