I did something this weekend and I want to share it with you right away. I am feeling equal parts excited and scared and I’m afraid if I let it simmer, the scared feelings will bubble up and take over. So I’m capitalizing on the excitement and putting it out there.
Yesterday I graduated from the HERD Institute with a certification in EFL&C (Equine-Facilitated Learning and Coaching) after attending a 3-day intensive at the Medicine Horse in Boulder, CO. This was the culminating event of a course which also included two on-line modules.
The weekend, while not easy or relaxing, has me feeling like I’ve just returned from a retreat and consequently, I’m having a hard time finding the words to write about it. I was one of 5 students led by an amazing facilitator and teacher. We all came from different walks of life, but we bonded quickly over our love of horses and our excitement about the work. We spent three long and intense days together. We had to step into new and challenging roles. We often felt clunky and uncertain. In a nutshell, we were vulnerable, but we were met with support and authenticity and therefore, growth happened. I can’t remember the last time I learned so much in such a short amount of time. I also know I have made some life-long friends.
You are probably wondering what “the work” is. In EFL&C, we partner with horses to create a safe space for participants to experience connection and personal growth. What has drawn me to horses since childhood is at the heart of the power of this work. Horses are large and sometimes scary animals, but they are also sensitive and sentient beings who respond to us energetically, physically, and emotionally. In many ways, horses reflect who we are and allow us to move forward toward our better selves. The way we come into a space has a direct effect on how the horse responds to us and as a result, we can learn from our interactions with horses in ways we can’t in more traditional settings.
Participants of EFL&C do not ride and do not need any previous horse experience. A session can be as simple as observing a herd in a field. It might include working with a horse in a round pen or grooming. Ultimately, the activity is just a loose framework within which a relationship is developed. The relationship is what is important in the HERD model. In fact, HERD stands for Human-Equine Relational Development. So unlike some other models for Equine-Facilitated activities which can be more objective oriented, the HERD model is focused on what can be learned through our relational development, starting with the horse and further applied to real life.
For me, horses are a natural addition to my coaching practice. First of all, I love them and want more time around them. But beyond that selfish motivation, they are powerful partners to affect positive change. What I believe in my heart was richly illustrated this weekend. By nature, horses live in the present moment and react authentically. Working with horses might seem novel, but the benefits are REAL and lasting. Even our group of experienced horse people made discoveries that resonated into the bigger picture of our lives. During our practice sessions, many of us were moved to tears as the horses taught us these important truths.
It’s probably pretty obvious why I am excited about this. Horses! Coaching! Positive Change! What could be better?!?! I feel like I am on the verge of finding my life’s work, and my whole body is abuzz.
So why am I equally scared? As the saying goes, “With great power comes great responsibility.” I feel like I have this new-found power that I want to bring to the world. I want people to have these experiences. But to do so, I have a lot of hard work ahead of me. I need to find a fitting facility, establish a contract for a working relationship, screen horses for suitability, obtain insurance, create a new business plan, market myself, find clients and set the scene for participants. And then, only after all that, can the work begin. I want to start right now! Staring ahead at so many unknowns is terrifying and it brings up all sorts of doubts and insecurities. But I am determined and I feel passionate about this work.
That’s why I’m sharing this with you. I want the excitement to be my primary emotion. I want you to hold me accountable. If you see me, ask me how it’s going. If you think of me, shoot me a quick message to see what steps I’ve taken to make this happen.
I know from my coach training and practice that writing down a goal, sharing it with people and putting your intention out into the universe all increase the chance of success. So there it is. I’m going to do this. And I will keep you all posted as the journey unfolds.
In the meantime, if you want to move forward with your big ideas, I’m taking new clients. Contact me and let’s make it happen.