One Young Man's Story

Horses have the incredible ability to display their amazing understanding of what humans feel!

By Brenda Smart

FEEL Graduate

Horses have the incredible ability to display their amazing understanding of what humans feel!   This is not the 'surface persona' that we want to display for others on a daily basis, or the 'false self' we think is safe, nor the person we believe that others want us 'to be'. With the help and assistance of a qualified facilitator, horses can force us to face our fears, our insecurities, our vulnerabilities, and our personal strengths. Here is a journey along the path of life, to demonstrate this powerful connection that has been overlooked in the past and is now surfacing for an individual's personal growth and development - spiritually, mentally, and emotionally - with unconditional love.

While visiting my friend's farm on a hot summer day, there was one man who faced all of these challenges. He had a traumatic childhood where the scars continued into his adulthood. The outcome between horse and participant was so profoundly moving not only for the individual, but for me as the facilitator over seeing the exercise. This is his amazing story:

Leaving my work, coming from yet another long exhausting, mind numbing grave shift, I approached my friend's farm. I observed people working in small groups and engaging in a variety of FEEL exercises with horses. The sight filled my heart and, although feeling thoroughly exhausted from another night shift, the exhaustion diminished when it was time to engage in a much larger and more powerful experience!

Tricia met me as I got out of my truck and said: "Oh - I am so happy you are here! I have just the person for you to work with!"   To admit, the idea was intimidating because these were her friends; and I thought to myself: "Why me?" I have a great respect and appreciation of her and her solid capabilities as a FEEL facilitator.  

The previous evening, Trish attempted to work with this person and felt that she was just not able to make the right connection with him.  I began to feel my own insecurities start to creep up, wondering if I will be able to help make the connection to this young man.

It's important to note, that with a little background information provided, I learned that Adam (not his real name) was "half blooded Indian", from a local reserve. At that point I knew there was an opportunity to make a connection as I too, am a First Nations member.

When I first met with Adam, I asked him what he wanted to do, giving him control to suggest which activities he was interested in. He began by saying he wanted to talk and perhaps pet a horse. Together, we let the energies flow. When he felt comfortable, I heard the story of his horrific childhood. The constant hurt and paralyzing judgment he experienced would stunt anyone's personal development. This took place in his home, the school system, and the community where he grew up.

As Adam put it, he was brought up in the "Native Projects" - a program that was designed to move First Nations people off the reserve to the city (Toronto), providing them with housing so that they can earn a living and a chance of a “normal”, more productive life. Unfortunately, in his case, "The Projects" as he called it, just became a way of life to live off of the "system": food banks, welfare, and donations from the local churches.

We had talked for almost an hour, when I suggested to Adam that we go and pet a horse. I could sense his excitement as it was overflowing. I asked Adam if there was a particular horse that he would like to pet.   Without hesitation, he said: "Gryphon!"   As we entered the barn and approached Gryphon, the magic flowed mutually between horse and human of love, acceptance, and a place of no judgment. Gryphon, a large retired dressage horse, was still full of grace and beauty. His elderly wisdom was akin to a kind, loving grandpa in his display of love and passion towards his grandchildren. When Adam placed his hand on Gryphon's long, strong, shiny black neck, a child-like smile emerged on his face like a child seeing a beautifully decorated tree on Christmas morning surrounded with presents. Adam was in complete awe of Gryphon's size, how soft he was, and complete shock that Gryphon had allowed Adam into his personal space. This realization brought a flow of tears to his eyes and he said: "I can't stop crying; I am sorry; I think he likes me! I cannot believe he would allow me to do this!"   I assured him that there was absolutely nothing to be sorry about, and he obviously needed to release these tears of emotions.

While observing Adam and Gryphon thoughts came to me saying: "Brush ... brush". So I said: "Adam, would you like to groom Gryphon? We could do an exercise called 'reflective grooming'," to which he replied: "Sure!" After asking Tricia if it was okay to groom Gryphon, we got started. Adam asked me if I could "hold" Gryphon as he would feel safer. However, Gryphon would have nothing to do with the halter as he had different plans, making it quite clear in a very loud: "NO WAY!" I couldn't even get close to Gryphon with the halter! It was quite clear that he wanted to be groomed without boundaries! With Gryphon leading the way, I told Adam, we need to listen and follow his direction, to which I added: "He doesn't want us to halter him."

In my mind Gryphon was saying that he wanted to be groomed and to allow Adam the experience without any boundaries or restrictions.  When Adam started brushing him, Gryphon planted and never moved a muscle, both of them were at peace. Tears of joy and tears of letting go of all the past stigmas started to flow. Adam commented reflectively: "I never realized how powerful these beings can be."

After putting the brushes away, the two of them continued connecting. Adam was so comfortable that he wanted to keep hugging Gryphon's neck. Gryphon obliged without hesitation and held the space. Adam was very content, saying: "I cannot stop touching him. I think he likes me!" In total agreement, Gryphon started licking and chewing which confirmed Adam's observations.

We broke free for a few minutes to help Tricia move a horse from another paddock.   Bentley was fretting over his pasture mate's relocation to work with another individual. I asked Adam if he wanted to assist and he was very eager to help. With my permission, Adam had requested if he could walk Bentley into the barn. Bentley is a huge sweet natured draft horse, and he had walked willingly into the stall without a hitch. Adam was so proud of himself; I felt like he was a little boy again with his favourite dog companion. He was so enwrapped in the moment that he couldn't see these horses were accepting him and sending him the much needed love and support he needed. The biggest factor is that they didn't care about his past, background, his wrong doings, or past rejections - just complete acceptance - in the present moment.

Tricia had asked me afterwards if we had any problems. I was content to reply: "No! Not at all! Bentley just waltzed right in!"   Tricia replied with a quizzical look: "Hmm ... that is interesting, he is usually my stubborn guy that likes to pull away to eat grass."

"Not this time," I responded proudly, "He just followed Adam right in the barn like a big puppy dog!" With that task completed, I felt Gryphon was calling us again. I suggested to Adam that we return to see Gryphon again. The light of excitement like a child on Christmas morning beamed from within him. (Funny enough, I kept seeing the look of a child at Christmas time and I later discovered that Adam never really had a Christmas during his childhood, as they only received what was delivered to the family from the local food bank.) By this time, there were three horses in the paddock area just eating grass. When I asked Adam: "Do you remember the energy layers that Tricia was showing you yesterday?" He acknowledged that he did recall this and I suggested that he look to see if he could find Gryphon's strongest energy location and try to establish a heart connection with him. With a review of the exercise, I knew he understood what was expected. I knew there was a strong pull from Gryphon to Adam. It was as if Gryphon was pulling Adam into his space to protect, shelter, and love Adam.  Another horse wanted to come in and get some attention and Gryphon would have no part of it. He shooed the other horse away and created a boundary between them and everyone else.  

I asked Adam how he felt. He said he felt protected, and actually believed that Gryphon really liked him without regards to his past, his upbringing, the past hurts and abuses, etc. It was very powerful and established a sacred place of possibilities. He said he couldn't stop crying as he had never felt this way before. We stayed with Gryphon a bit longer and then went back to debrief.

To describe this event, would be like an aura around them, they were in a deep, heart connection. Adam said he felt loved, repeated again that he felt that Gryphon really liked him. I concluded my session with Adam by sharing these words:

"You see Adam, Gryphon doesn't care where you are from, how much money you have, whatever you have done in your past that you are ashamed of ... he only wants to be here and now with you. He loves you for the person you are inside, the person you have lost touch with or perhaps the person you cannot see from all the past garbage. He just loves you - for you!"