Have you ever considered whether you communicate clearly? Do you say what you mean, and do people hear your message? I thought I was good at communicating until I signed up for Equine Therapy while on a retreat in Arizona. I was visiting the Miraval Resort, hoping to find a deeper meaning to my life, and the experience did not disappoint.
While there, I was blessed to meet renowned visionary Wyatt Webb. Wyatt works with horses and humans in a way that helps humans understand more about themselves, their vulnerabilities, and how they communicate. Wyatt is about 6 foot tall, and when we met he had white hair peeking out from under his cowboy hat and a white beard, glasses, cowboy boots, and a big silver buckle on his belt. He took us to an empty lecture room to explain what we would be doing and why he wanted us to experience this exercise.
Wyatt started by talking about himself, his music career, depression, drug and alcohol abuse, failed relationships, and then some. He spoke so candidly that my heart couldn’t help but be touched by his honesty, trust, and vulnerability. I was impressed and honored to be in the presence of this great warrior and to learn from his life’s lessons.
According to Wyatt Webb, when you work with a horse, the horse “will serve as a mirror to your energy system. A horse reflects back to you what you think and what you feel.” Horses are intuitive and can read us almost instantly. Because of this, they’re great aides in helping us overcome problems, especially with communication.
Take Risks and Find Teachers
I found myself standing in front of a thousand-pound chestnut horse, eyeing his hoof. The exercise was simple: I was supposed to encourage him to raise his leg, so I could clean his hoof. Horses scared the daylights out of me. They are so powerful, and the thought of being kicked sends shivers up my spine. I was so fearful that I could barely approach my horse—a male, whose large beautiful brown eyes seemed to regard me with as much uncertainty as I did him.
“It’s not about the horse,” Wyatt said. “It’s about what you’ve learned over the course of your lifetime and how you relate to others. That’s exactly what we are going to learn today—what works for you and what doesn’t.”
I was supposed to pinch my horse’s leg in an area that resembled an elbow, and then he would lift his hoof. Sound easy? I’m sure it would be if I wasn’t frozen with the fear of being kicked. I stood where my horse could see me (horses like it when you are within their peripheral vision), leaned into him, and pinched once and then again. No response. I retreated in terror not realizing that Wyatt had been watching me the whole time smiling (at what was supposed to be the tough girl from the concrete jungle).
“How many times are you going to try the same thing and not get anywhere?” he asked. “Is that what you do with everyone else?” Ouch! I looked at him, about to blame the horse, but instead said, “I don’t know what I’m doing wrong.”
“What’d I tell ya? If it don’t work once, try something different. If it don’t work again, ask for help. That horse doesn’t know what you want him to do ’cause you don’t know yourself. You’re so caught up with your fear that you’re confusing him. He doesn’t know if you want him to raise the hoof or if you’re ready to high tail your butt out of there!
He was right, of course. My fear was preventing me from communicating clearly. With horses, it’s about feeling, not thinking what you want them to do, and then communicating it telepathically. My tendency is to over think everything until I confuse myself so much that I no longer know what I want myself!
Continuing with the same approach was obviously not going to work, so I resolved to try something else. I walked around to his other side, took a few breaths, with determination to succeed, leaned into my horse again, pinched, and this time he lifted his hoof. Victory! I took my tool, cleaned his hoof and gently placed his foot down.
The difference this time was that I was present in the moment and was clear about what I wanted him to do. I wasn’t thinking about the future, the “what ifs” of what could happen, or thinking about the past and what had happened. I thought only about what I wanted him to do in that moment. Just that. It was that simple.
The experience rewired the way I feel about how present I am when I’m communicating with someone else. Working with the horse rewired my self-doubt and negativity, and taught me to be clear in my commincations. Horses don’t know what it feels like to doubt oneself, they don’t have the emotional baggage we do and so they wait for clear communication and trust.
When you have a moment think about how you communicate with others. Are you effective and clear or are people confused because they don’t understand what you want or what you want them to do? If we want to create change in our lives we need to first look at our part in any given situation, so take the time to think about how you communicate with others. I promise it will help change your life for the better.