In 2009, I became aware of the possibility of collaborating with horses for the purpose of personal development and it was then that I met my first mentor – Aisha. She is an OX thoroughbred Arabian horse, who I have had the pleasure of working with for the past four years.
Aisha likes to be groomed around the tail area and therefore she backs her hind quarters against you. Prior to 2009, I had only had very little contact with horses, however I had – like many others – been warned of standing behind a horse, due to the risk of it kicking up its heels. So when Aisha displayed this behaviour, a very strong feeling of fear started to arise within me. In step with undergoing training in Horse Facilitated Learning (HFL), I also practised directing my focus towards the feelings that arose within me when working with the horses – including Aisha. In the beginning when she backed her hind quarters against me, the feeling of anxiety overcame me and usually I would move slowly around to her side while continuing to groom her. As time passed, I understood that a pattern was unfolding, one that I could influence with my feelings. When I was the most anxious of all – and therefore moved to Aisha’s side – Aisha would walk away from me in a curve and then walk closely up to me and then back her hind quarters up against me again. After some time, it became apparent that with this behaviour she was signalling to me not to be anxious. Having overcome my anxiety and daring to stand calmly immediately behind her, she often stopped her backing behaviour and would walk away. For very good reasons, Aisha cannot speak, so she has never been able to confirm to me whether I have interpreted her signals correctly or not – however, I have tested them so many times that I am convinced.
One of my many other experiences with her took place when I gave my husband a course in HFL. At that time, I had given approx. 35 courses and the horses were always very cooperative. I would merely have to approach the paddock with a course participant and an interested horse would always head towards us. That day with my husband none of the horses reacted when we approached the paddock. Also, it was a day we wanted to document how a course takes place by filming it, and thus it was rather inconvenient that no horses reacted. After several attempts, I realized that the horses could sense that it was not an ordinary participant I had brought along, but a person with whom I was emotionally closely involved. I had to give up using the normal method of contacting the horses and instead I took my husband into the paddock. That day Aisha decided to give us both a course in complete presencing, love and not to forget the art of not being afraid. This beautiful session was filmed and has the title ”Aisha teaching me” (“Aisha som underviser mig”) and can be viewed here