Did you know you can literally tap yourself and your horse to success? The Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) and Simple Energy Technique (SET) are two meridian-based energy therapy methods I use in my performance and relationship programs. This type of energy therapy involves using our fingertips to tap on specific acupuncture points. These techniques are simple, effective and growing in popularity. Once learned by heart, they are tools you can use wherever, whenever.
What are EFT and SET?
In 1980, Dr. Roger Callahan was working with a female patient who had an intense water phobia. She suffered from several physical symptoms all related to her fear of water. She had been seeing therapists for years with no obvious improvement. Dr. Callahan had also been trying to help her with conventional methods for over a year without much progress.
One day when she came in with an upset stomach, he tried something “new” and outside the normal bounds of conventional psychotherapy. He had been studying the body’s energy system, and decided to tap with his fingertip just under her eyes (an end point of the stomach meridian). To his astonishment, she immediately announced that her phobia was gone, and to demonstrate went to the closest water and splashed it on her face. The phobia and all its symptoms went away, never to return.
Gary Craig, a Stanford-trained engineer, drew on Dr. Callahan’s landmark discoveries to develop the Emotional Freedom Technique or EFT. He reduced years of diligent research and endless trial and error to one simple, practical procedure that often provides quick relief from physical-emotional issues such as trauma, phobias, anger, fears, anxiety and cravings. Taking EFT one step further, Dr. David Lake and Steve Wells of Australia further simplified the procedure into what they call the Simple Energy Technique or SET.
The tapping technique
Basic EFT energy therapy uses 13 points, but for the purposes of this article I will use the SET procedure which only uses seven points. They are:
1. The inside corner of the eyebrow
2. The outside corner of the eyebrow
3. Directly under the eye, just on the edge of the eye orbit
4. Under the nose
5. Under the bottom lip
6. At the center of the collar bone just below the throat
7. The karate point of the hand, the side of the hand under the little finger
Tap these points lightly with your index and middle fingertips, either in sequence or at random, while you focus mentally on whatever problem or issue you wish to change. No particular point is attached to a feeling in EFT and SET. Although some points belong to specific meridians, we have found that just doing the sequence works.
What does it feel like?
Everyone has their own personal experience of EFT and it is exactly that – personal. Most people tell me they have a definite feeling or awareness that something is different. It can range from feeling tingly or light headed to nothing much at all at the moment. Often they’ll feel changes later.
Your energy therapy experience also depends on what you want to achieve with EFT. Some people are happy to have full range of motion in their neck again after a difficult water jump. An issue like this is injury specific and, if the injury happened recently, is fairly easy. For other people who have had a nasty fall and want to explore their nervousness in depth, it may take more time.
Try it on yourself!
1. Stand, take as deep a breath as you can, then let it out.
2. Rate your breath on an imaginary scale of 1 to 10 where 10 is the deepest you can breathe.
3. Now do a full round of tapping, holding the goal of being able to take a deeper breath. A simple round consists of tapping on each point approximately ten times, quickly and lightly, while breathing normally and saying to yourself “deep breath”. It should take about 30 to 40 seconds. Again, the key is holding the issue in your mind while you’re actually doing the tapping.
4. Test yourself again by taking a deep breath and rating the breath. Did you do any better?
Applying EFT to your horse
The most effective way to apply EFT to horses is by surrogate tapping. This is the art of tapping on yourself with the intention of helping another person or animal. The points we use for EFT and SET are extremely sensitive areas in people, and even more so in horses. We all develop different tapping styles and degrees of firmness and these vary accordingly. I have found that starting to tap on the face of your horse is not a good thing to do, either for the horse or yourself and the points do not necessarily correspond for a horse.
Horses are extremely sensitive to energy therapy and will respond well to surrogate work without laying hands on them. The trick is to tune in accurately and persistently to the feeling or emotion of the issue, and to keep your mind focused on it while remaining unattached to the outcome. This usually takes practice! Interestingly enough, once we clear our own emotional connection, the horse picks this up and his behaviour often changes.
Working on your horse
Behavioral issues seem to be the most prevalent concern among riders, and EFT is a very good way of accessing them. Let’s take Sunny, for example. This mare would fidget badly enough to scare her rider whenever she mounted, to the point where she would never ride outside the ring, and seldom tried more than a walk. The issue here is: “My horse wants to dump me”.
Now, this could be a “water-in-the-bucket” issue that has built up over time, drop by drop, until the bucket is full. Little by little, the horse has learned to behave in a way that would suggest she wants to dump her rider. By only working on the immediate behavior, however, it may appear that we have solved the problem only to have it suddenly flare up again for a seemingly different reason. Only by getting to the root of the issue can we clear it fully.
Also it will likely take some time and persistent tapping.
• We instructed Sunny’s rider to begin by focusing on the exact feeling she had when she thought of the issue. You can do the same. In a situation like this, you might feel fear, anger or frustration.
• Whatever the emotion is, focus on it. Make it strong and real and high, and then tap on it for at least five rounds, start to finish.
• Tap on any new emotions that come up. For instance, you may at first feel frustration, which changes to fear as the tapping continues. Keep tapping on the fear, which could then change to sadness. Keep tapping on that. Whatever arises, keep tapping on it until the emotion behind all these issues has been dealt with. Sometimes it is possible to change the whole feeling with a few rounds of tapping, but often it jumps from feeling to feeling and requires some steady work.
• Once you have reduced your reaction to your horse’s undesired behavior, imagine it from your horse’s point of view and tap for what you perceive he must be experiencing. In Sunny’s case, the horse was a mare, and even more sensitive than the rider’s previous gelding. The rider worked on her fears of being dumped (she had come off her previous horse), and of losing control. By the time she got to what she guessed Sunny might be feeling, all her anger and frustration were gone, so she could get clear about her mare.
Even though we do surrogate tapping for horses and we feel better the results must still be tested physically with the horse. Sometimes it’s a day or so before this can be done. In Sunny’s case, it was two days before her rider could see her, and she continued her tapping at home. When she next mounted Sunny, the mare began to get upset, but then to the rider’s complete amazement she settled down and they had a good ride. Even trailering, which started out badly, improved with tapping.
EFT might sound too simple to be true, but with persistent application on all aspects of the issue positive changes are truly possible. Give it a try. You may find that success and well being are just a tap away!
WANT TO LEARN MORE?
EFT – www.emofree.com
SET – www.eftdownunder.com
Cheryl McKenna gives regular EFT/SET workshops across Ontario. Her “Show-Itis” and “Something Even Better” courses, Which originally focused on the Equestrian connection, can be Adapted to any sport from golf to soccer. Located near Guelph, Cheryl is also available for private sessions and will work over the phone. For information on upcoming courses, or to book one in your area, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-877-846-0087.