The horse’s skin shivers as a breeze passes – its hide is seven times more sensitive than human skin. The equine eye is alert to the tiniest movement – a leaf falls in its peripheral vision and it can leap 5 metres. Such extreme sensitivity mirrors the subjective reality of PTSD.
We follow a racehorse being retrained from racing to working with veterans in Newmarket. When the wounded ex-soldier meets the ex-racehorse there is a spark of recognition.
As the film unfolds, the relationship between horse and man grows. The steps are familiar to the many horse riders and trainers in the UK. Their mentor, Jock Hutchison knows that the horse is the greatest catalyst for change. Within the first weeks both men learn to control their own breathing, their gestures and attention in order to communicate with the horse.
They do not realise quite how privileged they are, to be allowed into the secrets of the art of horsemanship, arts which have been explored and added to for six thousand years, which require the utmost control of body, breathing, calming of the mind and heart, and are judged fresh every time by the only arbiter of success: the horse.
The film aims to show the subtlest signals of communication between horse and human. That encounter demands becoming aware of processes that are usually unconscious – breathing, pulse, emotions, the way muscles are being held. Working in tandem with neuroscience, the film shows how horses and humans can regain mutual trust, remaking neural pathways in the brain.