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.
Category: Gestalt, Gestalt & Horses, Life & Musings, Relationships and Healing Tagged: community, EGCM, equine assisted therapy, equine coaching, Equine Gestalt Coaching, equine therapy, find your tribe, friendship, Gestalt, healing, Horse Lovers, horses, Self Care, support group, touched by a horse, women supporting women, women's support group
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
Category: Dear Heart Tagged: abusive relationships, Codependency, emotional abuse, equine assisted therapy, Equine Gestalt Coaching, equine therapy, find your tribe, Gestalt, healers, healing, Healthy Love, Horse Lovers, horses, Lightworkers, NPD, Online coaching, Real Love, Self Care, the heart of a mare, true love, Virtual coaching, women, young women
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.
Category: Creative Writing, Gestalt, Life & Musings Tagged: childhood, equine assisted therapy, Equine Gestalt Coaching, equine therapy, finding joy in the journey, Gestalt, happiness, happy, healing, Healing your inner child, inner child, inner child work, joyful, joyfulness, Play, playful, playtime, Self Care, women
Posted on June 18, 2021
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.
Category: Horse Training, horsemanship, Life & Musings Tagged: equine, equine assisted therapy, Equine Gestalt Coaching, equine healers, equine therapy, grateful heart, gratitude, happy horses, Horse Lovers, horse trainer, Horse Training, horse woman, horsemanship, horsemanship coach, horses, horses as healers, horsewoman
Posted on March 10, 2021
Desensitizing has become a somewhat controversial word in the horse industry.
On the one hand, we don’t want our horses to flee from horse monsters such as plastic bags or bodies of water, puddles, shadows, etc. On the other hand, too much too soon, also known as “flooding” our horses with too much stimulus can cause them to withdraw inward and deaden emotionally & intellectually. You may have in mind a horse you know that fits the bill for either description.
There is a happy middle, and one of the best ways to achieve it is to play with your equine’s natural curiosity.
If their natural instinct to investigate hasn’t been amplified into fear, or trained out of them, asking your equine to engage with unusual objects isn’t that difficult and is often a lot of fun! Think liberty or trick training.
This freer method of engaging is one I use a lot with horses who are shut down emotionally.
Murphy is an excellent example of a curious equine. We have tackled tarps in a single session, horse blankets, saddle pads, tack, small bridges, and his very favorite thing, picking up/knocking over and then rolling barrels, we were able to accomplish all of these things with relative ease because we’ve built up trust and he was heavily praised and rewarded for his curiosity and bravery.
Murphy has even learned to follow a plastic bag on a stick because we made it into a fun game where his interest was rewarded AND he is allowed to leave and come back at any time. Most of this work has been done at liberty or on a halter and lead with the option to move the feet around.
It almost always works against you if you force your horse to stand still when facing something scary – it can over stimulate and easily move them into shut down mode. (It’s okay for standing still to be a goal, but not to force the outcome)
What we never want to do is overload the system until the freeze or flight mode kicks in. You’re always looking for, seeking, and rewarding, relaxation-calmness-curiosity-interest.
This way of training is so successful because of the natural curiosity of the horse. Allowing them to explore outside stimulus on their own terms works wonders with nearly every horse I’ve tried it with. There have been a couple of exceptions, those who lean to the extremes of anxiety, shutdown, or a combination of the two. With time and patience, even these horses can benefit from their own curiosity being rewarded and encouraged. The steps must be broken down into the littlest possible steps, the smallest try must be acknowledged and encouraged.
Everyone, horse or human, responds best to positive reinforcement and being truly seen.
It is up to you to bring your curiosity and creativity to the table.
Work on those muscles if it doesn’t come naturally to you.
Let go of the idea that you’re not capable of creativity, if that’s a troll that sits on your shoulder whispering doubts in your ear.
Go ahead and tell that troll to hit the road and start having fun with your horse.
Create obstacles, get various objects, bring a playful mindset to the barn.
The time you spend together should be enjoyable, not full of expectation and pressure.
Let go and be present, be in the moment.
Remember to breathe and have fun.
Become aware of what works and what doesn’t work for you and your horse, without making comparisons to anyone else around you. Allow your mutual curiosity to flourish!