What I’m Learning from Doing Hanna Somatics with Horses, Part 2

Since beginning my Equine Hanna Somatics training 2015, I’ve become aware that my work with horses has positively impacted my entire practice. In Part 2 of my 3-part series on how horses are enriching my experience as a Hanna Somatics practitioner, I’ll explore something I need to do more in my work with horses and also with human clients.

Part 2 – Slow down.

In Equine Hanna Somatics, we do not want to lift a horse’s leg, but rather to suggest the intended movement and have them follow our lead. Early on, I actually tried to help the horses lift their legs, but quickly realized that my back was no where near strong enough to accomplish this on a regular basis, (haha), nor was it very effective for the horse.

I’m now learning to work more in “horse-time.” They will get to it when they are ready. And like when I suggest a movement for humans, sometimes they need a few moments to “process” what I’ve asked them to do. Horses also need processing time, and often they need more time than humans.

One of the more challenging parts of a session can be after the horse releases the leg we are working with but doesn’t fully step its weight through that leg. This is a necessary part of an equine session. I can coax them to do this, or the owner can walk the horse a bit, but this part of a session can add quite a bit of time – especially when we have quite a few different lifts to accomplish. Now, I watch for signs of what may be happening as they are standing there and approach it with a more curious mind before encouraging them to shift their weight. This can also be seen as “processing” time, which can provide all sorts of interesting clues as to why they are doing what they are doing.  

I believe that these experiences with horses have helped me provide extra time for relaxation during sessions with my human clients. We’ve all had moments during a session when we have a “big” release. It’s good to slow down and let yourself luxuriate in this experience, to feel the change and just “be.” I can now sense some of these subtle cues from clients’, as I’ve learned to do with the horses.