A few weeks ago I facilitated Advanced Equine Facilitated Learning workshop here in Colorado. There are several components to the advanced work, including horse dancing. Horse dancing is a way to explore fluid movement and connection with a horse with no set instructions or plan on what will transpire during the dance. Each participant selects the horse they want to dance with and the music which most resonates with them.
Typically in these sessions when a person is body-centered, free of agendas and fully present to the moment, the horse, and the music, a flow transpires between horse and human. It is not about walking, trotting or cantering transitions or about any other training techniques. It is about understanding how your horse responds to your energy, your focus, the pressure of your attention, and the quality of your movements. It is about connection to yourself and connection with the horse.
One client began her dance with her horse. It seemed a bit ‘sticky’ or not flowing smoothly. I watched, trying to figure out what she was hoping to achieve. The dance began to feel ‘heady.’ Her horse looked confused and there was a lack of connection between them. She asked to stop the dance. We talked about what was happening for her. First, she realized that the music she picked was not working. She requested another composition that she actually had originally been most drawn to but had doubted her intuition and had selected another composition that she though she ‘should’ use.
Next, I asked about what thoughts she was having while she was in her dance. She shared that thoughts based in doubt, worry, and wondering if her horse would dance with her were streaming through her consciousness. I coached her back into her body awareness and back into the present moment. I reminded her of all the tools she could draw on that she had learned in our time together, to help her to stay centered in her being and free of limiting thought patterns.
We started the music again. This time, she and her horse Ace moved around the round pen with ease and grace. The music she had selected was filled with sweet sorrow and at one point my heart filled and tears came to my eyes. She was allowing all of the pieces of her learning during the week (sorrow, letting go, becoming free, and owning her beauty) to move through her physical body. Her horse was with her and they moved as partners.
From a distance the dancing activity may look strange and seem very untraditional. Yet, what I see and experience with these sessions is that clients experience a pure, in the moment, artistic expression, shared with others without judgment. As she moved and danced with her black horse Ace, her inner beauty, even in sweet sorrow, radiated well beyond the round pen. She was powerful and expressive. The visceral experience of her horse dance she will take back to her own horses and incorporate into her riding. She will transfer it to her everyday life, allowing more of her true essence to shine and be present in the world. She now has a deeper understanding of how a doubt-filled mind stops a creative flow and how following one’s intuition and staying present in the moment creates flow and ease.
The ability to be artful, to be spontaneous and creative is slowly diminishing in our culture. Technology keeps us focused on programs, functions, predictable outcomes and processes and living at a faster pace than ever before in history. Horse dancing during the Advanced Equine Facilitated Learning workshops provides the opportunity to engage with a full-bodied presence and awareness, and teaches how to live in the moment. It helps us to access our creative energy and child like spontaneity. It challenges us to take chances, to let our true self out to play, to shine and to be seen by others. It is living life as an art form.