Guest columnist Monique Gerber;

Just Shake it Off

I wonder if Taylor Swift spent time with horses when she wrote the song Shake it off. I will be honest here and confess I had to look up the lyrics after I wrote this line and saw, after many repeated mmm, mmm, mmm’s shake, shake, shakes, fake, fake, fakes … the song really had nothing to do with horses and the natural response of horses to shake off negative and trauma inducing emotions. It did though, in her hip shaking, foot tapping repetitive phrases sort of way, indicate that she can just shake off bad vibes and the soul sucking actions of others. In other words, releasing the potentially harmful trauma inducing emotions that can be brought on by noxious events.

So in effect, exactly what horses do when experiencing a stressful situation. They do, in fact physically shake it off. Sometimes quite dramatically and emphatically! I have watched my horses drop down and role during a session with a client who is moving through some fairly deep, stressful moments, then get up, shake vigorously and proceed to walk away quite calm and relaxed with an expressive swish of their tail as if to say, “ and that’s how it’s done”. Just shake it off.

Science and research has proven that this action in horses (all mammals to be precise -yes that includes us) does in fact reduce cortisol (those nasty stress inducing hormones) and lowers heart rate, blood pressure, loosens the muscles and returns the body to a state of relaxation, or as horses prefer, back to grazing.

Horses are the empaths of the animal world. Nature has instilled this mechanism that allows them to pick up on the emotional state of their herd members as well to help them release this tension and stress through the act of “shaking it off”. I guess they truly live by the adage “do unto others” because that is exactly what they do. When we come together with a horse, we become their herd mate. Whatever we are feeling, they feel as well.  To rid themselves of the negative effects of stress and tension, they will drop, role and shake. Brilliant!

Now I’m not saying that the next time you are in line at Walmart and the person in front of you with their 2 heaping carts, pulls out their weekly flyers of price matching and you are on a tight timeline because your daughter has a dance class, your son has hockey practice and your husband can’t make it home in time because something big is happening at work so it’s all on you baby, you should drop, roll and shake. I suggest you do it when you get home, well at least the shake it off part. Try it. you may just like it! You may just start singing “I’ll never miss a beat, I’m lightening on my feet – I’ll shake it off, shake if off, mmm, mmm, mmm.

Monique Gerber
Leading Edge Equine Academy

Certified Equine Assisted Learning Facilitator