Life Lessons from a Horse: Boundaries


Last week I was having a lesson with my horse when I was again taught one of life’s most important lessons, how to hold your own space and set healthy boundaries. Working with horse trainer, Shelley Candelario, she gently pointed out that my horse was pushing me around and that I was moving out of his space. She further explained and demonstrated how he should thoughtfully move out of my space when asked. The lesson was a tough one and I found myself frustrated and being hard on myself that I thought we had worked through that.

It stuck with me that week, and I began to asking myself: Where does this show up in my life? Where am I giving up ground? Where am I not expressing what I need and want in relationships? How do I set healthy boundaries in relationships?

Of course, I began noticing all the areas where I was giving up ground and not communicating assertively. This profoundly impacted me and the next time I worked with me horse, I assertively stood my ground and clearly communicated for my horse to respectfully move out of my space. The result? An immediate increase in mutual respect and connection in our relationship.

I realize this is not the first or last time this will come up in our relationship. Perhaps, next time I can experience less frustration and just remember to importance of consistency, clarity, and follow through in setting clear boundaries.

We all need support sometimes in setting healthy emotional, physical, and mental boundaries. Here are some tips for boundary setting in relationship to ourselves, our families, our friends, and our animals:

·      Identify your need for a boundary

·      Set an assertive boundary

·      Follow through on setting the boundary

·      Use positive reinforcement when the boundary is respected

·      Keep your boundaries consistent

If you, your child, or someone you know is working on setting healthy boundaries, perhaps they would benefit from a lesson from a horse. Please feel free to contact the Wish Fulfilling Tree to learn more animal-assisted therapy for children, teens, and families in Sonoma County.

Shanti Hill-Gauer