Having chatted many times about our mutual intrigue and interest in Intuitive Horse, my dear friend Lorna kindly bought me a voucher for a 1-1 session. Delighted! And so I’ve recently experienced my first, very enlightening as it was, couple of hours at Intuitive Horse.
What is Intuitive Horse?
New Coghurst Farm, a family run farm near Hastings, is set amidst beautiful East Sussex countryside. Hay making, sheep grazing and the Intuitive Horse work make up the daily life there. Most of the horses at Intuitive Horse came there for some form of rehabilitation and, however they got there, they now reside permanently at New Coghurst Farm where they live out as a herd all year round in a natural environment, bare foot and no rugs – as nature intended.
Emma Ross, founder of Intuitive Horse, has been around horses for over 30 years, having competed in her earlier days in dressage and show-jumping, and going on to gain her BHS AI teaching qualification and subsequently running a busy London based riding school for many years. Her experience and credits are many, having also trained horses as riding horses, and working for a 24-hour emergency transporter for vets. Emma is also trained in equine massage and ‘zoopharmacognosy’ – the self selection of herbs and essential oils for animals to self medicate with. Her experience is deep and wide and, as the saying goes, the whole is greater than the sum of its’ parts, Emma’s knowledge and passion is vast; she demonstrates an honest understanding and deep connection with the horses.
For the past fifteen years or so Emma has been exploring the relationship between horse and human, based initially through her own experiences, becoming aware that the horses were reflecting her behaviour through their own, and how this changed as she changed. These insights and reflections led Emma, in 2008, to start exploring this with other people and so Intuitive Horse was born.
Over the years Emma as worked with and helped people wanting personal development, suffering from anxiety, depression, stress, anorexia, DID, OCD, ADD, ADHD, M.E, people with special needs, adolescents, looked after children, people with fears of horses, people wanting to further their connection with horses, horse riders, corporates, therapists and other professionals. She continually seeks to widen her knowledge in areas of human and horse behaviour by attending courses and workshops.
During our initial chat Emma told me about the upcoming session, what I could expect, how and where it could be conducted (it was a cold day so I had a choice of areas) and, more importantly, Emma wanted to know what my aim of the session was. She also completed a brief questionnaire with regards my current health.
My aim for the session was simply to gain some clarification of ‘where I was at’. Maybe who and where I think I am, might not necessarily be how I actually am – so seeking reflection through a horse’s behaviour with me, I hoped, would provide that insight.
Before I chose the horse that I felt drawn to work with, Emma took me through a body awareness exercise where I tuned in to myself, mind and body, and then immediately prior to choosing my horse I once again stated my intent for the session.
I have to say that although I’m in awe of the beautiful creatures that horses are, I’m also nervous around them, not being familiar with their psychology and, after all, they are big! As young teenagers my sister and I had taken riding lessons though, unlike Emma who obviously has a natural affinity and ability, my experience of horse riding was that the horse was in charge when I rode it – if it wanted to stop and graze rather than trot, it would! So I shared my nervousness with Emma during our initial chat.
Emma had shown me an area where I could go if I felt at any time that I wanted to be able to separate myself from the horse – it would be my safe place. I waited here whilst the horse was bought in, and then it was up to me as to how I used the time, and how I chose to interact with the horse. Emma sat quietly observing throughout, and from time to time as appropriate she would ask relevant questions so that I could explore what was going on within me.
I felt comfortable enough to step into the area with my horse and stood and waited to see his response to me. At first he didn’t seem to be too interested, he seemed more interested in looking out to some of his mates and I took this to be that he would rather be over there with them. That initial experience in itself was thought provoking and it tapped into my thoughts of often feeling unnoticed. As I voiced this to Emma, she asked some pertinent questions which led me to explore this in more depth.
As the session continued, the horse did come over, close enough that I could stroke his face or neck, then he would walk away again. Sometimes I chose to walk over to where he was and be able to connect again before he would walk off somewhere else. At some point I remember having the thoughts that this session was about the horse reflecting my inner emotional state, and it wasn’t necessarily about having to ‘pet a horse’ as one might do if taking a country walk, and coming by a field with a horse who comes to the fence to say hello! So I chose not to pursue the ‘must touch’ agenda and just walked around the arena, sometimes stood still and looked at the horse, and sometimes simply took in the beautiful views. It was at this point, that the horse (I will tell you more about him later) seemed to take a greater interest in me – maybe because he felt under no pressure, maybe because I felt calmer…?
He came and stood next to me where I was looking at the views, he started chomping on some foliage, and then began to interact in what seemed a more purposeful way. Ah-ha I thought this feels good. After a while he seemed intent on nudging my arm and giving it some nips. Actually I wasn’t that keen at that point, and didn’t really understand what was going on. I walked away and stepped into my safe space, and Emma asked me to reflect on what was going on inside at the time of this change in his behaviour.
There’s not enough space to document all that happened, so I’ll fast forward to the end of session. When Emma and I were discussing the recent behaviour, the horse came along and stood just outside my safe space and seemed to be listening to our conversation. He appeared to want to continue interacting. I put my hand out to stroke him though he seemed somewhat boisterous still. This next bit is difficult to describe in words and might be lost in translation. Anyway, my immediate response was to say ‘No I don’t want you to do that any more’ quietly yet firmly. I can’t tell you the change in his face, stance, attitude, whole – as if he really heard me and understood and respected. That might sound rather simplistic! I know that I often find it difficult to say ‘No’ which stems from a fear of not being liked if I assert myself. What I realised about ‘where I was at’ when I said those words was that they were congruent with how I was feeling inside. They were said in the moment, with no future fear projection of not being liked for what I said. It seemed like a ‘whole body No’ that came from somewhere beyond words.
And heartening as it was, he respected and acknowledged my ‘No’ and didn’t walk away or reject me. And I wonder, was his boisterous behaviour reflecting something in me that I needed to look at, or did he push me until I stood up for myself? Things for me to contemplate… Emma and I chose to end the session there, as it seemed a good place to pause. The session was enlightening to say the least; I felt ‘witnessed’ by the horse.
Intuitive Horse – seeing you for who you really are
A 1-1 session is a great starter to find out if the work with Intuitive Horse is for you. My personal experience proved thought provoking enough, though there are obvious time constraints for delving further. I think it would prove beneficial to spend more time in session, and so I will discuss with Emma about whether another 1-1 or even a 3-day retreat to really immerse myself would be the next possible step.
The horse I was drawn to is named Spot. He is 15 years old and has been part of the Intuitive Horse herd for the past 11 years. I didn’t know much about him before our session. It was up to me if I wanted to know more beforehand, though by not knowing too much perhaps this helped limit any pre-conceived ideas I might have had.
Lesley – publisher
To find out more if Intuitive Horse might be right for you or your loved ones, please visit intuitivehorse.com or their facebook page
Otherwise please call Emma on 07825 036 301 or email at info@ intuitivehorse.co.uk