Friday, October 15, 2010

Chosen by a Horse: Healing the Inner Child

Sometimes profound healing is awaiting, nestled into a common moment.

One of those moments was about to occur….

As I walked into the arena to take my turn experimenting with the energetic boundaries of horse, I had no idea that Little Jenn had tagged along.

Little Jenn is the name I’ve given my inner child, that part of each of us that holds both the brilliant innocence of Being as well as our early Sacred Wounds.

I thought I was simply entering the arena to try out what I had learned about Energetic Boundaries from Sharon Bringleson, Advanced Epona Instructor and facilitator of the weekend workshop I was attending at Mustang Hollow, in Nunn, Colorado.

I had low expectations for how the horse would respond to me, having watched the horse in the arena, Aria, a gorgeous black with 4 white socks and a blaze, mostly ignore the previous participant, as she continued to scavenge the remainder of the season’s dry weeds at the perimeter of the fence.

We had simple instructions to play with Energetic Boundaries, the concept that all of us- horses and humans- have bubbles of energy that surround us and extend a variety of distances, based on the individual and the circumstance.

Sharon had explained that when someone enters our bubble, we display an automatic, nonvoluntary sign- a blink of an eye, a tail swish, a head raise. Horses have several layers to their bubble, one typically at 40 feet, another at 20, and several closer to the body- all assisting them as prey creatures to stay safe in a predatory world, conveying the information they need to keep protected.

Our job was to simply approach the horse and when we felt we had crossed an energetic boundary- either by sensing it in our bodies, or noticing a sign from the horse- to pause, rock back, and take a big deep breathe. We were not to proceed closer to the horse until we felt we had permission.

Such an exercise, in contrast to how we normally directly approach our horse without asking for permission, can offer a deep sense of respectful partnership to a horse. It’s a clear sign that we are giving him a choice in the matter: Is it ok to play today?

After I strode into the arena, I took a big breathe and settled into my body, staying in tune with my inner sensations. I felt a little nervous, “Who knows how she will react to me.” And became aware that there was a part of me that wanted her to like me and was all together uncertain that she would.

As I crossed into Aria’s 40 foot boundary, she gave me the subtlest of signals, only rolling an eye up and toward me, never pausing from her fastidious weed nibbling. If I wasn’t paying close attention, I would have missed it.

In that moment, I rocked back, and breathed out. Her response? She immediately took a few steps toward me, and continued grazing.

“Hmm,” I thought, “that was nice. It worked. I offered her respect and she came toward me.”

After a moment, I began walking slowly toward her again, carefully tuned into the next sign that I had hit one of her boundaries. At about 20 feet, there it was again: the slightest roll of her eye toward mine.

I instantly paused, stepped back, and released a sigh. Once more, she returned my gesture by walking towards me a few steps before returning to her weed obsession.

I noticed that I was slightly surprised that it was working exactly as it should. And I was pleased by our growing sense of mutual respect.

One more time, I began the dance of tuning into her boundaries and this time it worked exactly as before, only now, she strode right up to me, close enough for me to brush her side with my hand as she passed by to investigate what was left to be nibbled behind me.

I had to admit that I was amazed that such a subtle dance of respect had worked so easily and smoothly: by offering my respect for her, she offered her acceptance of me. From there a real partnership could be built.

I left the arena pleased, a part of me relieved that the horse had responded to me in the hoped-for way.

Next, Aria left our company and another horse was brought into the arena, a taller, handsome black horse with a white star named Soleil.

Soleil was new to the Epona work. Previously labeled “dangerous” and slated for the killers, the owner of Mustang Hollow, Robin Davis, had rescued him and begun the process of leading the horse back to himself.

He had since not shown any aggression towards humans. Yet, due to the previous rude and abusive treatment, he was still not quite convinced that he had a choice when it came to a human approaching him, so he often didn’t respond at all when a human entered his 40 foot or 20 foot boundary.

I went in second to play with this magnificent steed, and as I entered the arena I was acutely aware of my limiting belief: “The first time was a fluke.”

I didn’t dare to hope it would work the same way as it did with Aria. Clearly, I didn’t expect “success.”

I tuned into that vulnerability as Little Jenn snuck in, those were her beliefs, not being sure of her worth.

But Soleil had a different belief in mind.

This time, the process unfolded magically, even more powerfully than the first.

It took only two turns of him reacting, my pausing and breathing, for him to walk straight to me!
It was like my heart had magnetically connected to his and drew him to me from over 20 feet away!

As he entered my energetic boundary, close to my heart, I let out a wild spontaneous giggle right from my soul, and blushed. That sound of pure delight came directly from Little Jenn, who in that moment felt intimately “SEEN.”

Soleil smelled my hands, curious about me. Then he settled in to stand next to me, seemingly content to just be in my presence.

As I breathed in the comfortable connection, all of those moments of childhood invisibility melted. Gone was the sense that there was no one to notice me, no one to care about my needs.

As the fears and doubts dissolved, in their place was the knowing that I was worthy. Worthy to be chosen by a horse.

Little Jenn sighed, and giggled once more at the pure joy of the moment. At the fulfillment of being CHOSEN.

And I, once more was elated at the magical transformational powers of horse. Of their ability to coax forward our deepest wounds, uncover with clarity the inaccuracy of our earliest misguided conclusions, and restore our spirits to their rightful wholeness.

All within a simple, singular moment of connection, heart to heart, providing just what the soul needs for self-righting, correcting the course, leading us back to ourselves.

Thank you Aria and Soleil for bringing me back to the very essence of my Magnificent Self.

Readers: How has horse helped heal your inner child? Please share!

Learn more about programs at Robin Davis' Mustang Hollow and Epona Advanced Instructor Sharon Bringleson. Or discover our healing with horses programs at Happily Ever After Ranch- where the healing heart of horse awaits you!


  1. When walking I visit horses over a chain link fence. I give them carrots, & they thank me by rolling in dirt & we share being in the now. One day, my inner child was very depressed sad & grieving.
    The horse walked near to me then left he did this a few times. Then he came over & reached over the fence & placed his forehead upon my forehead as if to give me some nurturing love. I shed tears of gratitude & thanked him!

    I was worried if I am not happy they can become sad too. Their spirits seem to want to help me? I was told to check in with my energy & leave behind any negative energy. To keep my energy grounded & clean before visits.So I get into feeling not good enough....old pattern not serve me.

    Another day I had a painful bleeding thumb nail ripped off band aid while picking some grass for them. The mare came right over & seemed to send me nurturing pain relief & even my tight wrenched gut became relaxed. My heart I was profoundly touched.

    Love to hear your comments on worries of not being in happy perfect mood when visiting horses.

    Thank you,

    1. Thanks for sharing how horses help you ligthen up! Horses willingly offer their services of "equine alchemy", transmuting dark energy to light. They are natural energy transformers and thus we don't have toworry abut them taking on our bad energy- they just help shift it! :)