Healing Through Horses, Women, & Unicorns

I’m no stranger to healing with horses. We see it all the time on our Cowgirl Yoga retreats, and have built our Cowgirls vs. Cancer program around this theme. But those of you who know me probably recognize that I have a somewhat (maddening) pragmatic, tell-it-like-it-is approach to both the yoga and the horse experience. I simply cannot guarantee that you will have a transcending, esoteric experience with either. Not that I don’t believe in that (or unicorns). But truly, it’s not up to me, the yoga, or the horses. It’s up to you. 

So, I was definitely intrigued, and admittedly slightly skeptical, of the Healing Through Horses segment being offered during our annual wellness week at the Red Rock Ranch. Boy, was I in for a surprise.

Our first session was women only. I am not going to deny that men bring their own valuable contributions to our lives, but I have certainly learned over the years that there is something different about a gathering of women. Not simply for coffee talk, but on a primal level that transcends time and place, whose power we often only catch fleeting glimpses of. As soon as we sat down in the round pen in a circle, with Whoopee, the ornery mare hovering by the gate, Judy gave us each blessings with sage. Hardly anything had happened yet, and I was fighting back tears.

I volunteered to go first, so I stayed in the round pen with Judy and Whoopee while the other women moved to sit just outside it to observe. Judy took my hands and said she noticed I had something going on since we had sat down ( I think her exact words may have been that I was “keyed up”), at which point I promptly burst intro tears. The card I had drawn from the horse deck was all about prosperity and abundance, and I am supremely grateful for the way I seem to be continuously showered with these blessings. But my greatest fear? That it’s all too good to be true. And my deepest, darkest fear: that the source of so much of my abundance and joy will be taken away from me – that my daughter would die before me. I couldn’t even say it between sobs.

Then Whoopee got involved. Judy asked me to speak to her like I would my daughter, to tell her my hopes and dreams for her. This normally aloof mare I had previously not felt drawn to kept her head low next to mine, calmly listening. I still had my card in one hand, and she reached over to gently nibble it. The tears kept flowing. I was turning into a sweaty, tearful mess. I wrapped my arms around her neck and cried. I told her I wanted everything for her. Everything. She stood there, silent and strong, absorbing it all. If she could’ve spoken English, I’m sure she would have said, my shoulder is more than big enough for you to cry on.

Has my helicopter mom status been magically downgraded? No. Did I feel a lot better afterwards? Yes. Was I embarrassed that a group of women I hardly knew witnessed this emotionally raw experience, that included touching upon some of my ‘control issues’ by asking me to step in Whoopee’s fresh poop? Not at all. In fact, I felt supported and nurtured by their presence.

Do I believe in healing through horses? Without a doubt. Throw yoga into that mix, and well…there you have it: why I do what I do. A little magic may work its way in too…and I will always keep my eye out for the unicorn that rode its way through my childhood and inspired me to dream of horses.Yeehaw & Namaste.

Image courtesy of Kirk Reinert