Silencing Your Inner Critic: How Horses Can Help Develop Your Empowered Voice

Who are your voices? And what are they saying to you? We all have these internalized voices. Do you recognize what they represent to you in your life? Horses can support us to acknowledge what is in the moment.

One day as one of my clients stood with her back to the corral, her eyes were closed and her arms hung at her side, I guided her through a body-centered process; her horse stood at the gate, his mouth licked and chewed as she tapped into her body’s wisdom.  She first noticed fear in her belly, apprehension in her heart space, (her horse lifted a front foot and set it with a bang on the metal gate), she named fear in her belly once more, as tears sprang to her eyes and she crumpled forward, “I wasn’t going to cry, I never let anyone see my fear.” 

“You never let anyone see your fear… and you weren’t going to cry.” I paused a moment, “I’m guessing a little part of you might be needing acknowledgment what it’s like to be you in this moment,” I gently made an empathy guess, “needing to know that it’s safe to be vulnerable in this space? Needing trust and companionship right where you are?” 

“It wasn’t ever okay to cry when I was a kid, my dad would say, ‘stop crying’, and I couldn’t get angry either, I had to go to my room to be angry or cry - nobody could see me.” 

“Nobody could see you, really needing gentle support and loving-kindness perhaps, to be seen and heard for what it was like to be little you?” I guessed. 

“Everyone turns to me for help - who am I?” she cried, “Why do they always turn to me? I need as much help as everyone else!” 

“Would you like it if everyone had as much support as they needed, whenever they needed it, including little you?” I asked softly. 

Nodding her head, she opened her arms out from her sides, eyes still closed, then her arms moved down to her sides and hugged around her torso, with knees bent she gently swayed her body. “Allow your body to move however feels true to you.” I coached. 

“I feel waves rushing through me.” her hands demonstrated moving up from her pelvic floor out the top of her head. 

“Feeling waves of energy rushing through you, moving upwards like a fountain?” I asked, making a metaphorical guess. 

“Yeah,” slowly she straightened her posture, her face softened and she opened her eyes, and smiled through her tears. 

“Turn and face your horse, with your eyes open, what do you notice in your body now?” Once more I coached her through the body-centered process to receive the wisdom of her body. 

“My belly is calm and cool.” She replied with surprise in her voice. 

“If your belly is giving you a message, what might that be? Notice the first thing that pops up.” I coached.

“Soothing.” She said with a smile. 

“I’m hearing your body is telling you, you need soothing.”  

Twice more I guided her through the process while she gazed upon her horse; she noticed where in her body her mind first went, named any sensations, and named the emotions within the sensations to receive the messages from her body. 

Still standing outside the corral, I invited her to bring her awareness into her heart, and extend that energy out to her horse. “From this place of heart connection with your horse… if you could experience your heart’s desire with your horse, what would that be?” 

“To feel safe.” She replied. 

“To feel safe,” I reflected back, “and what would that give you?” 


“And what would that look like?” 

“I could step in there with a horse larger than life and trust that I am safe!” 

“And what Authentic-Self Voice could you engage with to support your stepping into that trust and safety?” 

Slowing down the process she tried several “voices” checking in with her body each time to sense whether they felt “true”. “I trust myself.” That one felt too far away from where she was in the moment, so dialing it in a little closer she tried a slightly different version, “I am stepping into trust.” 

As if on cue, the horse stepped forward, stretched its neck over the fence and rested its muzzle on her forehead, and just held it there for several moments. 

“How is your horse responding to your request?” I asked. 

“He’s telling me it’s safe to come in.” 

I entered into the corral with her, at her request, and the horse met her at the gate, and this time repeated a pattern; the horse touched its muzzle on her foot, moved up her leg and torso to touch her heart space, walked around the client and repeated the pattern several times.  

“What’s happening for you at this time?” I asked. 

“At first I felt intimidated - and now I am so happy – like a little kid getting attention!” She positively glowed with joy. 

“What Authentic-Self Voice are you receiving from your horse in this moment?” I asked. 

“I step into trust!” she said with delight. 

“I step into trust,” I reflected, “is there more?” I inquired? 

Without hesitation she proclaimed, “I am empowered!” 

Upon hearing this visceral shift within her, I coached her to walk clockwise around the corral by the rail with her hand over her solar plexus, the power energy center, repeating her Authentic-Self Voices and to notice what happened in her body as she reclaimed her truth. 

“I step into trust… I am empowered…” As she circled around I noticed the horse fall in behind her, following her lead.  

“Where are you in your body?” I asked. 

“I am in ALL of my body!” she replied with enthusiasm. “It is as if I have a fountain of energy spouting out of my head!” 

“Have you received your heart’s desire from your horse today?” I asked. 

“Oh, yes!” She exclaimed with joy.

Our earliest experiences with connection and attachment as young children have powerful effects on how we grow and develop as adults. This is true for how we relate to others, and creates some of the voices in our heads, but also impacts how we engage with ourselves and our ability to fully inhabit our potential and find meaning and purpose in our lives.

The incredible beauty of working with horses, combined with the power of neuroscience, is that discovering the roots of our struggles actually equips us to harness the healing power of resonance to repair our patterns of attachment and make lasting life-changes for greater fulfilment and peace of mind.

Our childhood traumas do not have to be a life-sentence! Unpacking and learning to understand our experiences with care and gentleness actually enables us to generate lasting change and long-term wellbeing in our lives.


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