• Carrie Ruggieri

Herd healing and the human heart #2

To explore why horses are powerful healers for humans, I wanted to speculate about that first moment of being on the back of a horse: what transpired between horse and human to lead to that inspired and courageous moment; what was it like for a human to experience speed of motion never before experienced by a human? All we can know is what we feel now when we imagine this scene - inspired, exuberant, exhilarated, joyous, ecstatic... AWE

These exalted emotions are the foundation of our bond with the horse, and the foundation of our well-being. I will be writing quite a lot about awe in future posts. But, for now it is good to know that awe is a state that inspires expansion and exploration. These expansive states drive human achievement and it is also a intricate part of human development. Expansive states mark a furthering of venturing out. This is most obvious in toddlers who upon independent mobility become notably exuberant and joyous. Margaret Mahler, who first described this state decades ago, describes the child as having "a love affair with the world."

A side note: I am also interested in loneliness: why is the human mind not equipped to prevent toxic emotional states such as loneliness? Loneliness is not a state of mind inherent to herd animals. Because they literally cannot exist independent of the herd, all members of the herd ensure social order and belonging. This is natural. This is also not true of humans. Like Coyotes, we are fissure/fusion creatures: meaning we can survive independently, but we thrive within social bonds.

Researching my questions about loneliness, I learned that evolutionary psychologist speculate that loneliness functions to ensure that we stay connected to our tribe. Perhaps it ensured that the horse and rider would return.