We are privileged to share our lives with horses. Sometimes our interactions are pure magic. They break our hearts wide open and the tears start flowing. They show us a level of trust and connection that leaves us giddy, elated, overcome by joy and our love for this majestic beast.
It’s easy to let the music of our emotions run away with us when we dance with horses.
One of our favorite Tango instructors talks about this phenomenon of letting the music run away with you. When you let the music take you over the connection to your partner becomes secondary to your connection to the music. Your partner gets to come along for the ride and it’s not necessarily a good ride for them!
Gin refused to dance with me until I learned to maintain a sense of internal calm when I am with her. Anything that disrupts my sense of inner peace disrupts my capacity both to transmit accurate signals to her, and receive accurate signals from her. Gin taught me that my emotions are like that Tango music – I can’t connect with her if I let them run me.
When our emotions fly high in the euphoric bliss of a moment of perfect connection, it’s a good time to pause. Take a step back, celebrate or wallow in misery, but put some distance between you and your horse while you do it. I spent three months with my herd just letting their presence open me up, walking away, letting all those emotions spill out and then going back. Gin refused to volunteer to interact in any way other than standing together until I was clear of that emotional clutter.
Why is this so important?
Horses naturally pick up our emotional frequency and instinctively match it or hunker down to protect themselves from it. Horses who are sick, injured, in chronic pain, or who have a history of abuse, don’t have the wherewithal to comfortably weather our emotional storms. They have too much on their plates to know what to make of our wild emotions. And they often don’t feel they have a choice.
It seems obvious enough to step back when we are overcome with emotions that might cause us to lash out: fear, anxiety, anger, frustration, for example. But it’s less obvious to think the emotions we consider positive might be overwhelming to our horses: joy, excitement, even love. What happens when we are overcome with grief or guilt? IF your horse turtles up and withdraws when you are overcome by joy, or drunk with love for them, can you tell?
We lose access to our intuition, our ability to properly connect and accurately read our horse’s body language when we are swinging into those emotional highs and lows. I have numerous horses here that withdraw into themselves when the person interacting with them experiences turbulence in their emotional state. The nature of the emotional swing doesn’t matter it’s the intensity that disturbs them.
Letting our emotions run away with us when we’re with our horses is almost like an addiction. Maybe it’s because we humans tend to repress our feelings so much of the time that when they come out in a great big torrent we can’t help but revel in the glory of being alive! We want to hang onto that feeling and share it with everyone else while we’re at it, especially our horses who pulled it out of us to begin with!
It’s tough to wrap our heads around the idea that our positive emotions, our transformational experiences around horses could be disturbing to them. They are positive emotions, how could those be harmful? One on one with my herd we easily navigate these emotional swells together. I’m outnumbered by horses who are loose and free to choose to interact or not. What we end up with are mutually transformative experiences.
The euphoric emotional wave gets amplified when we are in groups. It’s particularly intense when the group of people outnumbers the horses. People are drawn like moths to a flame when someone is coming alive, when their heart is bursting open. We all want to be part of that. The horse can become the unwitting catalyst for a mass healing. Some horses choose to participate, some get swept along while everyone lets the music take them over – no choice but to hunker down and protect themselves from the torrents.
When we are swept away by the music of our emotions it’s easy to drag our horses around that dance floor with us. They are forgiving. Sometimes it seems endlessly so. Just because they are forgiving doesn’t mean it’s fair to make them our catalyst for healing. And when we are in thrall to the music of our emotions we have no capacity to recognize if our horse is a willing partner who is transforming with us or desperately trying to survive the emotional onslaught.
I believe we have the capacity to ride these emotional waves, to experience transformational, life-changing moments when we interact with horses. If we can take a step back and breathe when the emotions flood us we give our horses the opportunity to choose. If we really listen they might even guide us to something deeper and more profound than we could discover on our own.
Let your horses open you up and rip your heart right out! It’s good to feel so alive! As the torrents rage through you and you revel in the wonder of it all, say thank you to your horse for being the catalyst and walk away. The biggest gift you give your horse is the gift of choice.
Try not to consume him in your tsunami of love.