Every living thing on our planet has an energy field - the world is full of energy fields all interacting with each other. Some species are more sensitive to energy than others: horses are incredibly aware of and in tune with it, whereas we humans seem, for the most part, to have lost our connection to and awareness of it. A little while ago I went to give a Reiki (energy healing) treatment to one of my regular clients, a dressage horse who had just moved yards. I have been treating her for a couple of years now and she gave me a lovely greeting and seemed very pleased that I'd turned up in her new home. She was very calm and seemed to be settled, which was great to see as she is a very sensitive horse. As I gave the treatment the yard owner pointed out that her own horse seemed to be joining in - his head was lowered and his eyes half closed, his eyelids flickering slightly. Not long afterwards the horse stabled opposite my client also went deeply into the healing. The barn was a very peaceful place and the healing seemed to have seeped into every corner by the time I left. It reminded me of a Reiki treatment I did last year for a troubled four year old who didn't really know his place in the world and what was expected of him. He was kept with his mother, his aunt his half-sister and a another elderly mare in lovely pasture and they all seemed happy, but his owner had had problems backing him and his half-sister and had all but given up. She had asked me to come and treat them both to see if I could clear any blockages, emotional or otherwise, that could be causing their problems. The four year old gelding, who she had taken out of the field for his treatment, resisted the healing to begin with and then took it in little bursts but didn't trust it enough to sink into a deep session. I asked his owner to put him back into the field with the other horses so that he had the choice as to whether to come to me or not. I find that the horse being loose and having choice always works best and it also means that I can read their body language far more naturally and better judge how to use the Reiki energy. The gelding's aunt then came over to see me and I was told that she had had laminitis earlier in the year, and for a few springs previously. She was elderly and gentle and stood in front of me with her eyes closed while my hands were on her head. The other older mare came and joined in and then the four year old gelding slowly walked up to us and stood in between them and, with their support, relaxed into a deep healing session. We must have stood like that, my hands on the geldings head and his two 'guardian' mares either side for close to half an hour. They chose when the session was over and moved gently away. It was a really beautiful session. It is really important for us to remember that horses have a network of energy in a herd. It is rather like a shoal of fish or a flock of birds - each has an effect on the other and they are all interconnected: if one is taken away the network breaks and there is a gap that has to be adjusted to and 'mended'. This is why they find it so distressing when horses come and go from their homes and why, as in the cases above, they are able to read each others energy and support each other so well. Where I used to keep my mare in a traditional livery yard, with a lot of segregation, there were horses in the fields all around her also, because as well as our own yard there was a neighbouring livery yard. All of those horses were part of the network, and when there was a change in the neighbouring yard it affected our horses too. Horses have such incredible intuition and a huge field of sensory awareness - they can feel energy very accurately and acutely, up to several miles away. When our horses have a reaction that we can't understand, because we can't see the reason for their behaviour we often put it down to the mood they're in or the feed they've been eating etc, but it can be something that we couldn't possibly have knowledge of because we don't have their incredible, almost supernatural, powers of perception.
This is something that they needed when they were wild and living in herds, similar to a herd of zebra out on the plains of Africa - they need to use these skills to perceive a lion or a storm coming from miles off, as their own visibility is so high.
When a herd of horses interact they will very rarely actually touch each other to communicate or move each other about - they use the energy field around each horse to do this and are highly telepathic. (to see this in action view this lovely movie of Dartmoor ponies in the wild: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uPQLx0mmBPo) Each horse has a large bubble of energy around him or her which, if we take our lead from the horses, means that we as handlers don't actually need to touch them to move them about - we can just use the energy of our intention and gentle movement around the horse's bubble of energy and if we are consistent and patient and don't rush the response our horses will respond to this.
When I worked in a yard a couple of years ago I used this method, and slowly but surely every single horse learned that when I went into the stable to do something I wouldn't push or prod them to ask them to move and he or she would move for me as I just used my energy and intention. They are so sensitive to it, it's much more pleasant and less stressful for them and shows that we respect them. It also comes to be second nature to work with them this way, and so much nicer for us not to be pushing them around, and to have a natural connection with them instead. Horses survival skills are so finely honed that they can also read their human's intentions and our hearts and minds as soon as we enter their space (or before). This is why our mood, stress levels and health has an effect on them. And of course they won't always want our energy near them or within their energy bubble, even if we think we are relaxed, as my mare has no problem in telling me! There is a big difference in the way that our respective energies work - horses have a very grounded energy - they feel the vibrations of the earth through their hooves and have their heads close to the ground grazing, whereas we tend to keep our energy higher up, cerebrally, and are not so connected with the earth. This is probably why quite often, if we relax with our horses and connect, we come away saying we feel more 'grounded' - it could be something we have picked up from them. Gardeners say the same, which could be because they are handling plants and trees that have their roots in the earth, as well as being close to the earth themselves whilst tending them.
It is a good exercise whilst, or just before, being with our horses to feel the ground through our feet as horses do, taking the energy away from our minds (which are often far too busy!) and use our minds to see, smell and feel all that is around us in a relaxed purely observant way, not in a planning, 'I must do such and such' way - notice the birds and the plants nearby, the sound of the wind, the scent on it, the feel of it on the skin. This exercise makes our heart rate lower and our minds relaxed, both of which are noticeable to horses and makes us far more attractive for them to be around. Then instead of rushing up to our horse, bursting into his energy bubble and patting him or stroking him on the head, putting his headcollar on etc., just hold out a hand and wait for the horse to come and say hello to us. Slowing ourselves down to his pace reassures him and is good for us too.