Did you know horses can read our minds? Or better said, they can sense how we feel even when we ourselves are unaware of some deep internal turmoil that might be causing havoc in our life or our work without us knowing the reason for it.
Recently I had a chance to see first hand how these fascinating animals can sense our emotions and make us more aware. My friend Jane of knowboundaries, an Equine Assisted Coach, invited me to see one of her equine assisted coaching sessions. It is a form of coaching where you work on getting to the next level of personal and professional success by interacting with horses.
So one windy day I caught a bus from the bustling Amsterdam Central Station to a picturesque Dutch village. It was only a 15 minute ride to Broek in Waterland. Stepping off the bus in a green little village with water canals, wooden bridges and colorful houses surrounded by fields...felt like a getaway.
At the stables De Drie Merrien, I met with Jane and Ulo, her beautiful horse. Her coaching client was there as well, whose objective was to breakthrough to be a better leader in her business.
It's amazing to think that we might have involuntary reactions in certain situations. We might be snapping at our family members over some annoyance. We may be affecting our team negatively with our worries without even realizing it. If we were aware that our automatic emotions were affecting and even hurting others we would probably change the way we react. But how can horses help?
Of all animals, horses are extremely sensitive and mirror our own emotions. This is because they are prey animals and their nervous system is highly in tune with what's happening around them. They can sense emotions through the smell that we emit and the tiny vibrations that are caused by the beating of our hearts.
Did you know that when we're happy and calm we smell differently then when we're stressed, angry or anxious?
The coaching session did not involve galloping at high speeds. Under Jane's guidance, her client walked with Ulo. Jane asked questions about her client's work and as she responded it became obvious where the anxieties laid. Ulo would move her head or try to walk away in the opposite direction. She immediately sensed any discomfort coming from her human coachee.
It's not a new concept that a horse is a great companion and helper. People used to be around horses a lot, working in fields with them, transporting things or traveling on their backs weather in the country or in the cities. Then gradually over the last century, we have been replacing nature and all living things with objects that perform on demand for us. We think of it as gaining effeciency and productivity but in the end we are slowly loosing the enchantment with anything living. Even ourselves.
More and more we replace real face time with phone and social media "facetime" as we apply the same "on demand" approach to people. Why are we morphing into these strange beings? The Biophilia Hypothesis suggests that losing our connection with nature is what's causing us to stop feeling a part of the natural circle, diminishing our sense of responsible for doing our part in protecting fellow living things. And so we are letting our whole planet waste away. Why do we care anyway, we'll just build ourselves a NEW hi-tech planet right!? Ops...
So how can we connect with nature?
What can we do daily to be more in tune with what's happening around us?
We have to do it the slow "inefficient" way, and simply get out into the natural world! Spend more time outdoors observing animals. Go on a horse ride. And why not bring a friend along and TALK to them in real life. When was the last time you stood close to a horse. They're big and tall...and their eyes are knowing. Seems like they want to tell us a secret...
Don't worry all is not lost. Nature is patiently waiting for us to find our way back. Look at your week and schedule in at least a few hours to connect with it. If you are near Amsterdam, grab a few friends and head over to the countryside for some nature, horses and local delicacies.
Thank you Jane and Ulo for letting us get to know these amazing animals better and re-igniting our natural drive to get closer to nature!
NATURE BREAK IN BROEK IN WATERLAND
Arrive: (15 minute bus ride from Amsterdam Central Station) Broek in Waterland
Riding Manege: De Drie Merrien
Coaching Session with Horses: Know Boundaries with Jane
Rent a boat or kayak: Fluisterboot Varen
Lunch: De Witte Swaen for Dutch Pancakes
PHOTO CREDITS: ALLA FELDMAN