Recently, I returned to Costa Rica for a level-two horse and soul workshop. I’ve written a few posts about last year’s experience and what I learned from Mr. Big, the horse who picked me to work with him. In Equine Facilitated Learning, the horses know (even better than you do) exactly what you need to work on to feel more whole and live your best life. This year as my departure day approached, I was very concerned that my recurring back spasms would potentially ruin my trip. In a situation like this, my brain tends to go to fear thoughts more than anything else, so I imagined whichever horse would pick me this time would help me work through the route of my fear…which sounded pretty daunting.
I guess I thought since I’d experienced the workshop last year, I knew what to expect. The truth is, I never could have guessed what the horses had in store.
This year, Cosmo picked me. He’s a dark brown horse with a dusting of white on his face and haunches. The first exercise we did together was lunging, where I directed Cosmo to run in a circle around me, and I used a whip against the ground to give him directions of which way to go. (The whip never touches the horse, and the horse sees it as simply an indicator of direction.)
Last year when I did this with Mr. Big, he did what I wanted for about two seconds, then chose to ignore me. This was immediate feedback that I was second-guessing myself and getting distracted. This time, the first thing that happened was Cosmo trotted right up to me and enthusiastically got in my personal space. Although his energy was far from aggressive, I assumed I did something wrong to inspire this behavior.
Then Debbie the facilitator told me that his approach to me was the equivalent of a dog bringing me a ball. Cosmo wanted to play—and interestingly—he wanted ME to play.
All of a sudden, the exercise that had been extremely challenging last year became total joy. I felt it in my body, I felt it in Cosmo. His joy was contagious as he ran around the arena, amping up his energy, and I even directed him to jump over a pole. Sometimes he’d spontaneously switch directions just to mess with me, but then he’d always go right back to following my lead. Each time we paused to take a break, he happily trotted up close to me and I petted his neck. When we were done, Debbie asked me how I felt physically, and I realized, oh yeah, my back felt GREAT.
A few days later, we did the lunging exercise again, just as the sun was going down. This time I was able to amp up my energy even more than before, and both Cosmo and I had the time of our lives. I felt amazing again, and later that night, looking at photos of the exercise, I noticed a bunch of orbs around us. My teacher Danielle said, “Ooooh, the fairies came out to play with you! They love that energy!”
Don’t get me wrong, I did go through deep, emotional work on this trip, but Cosmo’s main purpose was to show me joy as an antidote to fear (that simple!). And he was really good at it. So good at it, the fairies crashed our party.
What's more, Mr. Big ended up working with me too, as well as another horse named Elisa...and a frog. But that's for another day. I'm gonna go find my joy now in the middle of NYC, like Cosmo would want me to.
It’s all about the magic. 🙌