Why do we partner with horses? Horses have a powerful effect on people because their natural, instinctive behavior and senses guarantee safety and survival in a herd. Because the horse is a prey animal, it must be keenly aware of its surroundings and respond quickly and appropriately to new things to survive. They quickly sense the difference between a calm, non-threatening posture; an anxious or fearful posture; and a contradictory posture when a person is trying to behave in a way that is inconsistent with what they are feeling internally. Once they sense where a person is coming from, they immediately respond in a transparent way, asking us to reflect on how we are approaching them with our bodies, actions, and emotions. We often believe that we have to hide negative feelings under a mask of calm, confidence, and positive communication. Horses ask us to set aside the mask and be present with them in the moment, just as God comes to meet us where we are, rather than demanding that we meet Him where He is.
Horses are neither mirrors nor mimes, they are teachers! When a horse senses confident leadership qualities in a person, they will be willing to follow only after they discover the necessary qualities of respect and trust. Their world is not directed by dishonesty, judgment, bias, manipulation, or control. A trusted leader is a safe leader, an open and communicative friend is a trusted friend. Behavior that detracts from trust and relationship is not rewarded nor tolerated. Horses teach us how to be better communicators, more effective and respected leaders, and more consistent and authentic individuals. In short, horses help us to grow closer to God, and to fill the shoes that He created our lives to fill, by becoming the best version of ourselves. Who knew that God gave us these creatures to help us be who we were created to be!