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Suzanne Carter | MA, LPC Therapist & Unity Minister
I had my wonderful horse, Harmony, for ten years before she died. She was my first horse, and I am different because of my relationship with Harmony.
Horses are amazing creatures. They have learned to live safely in their herds for millions of years, and they are prey animals. That is, they are not a predator. They are vegetarians and do not seek to kill other animals to eat. They have learned how to live in Harmony through amazing communication.
Harmony was one of the great-granddaughters of Secretariat, the famous racehorse. It was discovered that Secretariat had a huge heart, enabling him to be such a remarkable racer. I like to think that Harmony’s ability to help my clients through Equine Assisted Therapy was because of her heart’s ability to be so fully present.
I lived in Evergreen when she came to me, and every year from early November until about now (between late April to mid-May), I took Harmony extra food nearly every day beyond the hay and grasses she received at her 1000-acre ranch where I boarded her. She tended to lose weight in the Winter, and the extra food helped.
One day in late April, I went to the ranch to take her the extra food. I walked North of where the horses were grazing…….and as I came back south toward them, a large herd of elk appeared. When the elk saw me, they all looked up, began walking, and ran toward Harmony and her herd.
When Harmony and her 24 herd mates saw them running, they decided there might be something dangerous, so they decided to run too. They circled and, in a moment, were running straight toward me. I stepped out of their immediate path and could revel in the site of 25 horses, all running as fast as they could toward me and then past me. I saw Harmony as she ran past; she looked at me and almost stopped but kept her pace in line with her herd.
When the horses got to the top of the hill, I saw them all run to a large grove of Ponderosa Pines, and they stopped.
I thought I would go get Harmony and bring her back to her extra food. I started walking up the hill where the horses had just been running and saw the tips of a horse’s ears on the horizon.
I wondered if it might just be Harmony. My” heart -thought” was right; it was Harmony, my most beautiful equine daughter. I sent a quiet greeting to her; she kept looking at me but just stood there. So, I followed her non-verbal cue and stopped. We looked at each other for a moment, and without a word, I told her that I loved her and that it was o.k. to be with her herd. Almost immediately, she walked slowly over to one of her best friends, Sunny.
I knew in my heart that Harmony was ready for a wonderful Summer and that she did not need the extra food until the Winter snows came again.
I walked away with profound peace in my mind and love in my heart. And we did this all without a spoken word.
I believe humans can connect like this as well. Science tells us that two heart cells from 2 different people, when placed in one Petrie dish, will, in time, achieve the same beat.
Humans need some new communication techniques.
One of our greatest abilities as humans are listening to one another. However, we have gone from listening from our heart to listening with our mind with the need to “fix” the other.
The very best gift we can ever give someone is our listening heart.
I have found that sometimes if we want someone to listen, we need to ask them if they are willing to listen. If they say “yes,” I suggest that we present a “listening contract” and literally spell out how we would like to be listened to
Here is one example of a listening contract.
- Listen with active listening only. Active listening is about: good eye contact, being heart-centered, and boundaries up. No offering advice or offering to fix.
- Listen actively first and then offer feedback and/or advice (when the speaker is ready). The speaker can choose when the solutions are to be offered, change their mind, and say, “not now.”
- Listen to give solutions and/or brainstorm possible solutions. The listener must be willing to stop offering solutions when the speaker asks.
This will only work if boundaries are in place.
The speaker asks for this, and the listener can say Yes or No as to whether they will grant a listening contract.
Next month, I will talk about boundaries. The truth is this: There is never a time that we should engage without boundaries in place.