The Wisdom of Horses

A few years ago, I stumbled upon an Equus Coaching session by Koelle Simpson, and the renowned life coach, Martha Beck. It was happening at a ranch in Arroyo Grande. There were 35 attendees from all over the world being guided in the energy and feedback that horses can provide to us.

These people had traveled here because they wanted to go to the next level – whatever that meant for them – professionally or personally. As a horse person, and someone whose background is in facilitation and human growth and development, I was taken by the beauty, ease and speed of this unique interaction between people and horse. I was amazed how quickly people began to uncover their perception of what blocked them from moving forward with their goals; how they uncovered and turned around negative thinking patterns that created unnecessary resistance, and how they could suddenly see their strengths or new ways of proceeding with life in such a short time. Many people didn’t have a specific goal or intention in showing up – they just wanted to shake things up in life or work. I also loved the community and connection created between this diverse group of attendees from all walks of life.

After watching for several hours, I knew I wanted to learn how to do this work so I spent a year learning from Koelle and becoming certified as an Equus Coach. Since that time I have worked with horses and corporate teams, and groups and individuals, all eager to explore untapped strengths, learn about their leadership style or move past what is holding them back.

How would you like to tap into that resource and go to the next level – personally or professionally? Here’s your chance. On Saturday September 12th, Kasia Roether and I, both certified Equus Coaches, are offering a full day workshop in Arroyo Grande. This workshop is open to a limited number of participants, and you will play and engage with horses with the intention of exploring what is next on your life path, and what is holding you back. This is not a riding or training clinic, but a growth and discovery opportunity. Regardless of your level of horse experience, it will show you a new way of connecting with horses that will inform all your future horse interactions.

The stories below are from clients* and from my own experiences, they will help you see the power of this unique horse wisdom.

Peaceful Movement

Working the horse (320x154)The vice president of a local company hesitantly entered the round pen with a young Arabian horse. It was his first ever horse interaction. He didn’t come to learn about horses, he came to learn about himself, and he had the support of two coaches – me and a young horse named June. He had received feedback that he micromanages tasks, which ultimately makes his staff feel less empowered. His intention that day was to gain a deeper insight into his communication style. I asked him, “What would you like to do with the horse today?”

“I’d like to make her move a bit. Perhaps even run a little,” the man responded.

“Okay. Go ahead.”

The man had been given little instruction and only one tool, a coiled long line that was to be used as an extension of his energy, but was not to touch June. With vim and vigor he asked her to move by energetically waving the coil. As June began to trot, the man dropped his energy and stopped. The horse stopped and looked at him.

“Were you ready for her to stop?” he was asked.

“No”

“Why do you think she stopped?”

“I guess I stopped pushing her.”

“How did you feel when she was moving?”

“It was great!”

“Let’s try again. But this time ask the horse to go all the way around the pen once”.

The client started again with the same vim and vigor, but this time kept running and waving the coiling until his breathing was heavy and the horse had broken from a trot to the faster pace of cantering. Before he knew it, they had gone twice around.

“How was that?”

“That was amazing.”

“How do you feel?”

“I’m exhausted. I ran as hard as she did.”

“Where else does this happen? Where are you working hard at creating movement?”

The man pondered the question and responded “Sometimes I feel like I have to be really loud and work to keep projects moving. I use all my energy because I’m afraid my staff won’t keep the project moving if I don’t push.”

“Would you like to use this opportunity to play with dropping your energy to see how subtle you can be and still maintain forward movement with the horse?”

The man nodded and then asked the horse to move. She began trotting at a nice pace. The client played with lowering his energy and still maintaining that pace. Soon the client was simply standing in the middle of the round pen, gently and rhythmically sending subtle energy. Both he and the horse were calm, and in a state of peaceful movement.

“This feels so much better. And it’s still fun!” The man exclaimed.

Care For Yourself to Care For Others

Tara equus coaching (320x189)Another time, a woman came for a coaching session looking exhausted, deflated and slightly beaten down. She was uncertain what she wanted to work on, but she talked about failed relationships. I asked her intention with the horse and she said she wanted to create a connection with him. As horses do, Sniper mirrored her demeanor beautifully. He planted his feet firmly, lowered his head and paid her no mind. The more she focused on Sniper, pushing and pushing for connection, the more he resisted. She even began verbally pleading with him to pay attention to her. I asked her if there is any place else in her life where she is pushing and pushing and only coming up against resistance. She sighed a big sigh and talked about failed relationships.

I asked the woman to stand in the middle of the round pen, close her eyes and focus on nothing but the beating of her heart. As she did this, her shoulders relaxed and she began breathing deeply. Slowly Sniper turned his head toward her and began walking into the middle of the round pen positioning himself right behind her. Unaware of Sniper, the woman was completely focused on feeling her beating heart and tending to her own relaxation and breathing. Sniper continued to move closer. I gently asked her if she could feel Sniper’s breath on her back and she nodded. I asked her to stay in touch with whatever peace she is feeling and slowly begin to walk. As she walked, Sniper followed her, deeply connected, his nose to her shoulder. As she turned he turned. As she stopped he stopped. When she resumed, he resumed.

When asked how she shows up in relationships, the woman talked about all the effort and focus she puts on the other person and their needs until she is angry, resentful and feeling depleted herself. I asked her how this connection with Sniper felt and through her tears she said, “Amazing”.

Through the coaching, the woman began to see how she could create a greater connection by caring for herself and her own needs first. Together we developed some action steps for her to put her insights into practice. As I watched her leave the ranch that day, I could barely believe the transformation in her demeanor.

Is there a place in your life or your work where you feel you could benefit from some non-judgmental feedback? Do you desire the experience of playing with a horse in a round pen? Have you never had a positive experience with a horse, and are curious about that connection? Or are you an avid horse person, but interested in experiencing an entirely new way of connecting?

If this sounds enticing to you, join me and my colleague, Kasia Roether and a community of like-minded people on Saturday, September 12th from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. for The Power of the Horse, an Equus coaching day.

In the morning, you will participate in your own one-on-one round pen session with a horse. Following a healthy lunch, you will participate in group activities to explore connection with humans and horses.

The day will be held in Arroyo Grande, California at the beautiful Living Oak Ranch. Enrollment is limited so early registration is recommended. All activities are done on the ground and there is no riding component to this program. We’d love to have you join us. Questions? Email me at beth@bethwonson.com

P.S. Don’t worry about lack of horse experience or too much horse experience – you are perfect just as you are!

*All stories used with clients permission

 

Beth Wonson

Beth Wonson lives on the Central Coast of California and spends her time with speaking, writing and coaching with individuals and companies all over the U.S. A certified Equus Coach, she leads retreats for people who are seeking community and positive support while exploring the next phase of their own lives. Any given day you can find her hanging with horses, hiking the hills or wandering the beaches. Her first book, “Let Go of the Rock - a new look at the dynamics of self-management” is due out in September.

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