The Healing Power of Horses
Hannah was in fear of losing her job when she came for an Equine Assisted Coaching session. Her goal for the session was to overcome her fear and gain a sense of peace and direction regarding her career.
Though Hannah wasn’t clear on how a horse could help her to do this, she remained open-minded. By the end of the session, Hannah was captivated by the process, and described her experience in the following way:
Before the session, I was asked to identify the area of my life I wished to work on, and then I was asked to construct a physical representation of what I was most worried about. At one point in the exercise when I had two long poles resting on my shoulders, it felt like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders. The sweet and gentle horse, Iris, approached and put her face right up to mine, softly but pointedly exhaling through her nostrils as if she was performing CPR. Then she tensed up her entire body, relaxed and exhaled as she released the tension as if to say it’s ok, it’s safe. Without much thought I laid the poles down parallel on the ground to form a path—and at that point I recalled a song referring to the world as a narrow bridge, with the important thing being to have faith and not to be afraid. I tried to lead Iris across the “bridge,” but she resisted until I stepped onto it myself —then she followed me willingly. I let go of the lead rope and Iris remained quietly, standing on the “bridge” looking very relaxed. She was not afraid—why should I be? That realization made it easier for me to relate it not only to my initial issue, but to other issues as well. The horse acted as a non-threatening, non-judgmental “mirror” of my thoughts and perceptions. I’ve never been a sensitive “touchy-feely” type, and I’m not accustomed to opening up and probing my vulnerabilities with others. But the entire process felt cathartic and healing.
Through partnering with a horse, in just one session, Hannah was able to significantly reduce her fear and anxiety about losing her job.
What is Equine Assisted Coaching?
Equine assisted coaching is a powerful, creative process that involves a partnership between horses and humans. Through experiential activities with the horses, you will gain valuable insight as to what keeps you stuck and learn how to take hold of the reins and steer your life in the direction you want to go. Previous riding experience is not necessary as the exercises are un-mounted.
What Role Does the Horse Play?
Over 90 percent of meaning is communicated non-verbally. Being herd animals, horses have prey instincts and hypersensitive awareness. They are tuned in to the slightest change in their environment. They are skilled at accurately reading the truth in our energy and body language, without judgment. Horses can show us in a moment when we are fooling ourselves and when we are on the right path. They provide instant, honest, accurate feedback to our actions. Horses mirror back to us inconsistent behaviors we may not have been aware of— behaviors that stop us from moving forward in life or from moving deeper into our authentic selves.
Many metaphors can result from interacting with a horse. For example, in a recent session, Linda was holding the rope in a vice-like grip while leading the horse across the ring. When asked if she holds on that tightly to all of her relationships, she responded with laughter and said “Yes, I like to control everything!” That exercise initiated a dialogue about being “controlling” versus being “in-control.”
What Does a Typical Equine Assisted Coaching Session Look Like?
Each session is unique and tailored to the individual; however, the general format of a session consists of the following steps:
Who Can Benefit from Equine Assisted Coaching?
Virtually anyone from children, teens, adults, women in transition and families, to groups, organizations and corporations.
Sessions focus on topics such as gaining control of your emotions, building confidence and self-esteem, achieving success and happiness, communicating more effectively, establishing boundaries, setting goals, stress-reduction, being in the moment, developing intuition, improving relationships, team building and honing leadership skills.
As Winston Churchill once said “There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.” He knew a well-kept secret: Horses have the power to help us heal . . . if we let them.
Laura Kobus is an Equine Specialist EAGALA Certified (Equine Growth and Learning Association) and a Certified Life Coach. She is also co-author of The Essential Coaching Book, Secrets to a Winning Life. Laura has worked with horses for over 30 years, and has been a life coach for 15 years. Equine Assisted Coaching sessions are held in Greenlawn and Islip Terrace, NY. For more information or to schedule, contact Laura at (516) 680-6307 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Facebook: Laura Kobus – Clear Insight Coaching, Life Coaching with Horses.