The science of horse coaching and beyond

How does that actually work, Liesanne, that coaching with horses?
And why horses?
And do you believe all that, what the horses ‘tell’?

A selection of the questions I regularly receive about my field as a coach. It is always a challenge for me to give a concise answer to these kinds of questions. In this blog, a slightly more extensive answer follows, in which I try to be as complete as possible. As completely as possible, because not everything is ‘known’ in the field of horse coaching. Science is still busy investigating why this method is such a great success. Practical experience has taught us that great results can be achieved with horse coaching or therapy.

An answer to the above questions first takes us through the biology and ethology of the horse. This to me is really the basis of “why” it works well. Horses are both prey and flight animals. They are also extremely social animals, and the latter is not yet well known by the general public. As a prey animal, it is very important that a horse can quickly pick up on changes in the environment. So they must have senses that are on alert. Then it is vital that they, with the whole herd, can react quickly to this danger. Quickly pass on signals to each other, react first, and only then ‘reflect’. You would doubt whether a tiger or a snail is walking towards it.

From their biology, horses are therefore very good observers and observers. They perceive the smallest differences in their environment. They also perceive a lot of details in humans and then react to them if necessary. From small shifts in facial expression and posture to even the heartbeat. For example, did you know that in a herd of horses, the heartbeats are synchronized? This is called cardiac coherence and has to do with the large electromagnetic field of a horse’s heart. The HeartMath Institute conducted research into this, the results of which I find astounding. Science has shown that the heart is an intelligence in itself. Something that has been known for some time in some spiritual cultures, but that’s how it works with science… it always lags a bit behind. The researchers have shown that the heart is an intelligence that transcends our brain. Our heart has 40,000 neurons, which makes it able to independently “feel,” send information to other parts of our body and make decisions. The heart even has a memory. Mindblowing is interesting to me, and I therefore constantly work with that in my coaching.

Well… what about horses? Well, the electromagnetic field of a human heart is estimated to be 2.5-3m. That of a horse is up to 5 times bigger and more intelligent. Impressive huh! Being in close proximity to horses, therefore, affects your system in any case. And vice versa too, thanks to this field a lot of information is exchanged, with which a horse can ‘work’.

Another study that I think is worth telling is that of the social aspect of horses. It is becoming increasingly clear that horses are enormously social animals. In some countries, for example, it is absolutely forbidden to keep a horse alone and it must always have access to peers. And that is not without reason. A horse should not be inferior to a chimpanzee, an animal that is also known to be very social. A horse has more subtle facial expressions than a chimpanzee. They therefore communicate with each other continuously. A good horse coach or even owner already knows this. He knows that the position of an eye or ear makes a big difference and also sees it when a wrinkle or frown is just a little different. What makes things even more interesting is that research has now also shown that horses know the difference between a happy human face and an angry human face. This means that horses can learn to recognize emotions in another animal species. Fascinating!

So it should be clear that it works. That coaching with horses. In the presence of a horse, our blood pressure and cortisol decrease and we produce the happiness hormone (remember that heart coherence). It makes us feel more relaxed and that is a very big help when you are working with a coach or therapist on difficult and painful topics. It increases your ‘window of tolerance’, or in short what you can handle in a comfortable way. This stretching is necessary in coaching or therapy.

Is this also possible with other animals? Perhaps you could ask a researcher from the HeartMath Institute to study the electromagnetic field of a hamster, and they might get some amazing results. Who knows… However, I think a horse is very special in this. It almost seems as if it is their collective soul mission to help us, humans, grow to a higher frequency. They teach us to open our hearts and to live more from the heart, they know better than anyone what this is key to.

I hope you found this an enlightening and educational blog article! Do you have any questions or comments? Or have you had a special experience with horses yourself? Feel free to let me know in a comment on this blog.

Liesanne and Horse Lena

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