Updated: Sep 21
I'm sure many of you have heard of horses being referred to as mirrors, and that they reflect our actions and emotions. But what does this really mean? And why do horses do this?
There's not a lot of research available on this topic but I've been putting a lot of thought into this lately. Everything you're about to read is derived from a lifetime of daily experience working with horses and the knowledge I've gained over the years from my interest in human psychology and esoteric teachings.
There are three major aspects of equine behavior that seem to come into focus here. First, horses are prey animals. As a species, they are super sensitive to changes in their environment, so they can detect predators quickly. Second, they are flight animals. They can respond instantly when threatened and their first inclination is to run when they sense danger. And third, they are highly social, herd animals. They look to each other for safety and comfort. Banding together in groups has great advantages from a survival standpoint. The collective awareness of the herd offers them an opportunity to let their guard down and conserve energy. All it takes is one horse to sense danger, and a wave of awareness spreads through the herd quickly, from one horse to the next, each reflecting the former like a cascade of mirrors, until the entire herd is alerted.
Horses reflect energy because it is a survival mechanism for their species. The term reflection in this case is intended to mean instant feedback. When we work with horses, they provide immediate feedback to what we project towards them. They show us what we need to do to establish a present, coherent state of mind by working in harmony with us ONLY while we are calm, fluid, and present. This is a huge opportunity for self-realization and personal growth because horses will change the way they work with us, while they are working with us, in response to our actions, intentions, and the energy we are giving off in the moment. Horses reflect our projections almost perfectly when they are focused on us. They do not spend time dwelling on what we just did, but rather respond immediately to what we are doing.
So let's break this down a bit more.
- Because horses are prey animals, they have a strongly attuned sense of awareness. They can sense things that are not perceivable to most humans. They can recognize our intentions, emotions, and other energetic projections much easier then we can. Essentially, you cannot hide who you are from a horse.
- Because horses are flight animals we can stimulate them easily. They are naturally reactive. They will move away from us when we move towards them with the intention of moving them and the certainty that they will move. This offers us clear and instant feedback to what sort of energy we are generating so we can become better at understanding and managing the energy we diffuse out into the world.
- Because horses are herd animals they have an innate desire to connect and will feel drawn towards us if we retreat away from them after stimulating their attention. When we achieve an energetic connection with them, they "hook on" to us. This can create a co-regulation factor where the human and the horse work harmoniously to maintain the connection. We must remain fully present in mind and body or the connection will be severed. In this sense the horse helps us maintain a present state of mind during the interaction.
Now let's dig even deeper.
So rather than absorb stimulus, horses reflect it. Their outer self is congruent with their inner self. This means that whatever they are feeling on the inside is what they show on the outside. Horses do not absorb negative energy unless they are forced to do so. So if presented with incoherent energy or energy that takes them out of their natural calm default rhythm, they will reflect it by reacting to it. When this happens to us, rather then reflect, we tend to internalize. We overthink things and hide how we feel. We absorb rather than diffuse. We often do not let ourselves process and feel negative emotions as they occur. Instead, they become trapped in our bodies and manifest into physical ailments. (Nelson, 2019) I imagine this is why we feel physical tightness when we are stressed out about something. Horses only seem to do this if their option for flight is blocked. The energy is then either held in as body tension or released in the form of defensive, explosive behavior.
As humans, we tend to harbor emotional energy in our bodies, which disrupts the natural energetic flow of our internal systems. We suppress our emotions because we are worried about what other people think. This is a problem because the energy that we are holding back must be expelled in some way, shape, or form. This may be why we get sick. It may be why we get so fatigued. We've lost our ability to reflect energy. And when we absorb it with the intention of mulling things over, it often dwells too long inside of us, and manifests into physical problems.
Most animals reflect in some way. Energy has to go somewhere and if they don't reflect incoherent energy, they will have to absorb it. Otherwise, their coherent energetic balance and flow will be disturbed which can damage their health. The unique thing about horses is that they are domesticated animals with outstanding tolerance and learning capabilities. This, combined with their survival instincts, makes them perfectly suitable for working harmoniously with us in a way that can help bridge us back to Nature and back to who we really are behind our egoic mind.