I get a lot of questions about what I do, so I decided to post the text of a typical Q&A with someone wanting to learn more about equine coaching.
You are an equine coach… does that mean you train horses or do you coach people who ride horses?
A: No. I don’t train horses as part of my offering, nor do I provide horseback riding lessons. I do, however, make sure my horses are safe to handle and there is occasionally ridden work that I incorporate in a few of my programs.
Okay, so what exactly does an equine coach do?
A: An equine coach supports personal growth in partnership with horses. It’s a real-time experience where, under the guidance of a coach or therapist, you have an opportunity to learn about yourself through specially crafted activities with horses.
Personal growth? Can you give me some examples of what a client could expect help with?
A: Personal growth is a little different for everyone. I specifically work with women on a variety of topics including authentic living, self-awareness and consciousness, emotional intelligence, self-care, self-confidence, leadership, clarity, life purpose, and communication skills and interpersonal relationships.
I can see how a coach could help with that, but why horses?
A: This is one of my favorite questions. Most people agree that there’s something pretty mystical about the horse. Perhaps it’s what they represent - wild, powerful, graceful, and intuitive. As prey animals, horses have spent thousands of years becoming finely attuned to the world around them. They are masters of intuition and nonverbal communication. Because of their heightened sensory abilities, horses have an unbelievable capacity to tune into our human intentions and emotions in a way that most of us simply can’t. They can sense when any part of us is incongruent or out of alignment and that definitely shows up while working with them. Check out this blog post to read more about how coaches work with horses.
Ok, I kinda get that. But how does it actually work? I’m having trouble visualizing what a session might look like.
A: It’s one of those things you probably won’t fully understand until you experience the magic first-hand. Each session is a little different. I’ll usually spend a few minutes chatting with the client about the past week and previous session, we’ll often do a grounding meditation, and then we’ll go ahead and work through an exercise that relates to what the client is working on.
For example, the client may be facing daunting obstacles as part of a major transition - perhaps a career change. The horses and I will guide them through exercises where they face obstacles that represent what they’re facing in their real life. How they show up in the horse arena is reflective of how they show up in the arena of their life. The horse will show the client where there are being incongruent or where they’re letting their obstacles stand in their way. It’s incredible how the horses can help a client develop an awareness of something that might otherwise take weeks or months with traditional talk coaching or therapy.
That makes sense. So what kind of philosophies or methods do you utilize in your programs?
A: Animals and nature have a wonderful ability to help bring us into our bodies and out of our heads. They are masters of somatics, which is one of the philosophies that is central to my programs. I also incorporate significant amounts of mindfulness and meditation techniques, journaling and self reflection, self care practices etc.
Sorry, what exactly is somatics?
A: There are clinical definitions you can find on the internet, but I’ll tell you what somatics mean to me and in my programs. I talk about somatic alignment being the alignment and expression of mind, body, and spirit in harmony. In today’s society there is heavy emphasis on the mind. On analysis. On doing. However, the techniques I employ ask clients to move beyond the mind into the body and spirit. Instead of just thinking something, feel it. Sense it. This approach gives us richer, fuller experiences. When we tune into our other senses, we can gather significantly more information than what we can gather from simply thinking through a problem.
How is Equisano different from life coaching, or other personal development programs?
A: Our programs are based around experiential learning with another dynamic being - the horse. Clients don’t learn by talking about an idea of principle, they learn by experiencing it real-time. One of the most powerful aspects of this work is that my clients receive immediate, comprehensive feedback from their interactions. By working with horses, we have the ability to instantly tap into issues that might otherwise take several sessions to accomplish solely with a coach or mentor.
Do I need horse handling or riding experience to participate?
A: Nope! Actually, most of the exercises involve your feet staying firmly planted on the ground. Many of us are so used to experiencing horses as something we use for pleasure or entertainment. I like to get people interacting and connecting with horses in a different way before introducing a riding component.
I’m scared of horses - should I even consider equine coaching?
A: This is a totally rational fear and legitimate question! Many of my past clients have been scared of horses and had fantastic sessions with me. I’m fully committed to fostering a comfortable and safe environment for clients. Safety is my number one concern - I’ll never put you in a position where you feel physically uncomfortable or in danger. I help guide you in your interactions to ensure both you and our horses have the best experience possible. It’s also important to note that exercises are never mandatory. If you don’t feel comfortable participating in a particular exercise, we can certainly adjust the program to accommodate your needs.
What should I wear / bring to my session?
A: The most important thing you can bring to your session is an open mind. I ask that you try your best to be mindful of your doubts, fears, and judgments. The Equisano experience is unique, so coming with an open mind will enhance your growth and learnings. On a logistical level, remember you’re going to be outside with horses. Please wear closed-toe shoes, bring a hat, sunscreen, water bottle, notebook, and expect to get a little dirty. It’s all part of the fun.