Can we teach "feel"?
This question has come up over and over throughout my travels and career. I have been working as a bodyworker for animals and their people for a very long time. I've also had a huge connection with horsemanship both for myself, and while working in facilities with some amazing trainers. The subject about feel comes up a lot in both circles. I often hear the frustration from both trainers and bodyworkers, "they either have it, or they don't, you just can't teach feel". Well, I know that I have seen plenty of folks around horses that just don't seem to have it, and I'm sure you have too. I also know that I have received massage and bodywork from therapists who somehow didn't get the "feel" component of their training. Ugh.......

The field of animal bodywork is somewhat new compared to human bodywork, and quality educational opportunities are not always readily available. Learning "feel" for animals takes a different type of approach because we can't get the verbal validation and feedback that we can from humans. Just as with horse training, we've learned to watch for the signs; licking and chewing, yawning, stretching, eye blinking and such. We can poke and prod and watch for a reaction that shows perhaps the horse is sore, but is that really feel? I don't really think so.

I LOVE to share what I've learned about equine bodywork, and when I finally decided to put together a fully certified and nationally approved school, I spent a lot of time pondering the question, "can I teach feel?" With a huge part of the program being taught online and with distance coaching, I found this question to be a huge concern. I spend a lot of time in meditation asking for guidance for my teaching because I believe feel comes from a place that is bigger than me, and if I was to find a way to share feel, it would have to come from that bigger place.

We recently finished a Six Day Hands-On Intensive with four students who had already put in a lot (and I mean a LOT) of hard work through online study and distance assignments. What I learned from them is that first of all, they were each so amazing in their own special way. Secondly, I learned that I can't teach feel because it truly is bigger than me and it is different for each person, but what I can do is facilitate and support the process, and that process is not for the faint of heart!

The process of learning true and honest feel requires each person to dig deep, and I mean really deep, within themselves. It is more than just feeling for a tight muscle or watching for signs of release. To really get "feel", one must come to terms with their own heart, gain an honest sense of empathy, and let them-self actually experience the tension, the emotions involved, and the possible release of tension within themselves. Once we are brave enough to let go of our need to know, need to control the process, and take the leap down the rabbit hole to find feel, we will suddenly find ourselves in that bigger place where our hands, our hearts, and our intuition blend, and what we feel is so much more that we ever imagined. It takes a brave and dedicated student to really go there because it can feel like hitting a wall of intense emotion and overwhelm; especially the first time.

I am so proud of these brave and beautiful students who completed their Intensive. They are on their way to becoming amazing equine bodyworkers. They not only studied hard, but they were brave enough to let go and feel deep into the bodies and emotions of each horse and in the process learn more about themselves. I am grateful that they each trusted me as their teacher to lead them on a path to a place that few are brave enough to travel. Through them, I learned once and for all, We cannot "teach feel",
but we can reveal a pathway that will lead brave and dedicated students through an intense and never-ending journey of self-awareness, empathy, and ultimately "feel".
Congratulations to these amazing women: Jordyn Johnson, Suzanna Lindamood, Ashley Boyer, and Delcy Graham for completing the Six Day! Hands-On Intensive! These gals have worked hard, dug deep, and are soon to finish the 300 hour course in Equine Bodywork! They will be available to assist you and your horses in Arizona, Tennessee, South Dakota, Wyoming and more!