Last month, I had the opportunity to attend Part 1 training for the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA).  According to EAGALA’s Vision Statement, “EAGALA is committed to setting the standard of professional excellence in how horses and humans work together to improve the quality of life and mental health of individuals, families, and groups worldwide.” (For more detailed information, please see

Significant differences between the EAGALA Model and other equine therapies include the team approach (a mental health professional, an equine specialist, and the horse), and the fact that NO riding is involved. When asked why EAGALA conducts equine therapy on the ground versus on horseback, one of the instructors replied, “You can’t see yourself in the mirror when you are sitting on it.” One of the reasons EAGALA uses horses in therapy and learning is because the organization believes horses mirror what they are seeing and the situations they are presented.

My purposes for attending EAGALA training were twofold: 1. to find out more about it, since I was fascinated by the subject when I first heard about it, and 2. to conduct research for my NEXT book.  However, as I have reflected back so many times on things that I learned in those few short days, I’m beginning to think that the training served a purpose to teach ME a thing or two, some things more than I may have wanted to know.

This week I had a very frustrating experience while trying to train my young horse, Lucky, who IS a real horse, and also happens to be a character in Believing In Horses. While one day he was compliant and moving forward, the next day, of course in front of my new instructor, he decided I had no business telling him what to do. I continued to push him, and it only got worse. My instructor, seeing this was not a good scene, intervened, hopped on, and with perseverance and patience, coaxed eventual compliance.   I’ve been bothered by this for days…what happened?

There could be many reasons for this behavior, but I have my own interpretation. This past week I’d been seriously challenged by trying to set up my own website and blog; technology is not my strength. After battling with programs I didn’t understand, encountering “glitches” in programs that technical support personnel seemed to know about, but were not apparent to the rest of us out here, and trying to follow instructions in books and on help pages that appeared to be written in another language, I felt confused and inept. Lucky was my mirror. At the height of my frustration with these obstacles, he was mirroring my emotions.

I plan to test my theory, and see if things aren’t better. At this point, I have resolved all the major issues with my website and blog, and am feeling much better about overcoming what to some may have seemed like trivial obstacles, but to me were overwhelming. With a fresh and positive outlook, I’m going to just ride my young horse and bond with him. Right now I m feeling “lucky” that I attended EAGALA training.  Maybe we all need a reminder once in awhile that what we many not easily see in ourselves, we may be seen in the reflection of those close to us, if we take the time to look and see.