What Horses Can Teach Us About Curiosity & Play

Do you remember captaining your swing set which served as a giant ship, fighting off neighborhood pirates as they tried to steal your treasure? Or the game of evening summer tag which left you breathless and laughing? Your imagination was hard at work, and it was fun! In retrospect, what seemed like mere child’s play is actually critical to our mental health as adults. In fact, the ability to be playful keeps us curious and creative. The peak of curiosity takes place during the early ages of childhood. During this time, children are their most curious about life, yearning to find out more about the vast world around them. 

As adults, many of us feel we have lost this sense of curiosity and wonder. How can we get back to that child-like curiosity? What is it that we lost somewhere along the way that blocks us from pushing our creative boundaries? The answer is permission to be curious and to play. Many of us lose our natural curiosity because parents, teachers and peers tell us we need to conform to whatever rules are necessary for success. What if I told you that horses held the key to reigniting our creative spark? Yes, horses. More specifically, a form of personal coaching which uses horses to help us find what we have lost, called equus coaching. 

Equus Coaching provides numerous benefits for adults who are trying to tap their natural creativity. Horses are extremely sensory animals that can virtually feel what you feel by simply being near them. Horses interact with their environments through their highly sensitive hearing, panoramic eyesight, keen sense of smell and an almost otherworldly ability to sense danger and read human body language. Because of this, horses can aid individuals in becoming more in touch with their feelings, emotions and increase bodily awareness. Horses’ keen sense of their surroundings can teach us numerous lessons beyond just increasing awareness of feelings and emotions. 

Curiosity 

Horses are naturally curious. We can learn a lot by watching how they function within the herd, read their environment and observe and react to approaching footsteps. They are in tune with the world around them. They can scan environments and people upon encountering them, using the Flehmen response or posture. In this behavior, the horse will raise its head and curl back its upper lip, exposing its front teeth, inhale and hold this posture for several seconds. This act helps facilitate the transfer of new pheromones and unfamiliar scents into the Jacobson’s organ located above the roof of the mouth. Horses can then asses and store new and unfamiliar scents. This type of environmental scanning can teach humans about curiosity. Taking note from these incredibly smart animals, we can learn to better take in our environments and surroundings to problem solve and think more creatively. 

Play 

Curiosity goes hand in hand with play when it comes to strengthening creativity. Horses are playful animals and we can learn a great deal about the benefits of play from them. At an early age, many animals engage in play for different beneficial reasons including the development of motor skills, physical agility, understanding and testing the limits of the body and as a tool to build and navigate relationships and social status. 

Recent research has found many benefits of play for both animal and human wellbeing. During play, the brain goes into a different state of awareness thought of as “offline” from the normal way in which we process the world. During this time the brain is able to reboot, compile, process and make connections to regroup stored data and stimuli from past experiences and learning. 

This is a critical feature when we talk about creativity, problem solving and innovation. Play helps us synthesize our data and lay it out in a way that we can connect to and access. Then, we can use critical thinking to create new connections and ideas that lead to new thoughts, ideas and solutions. 

Connecting the Dots 

Horses can teach us to better practice curiosity and play, which in turn fuels our creativity in all aspects of life. The equus coaching experience at Pathfindr Coaching partners clients with horses not only to increase creativity but also awareness, increased confidence, authentic leadership and true belonging to inspire individuals to live their best lives. 

With the help of our skilled coaching workshops, individuals can learn from horses to redevelop and establish that playful, curious self they once were. Equus coaching allows clients to become more in touch with themselves and become better leaders, team players and overall thinkers. Becoming more aware and in touch with yourself through a unique equus coaching experience with Pathfindr Equus Coaching will have benefits that go beyond the ring and stables and transcend all areas of your life.

Daryle Gibbs