A Happy Mare

Breathing in the fresh morning air, clear and crisp, a peaceful mare
Ready to munch on piles of hay, nothing to do but enjoy the day
Easy and slow, all feels right, feelings of safety through the night
A nicker, a whinny, her friends do call, beckoning her to come from her stall
Together they wander through the fields, stopping to nibble the grass the ground yields
Her heart is joyful in this new home, where there are acres for her to roam.

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

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

A Vulnerable Conversation with Your Horse

In your most vulnerable moments, are you afraid that if you really show up for your horse, he might not like you?

Are you afraid that if you own up to your fear, lack of knowledge, or lack of experience, or other perceived short-coming you might have to give up your horse, and by proxy, give up your dreams?

Have you already at times visualized loading him in the trailer and waving goodbye?
Have you maybe even resigned your heart to the idea that you may never ride?

Have you come to these conclusions all in your head, on your own, without even talking to your horse?

Before you lose all hope, try this:

What if you go spend some time with your horse, and crack your heart open, let just a little vulnerability seep out. What if you lay your fears at the feet of your equine friend; spill your guts. Tell him that you feel like an imposter, or you’re afraid he wont like you. Tell him that you’re terrified to ride, or scared to get hurt or worried you might hurt him. If you find that you don’t trust your horse, tell him that too.
Be as open and honest as you possibly can. Allow your emotions and tears to flow freely.

Our horses are authentic with us 100% of the time. We owe it to them, and to ourselves, to give the gift of our authenticity and congruence. That is where they live, that is the language they understand.

Once you have spoken your truth to your horse, take a deep breath in through your nose.
Exhale slowly, and fully, out through your mouth. Take a moment to reflect.

What insights came to you while sharing with him? What insight has he shared with you in this time together?

No decisions are necessary at this juncture. There is no pressure to “do”.
Simply be present in the moment.
Once you feel complete, thank your horse for holding space for you.

With Love,
From the Heart of a Mare