There is something special about horses. They are majestic, powerful, playful and beautiful. When we take the time to get to know them we see the depth of their kindness and friendship.
I was born begging for a horse. When I was 25 I bought my first horse Four by Four. He was also 25, and he was my true love. We battled windmills together for 15 years, and he was the best thing I ever did for myself. Recently, when I heard that new coaching programs were being developed to incorporate horses with people, I was super excited for the people who would now have this unique and wonderful experience available to them.
Pamela Hunter, Certified Equus Coach and Principal at Unbridled Life Coaching, LLC located in New Egypt, NJ and is a leader in this field. I sat down with Pamela to ask about Life Coaching in Partnership with Horses.
Sharon: What exactly is life coaching in partnership with horses?
Pamela: A life coach uses specific tools and strategies to help clients make desired changes in their lives. Partnering with horses significantly adds to the coach’s toolbox, expediting a client’s understanding through experiential learning and implementation.
Sharon: What is it about horses that makes them suitable for this type of work?
Pamela: As herd-bound prey animals, horses have a deep “felt” sensory awareness of what is happening within and around them. We humans, on the other hand, use our “head” to rationalize, analyze, and verbalize events impacting our lives, deafening what our gut-feelings is telling us. Through the horse/human interaction, horses respond to our emotional and energetic states, “feeling” if our thoughts and emotions are congruent, and if we are saying one thing but believing another. Horse’s reactions provide clear and concise feedback, reflecting our emotional state in the present moment. A coach observing this interaction can help the client quickly spotlight behaviors, patterns, or limiting beliefs that prevent them from living their desired life, allowing the client to immediately practice implementing what their equine partner has taught them. Oftentimes, a client leaves with a new or different perspective on the situation(s) impacting their lives.
Sharon: How did you become interested in working with horses?
Pamela: I spent my primary career managing investment teams for several Wall Street firms. Although I enjoyed the fast-paced world of investment management, I really loved helping my clients, team, and colleagues achieve their personal, professional, and financial goals. After spending time at a friend’s horse farm and interacting with horses on the ground, not feeling the need to “do” anything was an entirely new and rewarding experience. This led me to study non-dominant horsemanship and piqued my interest in equine facilitated learning as a fun and interesting way to help individuals and corporations realize their potential. Over the next five years, I completed certifications in the field of experiential equine facilitated learning, and I continue to pursue new training methodologies.
Sharon: What is a session like? What does it entail?
Pamela: All sessions are customized to meet the client’s needs, are private, confidential and judgement-free. The first session is the longest, as we spend time discussing the client’s needs and expectations. The coach observes the interaction between horse and client in a round pen or arena, periodically asking questions or interpreting the horse’s behavior so as to help the client understand and integrate the horse’s feedback. The client may practice new ways of doing things to get a different response from the horse. We then debrief the session, discuss ways the client can implement what he or she has learned and schedule follow up sessions, as desired.
Sharon: What sort of “issues” do people bring to a session?
Pamela: Whatever areas in life a person feels he or she needs support with, including but not limited to: increasing confidence, courage and self-esteem, navigating life transitions, improving relationships, managing through grief or change, creativity enhancement, finding a greater purpose in their lives, and rediscovering their authentic selves.
Sharon: Who do you feel would get the most reward from the experience?
Pamela: Men, women, and children (over the age of 16) seeking support in their personal or professional growth and development. Additionally, corporate teams and other groups find that coaching with horses enhances team-building, communication, collaboration, and leadership.
Thanks so much Pamela! Keep up the great work, and we look forward to learning more.
Pamela Hunter, Principal at Unbridled Life Coaching, LLC, is a Certified Equus Coach through the Koelle Institute for Equus Coaching®, and an Advanced Equine Facilitated Learning Coach through the Academy for Coaching with Horses. You can learn more about Life Coaching in Partnership with Horses on her website: unbridledlifecoaching.com.
This article appears in the September issue of Natural Awakenings najerseyshore.com