Trend Watch: Mane Attractions

Spa resorts are harnessing horses' powers of intuition to help clients discover new life skills.

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Country-singer-turned-therapist Wyatt Webb introduced the Equine Experience program to Miraval Resort & Spa (miravalresorts.com) in Tucson, Arizona in 1995. In the ensuing 19 years, he has witnessed dramatic shifts in participants' behavior on a daily basis. "I've seen incredible amounts of shame reduction, and dramatic drops in self-criticism and fear," says Webb.

The program, which comprises one-day classes ($45) and four-day retreats ($600), is a chance for guests to look inward and alter their perspectives. Rather than ride the horses, clients "ask" them to lift their hooves to clean them - all silently, communicating with body language. (Horses are said to have a highly developed ability to interpret nonverbal cues and pick up on a person's fears or insecurities.) Webb says, "For the horse to respond, the guest must: 1) be clear with his or her directions, and 2) be genuine." Webb admits the Equine Experience upkeep is costly but he feels that the positives far outweigh any negatives. "It changes people's lives," he says.

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