• nancy willbern

Horses as Healers

Updated: Aug 6, 2019

I am happy to announce, I have just received my second certification in Equine Assisted Learning/Psychotherapy (EAL/EAP). This one is called Eponaquest after the Celtic goddess of horses – Epona. It's approach is intuitve, heart-felt and powerful. I will be integrating it in with my previous training and experience to create an electic horse-human experience.

Most people are curious about this type of therapy. And most people can’t imagine what it’s all about. It's hard to explain. Words fail to fully capture its power to lead to shifts in consciousness but let me give you some clues.

Equine Assisted Psychotherapy is a form of experiential therapy, which takes place through the body - through sensations and feelings. While interacting with a horse, insights come through the body’s intuitive barometer – meaning they are felt at the cellular level before being understood by the brain. Healing shifts occur through a felt-sense rather than through a cognitive understanding.

People often ask, “Why horses?” Horses are perfect for this type of work for lots of reasons, but I will mention a few. First, horses are basically prey animals which means that they are designed to be on the alert for a mountain lion ready to jump on their backs. They have ears and eyes that rotate in a wide range. They have huge hearts and guts that act as sensors for the energy in their environments. As such, they are great reflectors of the energy that is brought into the round pen with them. They will sense your energy before you enter the pen, evaluating it as friendly, coherent, menacing, authentic, peaceful, or out of synch. Their way of relating to you will be based on their read of you. They are nature’s natural mirrors.

Secondly, they are domesticated and have been partnering with humans for centuries. Other prey animals have huge radar systems, as well but they are not accustomed to interacting with humans. So, deer or rabbits wouldn’t make good candidates. And dogs are basically predatory. That means they are goal oriented. Their senses have evolved to go straight for the tossed ball to play or for the scampering squirrel to catch and kill. They can be trained for lots of fun and helpful things, but they are not wired for EAP work.

Although there is much more that could be shared, I have saved the best for last. Horses are inherently relational animals. They live with each other in herds, both in the wild and on the ranch. And they have been bred to relate and interact with humans. Most human-horse relationships are based on the human using the horse to do a task for them – as a means of transportation, to carry lots of stuff, to show off or compete in ways the humans deem worthy. In Equine Assisted Psychotherapy, the horse’s primary job is to just show up in all its evolutionary glory, to use its innate gifts and to be a giver and receiver of authentic-in-the-moment-connection. They have the power to open the heart or to expose what is hidden.

Each EAP session is unique. It’s impossible to predict what might unfold. The foundation for its success is simply trusting the process as it is co-created by human and horse, one sentient being to another, one moment at a time. Just being in the presence of a horse can have the power to touch your soul.

If you would like to experience this organic process yourself, please email me to set up a session: nwillbern@gmail.com I would love to share it with you. (Sessions are held at the Hopeful Hearts Ranch in Leander. See my "At the Ranch" page under Private Practice on this website for more detailed information.)

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