Do Horses Really Mirror People? - The Horse Forum
LinkBack Thread Tools
post #1 of 2 Old 01-12-2011, 12:55 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: denver co
Posts: 16
• Horses: 0
Do Horses Really Mirror People?

Do horses really mirror people?

Claire Dorotik M.A.

In the world of equine facilitated psychotherapy, the fascination of working with an extremely large, and often, frightening animal, especially in a way that offers insight, and possibly healing, has held an exclusive allure for those who have come to know of this powerful therapy. Not unlike the almost magnetic draw that a great racehorse can bring to even those not familiar with horses, the art of healing through horses, offers an often imperceptible gift, housed in a mysterious package. And while people lucky enough to have experienced the strange feeling of wellness, calm, and centeredness that a horse can bring have struggled for words to describe this feeling, practitioners of equine therapy have put many labels on just what it is horses can do for people. Certainly these terms have allowed some insight for people for whom horses are foreign, however, they have also struggled to accurately describe just what happens between a human and a horse. Possibly the most rudimentary of these descriptions of horse healing is that horses actually mirror people. Almost a given in the world of equine facilitated psychotherapy, the concept that horses mirror people has become so popular that it is now quite difficult to find any description of horse healing that doesnít include this term. Yet, is there any documented research behind this idea? And if not, where did the idea really generate?
The truth is, the real masters of equine language, often dubbed ďhorse whisperers,Ē never use this term. Instead, having spent years in the field watching horses interacting with their own kind, they have found that they do not mirror each other. Quite the contrary, the messages they do send are incredibly calculated, and imbued with concrete intention and meaning. A dominant mare, for example, cannot reprimand an obnoxious colt by mirroring him. He approaches too much, too strongly, and without regard for the hierarchy of the herd. So what does she do? She pushes him away, away from her, away from the herd, away from safety. You didnít respect the order of the herd, so now you have to live without it. This is not mirroring, this is clear messaging. And it is not until the young colt repents, head lowered, lips licking and chewing in a sign of submission, that she will let him back in. Again, this is not mirroring. She pushed him away, now he must crawl back, with preverbal tail between legs. This is all very clear, very intentional, and very necessary. For without this form of communication, the order of the herd, and the safety that the herd represents could not be maintained. After all, is everyone is mirroring everyone else, who makes the rules? Conceivably, there would be no rules, no structure, and no safety. And for the horse, a herd animal, whose safety depends on preserving the very structure that maintains the herd, this would be against natural instinct.
So why is it then that practitioners of equine therapy, those who proclaim to know just how it is a horse heals, and who vulnerable patients, unfamiliar with horses, and looking to these practitioners for a sense of hope and clarity in their often bereft condition, insist that horses mirror people? Is this simply easier than attempting the daunting task of explaining a language, that, after all, is foreign to us all? Or is this a need to make the horse, an animal, like any other animal, clear intention, like us? Humans do have a way of interpreting the many mysteries of the world through the horribly tendentious lens our senses allow. Yet how incomplete, how restrictive this view has actually been, having, after all, offered only a version of the world around us as flat. How wrong we would have been to accept that interpretation, exclusive to our inchoate perception. Yet why must we adhere to these same tendencies when interpreting the language of the horse-especially to those who know no better? Donít we, as equine practitioners have a duty to understand these incredible creatures as unlike ourselves? We, we must remember, come to them for healing. Not the other way around.

Claire Dorotik, M.A. is a licensed marriage and family therapist specializing in trauma, weight loss, eating disorders, addictions, and dual diagnosis. Claire utilizes equine facilitated psychotherapy from a psychoanalytic perspective to offer clients a unique method to understand themselves. Claire has written extensively on the topics of the psychology of weight loss, food and substance addictions, trauma, and equine therapy. Her first three books, ON THE BACK OF A HORSE: Harnessing the healing Power of the Human-Equine Bond, NO SECRET SO CLOSE: A True Story of a Fatherís Murder, A Motherís Betrayal, A Family Torn Apart, and The Horses That Turned It All Around, and ALL KIDS ARE BORN THIN: A Parentís Guide To Understanding and Preventing Childhood Obesity, are now available on Amazon Kindle. Further information on Claire, or her upcoming books, can be found at Welcome to Run With It - developed by Claire Dorotik.
clairedorotik is offline  
Sponsored Links
post #2 of 2 Old 01-23-2011, 11:11 PM
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: The Gentle Island
Posts: 418
• Horses: 1
Love this.

"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined. For no dream is impossible "
AfterParty is offline  

equine therapy , horse healing , horse training

Quick Reply

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the The Horse Forum forums, you must first register.

Already have a Horse Forum account?
Members are allowed only one account per person at the Horse Forum, so if you've made an account here in the past you'll need to continue using that account. Please do not create a new account or you may lose access to the Horse Forum. If you need help recovering your existing account, please Contact Us. We'll be glad to help!

New to the Horse Forum?
Please choose a username you will be satisfied with using for the duration of your membership at the Horse Forum. We do not change members' usernames upon request because that would make it difficult for everyone to keep track of who is who on the forum. For that reason, please do not incorporate your horse's name into your username so that you are not stuck with a username related to a horse you may no longer have some day, or use any other username you may no longer identify with or care for in the future.

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:


Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.

Old Thread Warning
This thread is more than 90 days old. When a thread is this old, it is often better to start a new thread rather than post to it. However, If you feel you have something of value to add to this particular thread, you can do so by checking the box below before submitting your post.

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
They say people dont pick their horses,but horses sure do pick their people... Jillibean6803 Member Journals 0 07-01-2010 02:58 AM
Sigh, the mirror doesn't lie MyBoyPuck Dressage 3 05-10-2010 04:48 PM
trained to mirror? manhirwen Horse Talk 5 03-16-2009 03:01 PM

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome