Publication details [#2849]

Aardoom, Annemieke. 2007. Dancing with horses: The experience of the dynamics between horse and human that facilitates psychological and/or spiritual growth. Calgary, Alberta, Canada. 303 pp.
Publication type
Book – monograph
Publication language


The purpose of this research was to look at the experience of psychological and/or spiritual growth as a result of interacting with horses. A second element of interest was to look at the underlying dynamics in the relationship between horse and human that facilitate this growth process. This research is qualitative and based on interviews with six co-creators as well as the researcher's experience. The methodology used was a combination of heuristics and a newly developed methodology based on chaos and complexity theories. It was found that the experience of growth was very much like the story of the universal and mythological hero, as described by Joseph Campbell (1949). Participants embarked on a challenging journey with horses of learning and connecting. The learning was how to build cooperative relationships with horses but also with others, with God and with themselves. The connecting was related to connecting with self, other, nature and God. The dynamics found in the relationship between horse and rider are mutual relationship, which incorporates communication, bonding and projection. Within this mutual relationship, the horse may take on the following roles: horse as friend, teacher, therapist, role model, healer, parent (mother and father), saviour and ally. A horse was also found to be a metaphor for self, shadow self, Divine/God, other, mirror, connector, instinct and meditation. Experience with a horse could also function as an analogy for relationships and life situations. The creative synthesis was based on the Vedic Horse Sacrifice and adapted to the findings of this research. The meaning of the Horse Sacrifice is the horse representing the universe and lower self of Brahman, which is sacrificed for renewal. (Dissertation Abstracts)