Horse Sense Plus Human Beings Equals a Unique Therapeutic Alternative
Marilyn Kortendick, founder of the Body/Mind/Soul Connection, in Barrington Hills, works with people to help them feel better from the inside out. She graduated from Eponaquest (Eponaquest.com) in 2013 as a trained equine facilitated experiential learning (EFEL) instructor, and brings 10 years experience as a certified spiritual director to her practice.
Working with her own herd of three horses and individual clients for the past three years, she states, “Horses are unique. They perceive more about everything, including people, than other animals because they are ‘sentient’ beings. That is, they are keenly in touch with their bodies and their environment, and can mirror our state of being. Horses can reflect back to us our thoughts and feelings, and show us what we need to look at, question, think about and change.”
EFEL is a relatively new approach to personal therapy that puts people right up close to horses to get into closer touch with their thoughts and emotions. Through a variety of guided horse/human interactions, Kortendick helps clients to work through issues that are troubling them. She says, “You can use what you learn as information to help alter even longstanding uncomfortable feelings, actions and relationships that limit personal development.”
Those that have never been around horses—or even those that may be fearful of the animals—can also benefit from EFEL. “You don’t have to have experience with horses or even get really right up close to them unless you are comfortable doing so,” says Kortendick. “There are many guided experiences in which the horse can illuminate from a slight distance some of our shadowy corners. Some people are drawn to the added dimension of spiritual exploration that the horse offers, so I offer this as one, but not the only, option. I am happy to chat over the phone or do introductory meet-and-greet sessions with my horses—they like meeting folks for any reason. I often let the horse pick the human he or she would like to work with, unless a person feels called to a particular horse.”
Kortendick recognizes that each person is unique. “Many have troubling experiences from their past. Others feel stuck in mindsets that keep them from fulfilling potential. Many experience lack of congruence—that is, words and actions say one thing, but feelings are much different,” she notes. “Once we understand how wearing masks make us uncomfortable, we can discover our authentic self and get on the road to positive change. Horses sense immediately when our feelings and actions are incongruent with each other. Once we acknowledge the disparity, the horse responds, perhaps becoming calmer, and we have an ‘Aha!’ moment—a big step forward.”