For many, meditation and Qi Gong are seen as the domain of humans. With our large brains and insatiable curiosity, it’s easy to believe that we’re alone in our awareness of energetic sensitivity. While we may have developed clear practices to work with our internal life-force energy (Qi), George Brauneis’s profound experiences with horses show that we’re not the only ones who are significantly influenced by the energies within and around us. By blending his Qi Gong practice with his equestrian passion, George is able to cultivate a deep and nurturing relationship with the creatures he cares for. This blog post will explore his lifelong journey relating to horses, and how Qi Gong has opened up a new realm of possibilities for healing, training, and peace.
Growing up among the rural mesas and canyons of western Colorado, George’s best childhood friends were the neighbor’s dogs and horses. Just after he completed first grade, his family moved to a new home where he came in contact with Old Ed a Mammoth Burro. This burro clearly had endured some traumatic experiences and wanted nothing to do with adult humans. However, the burro liked children, and six-year-old George was able to quickly form a friendship with this otherwise unwanted creature.
Soon after, his parents got him a retired barrel racing horse. Fascinated by the power and grace that horses possess, George committed himself to learn everything he could about the beautiful creatures.
Over the next several decades, George read books, worked with trainers, and went to countless clinics to learn how to train and take care of horses. He had the privilege to learn from distinguished experts, all of whom claimed to have the technique for training. George appreciated the experience and wisdom of those he worked with, but something seemed to be missing from the curriculums he followed.
Wherever he turned for guidance, he found that most of these training systems felt rigid and uncompromising. Even when he learned from accomplished trainers, he still felt there was a void between himself and the horses. In general, training seemed like a battle to impose a static, inflexible process upon creatures that are all unique. At the core, humans expect horses to listen to their requests, but fail to attune their own awareness to the horse’s energy.
At a certain point, George asked himself an important question: As an adult, why couldn’t he relate to horses in the same way he had as a child? Over the years, he had only gained more knowledge, skills, and techniques, but somewhere along the way to adulthood he had forgotten how to communicate on the most fundamental level. A path to rekindling that connection would emerge as he continued to explore.
Back in 2012, George was interested in understanding how horses could help to heal humans. By that time, research had emerged to show that people could be positively affected by contact with horses. As he researched, he started wondering if the healing relationship could work in the other direction as well.
By 2015, George had become interested in a couple of trainers who were utilizing skills from martial and meditative practices to connect with horses. He briefly thought about learning martial arts, but that seemed too physically demanding and risky for where he was at in his life. Today, he doesn’t recall if it happened through a Google search or Facebook ad, but somehow, he encountered Lee on the internet in 2016. He watched some YouTube videos and then purchased the Thirty Day Challenge. By Day 3, he was hooked. Even after just a couple sessions, he knew that Qi Gong held some important answers.
George loved how Qi Gong could help him to enter a calm yet confident state of being. As any practitioner knows, there’s a special feeling of grounded yet alive energy that flows through you when you really get in touch with your Qi. Not only did George appreciate this new way of relating to himself, but his horses did as well.
Qi Gong helped him to realize how to find harmony between the Yin and Yang energies within him, which allowed him to show up with a strong yet sensitive presence with his horses. As he points out, no one wants to be bullied into performing an action or behavior. When a person approaches a horse with their own agenda in mind and without an awareness of the horse’s state of being, the horse senses that energy and puts up an invisible barrier to true communication. Some horses will respond by submitting to the person’s request in order to avoid punishment. Other horses, may resist or even fight against the oppressive and controlling human energies.
Rather than enter the stable rooted solely in his own intentions for the training session, Qi Gong allows George to show up with a sensitivity to his horse’s needs. Just like with humans, horses resent authoritative figures who bark orders and don’t listen. However, by attuning himself to his horses’ energies while still exuding confidence, George is able to earn and maintain a horses’s respect throughout the gentling and training process. Real respect, after all, is a two-way street.
George’s Qi Gong Routine
To prepare himself for his training sessions, George spends about twenty to thirty minutes practicing Qi Gong on his own to calm his energy field and return to his center. When he feels ready, he enters the stable and approaches the horse with gentle, confident energy. At this point, he continues practicing and uses deep breathing to become present and connected with the horse.
After a few minutes, the horse starts to look at him and George can tell that it’s releasing any anxiety it was holding and becoming more comfortable. This lays the way for a fruitful and positive training session that both horse and human enjoy.
While the practices that George uses have worked for millennia, it’s only been relatively recently that westerners have recognized the power of these practices for connecting with animals. Thanks to modern technology and a few inquisitive and forward-thinking individuals, we now know scientifically that horses and humans can generate powerful, symbiotic relationships through positive contact with one another.
In situations where animals and humans enjoy calming, positive experiences together, the intervals between their consecutive heartbeats known as Heart Rate Variability (HRV), start to synchronize and match with one other. Basically, the emotional and energetic connection that one can feel with an animal is scientifically proven to be accompanied by physiological heart-alignment. Additionally, the detectable electromagnetic field of a horse’s heartbeat is fifty feet, compared to a human’s of ten feet, suggesting a high level of energetic sensitivity in horses.
Most horses that have behavior problems, or that are “untrainable”, have simply integrated the negative energies that they’ve taken on from humans. When trainers resort to cruel punishments and methods of discipline, the horse becomes traumatized and guarded. Just like in humans, pain and trauma can manifest as erratic behavior, which can quickly lead to a horse being labeled as “untrainable”, or having “behavior problems.” Unfortunately, too often, such horses aren’t wanted, and sometimes they’re even put to death.
Healing Through Qi Gong
Today, George cares for several horses, including four that were set to be put to death before he stepped in and rescued them. Of those four, three of them were unwanted due to “behavior problems”. Now, in George’s good company and with regular Qi Gong practice, his horses are on a healthy path to healing and peace.
When asked about his future as a horse trainer and Qi Gong practitioner, George says couldn’t be more energized to share his experiences with others. He’s seen how transformative Qi Gong can be in helping people raise happy horses, and he’s excited to reach as many equestrians as possible so they discover the magic of the ancient practice. George knows that there’s only a limited number of horses that he can help himself, but educating their human counterparts holds limitless potential. As he points out: if he can help eight horses, that’s great, but if he can help eight horse owners, then his efforts will be exponentially magnified.
At Holden QiGong, we’ve known for a long time how nourishing the practice is for people, but never before have we encountered someone who so effectively applies the principles to help another species. We are both touched and inspired to learn about the work that George is doing and would love to encourage other horse owners to explore his path.
If you’re interested in learning more about the Qi Gong program that George first started with, be sure to check out the Thirty Day Challenge.
Also, be sure to check out our upcoming workshop called Qi Gong for Seniors. In addition to enjoying a fun and relaxing afternoon, it’s a great way to cultivate your inner resources for health and longevity. Click on the banner to learn more or sign up today.
To the health and happiness of all creatures!
Written by Ian Drogin