I am teaching horseback riders to use Relaxation Tapping, aimed primarily at fear issues. Fears are a huge block for riders. Of course, since horses are such exquisitely sensitive animals, they quickly pick up on our anxieties and often fulfill our worst fears!
I taught tapping to a group of riders of all ages this summer, in a lesson where the riders were practicing jumps. One rider, that day, stood out for me, and taught me a lot about trusting intuition and letting the process work through me.
The class learned EFT on a break, then went back to work practicing going over small jumps. I was watching the class when I caught sight of Sarah, an 8 year old rider. She was furiously tapping her collarbone, and reported that she had butterflies in her stomach. I asked if she wanted me to tap on myself for her, but she said no.
I began to talk to her about the butterflies and she told me she felt nervous. She said, "I don’t like being around people, it makes me nervous, and I’d rather be alone."
I smiled and assured her that I often felt the same way, trying to build rapport. It was pretty clear I wasn't succeeding, though, and I began to anxiously pray for some guidance!
By this time, she had tears in her eyes. Great, I was making things worse. Finally my intuition and EFT began to work through me, in an interesting way. It occurred to me I had been staring intently in her eyes, trying to read her affect. The cardinal rule for frightened animals popped into my head: staring directly at them will increase their anxiety. I realized I should take the pressure off in the same way I would with a horse or dog: by facing slightly away and not looking at her. I dropped my gaze to her horse, and asked again if I could tap on myself saying the phrases for her. This time, she said yes.
I stood near her horse's neck and touched his shoulder, looking at him and with my body angled a little away from Sarah, who was still mounted.
I stayed faithful to her words and tapped a round on, “Even though I don’t like being around people and I’d rather be alone, I’m an awesome kid.” I checked with her when we finished. She said it didn’t help much, but I noticed the tears were gone from her eyes and she changed her focus from the people to the horses. She told me, "No matter which horse I ride, these horses keep trying to buck me off."
We made this our next round. This time, I tried including some emotionally-laden phrases, including
Even though these horses scare me...
Even though these mean, bad scary horses keep trying to buck me off...
I don’t like it, I don’t like these horses trying to buck me off...
We tapped a few rounds with me saying these various statements as we went around the points.
Next I tried “Even though I don't trust these horses” but felt intuitively that I needed to check that. Sarah's response was, “I do trust them, but I came from another barn, and I’m not used to it here yet, and it makes me nervous.” (Interesting how clearly her aspects showed up and she was able to articulate them for me.)
So I tapped on that while she watched. I saw a tiny yawn, so I stopped. Even though she did not say she was feeling better, her whole affect changed. She perked up, and shifted her attention from me. She was no longer focusing on me, no longer seemed concerned, and transformed into a wiggly little girl wanting to spend a little more time on her horse. She even wanted to ride through the course of jumps again. The entire session had only taken about 5 minutes.
The lesson for me was, the changes were so quick and so subtle, they might easily have been missed. Again comparing it to working with animals, I realized that I needed to really notice these physical changes and not push beyond the moment of success--adults might be tolerant of that, but not kids. It reminded me that healthy children take the state of emotional equilibrium for granted; once they've achieved it, they're simply off to the next thing, not exclaiming over how good it feels to be free of their problem.
A follow up from five months later: Sarah came up to visit with my horse as I saddled him, and I asked her about school. She told me her teachers yell a lot. I reminded her about the tapping and said she could use it for that when the teachers got her upset. She looked at me like I was a bit slow in the head, and said, "Oh, yeah, I use it all the time!"
Sarah taught me a lot about relaxing and letting the process work through me.
Ange Dickson Finn is an AAMET Accredited Certified EFT Advanced Practitioner. She is based in Houston, Texas, USA, and works with clients over the phone and via Skype. Ange has helped clients with issues including physical pain, health and well-being, work-related stress, equestrian sports and relationships. Visit her on the web at www.TapIntoYourself.com or www.RideWithoutFear.com.
From the EFTfree Archives, which are now a part of AAMET International.
Originally published on January 16, 2010.