Linda Kohanov's Tao of the Equus explores the ancient and mystical bond between horses and people. Linda asserts that this bond also holds a unique and powerful ability to heal both humans and horses. As a practicing psychologist, I found much of her theory interesting and challenging. As an occasional equestrian and lover of horses, I felt her stories ring true.
The author discusses two points that I found particularly intriguing. She states that horses readily and routinely detect emotional incongruence in their human companions. I had never stopped to even consider such a principle. I was shocked to realize how strongly this is true. I had always been aware of an inability to fool a horse. The implications of this principle in terms of psychotherapy are endless. The author believes that horses have developed their keen emotional radar as a form of defense as prey animals. This makes terrific evolutionary sense and provides a rationale for this amazing ability. The ability to harness this tool as a psychotherapist can erase so many barriers to good therapy. Many people who have been unable to benefit from therapy in the past may find this to be an effective alternative. I hope to enlist one or two as co-therapists in the near future!
Linda did not address issues about which I was left wondering. She did not address the reasons for the human to horse connection. Why horses and not elk? Why did we end up riding horses and not some other animal? Somehow, horses seem to have chosen humans as companions. Horses seem to continue to choose to engage with us on a deeply emotional level, despite the relatively frequent cost to themselves. They are truly amazing animals and we are blessed by their presence.