6 Lessons You Can Learn From a Horse by Lynn Baskfield

There are thousands of things you can learn from a horse.  Here are six:

  1. How to reel in bigger clients
  2. How to be a great partner
  3. How to listen to yourself
  4. How to be the kind of leader people want to follow
  5. How to stop tolerating crap
  6. How to find a way to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro (Photo right:Client Laura D’Ambrosio and her fellow climbers at Uhuru Peak, Mt. Kilimanjaro)

“Yeah, right,” you say.  But as soon as you try Equine Guided Coaching for yourself, you will have a life-changing lesson of your own you can add to the list.

Horses are large and powerful animals. Accomplishing a task involving a horse, in spite of fears or limitations, creates confidence and provides brilliant metaphors when dealing with challenging situations in life. Horses mirror exactly what human body language is telling them.

For instance, Jim was hoping to land bigger clients, but found, through brushing Big Rusty, that he froze, brushing the same place over and over on Rusty’s neck. Rusty became so annoyed that I asked Jim to stop for a while, breathe and feel his body, then go back to brushing. His strokes became long and smooth. Within minutes, Rusty’s head dropped in contentment. Rusty helped Jim see that he froze with his bigger clients, how he could step back when necessary, recognize what was needed, and go back with confidence to create success.

Horses’ unflagging honesty makes them especially effective messengers. Unlike people, they have no agenda, thus making it easier to “listen” to what a horse says.  In addition, the horse’s natural responsiveness to what people embody helps each person to discover their unique path and accomplish their most cherished goals.

One reason Equine Guided Coaching is so effective is its body-centered impact. Participants move their bodies in the arena. They smell, touch, see, and hear the horses. The horse picks up what is congruent or incongruent in the person’s body through its body.   Horses naturally use their bodies to “know” the world.

Although human beings at this time in history rely heavily on language, we are still wired up, as our ancestors were, to learn things through our bodies that can only be described in language after the fact.  Some examples are: sensing danger, reading the wind before a storm comes, and responding to the look on a child's face.  However, we have learned to distrust our body’s knowing.

Working with horses taps into our body’s cellular memory which, when activated, can reveal patterns and beliefs that are different from what we say we want. When these patterns come to light, participants have access to whole new ways of being in life.

The woman who climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro learned from the horses how to ground and focus. When she first came to me, she had the dream, but didn’t grasp what a swirl her mind and emotions were in when she let the dream emerge. Running around and around the arena, Hawk mirrored her agitation, and showed her, as she breathed into her feet, how quickly she could effect calm. Within five minutes, he stood quietly at her side. As she learned to calmly focus on her dream, it became a reality, and a few months later, she reached the summit.

Equine Guided life coaches listen to both horse and human, and through employing skills of observation, curiosity, open ended questioning and intuition, bridge the horse/human connection. Sometimes we create specific exercises designed for specific learning. Often we just take people out in the pasture where we trust the horses to choose among themselves who will work with a person on a given day.   Clients come away feeling known and heard. They go home with new confidence in themselves and new ways to be with the people they love and work with.

At this point in my career, I work primarily with midlife women to bring new passion and purpose into life. But it doesn’t matter what brings you to the horses. They don’t care about your age, your title, how much money you make, or what lessons you are seeking. They don’t care if you do what you’re “supposed to do” or not. They care that you are honest with yourself and authentic in how you show up in the world.

They are wisdom keepers that show you the way back home to yourself—if you care to look and listen.
Lynn Baskfield, owner of SpiritDance Coaching, is a Minnesota based equine guided coach and educator doing individual coaching, retreats, and group workshops for spirited midlife women (and older) around the world. She is also conducting a yearlong apprenticeship program in Australia starting March, 2015 for coaches and horse professionals who want to become qualified Equine Guided Coaches. www.equinecoaching.com.


© Lynn Baskfield 2014