"Another example of how animals teach us involves a three-year-old quarter horse mare. A number of years ago in Texas, I had this mare in the training who was very difficult. And she did not want to be touched anywhere with any type of touch. The horse had very little handling and had never been abused. She had been that way since birth. Nobody could understand why she was so touchy. At first, the mare was very resistant and uncomfortable when I worked with her, moving constantly and tossing her head, but after thirty minutes, she relaxed and began to enjoy the work. As this horse was able to release her fear of contact and relate to us, she actually appeared to be enjoying herself. During the break, a woman came up to me and said she had just learned one of the most important lessons of her life. Since she was a child, she had been terrified of being touched. She had been to several doctors, and they all told her it was in her head. She realized, while watching me work on the mare, that her sensitivity wasn't just in her head; it was really in her body. It gave her permission to trust her own feelings, and a hope that she could overcome her fear.

"I think it's important to recognize the role of animals as teachers."

To Practice: Be on the lookout for things animals can teach you about your body, your personality, or your relationships with others. Ceremonialize any learning as a tribute to the animal.

Brenda Peterson, Deena Metzger, Linda Hogan in Intimate Nature: The Bond Between Women and Animals