As usual, I had been reading … this time I had stumbled upon the topic of horses as teachers and healers. I had three horses in my backyard, due my daughters’ passions, so I had been wondering what am I going to do with these horses once my daughters are grown up and have left home? I love them, but I’m not really into riding and caring for them is somewhat intense – in terms of time, labor, and money.
As it turns out, two years later, I know what I will do …. not with them, but alongside them. Let me introduce you to the field of equine facilitated coaching. I tried to start by writing an overview, but just wasn’t finding the words. The experiences that I and many others have had is really beyond words. (I had to look it up – there is a word for ‘beyond words’ – ineffable.) Instead, as a means of an introduction, I invite you to take a journey with me as I recall significant transformational lessons gained from horses.
I will focus this post on my first experience at an Epala workshop, held by Juli Lynch, PhD, in Hayward, Wisconsin. Juli later became my instructor in a year-long apprenticeship program in equine facilitated coaching. One of the first activities of the two day workshop was to spend some time observing the horses. Then we gathered together to talk about what we had observed. It was very interesting that everyone else had a different picture formed from their observation time.
I had really felt a deep heaviness at the farm, that I didn’t initially notice, but during the time reserved for observation, that was the overall feeling that came over me when I really tuned in. And that deep sense of turning inward to assess how something felt was not something that I did at that time in my life.. my focus was to be productive, to serve my family and meet everyone else’s needs.
Then I heard the observations of the other participants, which were nothing like the feeling of heaviness. In fact, there was an artist in our group that went on about the beauty. (And it truly is a beautiful and peaceful place.)
The heaviness that I sensed was just my own projection of what was inside of me coming out. And I realized later that it was affecting my entire view of the world and my life… it’s like I had those perspective glasses on, and since I had always worn them, I didn’t know that they were only glasses that could be removed…
That was the start of my realization that this was powerful work .. and I opened up to the group of women in the circle and shared my inner wounding that I had held for so long. I wasn’t expecting to do this, but it felt like such a safe, intimate space, and obviously, just based on the observation activity, my view of reality was so different from that of the others in the group that I was ready to take this opportunity and make the most of it.
I had never really wanted to go to therapy.. I knew that I probably should… one of those ‘some day’ things that you don’t really want to do because it’s going to open up a whole lot of hurt and emotion that’s been packed safely away. And I just didn’t want to sit on a chair, or the proverbial couch, and talk about everything. I was ‘managing’, or so I thought.
Instead, opening up to what horses could teach me felt like a much more safe and interesting space to start to allow myself to crack wide open. As I learned from Juli that day, and would experience over and over again, horses don’t care about your story. They simply see our energy and our emotions and they respond. This makes horses a safe place for diving into our deepest parts, and this is what makes them such amazing teachers and healers.
If you’re interested in learning more and following along as I recount my own journey with horses and open up a world of possibility for you, join my newsletter @ www.oneradiantlife.com.