Letting Our Body Lead The Way: Embodied ...

Letting Our Body Lead The Way: Embodied Dancing With Horses

Dec 07, 2022

Just as our body can so helpfully warn us of a potential danger or threat to our wellbeing, so too can the body guide us towards healing and joyful experiences.

I had a vivid experience of this recently when I had been undergoing some very painful healing that was primarily taking place in my body. As I began to come out the other side of intense pain and immobility, I was astonished one day to find my body walking me up a hill that I had been unable to walk up for months, yet had longed to. My body was literally walking and moving me and guiding me as to where we would go next. It was a powerful and joyful experience.

This can be a very subtle experience however, so we really must listen carefully and quieten down our monkey-chattering mind to create the space for our body to suggest and lead.

In our equine-facilitated sessions, one of the ways we can develop and hone the ability to heed our body like this is through working loose with a horse. This is where, just as we allow the horse to lead and guide us some of the time, we can also start to really listen to our own body’s suggestions, and let it lead us in our interaction with the horse.

If we pay really close attention; let our left-brain with its planning and analytical capacities take a backseat and instead, drop out awareness down into our body, we just might be astonished that our body will then take the initiative and begin to direct us, suggesting movements, direction and tempo. Smoothly we can move without thinking or planning ahead, but rather, allowing our body to move us in ways that feel good and pleasurable. And along with the horse, create beautiful movement in harmony with one another.

All of which is a very different approach to getting the horse to move or do tricks. Rather, it’s about connection and free flowing harmony where a conversation continually takes place and you co-create a beautiful experience together.

This is exactly what happens in a partnership dance. I used to dance Argentine Tango and to do so well and enjoyably required me to do all of the above: to ask my mind to step back; allow my heart to open so that I could connect fully with my partner, and then let my body take the lead and move me in time to the music and the movements of my partner. Anytime my head tried to take over I’d lose the connection with my partner and coordination of my body, especially my feet. The difference was stark and immediately apparent to both of us. It really was an exercise in mindfulness in motion. This also happened if my ego and person came to the fore and I became focused on how I looked rather than how it was feeling in my body.

To dance like this whether with a human or an equine partner, involves a mutual exchange of ideas and suggestions through a bottom-up, embodied process. Which, when it all comes together, creates a beautiful flow, just as can happen with a horse when we allow our body to come to the fore and guide us. And as with dancing, if the head/ego steps in and tries to take the lead, the connection drops, the horse loses interest and we lose our footing, rather than flowing together in a stream of interconnectedness.

With grace and sensitivity we can move with our horse as one like dancers, from the heart and through the guidance and wisdom of the body. This is a fully embodied, mindful experience, eliciting a state of complete presence and simultaneous union with another being, and therefore not one you’re likely to forget for a long time…

©Angela Dunning
The Horse’s Truth
EFL; Practitioner Support & Writing

Image by Andrzej Kubik, Shutterstock.

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