BEFORE WE BEGIN: WE ARE ORDERING BITLESS LG BRIDLES THIS WEEK (FROM GERMANY). IF YOU WANT ONE, PLEASE LET ME KNOW VIA THIS LINK. OH, AND IT ISN’T FOR JUST DRESSAGE RIDERS; I USE THEM ON ALL OF MY HORSES IN EVERY DISCIPLINE.
EQUINE GUIDED EDUCATION?
Have you heard that phrase? Equine Guided Education (EGE)? Do you know what it means? Me, neither. I had no idea what it meant… Equines guiding us to learn? Equines are guided by us to learn? Equines watch us as we learn? I had no idea.
I wanted to study up on it all. Of course, I went to Mr. Google and he popped up with a few links.
Hmmmmm. I was reading the first listing and I didn’t see an explanation anywhere. There wasn’t a “What is EGE” tab. I kept clicking and reading but nothing was a clear-cut explanation. Hmmmm. Either this was a bad website or I was too literal in what I wanted to know… So, I went to another website. This one had much more description but it was very “woo-woo”. However, the site was easy to navigate so I clicked around a bit. I did learn that many people who took the course to become practitioners were very happy via their testimonials! (I also learned that it is quite a commitment to become a practitioner as it is very expensive.) There were also testimonials of clients who had worked with the EGE practitioners. They seemed to find revelations about their lives and their horses. Hmmmmmm. Still however, I was not clear on the exact science.
I thought about this and decided that maybe EGE was so new and inventive that no one wanted to give the secrets away on a website. Or, perhaps it is so difficult to describe, they skip that part. Maybe the science is too emotional and etherial to describe. Or maybe it is so simple and obvious (once you know it) that they don’t want to print it. I really didn’t know what to think.
The best definition I garnered was that EGE is somatic education with horses. Hmmmmm.
I ACTUALLY KNOW SOMEONE WHO IS A PRACTITIONER
After all of that research, I found out that I know someone who is certified in EGE! And, this person is not an “out there” kind of gal… She has a Master’s in Psychology, has taught Dynamics of Developing Relationships at SSU and a bunch of other things… Hmmmmm, again. Now I was really intrigued. A ‘normal’ friend of mine was actually teaching this. So, I called her. She tried to explain EGE to me briefly over the phone and I still was pointing my chin to the right and my lips to the left. But, because she was so excited about it, I accepted her offer to come over and show me. Nice of her, I thought.
I figured, hands-on and in-person would be my best bet at understanding.
The idea is that a practitioner comes to your place to work with your horses, or you go to the practitioner’s home to work with their horses. I think they prefer that you go to their place and work with their horses because it is like any working animal/handler relationship… after working with a particular animal for a while, you understand how they are and what their indications mean. So, I’m sure there is a shorthand when using the clinician’s horse. However, horses (as with dogs) have characteristics that are consistent across the board so it was agreed that she would come to my place (since I didn’t have a car last week).
We started with BG, my TWH mare. My friend asked me what I wanted to know about her. I said that I wanted to know why BG went into auto-pilot when we rode. I wanted to know why she just motored around without enjoying any of it.
We brought BG into the arena and she and I stood there. My friend asked me to formulate the question of what I wanted to know. But, the question had to be a yes or no, or either/or, or ‘is this right’ kind of question. My gist was that horses are sensitive. They pick up on their person’s feelings and emotions. So, basically, Equine Guided Education is where the equine calls “Bulldoo” or “Yes!” to whatever it is that you are asking or thinking.
How? Well, after testing it, I kinda think it is like the Pinocchio Arm Lie Detector Test. You know the one… You put your arm out straight and state a statement. If you are lying to yourself or others, your friend can push your arm down. If you are being truthful to yourself or others, your arm stays straight. Now, I have no idea how this works, it just does. Same with EGE. I asked the questions and if it rang true, she came around me and engaged. If it rang false, she went away or disengaged.
IT WAS WORKING.
The odd thing was that it worked. It seemed so random and not possible, yet, the horse was right every time. I basically just asked her questions that I knew the answer or thoughts that needed confirmation. And, she hit it every time. So, I figure that I give off the “nope” or the “yep” energy fairly well… (as an aside, this really made me think about how I am when I’m riding… and how effected the horse must be to my moods).
Then I moved onto what was up with her… and after several questions, it was determined that she liked one-on-one interaction rather than riding. She liked it when I was teaching her tricks. She missed having that face-time and close contact with me. Riding wasn’t intimate enough. Hmmmmmm.
We then went over to Hubby’s horse, Bodhi. We used him as a sounding board for my personal and career questions. It seems that not only do horses engage or disengage per what vibe your body emits at the time, but they also can indicate parts of your body that are out of whack or working overtime. I’m guessing they do this by feeling homeostasis (or the lack thereof) or by feeling heat or maybe energy stagnation. In any event, he was right. He told me that I was too in my head about work and that I needed to be more grounded and not be so survival driven.
I hate it when the horses are right… ;)
But, kidding aside, if this is merely a mirroring exercise then truly, I was using Bodhi to speak to myself. I was using Bodhi as an intermediary. I was using Bodhi so that speaking aloud my inner fears/truths could be encapsulated within this somewhat dubious exercise which would give me more time to really think it over – later while I was alone. Maybe having a horse there eases the heavy reality of what is discovered which enables more discovery. Dunno.
My Ah-ha moment really came when I realized that EGE is another form of self-help but in the most comfortable place, for a horse lover. When your education partner is your horse who loves unconditionally, things go a bit more smoothly. You know you aren’t being judged. The horse is in the moment. If you feel all stiff which makes the horse stiff, you know that the horse will soften when you soften. And, you aren’t with a stranger in a strange room. (Not that I’m against traditional therapies. I’m not.) This environment (with my horse in my arena) was far easier for me to let go of my habits and be free to listen. The horses are unconditional, honest and forgiving… and that was nice.
Maybe this has nothing to do with horses at all – except that being around them might relax the owner enough to really hear what is inside their own heart. Maybe it is all about creating the environment where a person can be truthful. Dunno.
BG IS JUST SPOILED
As an aside, I can kinda hear some of you. “BG is just spoiled. Send her to my house and she’d enjoy riding!”
Well, I disagree for two reasons. The first is that BG motors around and rides quite well. She just acts like a robot. And, she does this with everyone. The second reason I don’t think she is spoiled is because I think horses, as with any being, are happier when they are doing what they like to do. I have plenty of riding horses. If BG likes to do tricks and have one-on-one face time with me, then we’ll do that. In fact, that is how most trick and famously talented horses come to be. Their trainers recognize a natural trait in the horse and they expand on that. So, I’ll try it.
BODHI IS A MYSTIC?
Naw, I don’t think Bodhi is a mystic. I just think he is very true to his horsey nature. He is totally open, he hasn’t been shut down or abused, so he is a very honest mirror of human energy. We all know that horses pick up on our moods right away… And, he mirrored me correctly. It makes total sense to me to be more grounded at work, think less and trust more… Smarty-pants horse.
IF YOU’D LIKE TO LEARN MORE:
If you want to contact my EGE practitioner friend and have fun with this yourself, here is her website. (I’m not affiliated and don’t make a commission or anything.) Here is a bit about her ranch:
“Circle Seven Ranch “a safe haven where horses help humans embark on a journey of endless discovery with infinite rewards”.
The Circle Seven Ranch offers Equine Guided Education courses, where, through the horse’s sensory and intuitive responses, we learn and rediscover our own authentic self. Horses, as teachers, are non-judgmental mirrors into the depths of our inner thoughts and beliefs. Through this experiential learning, horses reflect our internal state of being in the moment, and provide us with feedback to determine whether or not our internal being is congruent with our external presentation of ourselves.
Through one-on-one sessions with the horse, either from the ground or mounted, children, teenagers and adults can embark on a magnificent journey of self discovery, where the rewards are infinite.”
HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth… if you like this, please pass it around!
The October Bucket Fund will benefit Honey Bandit, the most neglected BLM mustang baby who is struggling to survive. To learn all about the Bucket Fund and to donate to this incredible foal, please click on the photo (photo credit, Trish Lowe)
Catching up on your blog and how weird is this….I just finished reading a book by Kathy Pike entitled Hope..From The Heart of Horses. Pretty similar to exactly what you wrote about. Not sure where I stand on this for a number of reasons.
Left off Ariana’s last name: Strozzi.
I had the opportunity several years ago to shoot footage of an EGA workshop given by Ariana. She is one of the leaders in this field and the annual EGEA conference is held at Sky Horse, her ranch in Sonoma. I am of the “woo-woo” persuasion so I got the concept but seeing it in action really blew me away. The people who attended the workshop had a range of experience with horses from lots to none but it was extraordinary seeing the ineraction between the horses and the participants. The horses were amazing mirrors for what what going on in each person. The same horse would act very differently with different people depending upon what the person was feeling and talking about. I believe horses are among the most intuitive creatures on the planet, if not the most, as a part of their survival mechanisms and it allows them to “soak up” the energy we are giving out and reflect it back–and, as you pointed out Dawn, without judgment. It helps a person see where they are being incongrument or inauthentic where they might have been unaware of it before. I’m glad to see you discussing this topic as it brings awareness of an important dimension of our horses–and gives us food for thought as to why they act the way they do when we are around them in different moods and emotions.
Yeah, it was weird experiencing it.
I think it is just another way of finding out how one feels inside through mirroring. Some people talk to friends, some people talk to therapists
and some people need a trusted third party to stand in the middle and relax them. That’s how I see this.
And, there seems to be a lot of horse people into this. So, I thought I would write about it.
I’m not running off to study it. But, I had been hearing about it a lot and wanted to share my experience.
But, since you felt that way, I decided to add a line that may make my feelings more clear to readers. Here it is:
“Or, I thought… maybe this has nothing to do with horses at all – except that being around them might relax the owner enough to really hear what is inside their own heart. Maybe it is all about creating the environment where a person can be truthful. Dunno.”
So, thanks for pinging me and I am always happy to be challenged.
well, Dawn, I knew there had to be something we wouldn’t agree on. This sounds ridiculous to me. Talk about hocus pocus. I’m not going to make my horses be my therapist …. or expect them to show me what’s in my head. Wierd reading this from you….