Horses are strong, majestic, powerful and highly intuitive. Because they are animals of prey, they are keenly aware of their surroundings at all times. Horses’ survival depends on their legs and fleeing from danger. They are highly attuned to their environment and everything in it.


Horses are also animals of the herd, which makes them very socially aware as well. There is a definite ‘pecking order’ in a horse herd. When some of the horses lie down on the ground to rest, for example, there are sentinel horses that stand watch for any predators that might attack the vulnerable sleeping horses. The sentinel will signal any potential danger to the others.

These strong intuitive and sensing abilities also allow horses to ‘read’ people and respond to whatever they perceive through their behavior toward the person. This behavioral feedback information is the powerful tool that fuels awareness, growth and change for humans who interact with horses.

Why can’t we do this with our dogs and cats, you might ask?

Because domestic house pets are motivated to please a person, and often have an agenda to satisfy themselves, thus skewing the relationship toward their own interests. 

Horses are neutral, nonjudgmental and have no biases about social status, physical appearance or skin color. They do not see human social trappings. Instead, they respond to the real you, whom they can so deeply sense. That experience is refreshing and revealing for the human involved.

Here is an example of how it works.

Recently I had an equine-assisted personal coaching session with a woman who was very sad but did not know why. The horse approached her and put its forehead on her chest, just standing there quietly with her. After awhile she began to sob, asking, “How did he know I had a broken heart?” Once the horse’s actions made her aware of her broken heart, she came to realize that she had never mourned the loss of her father when she was a little girl, and that realization allowed her to feel the loss and let it go.

The horse’s intuitive knowing helped her to find her own answer, and her own inner peace.

- Betsy Hickok

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