At Hidden Acres, the goal of all our human-equine interactions is an attuned, connected relationship. We believe that all healing and growth take place within the context of healthy relationships. The features of a healthy, attuned relationship are rhythm, reciprocity, shared attention, and being present in the moment together. Let’s look carefully at this picture and see if we can identify how attunement was achieved between this person and this horse. We begin with rhythm. Notice how the person and the horse are walking together. They are matching steps and have naturally fallen into a walking rhythm with one another. Take a look at the angle of the horse’s hips and the matching angle of the person’s shoulders. Even the horse’s tail and the person’s hair are swaying in rhythm together.
Reciprocity is the second feature of attunement. Reciprocity is the foundation of communication, the necessary back and forth of “my turn, your turn” required for healthy communication. In the picture we notice other body language which is going on between the person and the horse. Both heads are up, both bodies are moving forward with intention, but there is a calmness of energy moving back and forth between them, communicating to one another, “we are well, we are together.” They are attending to each other, paying attention to the fact that they are together. Now notice the direction of the horse’s ears and how the person’s eyes are turning to notice what the horse sees. They are establishing shared attention, not just paying attention to each other, but also looking together and shifting focus with one another.
Finally, true connection in relationships requires presence in the moment. Horses effortlessly live in the present, making them ideal partners for an attuned connection. Humans need considerably more practice and effort to stay in the moment, as our busy minds often pull us away from what is happening around us. Check back with the picture one last time. This horse and human pair are fully present in the moment together, using all their senses to share the experience of the sunshine, the breeze, the beauty of the leaves on the trees and the feel of their bodies moving together on a gorgeous fall day. With all the necessary ingredients in place, this pair is already experiencing the healing and growth which flows from all attuned, connected relationships.