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

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

Building Connection (Friendship)

I stand atop a hill in the pasture, eyes on my pony below. I observe her for a moment munching hay or napping. I take in a lungful of air and loudly call her name, then follow it up with a loud wolf whistle, a whistle I chose specifically so she would know, that I know, just how pretty she is.

Her head bobs up and her ears prick forward, from deep in her belly she hollers back to me then nickers and breaks into a run, heading my direction. Every time this happens my heart swells with joy. She is happy, she is healthy, she is hungry, and she is pleased to see me.

Once she canters up to me I greet her with joyful enthusiasm, a kiss and a treat. I want her to know I am delighted to see her and be in her presence, and reward her for taking time out of her life to be with me. She doesn’t have to, she has a choice.

There are days, of course, where I am in a hurry and my delight is dampened by the hustle and bustle of life and I toss a halter around her head, rush her to her grain and then rush her back out to pasture. After such treatment it’s not unusual for her to decline to come up to meet me the following day.
I don’t blame her, in those instances I’m not being a very good friend.

Our equine relationships should absolutely be treated as friendships, and this idea should have us examining the human friendships in our lives. Today I ask you to put down your judgement of yourself and others, and look at your human and equine friendships objectively, as if you were standing outside a window looking in at your life. What do you notice? Remember, no judgements here, just work on becoming aware.

How do we treat our friends? Lets pretend we are in a post-covid world for a moment. When we see our friends do we joyfully greet them, delighted to be in their presence?
Do we immediately dump our troubles on them, or ask them to accommodate us by rushing through our time together? Is the friendship mutual, or one sided? Do you feel like you’re dragging your friend by the hair to come hang out with you, similar to how you might have to drag your horse by the halter?

Do you have a friend who doesn’t respect your boundaries when you need time or space? Is there a horse in your life who also pushes into your boundaries, who you’re uncomfortable around? Do you have a friend who is your rock? Friends who you can depend on to understand when the ebb and flow of friendships and life? Who is there when you want them, when you need them? Is the give and take is mutual? Are you a rock for somebody? How about your horse? Does your equine friendship feel secure and comfortable, with boundaries respected from both parties? Are you both there for the good times and the bad?

If you don’t have a horse but are around horses, how do those relationships feel? Do they reflect other relationships in your life?

Horses have so much to teach us about what it means to be human. Be good to your equine friends. Be good to your human friends. Be Kind to Each Other.

With Love and In Joy
Coach Amanda & the Heart of a Mare

The End of the Road

This is not a post on horses or horsemanship. This is a personal post, a public confession, a purging of my mind. I hope you, dear friends & followers, don’t mind.
Sometimes the truth hurts.
One of my greatest fears is dependency. Dependency is an affront to my number one value of freedom.
Yet I have found myself neck deep in a dependent relationship.
This knowledge has been simmering insidiously in the back of my mind, and in the mind of my beloved for not an insignificant amount of time. Time enough to leave a stain on our relationship.
But I, lazy, comfortable, and complacent, have turned a blind eye.
The ugly truth rises up before me from the ether.
I have always been here.
This is the path I was shown. This is the path I have chosen, albeit subconsciously, to walk.
My deep value of freedom placated and laid low by my value of stability and comfort.
Meanwhile, the foundation has been quietly crumbling beneath my feet.

The reality check was delivered by my beloved with a firm but loving blow to my ego. I love him all the more for it. He’s been kind, generous, and very very patient waiting quietly for me to step up.
Gently nudging me from time to time. I know I’ve taken his patience for granted. I’ve been asleep at the wheel. He is hurting and he is tired from carrying us both for so long.

I finally, finally, woke up.
I found myself filled with shame, disgust, and a good deal of self loathing. How have I allowed this to go on for so long? This is not the person I want to be. This is not the relationship I want to have.
It is anathema to my soul.

So I crawled inside myself, filled with anguish, remorse, anger, and I wept on the bathroom floor, like a child.
I grieved the loss of trust between he and I, the damage done to our relationship, the loss of myself amidst years of co-dependency not just with my most beloved man, but as a theme throughout my life. I grieved.
I raged against myself for stepping into a role that I loathe with every fiber of my being.
And then I rose, a woman; determined to step into the next chapter of my life.

I apologized to my love.
I will continue to make amends with my actions, because my words have lost their meaning.

On the cusp of 30 years old, it is time to grow up. It is time to be a functional, self sufficient adult, in a loving relationship. One of interdependence and not co-dependence.

This concept of independence I have preached for years to the women in my life. A concept I was told repeatedly throughout my childhood; but as I have learned, words mean nothing if the actions behind the words tell a different story.

It’s time to practice what I’ve preached.
I’m ready to grow up & I know I have the tools to get there.

As always, thank you for joining me on this journey. If this speaks to you in anyway, please feel free to reach out, leave a comment, shoot me an e-mail. I’m here to listen as we all grow together.

And a special thank you to My Heart, for doing life with me, for not giving up, even when it gets rocky.

Coach Amanda

The Magic Wand Myth

My wish for every client is Joyful Partnership, filled with safety, trust, fun, and adventure.

The wish many of my clients have in the beginning, is for me to wave my magic fairy wand and in a single session, fix the issues that he or she is having with their horse.

Bibbity Boppity Boo – Perfect Horse from a Pumpkin.

The reality is, it doesn’t happen overnight. The bigger reality is, it’s often my human clients that have more to overcome than their equine partners. Fear, low confidence, old story, old trauma, new trauma, grief, these are all roadblocks to having a successful, joyful partnership with your horse. These are all issues that manifest themselves in the horse-human relationship.

Using a combination of Equine Gestalt Coaching & Co-Active Horsemanship I encourage my clients to dig into the muck that is holding them back. The deeper they dig, the more the relationship with their horse and with themselves, begins to blossom.

This blossoming is the cornerstone of my Horsemanship program. Often, we find that once the relationship between horse and human is nurtured and repaired, mixed with a little extra equine knowledge, it creates the “secret recipe.” We see the behavioral or training issues of the horse begin to disappear.

This isn’t a fast process, usually clients who are determined & dedicated are with me anywhere from six months to 2 years, others are self-professed “Lifers” because they enjoy the work and deep connection so much, and there are others who reach out only when new blocks pop up, we work through them, and part ways until next time.

There is no one “right way” to achieve your goals. The key is patience, consistency, listening ears and love for your horse.

If you and your equine are interested in working with me, please contact me using the form below!
I’m located in Colorado, however I have some programs in the works to help reach people & equines across the nation, if you’re interested in something out of state please reach out for more info.