Learning How to Set Boundaries with Equine Assisted Therapy

Boundaries, I remember when I first heard the word boundaries; I had no idea what they were, when I needed them or how to set them. Hence, my life was a roller coaster ride and I felt like a piece of debris being pushed around on the ocean of life.

Owning horses has taught me a lot about setting boundaries and being clear about what I am asking for. We often work on setting boundaries in our Equine Assisted Therapy sessions.

So, what are boundaries?

Think of fences around a yard, a boundary is like an energetic fence we put around ourselves. We use words to set boundaries like- No, not now, I don’t want to.

We use our posture and body language, we might not look at someone, we may move away from someone or even physically raise our hands to create distance between them and us and we use our feeling/ energetic body- we give off vibes and hope the other person can interpret them, we might feel really angry at someone and they can feel it and it can create distance between them and us.

We create boundaries when we set limits, when we clearly state what we need and don’t need, when we say no, when we delegate tasks to others and when we stand firm for ourselves and our own needs. For example “I need some time alone now, I will be in my room reading, please don’t disturb me.”

When do you need to set boundaries?

A great clue that your boundaries are not firm enough is how you feel. If you feel angry, frustrated, resentful, out of control or overwhelmed, often it’s because you have not set clear enough boundaries and you are feeling the ramifications of that.

If you say no and people keep pushing you for a yes, if you ask someone to do something for you and they ignore you, if you allow people to walk all over you, you need to work on your boundary setting.

Anger is a really helpful messenger.

Our anger rising is often the first indication our boundaries have been superseded. When we learn to really observe and get curious about why we are angry we can learn from it and make our life easier and healthier. When anger arises it is often because we have felt that we set a boundary and someone has ignored it and pushed over it or through it.

The first step is to breathe deep; the next step is to name it- ‘I’m feeling angry right now’. Then it’s helpful to backtrack through your thoughts and feelings. Ask yourself: When did I start to feel angry? What happened? What did I expect? How did I set my Boundary? Was I clear?

Back yourself

Often as we start to set boundaries, we ruffle feathers and we even question ourselves. We have all of our conditioning come up and we might think we are being selfish, rude or negligent. So as we learn to set boundaries we need to trust ourselves and have our own back. Support yourself in setting boundaries and remind yourself that you and everyone will benefit. In setting boundaries and saying no you empower others to do the same, you also stop enabling others dependent behaviours and you free yourself to live the life you want to.

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