A professional workshop which brought in a breath of fresh air! Pam Billinge gave fascinating and moving insights into the practices and principles of equine assisted therapy in the beautiful rural setting of Suddene Park Farm in Wiltshire.
Pam started by helping us to be “present” in the room by taking us through a short meditation exercise, which helped many of us to feel calm and centred. She then explained how she had originally qualified as a body psychotherapist, and subsequently developed “embodied horse-led therapy” once she realised that her own unacknowledged emotions were having an unwelcome impact on her horse’s behaviour.
Here was a key point of our learning: If we do not acknowledge our own emotions, the horse will act as an instant amplifier, often even across distances. This can be explained as right-brain to right-brain communication, which bypasses logical thought or judgement. As a trained observer the equine therapist will have access to more information about the client’s emotions (possibly unconscious) whilst interacting with the horse, than in the conventional setting of the therapy room. The use of words is often not even necessary.
“When we step into the world of the horse, during equine assisted learning, and build relationship with them, we step into this non-verbal realm in which the horse responds to our emotional, energetic cues. Often these emotions are not in our conscious awareness, so habituated have we become to feeling them. Thus very quickly the horse brings our full awareness, in the instant, to our emotional experience in all its authenticity. With every emotion comes a physical feeling – a felt sense in our body. And the more aware we become of our somatic experience, the better we can learn to master our emotions. And the easier it becomes to be present.” Pam Billinge
This was a highly experiential morning, whereby we observed horses in their interactions with a few people from our workshop. We also learned of the main principles of equine assisted therapy including energetic resonance; everything means something; non-verbal information; bio-dynamic cycles (whereby we experience intense peaks of emotion before returning to a state of balance); the importance of being authentic and to try to harness “neutral energy”; universal holding; trusting the horse.
Participant written comments:
- “really interesting and absorbing”
- “thoroughly enjoyable”
- “well organised, good venue and speaker”
- “I felt very safe and secure with the speaker’s experience and responsible leadership of the group and what took place”
- beautiful ambience”
- “thought it was excellent”
Pam Billinge runs 3-day training programmes in “embodied equine-assisted therapy”. Contact Pam: http://www.equestlimited.co.uk/contact-equest.php
By: Wendy Bramham
20 October 2015