Stepping up to own your horse’s stress

Theresa at the HAY workshop with the Dune Lakes herd. Photo: Equine Pathfinders Foundation
Theresa at the HAY workshop with the Dune Lakes herd. Photo: Equine Pathfinders Foundation

Stress expresses itself in our bodies, in our lives, and in our relationships with horses, explains chiropractor and natural health practitioner Theresa Dobson. She writes of her own journey and how she came to recognise the power of horses to bring about profound changes in people’s lives. Theresa will among the presenters at next February’s Spirit Horse Festival in New Zealand.

Stress is now well known to be the culprit of most disease, sickness, sleep issues, depression, and general unhappiness. It is threaded through our lives as we accept the endless to-do list as our new “normal.”

As a natural health practitioner I had the obligation to address this in my patients’ healing and for this reason I decided to become an expert on stress.

I have been doing seminars on stress throughout New Zealand for 10 years. As a presenter for Health 2000, writer for several magazines, and corporate presenter on the topic, I have seen how deeply engaged in stress we all have become and the unpleasant results in how it expresses itself in our bodies and our lives.

Being a single mother of three children I certainly experienced stress first hand. With exhaustion from overcommitment I soon learned I would have to manage it or slip into a life that was fear-based and joyless.

My seminars taught me as much as they did my clients, and I learned how and why managing stress is the most important thing anyone can do for themselves.

In my seminars I give each person a toolbox in which to understand, measure, and manage their stress and have had truly amazing results. But deep within, I felt there was a missing link to getting the long lasting results I desired for my clients, patients, and myself.

In September 2017, I found that missing link. I attended a workshop called HAY at Dunes Lake Lodge (Horses, Art, and Yoga). By the end of this weekend seminar I knew I had found the missing link.

I had a deep passion for horses I cultivated in my late teens. That had been laid to rest for 20 years being a single mum, and I wanted to renew this passion and love now that my children were grown. I decided to attend the HAY workshop upon a friend’s recommendation.

Horses reveal our true energetic presence

That weekend, Rosemary, who ran the workshop, unveiled a profound recipe for identifying my own stress and energy patterns by showing me how a horse will immediately reflect back to me my “true mental and energetic presence.” No psychology or self-help course can reveal this to you so intricately, as humans are locked into “word” communication based on their own experience which has endless limitations (I could write a book on that itself).

Horses, on the other hand, have no agenda, judgment, or “gain” from the interaction, thus reflecting “you” right back to you in the interaction, be it long or short. I had never been called out on “my stuff” so purely before!

I didn’t once climb on the back of a horse that weekend, yet I had the most joyful, intimate experience I had ever known as I continually micro-adjusted my energy to keep my horse engaged in a respectful yet playful way.

Theresa educating some of her younger clients. Photo: Equine Pathfinders Foundation
Theresa educating some of her younger clients. Photo: Equine Pathfinders Foundation

After I left that weekend, I decided to play with that experience and infuse it into every relationship in my life, including with myself. The dance in self-reflection and self-responsibility presented immediately as I watched sweet shifts begin all around me.

I now know horses are aware of our breath, eye and body language, energy presence (be it love or fear), and choose to engage with us or not based on “where we are” in that immediate moment.

As we shift, the horse will shift for better or worse like an energetic mirror. These beautiful animals hold such a powerful presence if you allow the dance of love, they will deliver and play with you endlessly.

I have much more to learn in my new play and relationship with horses, but what I do know is that anyone experiencing stress can have a profound change within minutes of being with a horse in learning who and what they are bringing to their world and how this reflected horse energy can re-weave the tapestry of their lives.

Stress and how it impacts the relationship with your horse

Anyone who is a horse owner needs to take responsibility for when their horse is acting up and “own their horse’s stress,” as they are the ones personally bringing it. The horse is simply their own reflection or a reflection of a previous owner.

This is a game changer in regards to understanding your own stress and managing it.

This is why I will present passionately on my subject, “Owning your horse’s stress” during the Spirit of The Horse Festival. I will intertwine how to identify your stressors and easy fun tools to manage it with the wonderful value your horse offers you in its reflection of you as it responds to your stress. This in turn allows a deeper relationship, as you teach and learn, reaching into each other to create a new dance based on love, not fear.

As I am a chiropractor to humans and animals, I can’t help myself in also recognizing stress patterns in the bodies of horses. Included in this seminar will be a short demonstration on how to recognize your horse’s physical stress signals and physical stress lines in their bodies. This will allow you to do your own mini- treatments and to know when to call for therapeutic help.

You will see me all weekend gobbling up more “horsey” learnings, as this is a one of a kind festival for horse lovers and all humans desiring a more joyful, loving life.


 The festival’s three days will consist of hands-on workshops and seminars on how to get certified in equine-assisted learning, what people can learn from horses about running a business, liberty horse training, holistic horse care, animal communication, yoga and horses, and more.

Numbers for the festival, held an hour west of Auckland, are limited to 200.


Theresa Dobson is a Doctor of Chiropractic and natural health practitioner specializing in neck and spinal pain for both humans and animals. She is a natural health coach for human and animal stress, supporting professional athletes, business professionals, animals, and families.

At the Spirit Horse Festival she will be hosting a session on “Owning your horse’s stress”, infused with passion for the evolving human and horse experience, dissolving fear into love,​ and stress into the joyful dance of self reflection.

More information: 
Equine Pathfinders Foundation also holds complimentary Equine Assisted Learning Showcases on the first Saturday of every month.
Earlier report on festival 


This article has been written by a contributor to

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