I have often said that everything I know about people, I learned from horses.
I used to say it somewhat jokingly, adding a little levity to particularly complicated or sometimes frustrating situations. But the more connections I have made over the years – whether they are personal, professional or even internal – the more I’ve come to understand just how true that statement really is.
Ever since my first pony ride on a very patient little Shetland, I’ve been hooked on horses. I started riding lessons at the age of 5 and have had the great privilege of learning from many equine partners and professionals over the years. For 10 years, I competed in English and Western all-around events, starting in 4-H and eventually competing at the regional and World Championship levels in the American Paint Horse Association (APHA).
After I left home for college and a career in the entertainment media industry, horses always managed to find their way back into in my life. I have worked as a trail guide, volunteered with various therapeutic riding programs and taught basic horsemanship and riding skills on and off for several years before completing my certification as an Equus Coach® with the Koelle Institute for Equus Coaching® in 2020. Through nearly 15 years of interstate moves, career changes and other life transitions, I was blessed to have the steadying guidance and companionship of my “heart horse,” Crackers, who remains one of my greatest teachers and inspirations even after his passing. He taught me what it means to be a true partner, and that our richest relationships require daily practice in empathy, grace, honesty, humility, respect, trust, consistency and of course – communication. I believe a healthy sense of humor can go a long way, too.
Having spent most of my professional career working in media relations and communication, I have had many opportunities to see how the stories that we tell to ourselves and to others can have a direct impact on what we believe and how we feel about ourselves and others. Sometimes this can bring us into closer connection, and sometimes it can create conflict or confusion. When those moments arise, it can be helpful to pause and tap into what is true – and that, for me, is where horses come in.
Horses are naturally fine-tuned to sense both the external and internal state of those around them and they reflect this back in the way that they respond or react in any given moment. There is no judgment. No excuse. No alternative story. They show up exactly as they are, exactly where they are in any given moment and in doing so, they allow us the opportunity to do the same.
Whether I have recognized it in the moment or called on an internal resource or insight years after it was first planted, the gifts that I have received from horses continue to be abundant in every aspect of my life. It is my honor, my passion and my privilege to share those gifts by offering others the opportunity to learn from horses, and it is my hope that in doing so, the abundance of these gifts may ripple out into all of our lives, our relationships, and our communities.