So, how exactly does equine coaching work?
I asked myself the exact same question when I was first exploring working with horses in a coaching capacity. I couldn’t quite wrap my head around what happened during a session.
This blog is part two in a three-part series explaining:
1) What is equine coaching,
2) How equine coaching works, and
3) How equine coaching helps women
All right, let’s get into it… how does it work? Well, it’s important to understand that equine coaching is an experiential process.
You already know that are several different learning styles - visual, verbal, aural etc. Experiential learning is about… well, experiencing!
You don’t learn by watching a video about self-awareness, or by listening to a lecture. You learn about self-awareness by actually experiencing it real-time.
Why does this matter? Well, here are just a few reasons.
Accelerate learning. Experiential activities allow us to learn, apply, and reflect on what we’re doing in a single session. This accelerates the transformation process.
Provide a safe environment. It’s expected that we make mistakes while we’re learning. In an experiential setting, we have the opportunity to mess up in a safe, controlled space. We can experience success, failure, adventure, and uncertainty without worrying we’ll be judged or make a catastrophic mistake.
Create ownership. When we take action, we take initiative, make decisions, and are accountable for our own actions.
Bridge the gap between theory and practice. While it’s great to learn the theory behind concepts, it can sometimes be challenging to truly understand something until we put it into practice. Experiential approaches help bridge this gap by allowing us to experience the learning real-time.
Are fun and memorable. Would you rather talk about going on an adventure or actually do it?
Increase engagement. When we experience things first-hand, we’re more engaged. It helps us be present.
Are self-paced and personalized. When we participate in experiential activities, we set the pace and process for our own learning. This puts us in the driver’s seat.
Invoke emotions. Our brains are wired to remember emotions and experiences create emotions. Experiential learning helps us feel an experience, which actually improves our ability to retain the information. This retention paves the way for long-term behavior change.
When horses are added to an experiential environment, it creates an even more dynamic learning opportunity.
In an equine coaching environment, you’re not only experiencing something, you’re experiencing it with another dynamic being that reacts to you.
Horses have heightened sensory abilities and, as such, are highly in-tune with human behavior and emotions. Horses ask us to be aware of our surroundings at all times and develop a heightened sense of self-awareness. They provide a mirror to our internal landscape and the ways we operate.
During an equine coaching session, you are guided through exercises with the horses. Each exercise is designed to elicit various components of self-awareness and personal development. This may include things like vulnerability, emotional congruence, mindfulness, or boundary setting.
Each session with the horse helps us better understand how our non-verbal communication and energy is impacting ourselves and others in our lives. This awareness is a critical to revealing patterns of behavior or thoughts and gives us the opportunity to see ourselves in a new light. This way, we can start to ask ourselves the bigger questions: who are we being and why?
Coming soon: How equine coaching helps women