DISMANTLING DOMINANCE: Co-Regulating with Our Equine Partners

Non-dominance is a way of connecting with others, including other species, that is rooted in kinship rather than power over, in improvisation rather than restriction, in responsiveness rather than control. When another being senses threat, or feels that their safety or autonomy is endangered, they engage their survival physiology, usually in one of these three ways: fight, flight or freeze. Often those responses are a reaction to relational conditions that involve dominance, coupled with an expectation of submission.

Stress physiology (fear, anxiety, depression) affects all of our metabolic functioning, our muscle tone, and the ability of multiple body systems to find regulation. The result of training methods that rely on dominance is often a confused, frightened horse - head up, body tense. That sympathetic nervous system reaction is a non-learning state for both horse and human.

Our emotions are created and grounded in our physiology. If threat conditions are chronic, then the default settings in our systems, or in the horse's system become reflexive and fixed. In other words, there is a well-developed danger map with little access to a sense of safety.

The intention of this work is to dismantle the usual dominance model of human/horse relationships, and to find a more improvisational, co-regulated, collaborative connection with our horses. The old-school top-down model of relationship to the horse extinguishes the spirit and expressivity of both horse and human. When a relationship is based on control and obedience, the resulting stress and constriction means that there is little possibility for real partnership.

You will explore embodied ways of unraveling the often unconscious, habitual patterns of behavior that often shape and limit our relationships with our horses, rather than finding a reciprocal flow of connectedness and bodily resonance between you and your horse.

I am available for individual sessions with your horse, or clinics for groups of 6-8 individuals and their horses. You can also work in an individual session with my horse Blue in Millbrook, NY. Please check the calendar page on this website for upcoming classes, workshops and clinics

From the Participants:
The experience engendered much conversation about the experience of leading and following on a lead line and attunement to each other. I was fascinated by my responses and the responses of the two people I was working with. It gave me new insights about my desire for control and relationship to being in power as well as my responses to being controlled rather than related to. It was intense and clearly [touches] issues at the root of community and cooperation. Much thanks for a deep and meaningful experience.
Kim Kaufman, BMC Practitioner