Horses are very much like humans in that they are social animals; they have defined roles within their herds, and they feel safety and comfort by remaining close to the members of their herd. Horses respond or react to a person’s behavior in much the same way another person will, except more honestly.
As prey animals and animals that live very much in the moment, horses respond genuinely to what is occurring at the present moment. Unlike humans, whose responses to other humans are often based on something that happened in the past or something that may happen in the future, a horse responds honestly, and immediately, to what the client is doing in the present.
For a child who has been traumatized, learning to trust themselves, and other people, can be difficult. Horses provide a foundation for healing to begin because clients can relate to and interact with horses in ways that often prove difficult for them when it comes to people. Through building a relationship with horses, clients gain insight into their own verbal and nonverbal behaviors, as well as behavioral and relationship patterns. Horses will not demonstrate acceptance, trust and respect in a relationship until the client learns to build a relationship based on acceptance, mutual trust and respect. This allows the client to take responsibility for the kind of relationships they build with the horses and, ultimately, in their life.