In my lifetime of being around horses and working with different horsemen and women I’ve had the privilege of being exposed to many different approaches to the concept of horses and energy. Emotional energy, spiritual energy, electro-magnetic energy…you name it, everyone’s got an opinion and an experience with it. Some people say it’s hokey and a bunch of voodoo and some people are super into it. I’m one of those who is super into it, and I also very much respect those who aren’t. All I can offer is my experience, and my experiences with energy work are some of my favourite ones to share because they have been so profound.
I’m not going to go into great depth about horses as sentient and emotional beings because in many ways that topic has been exhausted. And if you’re here, I think you must have a certain idea yourself that there is something to it. So I’ll dive right into some of my personal experiences and how this energy work stuff actually well, works. The foundation of energy work is based on the fact that everything is energy. Since I am energy, the energy I emit or “put out” can affect other energy. A great example of how energy effects, is the experiment Japanese author Masaru Emoto did with water. He exposed water to different music, words, intentions (all energy) and took photos of the water crystals that formed. Words like Love, Eternal, and Thank You yielded beautiful crystals, whereas words like Evil and Hate produced ugly and disfigured crystals. The entirety of the experiment is beyond the scope of this article, but it’s fascinating and goes to the point: that energy has the power to affect outwards and inwards in line with the intention or energy frequency being offered.
So, how does this apply to equine therapy and my work? Simply, it has everything to do with the work I do. I approach every horse with an intention to heal and to help return the body to ideal balance. This basic intention is a critical starting point. As an example of the opposite: when I was in my first year of school for equine sports therapy I was very unsure of myself and extremely self-conscious, thinking that I was no good at it and never would be. On one particular occasion I was doing a case study on one of my teacher’s horses, Dream. I wasn’t having a great day and I felt stressed about getting all my studies done in time for class, and I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing. I remember so clearly that every time I approached Dream, he moved away. At first I thought he was just fidgety, but eventually it became painfully obvious that he didn’t want anything to do with me. I’m pretty certain I left in tears after getting nothing accomplished.
I recall that night after some time had passed, I became aware that I had gone into that session looking for something to be wrong so that I could fix it. I didn’t approach Dream in a loving helpful way, I approached with my own agenda. To make a long story short, I re-booked the session with Dream and the next time I went out I was sure to step forward to him as openly and lovingly as possible. No plans, no expectations and, it made all the difference. Dream stood quietly, enjoyed his massage, I felt calm and confident and the entire experience was completely different. Nothing in the environment changed, my intention – my energy did.
While doing massage and chiropractics I am working with the physical body, absolutely. However, underneath the physical aspect of the work the energy exchange plays an important role in encouraging the body to open up and receive the healing being offered. The horse’s body is a massive and incredible system of muscles! All those muscles are energy. Imagine a knot, like in your neck. If I massage that knot with a patient and encouraging energy as opposed to a forceful and demanding energy, chances are better the knot will let go when you feel that it’s safe to do so. That’s not to say deep tissue massages, which are definitely applied with more pressure are bad! It’s the energy behind it that matters.
The other part of energy work which is so incredibly cool is that energy being everything, we can use it to “test” or “ask” the horse’s body what will best support it’s healing. Muscle testing uses the energy of the body as a baseline, and then while adding or subtracting an item (a herb or remedy of some kind) I can test to see if what’s being added or subtracted provides a “strong” or integrous result or if it’s a “weak” test.
For example, I like to introduce apple cider vinegar to a horse’s daily regimen. Before doing so, though, I muscle test to see if that is appropriate. It’s a way of asking your horse’s body directly what he or she needs. How amazing is that?! If the test is positive, we can determine exactly how much he or she needs and for how long. No more guess work or over/under supplementing! If you’ve ever been to a naturopath or done allergy testing, often muscle testing is used in a similar way. Being exposed to the allergen produces a “weak” result indicating an allergy to that particular thing.
When introducing muscle testing to a new client I love to let you be involved if you’d like. Of course, there is no pressure and it’s certainly not required, but you can be a part of the entire process if that is of interest to you. I encourage everyone, even skeptics, to give it a chance! Sometimes all it takes is a little experiential learning to open up worlds of possibilities, right?!