Gifts: Freedom. Travel. Enjoying the journey. Personal power. Stamina. Loyalty.
Challenges: Being saddled with other people’s baggage. Restlessness. No sense of home. Feeling like a “dark horse.”
Wild horses running across the plains or desert is a visual epitome of freedom. The freedom that Horse represents is the freedom that comes from living your personal truth, from harnessing your own personal power—not having other people harness yours for their benefit at your expense.
Horse teaches you to enjoy the journey, even when it is difficult, even when you have to struggle. Horse is not looking for a shortcut or an easy way out. Horse is looking to flex its literal and figurative muscles. Fortunately, Horse is a symbol of stamina and has the staying power to move through the struggle, to overcome difficulties.
Remember that the archetypal messages of spirit animals come from the wild incarnation of the animal, not the domesticated incarnation. Domesticated horses certainly retain much of the true essence of Horse, but much has also been lost. I think of the horse called “Rising Star” in the movie “Electric Horseman” and the horse called “The Black” in the movie “The Black Stallion.” They—with their human allies—fought the sedating, the numbing, and the caging of their wildness.
The message for you is that freedom is worth the fight. Even though physical horses are almost exclusively known as being pack or work animals for humans, remember that they must first be “broken” before they resign themselves to our taming. Working with spirit animal Horse, you do not have consent to breaking or taming. Horse’s mission is to find freedom, even when it is part of a band (group of wild horses). The point is to balance independence with connection, finding freedom as you create a harmony of the two.
The shadow side of Horse comes to a great degree from the associations we have of domesticated horses. The main shadow side, or challenge, is being saddled with other people’s baggage. A psychologist once said to me, “Someone is throwing their garbage on your lawn. Don’t mistake it for your own.” This is what shadow Horse essentially does—mistakes the baggage it’s been saddled with as its own. What baggage are you carrying around that doesn’t really belong to you? What crap can you finally release and throw off your back?
Another challenge with spirit animal Horse is the potential of getting corralled in. When you find your band, your herd, your tribe, it’s easy to forget about your need for freedom. As humans, we aren’t adept at finding a way to be truly free within a group. Just as physical horses are broken, saddled, and ridden, so you can fall into the trap of becoming imprisoned by your group. Remember: the corral is an illusion; freedom is within.