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Horses – emotional mirrors and healersPosted: August 19, 2013

By Martina Danzer


AnimalMagic2Why horses? I am often asked what is so special, so truly unique about horses that these particular creatures are able to so successfully and repeatedly help individuals struggling with behavioural and mental-health issues, trauma, grief, loss and addictions. My answer: horses know how to attune to people and their environment because of their innate nature as prey animals.

Contrary to dogs and cats who are predatory animals and have their eyes on the front of their heads, horses like other prey animals have their eyes on the side of their heads, which keeps them safe by allowing an expanded visual field. Most importantly though, these powerful yet vulnerable creatures use their whole body as a sensing device for emotions and intuition, which greatly contributes to their keen ability to detect danger and plays a crucial part in their heightened sensitivity to human emotion, body language and energy.

Horses sense when our behaviour is incongruent with our true state of emotions. To them this registers as potential danger. However, they don’t feel threatened by any emotion that is felt authentically. This doesn’t mean to melodramatically act out the emotions or to take them out on others to relieve pressure. In order to feel an experience completely we need to allow it to move us to the core, rather than to dissociate from it. It helps to imagine breathing into the sensation, sending it oxygen and awareness. This might leave us perhaps raw and vulnerable for a time, but will ultimately strengthen our ability to embrace life fully and consciously.

Images courtesy Martina Danzer

Images courtesy Martina Danzer

The development of emotional intelligence skills are taught by horses so effectively, because they constantly mirror our feelings back to us through their body language, which is clear and immediate. They teach us how we impact those around us.

The fact that horses relate from a place similar to the way of the right hemisphere of the human brain with its nonverbal, creative, emotional and intuitive properties teaches us what it means to just be, in the moment, in connection, and without words. Spending time and connecting with horses therefore gives us humans a much-needed break from our left brain, which is where most of us spend most of our waking time.

Many people who experience healing and learning with horses are amazed by the level of safety they feel with these large powerful animals. Horses possess qualities we need for healthy attachment, such as being nonjudgmental and emotionally present, which helps us cultivate self-awareness.
The nonverbal connection with a non-judgmental, emotionally present being such as a horse facilitates attachment, bonding, and trust.

The combination of its immense size coupled with its vulnerable prey nature makes a horse an excellent partner and therapist for people of all ages. It is a great gift for both patients and therapists to work with horses in this way.

Martina Danzer… holds a BA of Education, is a Professional Art Therapist with the BC Art Therapy Association (BCATA), an Eponaquest Instructor for Equine Facilitated Experiential Learning (EFEL) and a Usui Reiki Master. She offers Learning and Healing with Horse with her herd of six horses through her business “Animal Magic Worldwide” at her ranch outside of Kimberley. Please contact her for any questions or comments you may have or visit


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