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Hands On Horses

Forehead to forehead and eye to eye, I melted into the deep gaze of Dust Bunny. A rich chocolate brown, she was the only mare in a barn full of males. As I placed my hands on her side and by her face, Dust Bunny relaxed and settled in. I loved when she'd turn her head to look at me and then bring her forehead to rest against mine. We communicated through feelings and the sense of touch. When she needed a little break from our hands, she made it very clear by walking away and then turning counter clockwise in a full circle. She always came back to the same spot and location, so the other practitioner and I were positioned on her right side. Then she was ready once again for the hands on work to occur.

We weren't aware of this until much later when we were sharing our experiences as a group, but according to her human, Dust Bunny is frequently out of balance. Her right side is weaker than her left and often can't hold a saddle, as it slides down the right side. She favors her right side, which was the only side she'd let us near.

This was my second year joining this lovely group of Reiki practitioners to step into the Temple of this barn, entering the threshold of sacred space. The resident horses and dogs welcomed us as we humans formed a circle and called in the healing energy of Reiki. Each horse's personality was described in detail prior to working with them, to allay any concerns that we might have; such as the horse that would bump you with her shoulder or the one that only presented his rump. We weren't told though if there were any physical challenges that a horse was facing until we gathered at the end. That's when we shared what we had experienced and were reinforced in what we had collectively tuned into.

It's quite remarkable to witness what happens when an animal receives Reiki. The lips begin to quiver, they drool, fart or rumble in their bellies. Sometimes there is a rippling across the skin and they often shift their positions so your hands are exactly where their bodies are calling out for attention. Their eyes might begin to close, head drops and they might shift their feet as the energy starts to move. They are also mindful of us, making their needs known, but careful not to step on us or to kick. Horses are very sensitive to our state of being, so finding the calming state that energy work offers, immediately relaxes and brings peace to the animal we are holding, either with hands placed directly on their body or holding the space from a distance. The benefits extend to the horses' human companions as well, because folks are interacting with a calmer more peaceful animal.

Ace's human is one of my yoga students, so when I entered his stall I held the image of Ruth in my mind, speaking softly to him about her as I introduced myself. With his head turned towards me, it was as though Ruth was reflected in his eye. He immediately relaxed and wherever I put my hands, Ace was responsive to that energy. His skin rippled, his jaw relaxed and quivered and his belly gurgled. He'd turn his head to watch what I was doing and move his left hip closer to me to focus there too. I thought a lot about Ruth as I did Reiki on Ace, imagined her astride and riding this handsome, powerful horse through the woodland paths. It felt to me that knowing Ruth had bridged the connection for me with Ace and his receptivity to my hands placed on him.

I have to confess that when I met up with Benson again I hoped he would remember me from last summer. This gentle giant with a heart of gold had been my mad crush a year ago and I projected my desire to connect with him once more. And talk about responsive, he was like a sponge just soaking up all the energy sent his way. He loved the attention and moved as close to our hands and circle of humans as he possibly could. Known as the herd's Houdini, he'll often find his own way out of his stall to be found out in the pasture munching grass.

People often ask about energy work as if I am doing something to them, when it is really their innate ability to heal themselves that is allowed to open. I stand witness to that energy and respond accordingly, moving my hands to those places that are calling for attention. When submerging into energetic awareness, whether it is Reiki or another form of energy healing, it is a form of meditation and grounding in the present moment. Truthfully, the experience of doing energy work with horses or with humans is as much about my own healing as it is for them, as I benefit so much from these sessions as well.

Reiki originated in Japan by a man named Mikao Usui as a method of spiritual practice, but quickly came to be known for its ability to facilitate a body's healing. It uses specific symbols, hand positions and mantras that has found its way into hospitals and other clinical settings for both pre and post surgery and as a technique to bring deep rest and relaxation to those of us wishing to calm the nervous system. It is beneficial not only physically, but emotionally and spiritually as a full body experience.

It was a magical afternoon amongst the horses, filling me with deep appreciation and gratitude. I came to realize that even though we are all in different skins, each us in that barn was deeply connected as spiritual beings, having a human, horse or dog experience.

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