Just as with every man or woman who has ever tried to change another person only to discover that they can’t, the only way to positively have or improve a relationship with a horse is to change oneself.Tim Hayes Riding Home
Hardened criminals, autistic children, war veterans suffering from PTSD, adults with a history of childhood abuse: all have been helped by horses. The most remarkable thing about this is that horses are not our natural allies. Dogs are natural companions for humans . We are both predators and hunt in packs. Horses are prey animals . We are their enemy. So why do they work with us and help us? Because they can see right through our pretenses. They know who we really are.
Riding Home by Tim Hayes is a book worth reading. I knew horses were helping all kinds of people. But what I did not know was the how. Horses are hypervigilant; this is how they have survived the millennia. Their eyesight is acutely sharp and they read our body positions. They see who we are not who we say we are. Hayes explains the science behind why horses can help us.
Horses are a hundred percent honest…..they never misrepresent themselves, give mixed signals, or manipulate with pretense. They never lie to each other or to humans.Tim Hayes
Hayes takes us through case studies of young people who, due to their family experience, have taken a wrong turn in life. Horses help these young people. Hayes also examines Horses for Heroes ” the walking wounded” who suffer from paralyzing PTSD. Horses live only in the present moment and they communicate with non verbal right-brain behavior. Humans’ left- brain thinking involves judgement and criticism. Those suffering with PTSD have what is termed “frozen traumatic energy”. Communicating with a horse by touch, feel and the body language of a horse can release that energy and allow the human to begin the process of verbally expressing their buried pain to a therapist and start the process of recovery.
It is impossible to deceive a horse. If a person is feeling angry or anxious a horse will know it immediately from the person’s body language. A person can hide negative emotions from another person by acting as if they are feeling happy and relaxed. This often works with other people. It never works with a horse.Tim Hayes
Horses can communicate with children with autism. According to Dr. Temple Grandin ( a professor in the Department of Animal Sciences at Colorado State University who is, herself, a person with autism) people with autism don’t have an unconscious mind. “They express exactly what they are thinking and feeling. So do horses.” Dr. Grandin also states that fear is the main emotion felt by people with autism. It is the same for prey animals like horses. Horses and those with autism can communicate and understand each other and most importantly feel safe with each other.
Hayes also talks about his own experience and background with horses working on cattle ranches when he was young. It was then he learned he had to be honest with the horse and then the horse could trust him and look after him. He also tells us about his relationships with other horses later in his life as well.
I would like to share some quotes from Riding Home that leapt off the page for me.
Instead of becoming annoyed, impatient or frustrated and showing the child or the horse that we think they’re being stupid and silly, we must acknowledge their fears and understand that for them the “danger” is quite real.
And what about this? How appropriate is this for our world today?
It’s not until some spiritual, joyous, transformative, tragic or life-threatening event occurs that people of different race , religions, nationalities, sizes or shapes suddenly realize that, yes, we are all the same……..What makes an interspecies relationship between a horse and a human unique is the unexpected ability of both partners, though dramatically different in appearance, to identify and see themselves in each other.
Horses don’t care who you are, what you’ve done, or what you believe. They only care about how you behave with them. This enables them to give unconditional acceptance to a troubled teen who is revealing his or her true self.
Horses don’t get divorced. Their need for self preservation creates socially harmonious herds.
Not everyone likes horses.They’re also not a silver bullet solution for healing every deep emotional or physical wound any human has. But there is scientific, psychological, biological and experiential evidence that some of today’s equine therapeutic programs are, and have been, making a profound difference by helping thousands of men, woman, and children achieve life-altering emotional breakthroughs .
If you are a horse owner, rider, someone interested in horses or even someone who has no real interest in horses I would recommend this book. This book is like having Google translate to help us understand and interpret this other species, horses.