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Do Horses Really Mirror People?

Claire Dorotik M.A.

In the world of equine facilitated psychotherapy, the fascination of working with an extremely large and often frightening animal, especially in a way that offers insight, and possibly healing, has held an exclusive allure for those who have come to know of this powerful therapy. Not unlike the almost magnetic draw that a great racehorse can bring to even those not familiar with horses, the art of healing through horses offers an often imperceptible gift, housed in a mysterious package. And while people lucky enough to have experienced the strange feeling of wellness, calm, and centeredness that a horse can bring have struggled for words to describe this feeling, practitioners of equine therapy have put many labels on just what it is horses can do for people. Certainly these terms have allowed some insight for people for whom horses are foreign; however, they have also struggled to accurately describe just what happens between a human and a horse. Possibly the most rudimentary of these descriptions of horse healing is that horses actually mirror people. Almost a given in the world of equine facilitated psychotherapy, the concept that horses mirror people has become so popular that it is now quite difficult to find any description of horse healing that doesn’t include this term. Yet, is there any documented research behind this idea? And if not, where did the idea really generate?

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