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It's Not About the Horse: It's About Overcoming Fear and Self-Doubt

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Wyatt Webb blends horse sense with common sense in a revolutionary new form of therapy. If you want to deal with your demons, it helps to make a pit stop in Tucson, Arizona. His tools are not a leather couch and a standard therapist's stopwatch that informs you when "time is up." Time has been up for some of his clients for a long, long time. They are long overdue when it comes to changing their lives. And they want some help. With Webb’s therapy, how you relate to the horse will tell what you’ve learned over the course of your lifetime and about how you relate to all living things. Wyatt tells his audience, "Remember one thing. It's not about the horse. It's about YOU." With his help you will learn a few ground skills that will keep you safe in any barn in the world. But your main goal is to look at what you've learned over the course of your lifetime and whether it works for you or against you in your relationships. Wyatt states, "The horse is the same for every person who chooses to be with them. The horse will serve as a mirror to your energy system. It's the person dealing with the horse who tells the whole story," he insists.

224 pages, Paperback

First published August 1, 2002

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Wyatt Webb

10 books2 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 32 reviews
Profile Image for Neil Hepworth.
229 reviews47 followers
October 2, 2015
My Prologue
Part of me feels bad that I’m going to rip into this book because, I mean c’mon, the dude is just trying to use horses to make a the world a better place. And I’m sure that he and his horses are wonderful at his job. But darnit, someone out there is is paying money to read this book! And so, here comes a review of this book that is so very filled with horse apples.

My Review
These 200 pages are not a book but a brochure. There is no actual wisdom dispensed here - just a few shallow, substance-free stories about how some people came to some horse camp and some of 'em got better. And so can you. But not from reading this book. Instead you can get healing is for just 9.95 a month (or however much horse-therapy camp is) at the Equine Experience. (Okay, that last sentence might have been cheap shot. Or not.)


Well, if we can’t critique on its content (‘cause there ain’t none there), then let’s critique its writing. Lemme tell ya folks, it’s bad. Real bad. I understand bad writing when no ghost-writing/bored-journalist-looking-for-something-to-do is available. But Wyatt Webb gets Cindy Pearlman to help out this effort. Rumor has it she’s a writer. But sometimes in this book, it is really hard to tell. Let’s take a look at a few nuggets, shall we?

Nugget 1

I was asked to write a mission statement. The one I wrote was to offer the premier program at the resort. Understand, there are many wonderful programs at Miraval, but from its inception, the Equine Experience has been referred to as the “signature program” of our facility. (pg 100)

So...the mission statement is what? How can you write that first line and then never tell us what this mission statement is that you’re so proud of that you put it in your book!?

Writing 101: Make good on your topic sentences.

Nugget 2

I began to talk to him [a boy named Billy], and we started with his rage. I let him know that it was okay that he felt anger - it just wasn’t okay for him to act it out. As minutes passed and I continued to listen to him, he began to acknowledge that he was afraid. Slowly, he became more comfortable talking about his fear; then he began to talk about his shame. Finally, he was able to express some of the pain and loneliness that had been passing for his life. (page 87)

WHAT!?!? What was he afraid of? What was he ashamed of? How did this magical conversation go that was apparently opened by waving a magic wand and saying the magic words “It’s okay to feel anger”?

Writing 101: Be specific. Nothing is more boring to read than vague descriptions.

Nugget 3

Bunny’s demons had been sedative and alcohol. She shared with us a life of devastation similar to mine. She then talked about going to her first recovery meeting, and it was heartbreaking.

She told us that she saw the word God on the wall and started to cry.

The man seated next to her asked, “Bunny, what’s wrong?”

“This won’t work because I’m an atheist!”

The man gazed warmly at her and said, “That’s all right. It will work for you if you can just believe in a power greater than yourself. Can you start by just believing in us as that power?”

That gave her hope when there was none. It turns out that Bunny could believe in a higher power. An atheist had come to believe in God!
(pg. 64-65)

HOW!?!?!? How did an atheist come to believe in “god”? And if the answer is that her belief in the “us as that power” is a belief in God, then what a load of horse manure that is. And if she actually did start to believe in God again, then holy crap tell us how that happened!!!!

Writing 101: Only leap to logical conclusions. AKA Don’t leave out information that is ridiculously important to the understanding of an anecdote.

Nugget 4

So I threw down my microphone and ran off the stage. I ran out of the club and out of that city - I just kept running and running. And at that moment, I quit using amphetamines and went home to Nashville.

Days of darkness went by where I barely lifted the shade in my bedroom. I did get up long enough to pour all my pills down the toilet and flush them away[...] I was finally being a tough guy.

I went into massive withdrawal, and no amount of toughness can make that process easier. I just had to ride it out. I was pouring sweat and violently shaking. On top of what was happening to my body, I was also having severe hallucinations. I heard voices coming out of the air conditioner, and demonic visions coming out of the curtains. Inside my head was a roar of pure terror. In the few lucid moments I had, I wished that I would die.
(pg. 51-52)

(The next page, he goes to the doctor, who just tells him that he should be dead. Then the next page just tells us that he had now been drug free for 10 days and that he’d never taken another pill since.)

Just like that, huh? Wow. That’s all you dedicate to talking about how you got over your drug addiction? It’s not like this isn’t one of the most pivotal moments in your life or anything. If you’re going to keep comparing yourself to the hero in Joseph Campbell’s theories about traveling to hell and slaying your dragons, then spend more than half a page detailing your trip to hell and the slaying of the dragon!

Writing 101: Spend more time on the important stuff, and less time on the less important stuff.

Nugget 5

Unfortunately, as is sometimes the case, my marriage did not survive sobriety. Four years after I got out of rehab, my wife and I got a very amicable divorce. (pg 73)

...that’s all you have to say about it? I guess that makes sense since that’s about how long you took to introduce the fact that you got married in the first place. Again, I’d hate to linger on anything of substance here, so...

Writing 101: If you’re not going to talk about it, then don’t talk about it.

Nugget 6

What generally prevents people from doing this [improving our relationships] is our good old pals fear and self-doubt. If we just deal with those two emotions, we can all self-actualize. It’s that simple. And then we can ultimately take responsibility for every breath we take on this planet. The results will be stunnin. Maybe we could stop wars, stop destroying the planet...and each other. But is this going to happen? I don’t know. (pg. 146)

I...I don’t...I don’t even know where to start with this nugget. World Peace seems to simple when you put it like this. And...really...You don’t know if this is ever going to happen? Here, I will tell you. IT’S NOT GOING TO HAPPEN!

Writing 101: It’s not going to happen. Even with your horses, it’s not going to happen.

So there you have it: 1) A life story of a recovered drug addict and alcoholic that is painted in such broad strokes as to create the typical paint-by-numbers Road to Recovery Story. 2) Not enough about the horses to make it about the horses (so, despite the fact that there are horses on the cover, trust the title of the book: It’s NOT About the Horse). 3) Sloppy writing.

Reading 101: Minuscule substance + Bad writing = Don’t read this book.
Profile Image for Karen.
58 reviews4 followers
November 14, 2013
On my fifth trip to Miraval last month, I finally got to do the Equine Experience - it always fills up fast. My last encounter with a horse landed me in the hospital with three broken ribs and a collapsed lung, so I was a little nervous about being so close to one (it wasn't the horse's fault, or mine) as well as what I might learn about myself.

I got Leo, a 27 year old brown beauty. The tasks are to get the horse to lift it's leg by squeezing the lower leg, clean the hoof, groom, then walk the horse around the corral. If your energy is off, the horse won't respond. Leo didn't. After several tries, I finally had to ask for help and the facilitator made me realize my continued petting of Leo was a sign I was trying to manipulate him to get him to like me and do what I want. Wow, epiphany and 100% on the mark. I stepped back, refocused and tried again. He lifted his front foot, then his back on the first try.

I wish the book was longer and had more stories of what people taking the program went through. There was a guy just like me, trying to get his horse to like him. It's a book that needs rereading to truly get all the pearls of wisdom on how to focus on yourself so you can be better in your relationships. I realized I need to stop worrying about what others think of me, even Leo and put out there what I expect from others. Great book.
January 23, 2021
It's Not About the Horse: It's About Overcoming Fear and Self-Doubt by Wyatt Webb. Paperback, 224 pages. 4th Printing 2006 by Hay House (first published August 2002). 5 Stars.

Author Wyatt Webb is the creator of The Equine Experience at the Miraval Arizona retreat center in Tucson. An inspiring, wise and down-to-earth look into the potentially life-changing horse-human relationship as experienced in counselor Wyatt Webb’s therapeutic classes in which horses mirror human behaviors to effect positive changes that create breakthroughs in participant's lives. Highly recommend.
Profile Image for Sarah B.
836 reviews16 followers
December 25, 2022
So this is a book I actually started jotting down notes while reading it. And that started about halfway through. I think the words in this book have a lot of insight, both into the problems we have (emotional or with other people) and with how horses act with us. That is, presuming you have contact with horses.

So in many ways this is a memoir as the author is telling us about his life. He had a bad childhood but others certainly had worse than his. I could relate to his feelings way at the beginning of the book, about feeling like an alien. Not fitting in. And having no idea why. But my outcast feelings were caused by autism - but at the time I had no idea I even had it. Back then I didn't even know what that was.

His thoughts about the church and what they teach was very insightful. Never thought about it before truly. They teach that we are all "bad", that we are sinners. And that may not be a good thing mentally or emotionally. I will have to think about this more, but I can honestly say these church ideas sure goofed up my mother's life in a very negative way.

But soon after that I sort of got lost. He started talking about stuff I couldn't relate to at all. About drinking + taking drugs. I have never touched alcohol in my life and truthfully I have no idea why. He talks about several careers. Problems. So at this point I was thinking "This isn't me at all..."

Until finally - about halfway through the book - he gets back to horses. Which is what I wanted to read about. And this is where I started to take notes.

So he mentions these moments where you are in perfect alignment with the universe and you can manifest things. Or that animals will come to you. I have had moments like that. The very first time I went to the ranch I had the alpha horse come to me. And they said that never happens to anyone. So I certainly didn't understand why it had happened to me. I certainly am not anyone special or famous. But this book explains it. You have to be relaxed?

Was I relaxed that day?? I certainly don't know. I had been horse crazy my whole life but I had never seen a real horse. Never had the opportunity to touch a real horse. I do recall I was uncertain about actually walking up to those strange horses. I didn't know them and they sure didn't know me. I am kind of doubtful if someone could be totally relaxed under those circumstances.

Later in the book a horse goes to a crying woman. I have had a horse come to me while crying once too ...

He says a lot of our behavior is conditioning. We are trained to think or act a certain way. And we have unhealed hurts from long ago. Angry people are actually scared people. Men show the anger too much and women are taught they should be "nice" so they swallow anger to hold it inside where it festers.

And horses show us who we are. They can feel our emotions. Even if we are hiding them. And if we hide stuff we send mixed signals to the horse. And then he won't lift the hoof or do what we ask. Because he is confused. And he may walk away.

But I think one thing the author has forgotten is that horses have a history too. The horse can also have a trauma background as well! It all depends on which horse you are working with. I certainly know at least one horse that comes from a trauma background: Oliver. So it's not always the person's problem showing in the horse.

But I guess he is talking about HIS horses. But people will be working with whatever horse they have access to. Not his horse. And that horse may have issues. Or even medical issues. Why do horses do cribbing? I have seen horses chewing bark off of trees or old logs on the ground. I am sure that is not a response to a human.

The idea about our win or loose system is interesting. And how it causes trouble. There are certainly some unique viewpoints in here.

And I have to mention this: he talks about a type of therapy he does on page 151. And although I have read this I still don't really understand it. What exactly does he mean about "bringing the wounded part of him into the arena"? And how do you keep the child-you in your "mind's eye" when you don't HAVE a mind's eye? Instead you have aphantasia - a blank mind's eye. You cannot visualize at all. Then what do you do?

Also does this stuff apply to PTSD or CPTSD? He doesn't say.

I do agree with the statement that many of the problems are caused by us not feeling safe. Or accepted.

I really don't think a single visit with a horse is going to fix things. He makes it sound like his clients visit him and the horses for maybe a visit? Or in some cases a week? But then it is all over and I suppose they are "cured". But I don't think things get fixed that easily. Those emotions may go away for awhile but they come back with the next trigger. Or they do if you have CPTSD anyway.. But he never actually mentions these conditions in his book. He only uses the word "trauma".

So in the end I do feel as if I have gleamed a few new insights about horses (and I already have lots of insights about myself - as I have done the "hero's journey" as he calls it) - but I won't know how well this stuff works until I go to the ranch.

I did notice one thing he never mentions in here. In his sessions he is introducing "city people" to horses and he doesn't seem to teach them anything about horse safety? Or he certainly does not mention it in his book. Does he tell them you are supposed to lean against the horse when picking up the hoof? Anyway these little things do make me wonder... Safety should come first.
19 reviews1 follower
March 24, 2018
I had the incredible privilege of being in Wyatt Webb's Equine Experience class, and It's Not About the Horse" class in Arizona. First of all, if you have an opportunity to visit Miraval in real life, sign up for these experiences. They are life changers. So of course I had to read Wyatt's book upon returning home.

Wyatt is a crusty, hard-talking, horse-handling, big-hearted guy, with the wisdom of Solomon. Originally from Georgia, he was a musician for years, wrestled with the twin demons of alcohol and drugs, and eventually became a therapist. He uses horses as therapy to show that your life experiences are "not about the horse" but how you interact with the horse reveals your own thoughts, emotions, and ingrained patterns of behavior. Give What 1 minute of your time and he will rip your heart out, force you to examine the poison lurking inside, help you to get rid of it, and then put your heart back with the most powerful and unconditional love so that you can heal.

This book tells his story and will identify your own. It is dangerous because you can't stay the same as you are now. I also recommend reading this book with a huge bottle of water and a box of tissues. It can be dehydrating. So read, reveal, and heal.
511 reviews
December 12, 2018
Author [[Wyatt Webb]]'s life went seriously off the rails as he was trying to become a professional musician. Although he had some success, he never got the big break he so badly wanted – instead his life spiraled downward with drugs and alcohol.

After completing a rehab program he was given a chance to be a councilor there. He became quite successful and at one point, ran a very large program.

But his heart was with horses, and he realized that horses reflect back the attitudes and blocks of the people working with them. He devised this into a therapeutic model, and developed a very successful equine encounter therapy program at Miraval, an upscale retreat/resort in Tuscon.

The last part of the book gives case examples of people who have had changing moments working with horses at the Miraval program.

I was pretty meh about this book – neither good nor bad. I was intrigued by the high ratings this book has received on several sites and so looked at reviews. The high ratings and glowing reviews seem to be from people who have taken the program at Miraval, especially those without prior horse experience. People who have not taken a class there, give it much lower reviews.

I'll give it a solid 3 stars. Recommended to people who are interested in equine therapy.
July 1, 2019
I was fortunate enough to have someone recommend reading the book BEFORE I went to Miraval. Negative reviews of this book are people who simply don’t get it and there are other books out there more suitable for them. It was unbelievable how my horse experience paralleled by life - what I was doing that was “right” and what needed to be changed! I will always be thankful for the privilege I had to participate in the Equine experience
Profile Image for Amanda.
609 reviews6 followers
August 19, 2018
It describes decently how horses are a mirror and can reflect back the emotions and thoughts of a person. There are a few nuggets of wisdom contained in the pages but it mostly boils down to “you give what you get.” It lost me when manifesting was discussed.
Profile Image for Connie.
4 reviews
July 22, 2018
Read this book after doing a workshop with him. Not sure it would have the same effect, if you hadn't met the guy. I liked it!
Profile Image for Margot Note.
Author 10 books56 followers
February 6, 2017
"What you always find on the opposite side of fear and self-doubt is joy. Joy is our birthright--we're born with it. But it gets taken away from us and we have to go back and reclaim it" (7).

"'Whether or not you get what you're looking for depends on one thing and one thing only,' he said. 'It depends on your willingness to do something different'" (70).

"I heard famed writer and therapist Jacquelyn Small proclaim years ago that we're not human being having a spiritual experience, we're spiritual beings having a human experience" (79).

"All connection comes about at an energetic level" (83).

"Authenticity, therefore, is the key to connection with horses. And it's the key to connection with humans, too" (85).

"Each person has their own answer, which cannot be found externally" (93).

"I truly believe that the universe will totally support what you're doing if you're willing to take some inspiration and mix it with perspiration" (97).

"The need for control is always based in fear" (111).

"The more we can let go of the self-criticism, the higher degree of healing will be. Only then will our relationships with each other improve, because love can't truly exist without self-awareness. Love is a conscious choice, whose genesis lies in basic respect for one's self" (166).

"I reminded myself that I've never had money problems--only fear problems" (189).
130 reviews
June 7, 2010
Full of down-to-earth, meaningful insight and incredible examples of what it takes to change our lives. Per Wyatt Webb, it's not that complicated: if what you're doing isn't working, do something different. I have to say, that approach always works for me (when I finally figure out that I'm hitting my head pointlessly against the wall).

Webb hits the nail on the head when he says fear and self-doubt are the source of our troubles as humankind. I've noticed that with a lot with coaching clients -- it's not that they don't have good ideas and solutions, it's that they are afraid to try.

This book hit the mark as I've been observing of late what it is that holds people back from moving forward even when they want to. Usually it's thoughts (vapors). It's inspired me to re-examine my attitudes and beliefs, be more authentic about what I want, and stop letting that voice in my had hold me back for what are not good reasons at all.
Profile Image for Brandi.
55 reviews
October 21, 2013
After attending The Equine Experience at Miraval, I knew I wanted to read more about the work the Wyatt and his co-workers do. I was incredibly touched by the Experience and think of the effect it had on my daily. Reading Wyatt's own story and how he survived and triumphed makes me believe in the process even more. I enjoyed the stories he shared of past clients and the successes. I think I would have liked to read a few stories of those who struggled with the process, who didn't find immediate acceptance in the ring, and how he went about helping them through the experience.

All in all, it was a good book - a good beginning. I would be interested in the other books he has since published as well.
Profile Image for Lorna.
303 reviews9 followers
April 1, 2012
The book is helpful and interesting if you are looking for ways to overcome fear and self-doubt. The style is a woman tryingt to write the words of Wyatt Webb in his voice. It is about the content not the style of the book. It is a quick read and I did it in two sittings. I picked it up because a few years ago I went horseback riding because I knew I was afraid of horses and I knew that I wanted to connect with these animals. I knew it would shift my fears to courage. Working through your fears instead of burying them is a strong confidence builder.
7 reviews1 follower
December 16, 2012
Wow! What a great book! There's a story in there for about every type of person. Wyatt actually makes one feel okay to be dysfunctional! His stories with his patients interacting with the horses are amazing! This is one of those books though, that anybody, horse-lover or not, could read and get something out of the experience! Wyatt writes like a real person standing next to you talking. Great book!
Profile Image for Krissy.
6 reviews
July 13, 2016

I started reading this book in hopes it would help me get my confidence back after a horseback accident a few years back. I have been looking at my issues with my new horse from purely a training perspective. This book helped me reevaluate myself and my approach to ultimately develop a better relationship with my mare. After 30 years of equine experience I've never had such a good relationship with a horse - thank you, Wyatt.
Profile Image for Beth.
500 reviews8 followers
December 1, 2007
I'd probably gfive it 2 1/2 stars. Quick read about a guy who developed a horse therapy to replace conventional therapy. Not sure I buy it, but it was interesting. Again, it all comes back to The Secret. You get what you give.

I could have skipped the first half of the book which was about his drug ridden, booze laden first 36 years.
42 reviews
April 10, 2009
This a great book about accepting responsibility for your own life. He's straightforward and no nonsense! Ny friend met him and did his Equine Experience and said it was one of the best experiences of her life.
Profile Image for Julie.
114 reviews
June 22, 2012

Pretty good self help book. Mostly stories and some Bio. If you are a horse person, you might enjoy. He went through alot and still gives only a little detail. I did take away some good things from this book.
Profile Image for Sarah.
32 reviews
December 22, 2012
This book doesn't really go into the therapy. Rather, it provides several examples of how horses can mirror what someone is feeling, which provides the person insight. I enjoyed it, but it wasn't exactly what I expected it to be.
Profile Image for Jodi.
239 reviews2 followers
October 21, 2014
Reminded me of my experience at Miraval, but wish this book had delved a bit deeper into Wyatt's work. It was more about his experiences growing up and how he came to start working with horses, so it was more autobiographical in nature.
Profile Image for Jill.
28 reviews
October 12, 2007
I work with the author of this book and teach the tenets of this book on a daily basis and I think it is a straightforward, no BS guide to decreasing stress and increasing joy in anyone's life.
20 reviews
April 12, 2008
I meet and participated in one of his programs at Miraval retreat center in Arizona. It was a fabulous experience!! The book is interesting and a fairly quick read.
35 reviews8 followers
June 13, 2011
Informative and entertaining exploration of therapeutic relationships between humans and horses. Wyatt Webb is a different kind of crusty cowboy. Refeshing.
Profile Image for katymoo.
236 reviews4 followers
September 21, 2011
Kinda repetitive and poorly written, (and the typos in the Kindle edition! Shocking) but still an interesting story about the healing powers of man vs horse. A fast read, and it was worth my time.
Profile Image for Tiffany.
40 reviews
December 8, 2011
I found this a very helpful book...a book giving me some personal growth and perspective of my own inner being. It brought me healing.
Profile Image for Lisa Turner.
408 reviews2 followers
October 6, 2012
If you want to follow a path of personal growth, this book will have some tools for your toolbox.It may not be the book everyone needs but it certainly was the one I needed.
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