Animals have been engaged in therapeutic sessions with children in hospitals and with seniors in nursing homes for many years. Usually dogs are the animals involved. It has been shown that they have a calming effect on both old and young people. In the past few years I have read accounts of patients, diagnosed as autistic, who have experienced positive responses when they were with horses.
Because I have been around animals of all kinds since I was young, I never really paid a lot of attention to the effects that the humans and animals have on each other. As I have studied the practice of horsemanship I have come to appreciate how each species can have a profound affect on each other. Humans have the ability to analyze and communicate concepts whereas the animal has the very strong connection to nature and and its own senses. The closer they live to the natural world the stronger the connection and the more refined the senses.
Humans on the other handle are quickly losing their connection with nature. Unfortunately they are also losing the ability and desire to use their senses. From an early age we art taught things like, `Don`t judge a book by its cover.` and, `Always make a good first impression.` These are contradictory and deny the use of senses.
My horse doesn`t take my temperature or test my blood pressure, my horse teaches me how to be aware of the world around me and how to use my senses to be aware of that world. He also teaches me how to refine my senses to be more aware of my body and my emotions. To communicate effectively with horses you must use your body. To do it effectively you have to be aware of the smallest movements and position changes of your limbs and your muscles. By practicing this you learn how to be a part of the natural world and you understand yourself and your feelings. As I have said before, a horse begins their assessment of you the moment they see you. The more you understand horsemanship the more you become aware of everything in your environment. This awareness has a wonderfully calming effect on your emotional state. It quiets your mind and and frees the flow of information from your senses to your brain. This is the reverse of what we are usually taught; to use the mind to block and override your senses.
My horse has led me back to a closer connection to with nature and a refinement of all my senses and this is a healing condition.