Posted on September 27, 2021
“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to anotherC.S. Lewis
‘What, You too?! I thought I was the only one.'”
I attended the Touched by a Horse annual Summit this weekend. It’s a big event with speakers, break out groups, and Graduation night for the new certified coaches. It’s a pretty big deal.
I arrived on Thursday evening for opening night and all through the evening and into the next day I could feel myself sucked into a dark space, like a vortex it held me fast and I couldn’t pull myself up and out. I was there in body, on a chair listening to speakers and talking to friends, but my spirit was elsewhere, floating in the ether, adrift, a headache pulsing in the back of my skull, letting me know that something was amiss.
Normally, this ranch is my safe space, my home away from home, where the moment my feet touch the earth I am at peace. This time it was like I hadn’t even arrived. I skipped out several times to go nuzzle the muzzle of a lovely horse named Gus, who was able to ground me back into myself and each time I visited him I felt myself appearing out of the fog, my heart a little lighter. That’s the magic of horses.
What I want to talk to you about today, is the magic of friends.
What was my problem? I was in my favorite place with some of my very favorite people, yet I was feeling very isolated, very alone.
I was poisoning myself with an untold “secret”.
I was carrying the weight of news I hadn’t yet confessed to a very dear friend.
I was wary of telling her.
Weary of telling everyone.
We went for a walk and paused at my car and before I could stop myself the words were pouring out of my mouth. She looked a me with a small smile on her face and a mischievous glitter in her eyes that spoke volumes. She wasn’t overcome by sadness for what will ultimately be her loss for a time, but delighted by what is going to be a grand adventure. She shared stories of her own grand adventures and shared with me her excitement for the growth and experiences that are ahead of me.
We left my car and as I settled back into the arena in my chair, I felt finally at ease.
The next day was Saturday, filled with speakers and a cocktail party, and dinner in the evening, followed by graduation. All day I was filled with a groundedness and happiness I hadn’t felt in the previous days.
Finally I was present and able to enjoy the friends and family around me.
As the evening and graduation drew to a close, I was leaning on the sidewall of the arena watching new sisters walk across the stage and into the next chapter of their lives.
Shoulder to Shoulder with me are two Powerful, Beautiful, Bone-Deep, Soulful, Badass women. The bond between us was tangible, a living thing.
As we stood together I was struck with such force, how impactful our friendships can be.
How empowering, if we let them in.
I’m connected with the women (and a couple of men) in that arena on a soul level. We have shared deep trauma history with each other, we have witnessed, cried, laughed, screamed, held, healed.
It is my default setting to block people out, to go it alone, to do it myself, and say that I am fine in my independence. This weekend reminded me, that going it alone is not the answer. If we were all better off alone, we wouldn’t feel so broken.
If we had all the answers to heal ourselves, we would, nobody would choose suffering if they could help themselves by themselves.
The truth is, we need community. It’s the secret sauce. The ultimate healing magic that we all seek.
We need our tribe, our herd, to lift us up when we are down, to lean on in grief, to laugh with in moments of joy, to inspire us when we feel like we are not enough.
It takes bravery to make those connections, because these types of bonds do not come without deep vulnerability. We hand over the power to people to hurt us, we have to trust that they won’t, know that disappointment comes with every relationship, and build on the knowledge that the foundation is built on trust, the best intention, and pure love.
On Sunday during the closing ceremony, there is a song that is played that always goes straight to my heart.
We stand in a giant circle, hand in hand, heart to heart.
This time, as I stood with two more of my dear sister-friends, all my feelings came pouring out of my eyes and I cried and cried as the song played on, I felt them both squeeze my hands.
Once it was over I was enveloped in the arms of a woman who has become so dear to my heart over the years, and she told me everything was going to be fine, it’s going to be great, and I know she speaks the truth. It means so much to me, to be seen and held both physically and emotionally by such beautiful souls.
I never knew the power of a group of women coming together in tatters and binding each other up could be so healing.
It’s my job now, as a certified Equine Gestalt Coach, to pass on this gift of sisterhood. To pay it forward, on to the women who have not yet found their tribe. If you’re going it alone right now, if you find yourself lost, unsupported, lonely, searching for something bigger than yourself, I’ve got a group and a horse for that.
If you feel compelled to share your story with me, or you’d like to sign up for a group or private coaching session, or you’d like more information on Equine Gestalt Coaching, please send me an e-mail at:
P.S if you’ve made it this far: Thank you for reading my blog!
And No, I’m not pregnant!
If you know, you know.
If you don’t, stay tuned!
Find your LightAmanda Soper
Find your Tribe
Find the Path
that Sets You Free.
Posted on September 11, 2021
Yesterday, I watched as squeals of joy and laughter brought a shadow to your smile and pain snuck into the corners of your eyes. I watched you do your best to be supportive without giving away your inner hurt. The women around you were oblivious, absorbed in their own happiness and excitement, they were not witness to your pain, they couldn’t hear the truth behind your joking plea for them to go away.
What you don’t see perhaps, is your own strength and bravery as you hold your boundaries and wait.
Some people are so desperate for someone to want them, they overlook the train wreck that’s barreling towards them. Some people are so afraid to be alone with themselves that they will sacrifice their values, beliefs, and ultimately their sense of self worth and identity.
They’ll lose it all to someone who says all the right things, puts them up on a pedestal, kisses the ground they walk on, until they’ve spun their web, and then the true personality of an abuser crawls out. On the surface, it looks like something to covet, but I promise you, it’s not.
Run as far and as fast as fast as you can, from that kind of trap dressed up as “love”.
It may be lust. It may be infatuation. It isn’t love.
Hold your ground. Stand firm in the belief that real love; bone deep, mutual, healthy love, is out there and it’s worth waiting for. It’s worth the loneliness. Rise above the societal expectation that women need to lower their standards, because it’s better to have a man than to be alone. That’s a lie.
You’re in a unique position in your singleness to find yourself and create the life you want, with no strings attached, no one else to consider as you follow your dreams. Even in healthy relationships compromises must be made all the time, right now you have no one to answer to but yourself. Curate your life, become your best self, heal your generational traumas, overcome the the limiting beliefs that you’re not good enough, or you’re not worthy. You Are, without a doubt, worth all you ever dreamed and more. Do the work. Lean on the strong, supportive women in your life. Learn the red flags of bad men, commit them to memory. Steer clear and keep your eye out for the kind heart that matches yours.
The rest will fall into place.
The Heart of a Mare
Do you struggle with codependency or boundaries? Are you drawn to dysfunctional relationships?
Schedule a private in-person coaching session or virtual coaching session with me.
Posted on September 3, 2021
Sometimes the world of people is an ugly place. Hateful acts are committed every day and the news delights in bringing these horrors into our awareness and into our homes. Fear dances outside our windows and doors, sparking people to withdraw from each other and bunker down, preparing for the end of the world as we know it. We spare little thought to the impact our actions have on the world at large, the day to day actions that are ruining the earth we live on, the division between our fellow humans over petty, manufactured nonsense that will be our ultimate downfall. The future can sometimes look bleak.
In those moments of despair and sadness, I turn to the magic of all that is Nature. The world of humans is often ugly, the Natural world, even in her brutality, is beautiful and something to behold. I take delight in the little doses of nature that sprinkle through my day, my little box of wildflowers still springing up new flowers even in early September, the little basil plant that my love bought us to nurture back to life from its sad existence on the grocery store shelf. I find great joy in the little birds that visit our feeder, their colors beyond anything I ever imagined of common Colorado birds, they’re anything but common the way they shimmer in the sun.
The very seasons themselves offer so much to us, as they move swiftly in and out of our lives. Autumn is a particularly magical time of year for most people, when the colors change and the crisp in the air calls for sweatshirts and warm cups of coffee and tea and time spent with good friends. The light begins to change and shift, bringing with it feelings of nostalgia and something maybe just a little melancholy.
The horses that grace my life are the ultimate magic, of course, the ultimate healing of a fatigued soul. Soft whiskers on a cheek or an excited whinny from the pasture, glistening coats in the dusky evening sun, warm bodies to snuggle up against on chilly mornings. Their magic is pure and good and generous.
When I find myself in need of a lift, the answer is always to get outside and observe the big-little worlds the go on without our noticing, the little squirrels in the trees, the bugs in the grass, the dogs in the yards. Go deeper in nature to the mountains or to the ocean or to the desert until you find the serenity it has to offer you. Get moving, walk if possible, get involved in her magic and see what gifts she has to offer your heart and soul.
What ways does Nature heal you? What are the little magical bits of the day to day that you experience? Take notice if you haven’t before.
Posted on August 28, 2021
As I’ve studied various therapies over the last few years, something that pops up from time to time, is the importance of play. It’s not something I believe we give a lot of thought to as adults. Play is synonymous with children and childhood, but it remains an important part of our growth as adults.
When I was little I played outside constantly, always with a neighbors dog in tow or I’d pretend I was a dog myself on many occasions. There were creeks to splash in, trees to climb, playgrounds to clamber on, swings to swing on. In colder months, puzzles were often laid out on the table, stuffed animals and a box full of clothes and costumes for tea parties and pretend.
As we age these things begin to slip away. Where do they go? Many of us leave behind our imaginations and step into the world of logic and work work work, in a hurry to turn our backs on the stuff of children. When was the last time you had fun? When was the last time you played? When was the last time you had fun and played without alcohol or another substance involved?
For some of us, especially those who are more introverted or anyone uncomfortable in crowds, alcohol is an easy crutch to pick up to loosen our inhibitions. Why do we become so inhibited in the first place? What’s wrong with playing and having fun, letting our hair down, getting on the ground and playing with animals or kids or bugs? Dancing like crazy or throwing your hands in the air as you sail down a slide?
When is the last time you really had some good clean fun? Something that left you tired and exhilarated and happy?
I have a riding lesson once a week, for me that’s extraordinarily enjoyable, even though I’ve been riding for years, learning new skills and flying down the arena on a good horse is fabulous fun; outside of that I really had to pause as I was writing and think about what I do for play and fun and it took me a bit to rule out any occasions with alcohol involved and come to something really joyful.
Play is a form of therapy that is really valuable, but even or especially, in every day life, play can increase your sense of community, your mental acuity, it offers opportunity for exercise and fresh air, release of endorphins and stimulation of creativity, just to name a few of the perks.
Some ideas to get you started on bringing play and fun back into your life: break out the play-dough or clay, find some crayons or colored pencils and draw or color, go to an amusement park and ride some rides, go for a hike, play frisbee with your dog or some friends, play a board game, make a fort, do a puzzle, try a new recipe, try anything new really, ride a horse, join a softball team, get out there and shake things up, kids!
As for me, I think I’ll find a set of swings.
Posted on July 9, 2021
Wednesdays are my favorite days. In the mornings I do housework and work from home things, and then in the afternoons I go out to the farm for my riding lessons. Why riding lessons? Aren’t I a professional trainer? Yes I am, and one of my core values is education. (Funny coming from someone who hated school, you never know where life will take you!) If there is one single theme I have learned through all these years of equine education, it’s that there is always more to learn.
It used to be a source of misguided pride for me that I’d never had a formal riding lesson. I was a pretty good rider in any case … in a western saddle. Since I’ve been training and especially after I got bucked off of Blue, I realized there were some holes in my riding that needed filled in. So I decided learning English was the way to go for two reasons: 1. We have a lot of English riders in Colorado! It was becoming more apparent over time that one of the biggest holes in my experience was that I didn’t know how to help my clients who rode English because I had no relatable experience with it. and 2. English riding instructors seemed to go into more detail on the technical ins and outs of riding than typical non-competition western instructors.
As I said, I’m a pretty good rider .. In a western saddle. Once my instructor stuck my butt in an English saddle it was like learning to ride all over again. A western saddle gives you a lot of grace. There are lots of handles and spots to grab should things start going south. Your leg position differs and doesn’t change too much on it’s own, riding one handed has been my natural riding style forever. The whole process has opened my eyes to how much I relied on a saddle to stay in place.
If you follow me you know I did a few bareback lessons to get my confidence back after my tumble, even riding bareback felt more secure than sitting in the itty bitty saddle with my knees up to my ears with no “Oh Shit” bars anywhere. I couldn’t canter with stirrups for the first few cantering lessons, I fell back on my bareback experience and dropped the stirrups to feel secure.
It’s been several months now, and even though it may sound like not a lot of fun it’s honestly the highlight of my week. I love the process of learning and growing as a rider and I can tell you without doubt, I am a better rider for it already. Learning to hone my feel in the saddle, when am I on the right lead, when am I too tight in my body and bouncing all over, it’s all great experience. I owe many thanks to all the lesson horses who give me so much grace while also teaching me that if I don’t do the right thing in the right way, they are disinclined to acquiesce to my request.
The best part of lessons has been, in spite of sometimes having to overcome some fear or lack of confidence, my love of riding has been rekindled. There is not much in life that is more invigorating and joyful than cantering on the back of a horse, even if I’m having to concentrate really hard to keep it going correctly, it still fills me with happiness. There was a time not too long ago, where I was ready to give up riding. There was a time that I hated what I was doing. These days, I am back to being most myself on the back of a horse. These days I can’ get enough of it. Even Molly, much to her chagrin I’m sure, has been back in the arena for a few minutes of riding most days, honestly she’s even been pretty willing and amenable to stroll around with me.
Moral of this story, is never stop learning. I am constantly amazed at all the intricacies of riding, training, and horsemanship that pop out of the woodwork as things I don’t know. There is always more to learn and improve and grow. Constant and never ending improvement in the things that you love will never steer you wrong.