Making Contact

The little blue horse I encountered in the round pen was simply shut down.
His eyes alternated between vacant and worried, his body always coiled tight and ready to flee at any moment, yet he stood stock-still as if thinking any wrong move would result in punishment.  Perhaps in his past, that was the case.   How could I reach him?

If I moved too fast or made a strange noise, I lost him to a fear induced race to get away from me or he’d literally backpedal at impressive speed.   Even a task as simple as changing direction on the round pen would worry his eyes and I’d see him panic inwardly if he began to move in the opposite “wrong” direction from what I asked.

I also saw athleticism and a willingness to get things right, even if his response was overreactive.

We started from scratch.

It took a few sessions of progression and regression for me to find the magic ingredient.

Contact.  Something we all need to survive, whether that might come from family or friends, co-workers, or a kind gesture from your regular server at your regular restaurant.

Many of us don’t have any true contact in our lives.  We don’t feel heard or seen.

This horse was starved for contact and not only starved for it, somebody had broken the trust where his contact with humans had started. Those who were tasked to care for this horse chose rough & harsh contact over what he needed, which was gentle understanding. Does that sound familiar?

One morning I had Blue working at liberty (no ropes) in the round pen, for over half an hour he would not come in to me, just kept trotting trotting trotting around and around.  Again, I found myself saying, “How can I help you?”

I turned my back on him and waited. I listened for him to stop and when he finally did I backed up slowly in his direction.  I kept my energy non-threatening and quiet and finally was able to clip a lead rope onto his halter –  the first point of contact.

That session progressed rapidly with his confidence growing, as the line between us helped direct him. Any time he got scared and pulled or ran we weren’t starting from scratch, we had a starting place with him at one end of a rope and me at the other, he learned he didn’t have to run in an endless circle to keep the pressure off.

With our line of contact between us, he learned that he was allowed & encouraged to stop and think through what I was asking of him. He could breathe and we began learning how to communicate with each other. If he made a wrong move, he learned he wasn’t going to be reprimanded, just gently corrected with a nod of the head or point of a finger and we moved on.

Over many months, the little blue horse and I have worked through many progressions and a handful of setbacks, our conversation getting clearer with each day. More on the little blue horse and the lessons he taught me to come.

Where do you get positive contact in your life?  Where does negative contact live?
Do you have someone who listens to you, someone who you feel heard with?

Contact is a main tenant of Equine Gestalt Coaching. I believe learning to be a good listener and to be present with peoples pain (and horses pain) has made me not only a better friend and coach, but a better horse trainer as well.   

How can you create more contact in your life?
Can you be a better listener? How has truly listening impacted your relationships? How has not listening impacted them? Dig into some of these, maybe journal about them, see what you discover.

Happy Trails!
Coach Amanda

Lets Talk First Aid Kits

Keeping a well stocked emergency first aid kit is responsible horsemanship. You can buy some already stocked ones online with the basics, or you can curate your own.
Below is a list of the essentials you should acquire for your equine first aid kit.

Amanda Soper Equine has no affiliation with any of the brands shown below.

Betadine – Wound cleaning prep, antiseptic
Fura-Zone – Antiseptic to use on wounds
Triple Antibiotic – for use on wounds, horse or human
Blood Stop – to stop bleeding of minor wounds, farrier cuts, etc
Swat – Great for heavy fly season and keeping flies out of wounds
Epsom Salts – mix with water for soaking abscesses, or use an Epsom poultice
Coppertox/Pritox – For treatment of Thrush of the hooves

Vet Wrap – Many many uses, from bandaging wounds to padding side-pulls, always have a good stock
Vaseline – insertion of rectal thermometer, chapped lips, etc
Various Sizes of Gauze – obvious reasons, bandaging wounds
Cotton Rolls – various uses, bandaging wounds

Wet Wipes/Baby Wipes – for cleaning up wounds, cleaning hands
Diapers/Pads – For padding on wounds, hoof packs
Tampons -For plugging puncture wounds

Disposable Gloves – multiple uses, always use for applying topical wound ointments
Tweezers – pulling splinters, ticks, bugs, cactus
Stethoscope – Cheap and good to have on hand for vitals, abnormalities
Surgical Scissors – cutting bandages, removing long hairs from wound area, blunt end to prevent injuring horse
Duct Tape – multiple uses, always have on hand
Large, Unscented, Garbage Bags – For a clean space to put objects, tools, also for large wounds and cleaning up
Glow Sticks – For working in the dark
Flashlight – Extra Flashlight & Batteries for working in the Dark
Hoof Pick – Extra pick with pointed, sharp end for thorough cleaning, rock pulling
Notebook & Writing Utensil – For writing down notes for Vet, Vitals, Doctors instructions, etc
Extra Lead Rope & Halter – Multiple Uses, loose horse, clean halter, etc.
Sturdy Bin with Lid for Storage
or Bag for Storage and Easy Transportation

Happy Horses

It’s so easy to take life for granted.

I’m sitting in a pasture watching steam rise from the backs of grazing horses, and I’m struck by the peacefulness of it all.

I’m also struck by how lucky I am that horses are a part of my life like a vein in my arm. How remarkable, that I spend my days in the presence of these holiest of creatures.

Whether I am with my own beloved equines, or working with other’s equine partners, I am living a life surrounded by grace.

The life I once daydreamed about in my cubicle has become my reality and it is pure joy.

My dream of a horse fueled, horse filled life continues to manifest and while I’m content in the present moment, I look forward to the ways these beautiful beings will continue to show up.

What are your dreams? What is a step you can take today toward your goals?

Even the smallest step can have great impact.

I hope you find a moment or two of peace today.

Happy Trails!

Coach Amanda

Are you in an Abusive Relationship with your Horse?

Recently, I was observing the handling of a few horses.  I aim to observe through the lens of curiosity rather than judgment, though at times it’s certainly a challenge.  There are many different approaches to horse training, everyone does it differently.  My least favorite approach is domination, sometimes called “horse breaking” which happened to be what I was watching on this day.

As I observed  this approach the trainer had chosen I reflected on what I knew of her – strong minded, strong willed, kind and recently out of an abusive relationship.

As the metal clip of the lead rope smashed into the bones under the horses face and the trainer hollered and railed at the horse for a minor misstep, I found myself pondering the irony; this woman too had been smashed in the face and made to cower, her spirit broken by the hands of another, yet here she was, doling out the same treatment to this horse.

Horses are large creatures, so it’s a common misconception that they don’t feel pain the same way we do, yet, a horse is so sensitive it can feel the touch of a fly land on his body.   They bruise and bleed as we do.


Would the horse feel the throb of pain from the metal smacking into it’s chin or the sting from the whip on it’s rump long after the lesson was over? Probably.  Worse than that, the horse will remember, just as we do, that those who cause us pain are not to be trusted.   

In a similar way, when a person can’t get out of an abusive relationship, they modify their behavior to what causes the least pain & conflict; they keep their head down and “behave”.
If you have horses of your own, reflect for a moment; is that the kind of relationship you have with them?  Do you demand their respect but give them none in
return?  Is your relationship based on fear of physical punishment?

Make no mistake, a horse trained by fear is not a horse you can trust with your life, and they surely don’t trust you with theirs.

On the flip side, Is Your Horse Abusing You?

As a trainer it’s not often that I encounter an “abusive” horse, but I’ve met a few.

These are horses who bite, strike, rear, step on you, shove into your space, or run you over because they’ve been taught, inadvertently, that that is how to get their way.  Usually someone with good intentions but is uneducated in horses, or fearful, or lacking clear boundaries finds themselves with this type of horse.  It’s often they’ve either inherited (bought) or created an insecure horse who looked to their human for safety and leadership and found them lacking, so they asserted themselves as leader by becoming a bully.  It’s not the horses fault that circumstances led them here, but the behavior is still not acceptable.

I worked with one such horse who had his owner trained so well, that every time she asked him to do something and he blinked  (not exaggerating)  he’d get a treat, whether he did what was asked of him or not.   This horse and horses like him, have no respect for personal space or boundaries and will run over their people when their backs are turned or when walking on a lead line, they’ll bite if they’re being ignored or they’re impatient or bored, sometimes even striking out with a front hoof or kicking out with a back hoof.

These “abusive” horses, are like giant children begging for structure.  They need someone to step up, set some healthy boundaries, and build a partnership with them, where both parties have a voice and are respected, seen, and cared for.

If this sounds like your relationship with your horse, it’s time to step up into your power & begin setting boundaries.  Your horse’s well-being depends on it.

Are you ready to  stop spoiling or fearing your horse? Remember, no treats or scratches for bad behavior.  Educate yourself on how to handle a horse without going to the other extreme of domination & abuse. It’s about creating a conversation and establishing trust & mutual respect.  Your horse will appreciate you setting a personal space boundary, instead of allowing them to literally run you down and call the shots like an abusive lover.

In either situation, the best thing you can do is educate yourself on horses, read lots of books, watch videos, find what works for you and your horse,  and if you’re clueless on where to begin, seek out a trainer to help you get on your feet & help you and your horse re-build your relationship.

Good Luck & Happy Trails!

Coach Amanda

Find more info on my Horsemanship & Training Practice Here

Slumber & Self-Care


Sitting at my laptop today, trying to find the motivation to lift a finger to do anything while the siren song of the couch and surrendering to sleep tugs at me.  
There’s a numbness inside me that I can both feel and hear, a soft buzzing sound that’s fuzzy and slightly around my eyeballs.  Everything about me feels quiet and pensive, and being even slightly social saps what little energy I have.

I have no concrete reason for feeling this way today but I’m choosing to honor it instead of forcing myself to ignore it and clean the house or go anywhere out of misplaced guilt that belongs to me and me alone.  Do you have guilt when you take care of yourself?

Who is putting that pressure on you?  For me, it’s projected from my childhood onto my present.  It’s society telling me that I’m being lazy and I’m missing out on something.

Lately, I’ve seen a lot of posts, memes and pictures saying self-care is about being
“selfish” and taking a day to yourself.
Fuck that.
Let’s do away with that word “Selfish” in relation to caring for ourselves. It is not selfish to care for others so why should it be labeled such when we care for our own precious bodies and souls?

I know for me, this waning feeling will pass and like the moon, once the darkness passes I will begin to regain my spirit and become full, only to repeat the cycle.
As I’ve gotten older I realize that’s just the way of things, I’m learning not to fight it.

What is one thing you will do today to care for yourself?   How will you commit to honoring and listening to yourself today and in the coming week?

I’m going to take a nap and then spend some quality time with my beloved, sans technology. ❤

Take care ❤ 

Coach Amanda