My time with horses has been a transformational experience.

Horses know when we are comfortable and they know when we are anxious and scared. What they don’t understand is when we act differently than we feel.

When we send those mixed signals it’s called incongruence. Incongruence also describes the wall we put up when we meet someone new and aren’t sure we trust them, but we let them in just a little bit.

We send mixed signals for many reasons. Sometimes it’s because we don’t feel safe, because we discount our own feelings, because we want to feel differently than we do, or because we want to please someone else. Anyone who’s been badly burned and struggles with trust can behave incongruently.

Horses read incongruous energy loud and clear.
Energy is not something you can see or hear or taste, but you definitely feel it.

It occupies the space between. It can draw you in or keeps you at arms length.

It’s that feeling in your group at work when things are totally flowing and moving in sync.
It’s that feeling when everything looks like it’s going fine but no one’s really working together.
In fact, you can’t put your finger on why, but you just know that you can’t relax and you don’t want to let your guard down.

You know how sometimes you get a phone call from a friend at the very moment you were picking up the phone to call her?

That’s congruence.

Authenticity is congruent.When someone’s behaviors and intentions are consistent and in alignment, they are congruent. It’s what you feel when you get a hug from your best friend and it feels so safe and secure you can relax every muscle in your body. Or it’s the hug that has space in it and you just know that something’s just not right, or even terribly wrong.

Horses are social beings just like us but they are still deeply rooted in their basic instincts of fight or flight. Watching a herd of horses with the insight and understanding of the cues sent back and forth between them allows us to watch the ways that their social structure works. When humans choose to interact with horses, we have the opportunity to join and be accepted by the herd, and to build relationships with them. This kind of joining up is a powerful experience and one that lends insight into our own understanding of ourselves and our society.

Interpersonal relationships are an art as much as a science and horses can help us to refine our skills because they are present in the moment. They take us at face value. There are no walls and there is no incongruence. It’s plain and simple. If you’re congruent, everyone is comfortable.

If you want to play with horses and learn what they can teach, contact us at Beachwood Center for Wellbeing and find out how equine assisted learning and therapy can help you overcome fear, anxiety, build self esteem, and help you develop better ways of communicating.