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“We come into this world to live in bliss. Bliss is what we need to master, master our minds and what we think, and how we can accomplish our battles. Everyday we learn something new about ourselves, and it is awesome horses can help show us how.” – Nadine Bell
Horses are born with a wild spirit, and while humankind has historically used them for labor, horses have developed ways of understanding humans far beyond our initial perception. A mere twenty to thirty years ago, we discovered they have an acute ability to reflect our emotions, and furthermore, to help us deal with our troubles. Casa de Campo’s own horse whisperer, Nadine Bell calls it, ‘a powerful connection of empathy.’
Therapeutic riding emerged in popularity around the 1960s to assist children and adults with disabilities, offering a way for them to strengthen their limbs and muscles. Posture, balance, and mobility improved immensely when working with horses in half the time as other treatments. While hippotherapy or equine therapy, the medical use of a horse, is not a new concept, the emotional therapy of healing with horses is catching on. Since the early 1990s, horses have been used to benefit individuals mentally as well.
Nadine grew up in Argentina as a self-proclaimed horse-addict. Riding horses since the age of two and incorporating them into her everyday activities, she knew her pursuit in life had to be working with horses. Involved first with handicapped children, she took on studying horse language and communication, influenced by leaders of the industry, Pat Parelli and his wife Linda, along with Monty Roberts. The Parelli Program’s approach, “Natural Horsemanship” teaches building a relationship of trust with horses in love, language, and leadership that can be carried over into other aspects of one’s life.
A horse’s ability to mirror or reflect a human’s personal and sometimes deep-rooted issues is accomplished as they rely on sensory data to gage safety or danger, which describes how they know immediately if a rider is in control the moment they sit in the saddle. While horses can synchronize their own heartbeat with humans, and also have the rare ability to cry and show pain even if not in pain. In this pattern of mirroring, they react to human beings as a form of communication; call it a convergence of energy, interpretable by a horse whisperer.
Nadine offers coaching with horses to interested individuals in Casa de Campo looking for an alternative form of therapy, no matter their long term issue or current frustration. In the resort throughout the month of July, Nadine fills her schedule with one-on-one sessions at the Dude Ranch for residents and visitors open to healing with horses. In a personal session with her, I learned the positive aspects of visualizing my problem in an objective form that can be handled and overcome. Horses are powerful 1,000+ pound creatures who act as metaphors for intimidating life circumstances. When one can control a horse, he or she is more likely to be able to control a battle that runs within his or her mind. Often we are met with roadblocks in life, many of which repeat and cause stumbling until resolved. My horse mirrored my resistance and hesitation. An exercise of persistence, positive encouragement, and down right grit allowed me the emotional process of freeing my horse, and by extension myself.
When we accept that we are the leader of our life, a sense of authority and responsibility is gained. It is empowering to put emotions into physical form, and watch the reflection and sensitivity of a horse open an unspoken form of communication. When asked what it means to Nadine to be deemed a horse whisperer, she explains: “I like that the term resembles what one does because it is an incredible language between humans and horses. It helps humans heal so many aspects of their lives in a loveable, experimental way. Nothing is aggressive and you can take control of your problem in the best way for you.”
If you’re curious about healing with horses, email Nadine Bell at [email protected] for more information and to book your next therapy session.
* This article was previously published in our sister magazine Casa de Campo Living.