I recently read an article explaining the concepts of Equine Facilitated Learning, a discovery/recovery program for people using horses as the teachers. The authors praised the program’s ability to enable self discovery and personal transformation through the horse/human connection. Comments from EFL participants spoke of quality time with the horse, opening a deeper connection, receiving a message of horse wisdom, consensual leadership, and letting horse lead the way.
Now, I’m all for self examination. The Bible encourages us to “ponder the path of your feet” and Socrates concurs that an unexamined life is not worth living. Friends, family and riding coaches are good at pointing out areas in us that need examination, but if we’re humble enough to listen. But I have to draw the line at the EFL practitioner’s claim that horses, as teachers, “share their presence and unconditional compassion.” I learn from horses as I would learn from a mirror. They naturally reflect the best and the worst in me. No motives, empathy, desire to help – they just do what they do without thinking about it.