Life Lessons We Can Learn From Horses
Fleeting. Graceful. Powerful. Sensitive. The attributes of the humble, beautiful horse are well-known but their ability to improve human life means we should follow their lead, not the other way around. We look at six things horses can teach us, to make our lives better.
Humans are predators, whilst horses are prey animals. They are constantly aware of their surroundings, monitoring danger levels as they know that their existence depends on spatial sensitivity.
Equine hierarchies are formed by confrontations where horses either ‘push or be pushed’; thereby determining who will be the herd leader. Whilst we don’t advocate such ‘horseplay’ in the office, keep your eyes and ears open as to the behaviour of work colleagues who might want to use disputes with you as a way to climb the work ladder.
Body language/Non-verbal communication
Without the ability to talk, horses are, unsurprisingly, experts at deducing body language. If feeling threatened, a horse will bolt away to safer ground; thereby instigating its inherent ‘fight or flight’ defence mechanism.
It pays for humans to listen in social situations; if the tone of someone’s speech does not tally with their body language, then you should adopt an equine approach, e.g. stand and query the speaker about their non-verbal messages (fight), or withdraw from the situation, before it becomes too involved (flight).
Just being with a horse can help humans to feel calm; however, this may be a scientific response. Research suggests that a horse’s heart (nine times larger than ours) possesses a strong electromagnetic field which can influence human emotions when in close proximity to each other. This physiological effect can help humans in various ways; lowering of blood pressure, reduced anxiety and improved feelings of social empowerment.
‘Horse sense is the thing a horse has which keeps it from betting on people.’
A horse can change a human’s perception of safe boundaries; you, the human will be told in no uncertain terms if you encroach on the personal space of your equine companion. Controlling behaviour will not work; the human-horse bond is built on mutual respect and trust. This approach can be brought into human relationships to great effect.
Working with a strong horse is exactly that: hard work. That trust we mentioned is not handed over in a nosebag; you will need to be hands-on from the start. If you are anxious, fearful or aloof, your efforts at bonding will be doomed. Equine therapy is a great method of improving self-confidence and of rewarding effort; these are valuable personal assets that can be put to good use in social situations and the workplace.
There is no hiding place here; your horse depends on you to keep him fit, fed, watered, exercised and trained. Sick or tired? Too bad; your horse, your responsibility. No buck-passing, as often happens in human life.