Be a herd extension

Like most things in life, when I learn about them, chances are somebody has already thought of it, researched, packaged and marketed it and knows way more about it than I do.

running horses

What I’m going to talk about it in this blog is morphic resonance. Rupert Sheldrake is an English author, public speaker, and researcher in the field of parapsychology, known for his “morphic resonance” concept. According to Wikipedia and Sheldrake, morphic resonance is “‘memory is inherent in nature” and that “natural systems, such as termite colonies, or pigeons, or orchid plants, or insulin molecules, inherit a collective memory from all previous things of their kind”. Sheldrake proposes that it is also responsible for ‘telepathy-type interconnections between organisms’.”

IMG_2855My experience of this phenomena has mostly come through the horses and relates to their health and social well being in groups and as individuals. There are ways in which we can become part of that with horses and thereby help promote health and well being in places where horses don’t live in groups or are separated by fences.

I’m totally unfamiliar with termite colonies, pigeons and orchid plants noted in the above description, but I’ve seen in herds, not only of horses, how a dysfunction in one member can be resolved by the running with the herd. The rhythms sustained by the group lift the one troubled member into a more functional gait and stance. This of course is not always possible as we have age, serious injury and illness that intervene in a way that prevent it. But even with those things going on you can see an old horse gain new life when a young one joins the herd. A horse who is otherwise lame may be able to go sound by mimicking the movements of the group. A horse who would previously not eat the herbs he needs for health suddenly enjoys them because he is part of a group who is also eating herbs.

I’ve also seen this phenomena cross fences; a horse that is extremely reactive will calm considerably when a certain horse is placed next to IMG_2684him. When he or she is moved, the first horse can go ballistic. There is something about that second horse that is calming his nervous system, providing a rhythm for him even without getting to interact very much physically. They stand across the fence from one another, link and rub their necks on each other if they can. One of my horses once used to throw a feed pan around and then push it under the fence for the next horse to play with.

My colleague and friend Ruella Yates reports that her gelding makes her laminitic pony walk when he feels she has been standing too long. He makes sure she walks for her health (she doesn’t need a FitBit – she has him!), and her health has improved!

Zuzka_dance01When we work with individual horses, we can reinstate rhythms that support health. We can integrate with the horse, and although it can’t necessarily be called “morphic resonance” when the connection is across species, it works. The reason for this probably because we also “inherit a collective memory from all previous things of our kind.” The more we can do this, the healthier our herds and individual horses become. We can work with one horse in a herd, or the entire herd. We can work with one horse in a riding stable, and it will have a ripple effect to others. If I go in and do a liberty workshop at a stable, other horses who are not participating watch and learn from those who are in the arena and they become more enthusiastic. The morphic resonance between those horses is helping them each learn.

Recently, as I was doing a tutorial with a horse who had been in one of my bodywork workshops, he began racing around the round pen, practically shouting, look at me! He kept looking at me and the student in the center as though he wanted to let us know how good he felt! He was no longer acting like the low-energy, shut-down horse I’d first seen when we’d worked with him in the workshop a month before. He was spirited and joyful.

Horses can tell us things about their well-being and health when they know they have an audience. (This may not be all horses!) They are not going to divulge this information to the unaware observer. That’s why horses share information with each other and with a human who can understand and “listen.” This has to cross species and is not what Sheldrake talks about. Morphic resonance can help heal and teach. It exists between those of the same species naturally, and happens because there is an openness, a flow between them, a shared memory.DSC_0024

I truly believe horses want to share information with people because somewhere inside them, they recognize that people have the means to help in a different way than other horses. People can be herd extensions – beings that have the intellectual resources to research and find what might be needed to help a sore leg, doctor a laceration, provide herbs for health that aren’t available in the pasture. Horses can get uplifting healthy rhythms from other horses psychologically and sometimes physically, and they can get from us some really valuable resources that don’t come from horse-to-horse relationships. We provide a different type of relationship with horses, after we have recognized the way of the horse and tried to practice it in some way.

People often say to me of horses, “if only they could talk.” I often say, “but they can talk. You only have to listen.”

Copyright (c) Susan Smith

Related blog:

May the herd be with you


Take advantage of a special offer: $20 off a Horse + Rider session ($95 value) from now through September 1! You can purchase it now and use at any time.

Article in Horse Around New Mexico about Horse + Rider work:

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Let me know if you want to do a clinic in your area. Prices will vary according to location & travel costs.

Saturday, September 19 – The Equine Body Workshops presents “Tenets of Equine Healing” one-day workshop at Arrowhead Ranch, Santa Fe. For the owner, horse professional or person interested in learning who would like to be able to do some bodywork on their own horse or others.

This approach to equine healing provides a framework for the student to use simple techniques to aid the healing of the horse. These techniques follow the horse’s natural tendencies, resulting in specific, sustainable results.

Cost: $140 Early Bird (paid before September 1), $150 after September 1. $15 trailer in fee if you wish to bring a horse. We will work with ranch horses.

To enroll, contact Susan on Facebook, email or 505-501-2478. Payment can be made by check, PayPal/credit card or cash.


September 26-27 – Fall Liberty Weekend in Oklahoma — Susan Smith and Ruella Yates, co-instructors. Contact either of us: or ruella@libertyfoundations for further details. Cost: $325. Clinic is filling quickly, be sure to enroll!

Saturday, October 10 – “Hang with the Herd” – Third in a series of Liberty Workshops. Join me and my herd under the cool canopy of the trees for some real quality time together –Experience herd, honesty, healing. A new Liberty Foundations 1-day workshop for those who want an introduction to the work or to reinvigorate their liberty process. PayPal and credit card payment available. Whether you have studied Liberty Foundations with me before or not, you will benefit from this workshop.

We will sit under the trees with the herd during the morning, go work with the horses, and possibly go to lunch at a nearby restaurant or bring a lunch. Excellent herd to liberty experience! Space will be limited, be sure to enroll soon to ensure your spot. Location: Mac’s Overnight Stables, Canoncito (near El Dorado), Santa Fe, NM.  Time: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. $150 Early Bird before Oct. 1, $160 after Oct 1. Contact or 505-501-2478 for information.

December 7-11 Sahaja 2015 5-Day Clinic on the island of St. Vincent in the Caribbean – Susan Smith & Stina Herberg. See details:

Independent Liberty Trainers Network

Susan & Stina Team Up to Make the Sahaja Clinic an Unforgettable Experience

Sahaja 2015

Susan is a member of the Independent Liberty Trainers Network.

Associate Instructor, Advanced Practitioner – Ortho-Bionomy & Equine Ortho-Bionomy

Practitioner, Equine Positional Release

Liberty Foundations Coach


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