A Horse of 1000 Names
What’s in a name? If you were assigned a horse named “Diablo” how would you feel? Or “Thriller”? Or “Baby”? Our thoughts and feelings about our horse’s name can prescribe our feelings and our expectations about our experience with our horse. Why should we let this external factor affect our experience of our horse? What would happen instead if we approached each interaction with complete openness and lack of expectation?
One of our favorite EFP horses has been given many names by our clients: To a client who is in a period of transition in her life, the horse is “Chance”. To a client who is looking for closeness, the horse is “Buddy”. Another client named the horse “Marlboro”.
In Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy, the horse becomes a mirror in which the client is reflected. During the activities which could include grooming, leading, touching or riding the horse, the horse reacts to our energy as well as our nonverbal cues and acts according to what it is picking up. A horse may pull away, refuse to budge, run around the paddock, nuzzle us, or wrap its neck around us in a horse “hug”. Time after time, we hear from clients, “That’s exactly what I do…the horse is me.”
When we give our EFP horse a name, what are we really saying about ourselves?