SoulHorse Journeys Equine Facilitated Therapy
I spent the first part of my life living and working with horses on our 700 acre farm in Virginia. We had a herd of 5-18 horses at any one time and I had the good fortune to compete in hunter jumper shows and to also ride bareback through the apple orchards that laced the hills of our land. I taught riding for many years, and was program coordinator for several riding programs including the Hippotherapy Program at Camp Easterseal.
In these last 25 years I have developed my professional skill and expertise as a counselor in wholistic therapeutic practices. Working with ”horse as partner”, the healing endeavor of integration and wellness, has brought me full circle. Training with Epona including additional mentoring with a senior Epona trainer, I have gratefully included Healing with Horses into my Deep River Healing Arts practice.
What is equine therapy?
Equine therapy is a very simple way to allow humans to partner with horses to enhance self-awareness and growth. Horses are congruent, meaning they simply express anger when angry, or fear when scared. Unlike we humans, who smile saying everything is fine when we’re upset, horses are herd animals who depend on one another to be congruent. They are attuned to each other’s physiology and subtle changes emotionally to know if it’s necessary to move to safety. In the horse-human connection, horses are aware of what we are feeling on the subtlest level, and because of the natural mirroring they do so well, we humans get to see where we are saying one thing and feeling another. Often this simple mirroring is enough to help a person self-reflect, producing change, by allowing our operating systems to move toward efficiency. Once an inefficient life pattern is recognized, our innate wisdom knows how to make shifts internally to bring more balance.
What happens in a session?
The process in the Epona Method is both simple and profound. A horse is placed in an enclosed round pen or paddock without a halter and the person doing the therapeutic self-work is guided to discover what they want to focus on for the session. If the horse is willing to partner with them the person stands with the horse and is supported to meet what they think/feel is happening moment-to-moment in the relationship with the horse. It is a very revealing, humbling and heart opening process because horses are genuine, respectful and above all honest.
Sessions often last up to an hour, including preparation and completion, allowing about 20-30 minutes of direct contact with the horse. No prior horse experience is required. The horse is allowed to just be who they are in the moment. The focus for myself as facilitator is to provide safety for horse and human, and help the human become more congruent through the relationship with the horse. It is a subtle yet powerful experience within a very simple process.
“I felt a love and trust that has no package, preconceived role, or agenda. It emerged from two beings coming together in joy, curiosity, playfulness, trust, and unconditional love. Thank you, dear Sallie, for your sensitivity, wisdom and expertise in creating, and holding a completely safe, yet open space, which enabled me and Soleil to meet each other on such a deep level.”