Many years ago I had a program which was called Equine Mirrors . The logo was beautiful, it depicted a person walking side by side with a horse, underneath was the mirror reflection. To myself and the other psychologist it depicted the serenity of the connection between horse and human at its best. It was never intended to objectify or diminish the separate being of the horse. Indeed it suggested the lens in which we view the world is tainted by our internal viewpoint. 10 years ago I understood that but somehow felt “shamed” for using that logo and name. In fact other therapist and equine professionals went out of their way to inform everyone how insensitive and demeaning this logo appeared . We were chastised for a simplistic and objectifying logo.
Today I see it differently than I used to. After 15 years and lots of miles I have the confidence to standout for myself and the name. Yes the majority of clients coming to work with the horses and myself project instantly . If they project it is in fact an invitation to understand the world through their eyes. It is a statement of trust when they show us for a brief period how they view the world around them . However,we can’t just stop there . It is, however ,an important beginning to creating a relationship .When we shut them off or shame them we thwart an important opportunity for connection. Equine therapy , from my perspective is about relationships between the humans and horses . I use the word therapy here I. The same way I have used it forever m before the term was frowned on. To me it describes a therapeutic relationship in which the horse is an active participant, to call it anything else is misleading and confusing. .
From my polyvagal our physiological state is constantly unconsciously narrating the world around us . All mammals are running into cues of safety and the opportunity to connect in a meaningful way with others. Peaceful connections don’t always come easily. It turns out that beautiful logo was spot on . True co-regulation requires an awareness of the importance of understanding that one being truly impacts the other. Beyond that is the higher level awareness that what each of us sees can never truly be understood by another. Everything we see is in someways impacted by our projections . In fact even as we look at our own reflection we are taking it in through our unique perspective. Horses are highly sensitive beings who we know rely deeply in their instincts for survival and awareness . They are likely to be particularly prone to perceiving humans through projections of past relationships or innate fear responses. But here’s the kicker we are indeed hardwired to project onto the world around us but when given time and the opportunity to feel safe enough to really see and experience other living things we can indeed open ourselves up to truly meaningful connections.
Most importantly, we need to remember even our reflection in the mirror is a projection of ourself. It is impossible to ever truly know if how we see ourself is how others see us. We see a version of life through our eyes that is ours alone . Sharing this perspective with others and learning its origins can lead to a shared understanding of the works around us.