Trusting the Inner Voice

A Celebration of Equine Wisdom and the Inner Voice

Anniversaries are significant.  They signify important dates, important events and most especially important people.  In 2006, I started on one of the most profound journeys of my life – learning about Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy.  When I attended my first training course with Chris Irwin, one of the greatest horse listeners, in Canada, I really had no idea quite how profoundly my life would change.  At that stage the field was still relatively small, mainly referred to as Equine Assisted Therapy/hippotherapy or therapeutic riding.  It was fast-growing in North America at that time, and much has been written on it in the intervening years.  Now right here in South Africa we have access to a few different types of training in the field.  There are also two fairly distinct approaches in this mental health field: EAP (Equine Assisted Psychotherapy) and EFP (Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy).  I was most drawn to EFP because of a strong psycho-spiritual aspect to the approach, and the importance given to the horse as co-facilitator/partner and equal ‘therapist’ in the work with clients.  The animals in my life have always been friends, teachers, and sometimes even children, and so the approach fitted with my world view.  Those were the doors opened for me at the time and looking back Great Spirit knew exactly what I needed.  Amazing and I am so thankful.

In the process of this journey, I have discovered things about horses and myself I have been both humbled and astonished by.  There have been times when I have wished the lessons and wisdoms were easier to learn and didn’t need to go hand-in-hand with so much heartache and grief.  But like any good grief counsellor will tell you, it is part of growth and a heavenly opportunity to let go of the old and move forward into the new.

Probably one of the most profound wisdoms the horses have shared with me is on ‘trusting our own inner voice’.  I realize a lot is written on the topic in popular psychology and in the myriad of self-help books at our constant disposal.  The era of online information although incredible isn’t always so helpful.  With so much information and vastly differing opinions on almost everything, it has become hard to hear our own inner voice, our highest self teaching us.  Of-course it is a constant discipline to cultivate, nurture and care for our ability to hear our true inner voice.  This voice is one of deep wisdom and unconditional love, absolute respect and truth, no judgment, guilt or harshness.

This morning while working with one of my mares in the roundpen, I suddenly found myself sitting down in the sand to just listen.  Setting aside all the best horse training methods and goals, I needed to listen to my own heart speak to me about how to meet the highest good of this beautiful bay-coloured gift of a horse, and also listen to her speak.  It struck me that she needed me to reassure her, and to remind her how much she matters to me.  She chose me a few years ago and was gifted to us and has been the most amazing partner in my work with children.  I reminded her out loud that her gifting is so unique and beautiful and perfect in our therapeutic and life skills development work.  She is trustworthy and although deaf and likely with somewhat poor eyesight, a miracle worker when it comes to helping kids feel safe and heard.  I told her how much I love her and how much she means to me.  I also told her how much I appreciate her, and how blessed I feel to have her in my life.

I realized once again how special this work with horses is – what she needed to hear is what I needed to hear.  What made me choose to work with her this morning?  What aspect of myself needed to be ‘worked with in the roundpen’?  What wisdom in the silence and love we shared in that moment, was also for a greater good?  So today in my small way I celebrate the wisdom of horses, I give praise for beauty and relationship.  I sit in sacred silence drawing in the angels.  I celebrate and give thanks for my growing inner voice.  Thank you, especially to my teachers over the last 5 years, 4- and 2-legged!  You have taught me well.

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