I was recently asked to start building a ground-based equine facilitated coaching practice for a residential program serving young adults. The dream is coming true. I became certified as an equine specialist through EAGALA and PATH five years ago. This is the work that fills me up with super passion. I believe in this work. I want nothing more than to do this work.
Let’s face it, I panicked.
Why do we do that? Why do so many of us self-destruct the moment that we can touch the thing that we have been dreaming about for years? Apparently, I need to spend more time working with the horses so that I can learn some self-confidence or something!
So here I am, standing on the precipice of something that will hopefully be amazing, while second guessing everything that I know to be true. I know the horses can teach us, but what if it doesn’t work? I know how powerful being in the horses’ presence is, but what if these students don’t feel it? The doubt and worry go on and on. Just because it works for all of these other people doesn’t mean that I will be able to bring the magic sauce that needs to be there. Maybe I can’t effectively facilitate a session and support transformation.
I know what you’re thinking. It is not my job to make transformation happen. I know that logically. I am not feeling logical right now.
Then I was given a gift – I started dreaming about Elephants.
Animals often come to me in lucid dreams to teach me but never before have I experienced such an amazing teaching as these Elephants have given me. I am so grateful for their wisdom.
We work with horses because we have domesticated them. What makes them powerful teachers is their herd mentality and their ability to read energy and react to it. However, horses are not the only animals who do this. In fact, all animals do. The Elephants are wise, intelligent, family-focused, expressive, energetically sensitive, herd animals too.
They were able to show me the value of working with big herd animals from a perspective I would otherwise never get. You see, I know too much about horses. I have been around them for thirty years. I have learned what every facial expression and tail twitch means. I have learned how to train them. I have learned how to interact with them from the perspective of an owner, trainer, and rider.
Due to my ridiculous amount of knowledge of horses, my perspective of them is colored. I will never get to experience what it is like to step into a loose herd without being able to read their body language accurately. Not so with Elephants. The Elephants let me feel that awe, mystery, and uncertainty. There was even a bit of fear. What does that ear flap mean? Is it friendly, threatening, or neutral? How can I tune-in to find out?
The Elephants have begun to teach me a lot.
- For starters, they have given me the perspective of a participant in this work rather than an equine specialist’s perspective.
- They have also shown me how important it is to allow the horses to be as natural, undomesticated, and authentic as possible. That needs to be a cornerstone of my work.
- They have pointed out my automatic responses to horses. For example, I noticed that I wanted to be with the Elephants. When I walk into a field of horses, I want to do something – like touch them immediately. Interesting. Perhaps I need to shed my behaviors, ideas, and patterns. I need a beginners mind.
- They have also started to teach me more about communication, herd dynamics, and a new (peaceful) way to live.
- They have given me the confidence to pursue this work with an open heart and consider how it applies beyond horse and human – what is the global message?
It has been enlightening to work with the Elephants – and I am only dreaming. If the students get a fraction of what I have gleaned in their time with me, that is pretty darn impressive. I don’t have to be right. I don’t have to prove anything. I don’t even have to have the answers.
Equine Guided Spiritual Growth requires that I stay open-hearted, present, aware, loving, non-judgemental, and compassionate. That alone probably requires a saint, but luckily I have been given nine saints to work with. The horses are already masters, and I can follow their lead. I just have to trust.
Note: I have capitalized Elephant and not horses in this blog post. The reason is not that I revere one animal over another. I often get messages from Spirit Animals through my dreams and meditations. I tend to capitalize the name of a species when I am working with Spirit Animals to differentiate. The Spirit Animals are more of a collective energy of that species rather than individual animals.