Whether you are a horse person or not, you might find yourself asking:
“What do they know about coaching?”
“What do they add to the process?”
As I became interested in coaching I had the same questions. From personal experience I knew that horses could be very comforting, but I didn’t see how horses and coaching went together. Being the curious person I am, I looked for more. I read books, spoke with people who work in equine assisted activities, and I invited an Equine Assisted Coach to come out to the farm.
She did a practice session with me and my horse Cisco shortly after we opened Carolina Morning Stables. It was eye opening. I learned a few things that day:
1. Horses really can help you to reach deep within yourself.
2. This was something I wanted to do.
3. Cisco is the perfect horse for this work.
Really, he is such a goofball.
But exactly HOW do they help you reach inside?
Horses see you as you are without any preconceived notion of who you should be. You are not beautiful or ugly, fat or thin, broken or whole; you are energy.
They. See. You.
(The real you.)
Because horses are prey animals they are in tune to the energy you bring. Sometimes they know how you feel better than you do. Horses check for congruence between what you present to them, and how you really show up. They'll let you know in subtle (or sometimes not so subtle) ways when that congruence is off. In other words, they’ll call bullshit on you before you even realize that’s what you’re offering.
This means you really have to pay attention. Because of this
they bring you directly into the present moment,
so that you can be fully engaged
in the work taking place within yourself.
They can hear your heart beat. (When you pay attention, so can you.) When you’re tuned in, 100% in your body and connected to your soul, then you can make important shifts in your thinking. These shifts help you make important shifts in your life.
Pretty cool, right?
How do horses help with leadership & team building?
The complex social structure of the herd is designed for the safety and benefit of the herd. We can learn a lot about leadership, team building, parenting, partnership, and ourselves by paying attention to and interacting with the horses. When we pay do this, they’ll teach us about energy, and help us discover if the way we’re using our own energy is moving us forward or holding us back.
Paying deep attention to what’s going on inside ourselves and our own congruency, and taking lessons from the herd dynamics, we can improve our leadership, build cohesive teams, become better parents, and better partners.
Do we have to have the horses to figure out who we are and what holds us back?
I’ve coached with and without the horses and it works either way.
The horses, however, add a component that, in my opinion, helps you build connection with yourself. And they definitely help you build a connection to nature. They assist the process.