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The Reiki Practitioner Tries Her Hand at Equine Therapy

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reiki healing for horses

Giving Reiki to a horse and how it healed me.

January 2022  Blog Post

A new opportunity to practice Reiki

A few months ago, I decided to volunteer for a local Equine Therapy Program.  Truth be told, my sister was spearheading the project and thought it could be helpful for me to contribute my Reiki skills and knowledge to the team.  The premise is to offer programming to mistreated, abandoned, abused kiddos, by teaching them how to reconnect to themselves by learning how to be with, care for and connect with horses. Horses being magnificent, patient, healing creatures. 

Note: One of my traumatic childhood experiences was, in fact, getting bucked off a horse onto my face on some pavement.  Since then, I have unknowingly harbored a fear of these animals.  It seems it was time for me to step into the arena and face that fear head on, for some healing of my own.

Horses as healing teachers

My first time at the ranch, the first horse I saw was Hobbs.  My sister, Laura, said he had been pretty significantly mistreated and wasn’t ready to be a therapy horse and in fact, he needed a great deal of rehabilitation himself.  And yet instantly I connected with him.  My eyes looked into his eyes which were looking back into my eyes, and I felt it in my heart. 

However, being pretty new to horses at this point, and finding myself more than a little fearful, I went with the recommendation to start with another horse entirely, Harley. Harley turned out to be a very strong teacher.  I became acutely aware of my fear, my inexperience, and my inability to know what I want and need and then communicate those things to another creature! 

Wow!  Talk about immediately jumping into the deep end of the pool!  Harley was immediately ready to take me on an immersive learning journey.  But I wasn’t ready.  And though I left that night feeling absolutely awed by the intuitive and connective nature of horses,  I was also pretty overwhelmed, as well as a little puzzled because something about that particular connection with Harley didn’t feel quite right to me. 

I wanted Hobbs.

My healing intentions connecting and not connecting

The next week I was given my human client.  A kiddo who was in love with animals of all kinds, and especially horses.  She had spent time previously at the Ranch volunteering to scoop stalls so she could just be near the animals.  When given a choice of which horse she wanted to work with, she chose Hobbs.  Even though he wasn’t an option.  She loved him immediately (as I had), and my sister, who is possibly one of the most intense and directive (and tender-hearted) people I know, allowed us to choose Hobbs as the horse we would be working with. 

My kiddo client (her name withheld to protect client confidentiality) would be learning to work with the horse, and I would be in an encouraging, listening, help-as-needed role to support her.  It felt like the right and obvious next step for me on this new journey I was embarking upon.  Plus, I was pretty confident that my Reiki skills could be helpful not only to my human client, but to Hobbs as well. 

It became immediately evident that my kiddo client had a remarkable rapport with Hobbs and in her fierceness and resilience, instinctively knew how to be with him in a way that was soothing and healing to the both of them.  She was able to groom him, halter him, walk with him, and even work on teaching him directions. 

On the other hand, when I went to bring my Reiki skill to Hobbs to “help him heal”, I discovered that he didn’t like my hands on him, didn’t like me brushing him, and would even back away from me if I approached him.  It was confounding!  And more than a little disappointing.  I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. 

Meanwhile, my kiddo client and I were having very sweet, even intimate conversations and connections with each other, exactly as was the hope of the program.  I was so puzzled about my ability to connect with my kiddo client and my inability to connect with a horse. I really felt like I was doing everything right.  But the more I brought myself to Hobbs with the intent to heal him, the more he backed away and shied from my touch.

The magical mindful moment of learning to stop doing and just be present

Finally, on one of the last nights of the fall session, my kiddo client was unable to attend, and I decided to go anyhow.  To just go and be with Hobbs.  Wherever he was, however he was, to just be with him. 

It was pouring rain that night and we had had some significant flooding in the area, especially in the ranch pastures.  Hobbs was way out in a far pasture with one other horse and so I had to trudge through the muck and the rain in the dark just to find him.  Once I found him, I walked out into the field, not too-near him because I didn’t want to drive him away, and I just stood there.  In the darkness, and rain and inches-deep muck.  I stood there alone with the wetness on my skin, the sting of cold in my fingers.  I was aware of the beating of my heart and how strong and resilient Hobbs was, just standing out there as well, being his pure horse self. 

It was a significant period of time that passed, and I was very cold when Hobbs walked over to me and nuzzled my hands.  The beauty and holiness of the moment broke me wide-open, and I stood there and sobbed.  All those times I thought it was me that would bring healing to him, it was actually him that brought the healing to me.  And he was just waiting for me to be quiet enough, present enough to be with him.  It was a beautiful, revelational moment in my life.

A new path to learning to heal with animals

A few weeks after my experience with Hobbs, I was reminded of a meditation journal I had purchased for myself during my Reiki Master/Teacher courses.  I was interested in sharing Reiki with animals and had done all sorts of reading about the best ways to go about it but nothing I read had resonated with me.  Until I stumbled upon a method called, “Let Animals Lead”, and that was where I found the journal I had purchased. 

For whatever reason I didn’t end up reading very much about it, but I bought the meditation journal and was guided on what felt like a very intuitive, honoring path for being with animals and Reiki.  As I was reminded again about that method, and having just had that magical, revelational moment with Hobbs, I ended up going to the website and signed up for the Level 1 class! 

During my first lesson, the teacher, and creator of that method, Kathleen Prasad, said, “The essence of animal reiki is healing through being.  You will learn to be healing with your animals instead of doing Reiki to them.” 

And this was exactly the turning point for me and Hobbs. The more I had tried to connect with him and to give him Reiki and healing energy, the more he retreated from me.  It wasn’t until at that last Equine Therapy session, in the darkness and rain and muck that I learned to just be with him.   And then the nuzzle into my hands, and the breaking open of my heart in joy and revelation. 

That moment of just being present and not doing a gosh darn thing.  In that holy moment, it was then he who healed me.

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