“Honey, I need you to sit down. I have a confession to make,” I told my husband Jeff. “I need to let you know that you have some serious competition. I've fallen in love with another guy. He's bigger and taller than you, and stronger too. He's quite handsome, with his deep soulful gaze and chestnut colored hair. He's stolen my heart and his name is Benson. He's a draft horse.”
Ten of us had gathered that morning in a barn, where seven horses were waiting for us to receive Reiki or energetic healing. This was a first for me, so I didn't really know what to expect. Truthfully I was a little nervous and unsure of how to proceed, so I appreciated the directions given to us by the woman who owned the farm and the woman who organized this event. I had spent time as a child and as a teenager with horses, taking riding lessons and getting on horses whenever the opportunity presented itself, but it had been a long time since I'd really had any contact with them. I always loved being in their presence, but I had never really connected with a horse or horses on such a deep level until that day. This was a very different experience than in the past.
We were told that each horse would respond to energy healing in their own unique way. Several things might happen when a horse starts to feel the energy moving: they might start to drool, fart, or offer a specific body part that wants to be healed or soothed. It required me to surrender into the experience and allow the horse to dictate what he or she wanted. Following an opening circle of prayer and invitation, we spread out to whichever horse attracted our attention.
It was Benson that drew me in initially, and immediately I felt how receptive he was. Clearly this was a guy who had experienced energy healing before. As I stood next to him with my hands raised and palms facing his neck, he began to drool, his lips quivered and his skin rippled across his whole body. He began to pass gas and at times his head would drop slightly and his eyes would begin to gently close. Then he'd lift his head and look me squarely in the eye and then turn his head so we were face to face and lightly touching. I felt like I was looking into the soul of this great being and communicating through touch and vibration.
When it was time to move on, I reluctantly left Benson's side so I could experience some of the other horses stabled there too. Each interaction was very different, as I encountered the individual personalities of the horses. I worked with three other horses that day, including one who had retired from providing children with riding lessons for years. He seemed sad and there was concern that though he was eating well, he was losing weight. He also had a sore foot and his energy was low. He kind of slumped in the middle and generally didn't seem that healthy. Several folks had already been working with him, so by the time I came to his stall, he was totally relaxed; to the point where he lay down and spread himself out on the hay, just soaking it all in.
I went back to Benson for my last round and then we gathered again in a circle to talk about our experiences. The horse that had been struggling was very curious about what we were doing, and as soon as we circled he got up and came over to the door of his stall. We all exclaimed how different he looked than when we first arrived at the barn. His coat was shinier and generally he was more energetic and interactive.
As we shared, one of the women spoke about her experience with a stallion that had frightened her in the beginning. When she was in his stall, he kept putting his rump toward her. She had always been told not to stand behind a horse because you might get kicked, so she kept shifting away and moving towards his side. But every time she moved, the horse did too, so that his rear was always at her hands. Finally, she surrendered and let the horse decide what he wanted. Once she did that, both horse and woman were happier.
My exposure to energy healing has come from personal experience and from working with human clients and Reiki is just one of many forms of energy healing. Wholeness Energetics, Reflexology, Acupuncture, Kinesiology, Pranic Healing, and Shamanic practices are all examples of modalities that work with moving energy within the complex of the mind/body layers. They all work with the intent of bringing balance and healing. Through breath work and asana, yoga offers another form of energetic healing, as it encourages the body/mind to relax and open the nadis or channels of energy to flow more freely.
In the world of Allopathic medicine, energetic healing can feel like stepping into a foreign land, but working with the body's innate knowledge of healing is a practice that has been around since the beginning of time. When we open ourselves to any therapy that stimulates the flow of energy, we join with the practitioner to create a healing environment. It is available for anyone to access, thus enabling our body, mind and spirit to heal.
It was a different experience for me to practice these skills on horses rather than humans, but the responses and outcomes were pretty similar. Horses don't carry any preconceived ideas about what their healing should look like. While it might feel unfamiliar, they respond very quickly to the flow of energy.
I was pleasantly surprised to hear from the group how our shared experiences with each horse were so similar. We picked up on the same feelings and thoughts about how a horse behaved and why. It was a reinforcement about how we are all connected, whether in human, horse or some other life form. I'm so grateful for that reminder and for the experience of connecting with our equine family on that day.