The FEEL Approach is a unique collaboration between horses and humans. With equine facilitated learning, the horse is the active partner in guiding transformational journeys of healing, personal growth and spiritual connection. At the heart of this encounter is the horse’s conscious choice to partner freely with the person and the FEEL Practitioner. This is where the magic happens.
Are Horses Conscious Beings? Horses as Sentient Beings; feelings, perception, and emotional intelligence.
Are Horses Conscious Beings?
From an early age, I was attracted to animals. They were kindred spirits and making a connection was easy. We communicated without words through the heart. I found it was much more difficult to connect to the humans around me. Their language was false – the words they spoke were not true to what I felt was within their hearts.
Being very shy and reserved, I kept my thoughts to myself. Nevertheless, seeing an animal being mistreated I became a warrior! One of my earliest memories was walking home from school and seeing a bunch of boys abusing a cat. Feeling the cat’s fear, I was incensed! With no thought, I took action and marched down their driveway towards the boys. They were standing around giggling and tormenting this small cat. Righteous anger fueled my voice and the words I spoke scattered the boys, allowing the cat to break free.
All creatures possess some level of intelligence and feel emotions.
In this age of higher consciousness, it is heartwarming to know that animals’ rights are being acknowledged and protected around the world. As of 2016 there are 13 countries who have passed laws recognizing animals as Sentient Beings. Sentience is the capacity to feel, perceive, and experience emotions.
In 2012, a group of neuroscientists signed “The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness” while attending a conference on “Consciousness in Human and non-Human Animals” at Cambridge University in the UK. It stated “Unequivocally that nonhuman animals have the neuroanatomical, neurochemical, and neurophysiological substrates of consciousness along with the capacity to exhibit intentional behaviors. Consequently, the weight of evidence indicates that humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness.”
Evolution has brought forth a growing complexity in consciousness in both humans and animals.
What is Consciousness?
There are many different definitions of consciousness.
I resonate with Stuart Sutherland’s definition of Consciousness – “The having of perceptions, thoughts, and feelings; awareness. I would define consciousness as an awareness beyond what is seen or known and an ability to apply experience to totally different situations.” I believe our mind extends beyond our brain and can affect things at a distance through a field similar to the heart’s electromagnetic field.
Webster’s Third New International Dictionary states that Consciousness is:
- a. awareness or perception of an inward psychological or spiritual fact: intuitively perceived knowledge of something in one’s inner self.
- b. inward awareness of an external object, state, or fact.
- c. concerned awareness
Nobel Prize winner biologist, Gerald Edelman, goes further and distinguishes between primary and secondary consciousness:
- Primary consciousness: is the ability, found in humans and some animals, to integrate observed events with memory to create an awareness of the present and immediate past of the world around them. This form of consciousness is also sometimes called “sensory consciousness”. For example, primary consciousness includes a person’s experience of the blueness of the ocean, a bird’s song, and the feeling of pain. Thus, primary consciousness refers to being mentally aware of things in the world in the present without any sense of past and future.
- Secondary consciousness: is an individual’s accessibility to their history and future plans. The concept is also loosely and commonly associated with having awareness of one’s own consciousness. The ability allows its possessors to go beyond the limits of the remembered present of primary consciousness. Animals can draw upon a remembered immediate experience to help handle a current challenge. Secondary consciousness is a major step further as animals can make sense of complex challenges not previously experienced.
Working with Gerald Edelman’s concept, the primary consciousness for the horse is the quality or state of self-awareness within itself, or of being aware of an external object or something within itself. Horses have an incredible intricacy of behaviours and make informed choices.
Secondary consciousness for the horses is their access to their species collective consciousness or what we call the Horse Ancestors.
The collective unconscious holds the vast reservoir of our experience as a species. Our individual ancestral memories can influence the collective unconscious of a species.
Let’s look at the term ‘Collective unconscious’ coined by Carl Jung, a leading Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst. To Jung it is a part of the unconscious mind, expressed in humanity and all life forms with nervous systems. Jung distinguishes the collective unconscious from the personal unconscious. In the personal unconscious, it is a personal reservoir of the experience unique to each individual, while the collective unconscious collects and organizes those personal experiences in a similar way with each member of a particular species.
According to Jung, there exists a second psychic system of a collective, universal, and impersonal nature which is identical in all individuals. It does not develop individually but is inherited and could be a body of unconscious energy that lives forever.
Rupert Sheldrake is an English biologist and researcher in the field of parapsychology. His work speaks of the existence of a “morphogenetic field,” a collective memory for each species that influences the form of living organisms.
Each individual in a species both draws upon and contributes to the collective memory of the species. This means that new patterns of behaviour can spread more rapidly than would otherwise be possible. For example, if horses learn something in Colorado, then horses here can learn that same information and spread it to horses all over the world through this morphogenetic field.
We as humans inherit bodily, emotional, mental and cultural habits. Social groups are organized by fields through which the past becomes present through a kind of resonance with those who have performed the same rituals or habits before. Animals inherit the successful habits of their species as instincts. We especially see how successful this has been with horses as they have maintained their powerful prey instincts extremely well over millions of years.
Hundredth Monkey Effect
The Hundredth monkey effect originated with Lawrence Blair and Lyall Watson. The claim is that Scientists were conducting a study of macaque monkeys on the Japanese island of Koshima. These scientists observed that some of the monkeys learned to wash sweet potatoes, and gradually this new behaviour spread through the younger generation of monkeys through observation and repetition. Watson claimed that the researchers observed that once a critical number of monkeys had embodied the new behaviour – the hundredth monkey – this previously learned behaviour instantly spread across the water to monkeys on nearby islands.
With the expansion of the FEEL Approach across North America and Sweden, FEEL practitioners have reached and exceeded the initial effect of shared wisdom amongst their horses, allowing new horses being introduced to the work to step more quickly into their teacher role as they access their species wisdom.
William Shatner states in his book Spirit of the Horse “There is a collective wisdom to horses and it appears that they have much more access to that than we do. It‘s a collective unconscious group mind that humans block because of our so-called practical mind…”
Our connection with horses stimulates a deeply buried aspect of nature within us and rekindles a lost connection to that something greater – our human collective wisdom.
Horse Ancestors – Field of Potential
Let’s explore the term Horse Ancestors. This is a field of potential (or morphic resonance) from all horses – past, present, and future.
It is the portrayal of the Horse in all its physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual variations. Once a horse becomes sentient, this connection to their species wisdom can be reawakened. As horses are such instinctual creatures, they can more easily connect to the collective consciousness of their species than we can as humans.
I was asked to write a chapter in the Horse As Teacher book. My chapter is entitled ‘Teaching the Wisdom of the Horse Ancestors’ and it was channeled from Thor, our big black Percheron – our wise master.
Thor’s Concept of the Horse Ancestors
So, in his words… “The horses teach me how to open my heart to the Horse Ancestors who share the wisdom of our species. When I access this ancient knowing, I see images of horses and humans, linked over thousands of years. Our two species are intertwined, and by working together in this new way, humans are becoming more aware of a higher consciousness. Connecting intentionally with the wisdom of many past horse spirits I share their collective knowledge with the humans who come to discover this awareness…”
Conscious Connection between Two Species
Strengthening the bond between horses and humans is a conscious connection between two species. But it goes Beyond connection, it is engagement!
Rosa is a big Andalusian mare with a powerful presence. With horses, she can be very dominant however with people, she is incredibly gentle. When she feels someone is afraid, she approaches in a round-about manner, going on a diagonal, very slowly with her head lowered to make herself appear less overwhelming. She knows she has huge energy and deliberately chooses to appear less intimidating.
Our horse teachers have developed a language of behaviours to talk to people who are interacting with them. These behaviours include repetitive yawning, licking and chewing, and lying down. Each one has a separate meaning and by doing these actions they are choosing to communicate and engage in a conversation.
“The reason the horse can become such a gifted teacher for us is because he does not need an inner voice. He does not think in words at all. He feels.” Allan Hamilton
Wisdom From our Horse Teachers:
Thor shares “Horse consciousness is a space where thoughts and feelings are present. There is an awareness of making a choice; choosing; making a decision. It is not a place of reacting as Dancer did when he was young – there was a stimulus and then an immediate response to what was happening in his energy field, so he was very reactive and unstable to be around.”
Dancer is a young Paso Fino horse born and raised here on our farm, full of an independent, fiery nature. It was very clear when Dancer became aware and made conscious choices. It is what I call the pause button: a place of engaging connection with themselves, other horses and people. It is a time of deliberation and making choices. It was so exciting to see this shift in Dancer – he would pause and decide if he was going to act up by rearing or biting. Gradually the times of being conscious overrode the times of being reactive – a blessing!
Contendor, our mystical Paso Fino, stresses that “consciousness is accessed through intentionality which creates a felt energy the horses can feel and respond to. Sensing, reading, and filtering energy once re-awakened in a horse becomes a state of being they can access, which then develops into a part of their nature.
Horses need to be conscious to open the gateways to perceive energy. By creating choice for horses, it opens the doorway so it is not rote response on their part. Walking through the doorway enhances the horses’ intelligence, instincts, insights, and cleverness.
“Horse teachers choose to read humans and want to help. However, it is beyond a simple choice of doing either A or B. Utilizing all their senses to ‘read’ a person – the horses know what a person needs and proceed to do it.”
Angelina, another of our sensitive Paso Fino’s, had an indomitable spirit. She was our first horse to engage in the FEEL activities. Before Angelina passed she wanted to share her accumulated horse wisdom on a deeper level with humans: “As the horses exercise their sentience, they achieve a higher conscious connection with the Horse Ancestors. From this place, they can engage at a deeper spiritual level with people.
“Horses can sense the frequency shift when humans move into their hearts. Horses ‘see’ truth! This truth cannot be diluted by physical presence – they see where truth is or not in the human’s body. Humans can achieve freedom through emotional connection. Wisdom can only be felt, not thought. Horses are on feeling frequencies – horses feel free through feelings.”
Horses are evolving very quickly right now in order to help humanity evolve on their own path. As both species raise their consciousness at a soul level there is a merging together to communicate and being one.
“People need to believe in their soul – to seek wisdom from what they perceive not just from their human bodily perspective but from their soul’s perspective. Merging your consciousness with horses is going beyond human consciousness. Get to know your soul not just your human stories. Experience reality from a ‘feeling’ versus ‘thinking’ state. This is what I FEEL. Anything can be accomplished with the right frequency – an imprint is created through feeling.”
Angelina shared how she ‘sees’ human beings in colours, shapes exploding out of their bodies; thoughts stuck in their heads; feelings shooting off from their bodies like fireworks; constantly pumping out. As a horse, Angelina can feel and direct her energy through pinpoints of electrical impulses that move and open with each different frequency in order to ‘see’.
“We, as horses, have a higher consciousness and we have been waiting for humans to evolve for so long – through feeling.”
Rosa speaks more about horse consciousness. “Horses have evolved to weave consciousness through time and other forms of consciousness. Horses can pull threads of consciousness to create a tapestry of connections. It is only with your hearts open that we can access your consciousness and then become one with you. As humans evolve, you can pull this higher consciousness to you and absorb the insights.”
Thor continues: “As the horses help people vibrate at a higher frequency, humans can integrate spirit into their self which then opens the gateway to source with no resistance.”
By connecting through the soul of the horse we can access and feel a vast, energetic transference through the morphogenetic field of their species wisdom. In turn, this awakens and sparks our own species wisdom as humans.
Yes, Horses are Conscious Beings!
In fact, I believe that horses have much more wisdom than we do as humans with our focus being on our logical thinking brain and vast technology. Horses embody consciousness and bring the consciousness of humans to life.
The horses invite you to step out of your world and join them in theirs. In the stillpoint between your mind and heart you find yourself.
"Humans have much to learn from horses and what it is like to live in the true connection and support of a herd consciousness. The horse generously offers to include us in their herd and teach us how to live this way from the moment of a first encounter. Humankind needs this reconnection because we are emotionally and spiritually hungry. Often we aren’t able to survive, much less thrive and grow on the limited sustenance society offers, because the life force and essential elements are missing. We can learn from the horse to drink from the waters of the source, and find inspiration and enrichment."
~ Kim McElroy