I opened the gate and immediately knew where his head was going. The energy coming through the halter, down the rope and into my hand felt like the makings of a tug of war. Before he had a chance to pull away and dive into the lush green grass under our feet, though, I reached deep into my core and found the strength to speed up and stride out in front of him. The momentum caught him off balance and he had to pick up his head and front feet to keep from falling forward. Suddenly, he found himself walking WITH me, surprised we were past the tasty morsels and heading into the arena.

Joe, my equine companion that day, reminds me of the person who sees an opening in a conversation and runs with it.  My hubby, for example, can capture the attention of a group of people we have just met and begin recounting a story full of colorful characters and humorous anecdotes before I’ve even introduced myself.




What Joe and other horses like him have taught me is that when I am faced with such a strong gust of wind and want to remain standing, I should step up, raise my energy, and initiate action.  To do this I walk forward with intention, am SPECIFIC about what I want and where I want to go, and then respectfully create a space for the horse to join me. And in the world of humans, if I want to join in, I need to be willing to open my mouth to share my thoughts, while respecting everyone else’s desire to safely participate.

For a low energy person like myself (on a volume dial that goes from 0-10, I’m a 1 or 2), it takes conscious effort and lots of practice to turn up the volume with a horse or human without also bringing up fear or resistance in them. In my early days with high energy horses I was all swing and swat when I felt bowled over, which sent a lot of them fleeing for the exit. When I began practicing my “volume up” with the hubby, it was not pretty. Taken by surprise and a little turned off, he often ended our conversations expressing hurt and disappointment.


I watch Joe’s herd mates and see the same dynamics at play. One sensitive mare turns her head and moves away quickly, not when she wants to be assertive, but when she is feeling threatened, anxious, or worried. Another mare displays her unique assertiveness by keeping her energy low and standing her ground until convinced that it is worth the effort to move when asked by a person or another horse. And a third keeps her energy low even when worried and anxious until it reaches critical mass and then quickly runs away like her life depends on it.


For humans, it takes awareness and self-regulation to adapt to changing situations and the energy of those with whom we interact. While our innate energy level may be predetermined, our ability to raise or lower it as needed is a choice.  

Now, when I remember I can dial up or dial down my energy to safely engage, my connections with others, including horses, feel deeper and richer.  I can have tough conversations or just socialize without feeling overwhelmed and can express my emotions and desires  kindly but honestly without pulling someone down with me.

And sometimes I even let Joe grab a mouthful of grass…

TRY IT: Raise your energy as you walk, by stretching up tall, arms widely swinging  as you lengthen your stride on an inhale or lower your energy by collapsing down into your center, arms close to your side as you shorten your stride on an exhale.

 And join me and your brilliant teacher the horse for a one-on-one at Life Lessons with Horses.