While undergoing our training, we partake as volunteers or clients in order to gain practical knowledge and experience. During one of these practical lessons, we were a group of 5 students and were each given a restriction, which we could choose from a pile of props on the ground.
There were balls (to be held in each hand so as not to use your hands). A rope attached to each foot and hand so that you walked like a puppet. A blindfold. A rope to tie your hands behind your back and a cover for your mouth so that you may not speak.
We eagerly grabbed a restriction we were comfortable with and I ended up with the blindfold. I was not concerned since I had faith in my team mates and felt comfortable that they would direct and protect me. Not to mention we are taught very strictly to always put safety of horse and client first. Hence the therapy team consists of 2 qualified persons and safe horses.
The instruction was to, as a group, groom a horse. Needless to say, the group dynamics played out beautifully with the leaders taking leadership and the followers, following. We each had our own unique experience of the instruction and restriction but what stood out for me was my high level of responsibility while in the arena. Coming from a family where I am the only horse nut, I have always felt they were ‘my thing’ and therefore ‘my responsibility’. For the horses as well as those that came into contact with them.
When we processed the session in the classroom after, it was clear to me just how responsible I was for other’s happiness and safety. Not just in the arena, or around horses, but in my life. And how liberating and terrifying it was when I was blind folded and could not have an influence on others and their safety.
This left me with a lot to process, but without that activity, I would never have realized the impact of that trait, the impact on my life and those around me. I left feeling I had more insight to how I go about life and what I want to change, and what not.
Needless to say, we were all safe and more knowledgeable after the encounter.
The horses are powerful metaphors for life and our unique circumstances. It is impossible to encounter these animals and not be affected.