More and more, people are working with horses to help them with their own personal growth, healing and learning. I invite you on a brief journey down the trail less travelled, the fascinating and dare I say “miraculous” journey of Equine Assisted Personal Development, also known as EAPD.
Equine Assisted Personal Development
To help explain Equine Assisted Personal Development, here is a short quote from my book Horses Don’t Lie: “What horses need to hear from us is what many of us would like to hear from ourselves, and each other. They need us to have a calm, focused assurance. They need us to be consistent. They need us to be assertive yet non-threatening. They need us to be both strong and compassionate. In short, horses need us to be our best selves.”
Although it’s easy to understand why people are so attracted to the power, beauty and grace of horses, the question remains: “What the heck has horsemanship got to do with personal development” When we look at a horse, we see the flesh and blood incarnation of powerful forces bottled up within ourselves that we wish we had the guts to saddle and ride. We know those forces could take us to our dreams and turn us into our best selves. We also know they could destroy us. That’s why we bottled them up in the first place. When such hidden feelings are stirred up and explored within the paradigm of horse sense, we have the chance to work with them, and learn from them. Horses give us this opportunity. They do this whether we are aware of it or not. But what a powerful breakthrough process to be able to work with this concept consciously!
This may all sound too philosophical or esoteric for you. What kind of practical and realistic “life lessons” can we possibly learn from working with horses. Well, psychologists estimate that authentic communication between people does not happen with words but at least 80% body language. This fact hits home with people participating in Equine Assisted Personal Development because they learn for themselves, from firsthand experience with the horses, that “talk is cheap” and “actions speak louder then words.”
Through groundwork training, participants in an EAPD workshop begin learning how to communicate with horses using only their body language. This is a very powerful introduction to how developing horse sense relates to human potential. Everyone in the workshop consistently experiences an incredible “ah-ha” moment when they realize how their body language affects, for better or worse, their environment and relationships.
Instead of being told by a workshop facilitator, counselor or therapist, all participants find out through the horses what they don’t know about their own body language. Because they become aware of this realization on their own while having fun with horses – instead of feeling guarded and defensive in a “self help” workshop, a corporate team building and communications retreat, or a clinical therapeutic session with a mental health worker – they are far more open and willing to allow the process of self discovery, healing and growth with the horses to begin in earnest.
Influencing Others Through Your Best Self
Typically, participants very quickly develop moment-to-moment conscious awareness of their body language. Then “miracles” happen and the horses “magically” change their behavior from bad to good, distracted to focused, excited to calm, defiant to willing and/or frightened to confident. In short, every participant in every Equine Assisted Personal Development experience, with 100% consistency, always realizes and owns for herself that as she becomes more aware of and accountable for her own behavior, she is able to lead and change her relationship with the horse for the better.
In other words, EAPD can evolve beyond mere “talk is cheap” words into an actual balance of body/mind/ spirit “action speaks louder then words” experience. As Gandhi’s great quote says: “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
YES, YOU CAN!
During Equine Assisted Personal Development, all participants develop a heightened sense of conscious awareness for relationships. They realize their abilities for communicating are not limited to the horses, but are a very real dynamic that can extend to all their relationships. First and foremost, these epiphanies develop a new awareness and focus for the self. As cliché as it sounds, the horses show EAPD participants what it takes to find a balance between their inner lion and lamb.
EAPD helps people realize that, yes, they can evolve and grow into manifesting win-win relationships. With horse sense, they can let the “old self” that is out of balance die away so that a new phoenix of personal growth and enlightenment can rise from the ashes. Now that, my friends, is a horsemanship road less traveled!
CHRIS IRWIN IS AN INTERNATIONALLY RENOWNED HORSEMAN, AWARD WINNING ATHLETE, MUSICIAN AND BEST SELLING AUTHOR. HE IS AT THE FOREFRONT OF THE EMERGING INDUSTRY OF HORSES BEING WORKED WITH IN THERAPEUTIC AND PERSONAL COACHING PROGRAMS. IT WAS WHILE DISCOVERING HOW TO TRAIN WILD MUSTANGS INTO CALM AND COLLECTED U.S. NATIONAL CHAMPIONS IN RIDING AND DRIVING COMPETITIONS THAT FIRST SHOWED MR. IRWIN HIS GREATEST INSIGHTS INTO LEARNING HOW TO LEARN. CHRISIRWIN.COM