Not about Gittin' 'er Done

The goal of Equine Guided Coaching is not to “get the job done.” Learning is what it’s all about. Often that learning is profound, whether the assigned task with a horse was completed or not. 

Let me give you an example from my own life:

Several years ago, when I was just starting to do this work, I was in California training with Ariana Strozzi, one of the pioneers in Equine Guided Education (EGE).  Each of us in our group of ten was to come up with a declaration about our life or our business and, one at time, go up and ask Yani, a beautiful buckskin mare, to move around us in a circle on a 20-foot rope attached to the horse’s halter. First we were to say our declaration, then ask Yani to move out and around us (In horse lingo, this activity is called lunging and the rope is called a lunge line.)

Since horses attune to whatever is going on in a person, especially where we walk our talk or don’t, Yani did everything but lunge for several of our group. Sometimes she would cut in close to the person, mirroring a boundary issue. Sometimes she would wander off, reflecting a tendency to lose focus. For others in our group who were very clear and intentional, including my business partner at the time, Yani lunged around them like a graceful bird on the wing.

When my turn came I declared, “I have a thriving, life enhancing equine assisted coaching business!”  Then I signaled Yani to move out.  She stood perfectly still. I flapped my arms. I raised my voice. I lowered my voice. I ran toward her. I concentrated harder. Yani would have none of it and remained motionless, even though, as a lifelong horsewoman I “knew” how to lunge a horse.  I wished at that moment to disappear. But no. The group coached me to lighten up so I told Yani a joke. Everyone laughed, but Yani still didn’t move. Finally Ariana demonstrated how to ask her to move with me following behind. When I took the line again, Yani took a few slow steps, then stopped. At that point, I was asked to come back to the group and process what happened.

As I stood there holding Yani, someone asked me a question. I don’t even remember the question, but tears came to my eyes and my body felt like lead.  A memory surfaced.  My first husband, a horse trainer, loved his work to the point that we spent so much time and money on horses we had nothing left over for our relationship. It seemed to me that his passion for horses caused the demise of our marriage.  Although I thought I had come to terms with what had happened years ago, I saw in that moment that I’d been holding in my body the belief that my passion for working with the horses would damage my current, deeply treasured marriage.  Even though my current husband had assured me of his support many times over, the cellular memory lingered.

Dear Yani, though she didn’t lunge for me, attuned to me perfectly. My mind said, “I’m ready to go.”  My body and spirit said, “No way.”  What could she do but stand still?

That day everything changed.  I talked to my husband who assured me of his love and support. I said goodbye to an old belief. With enthusiasm I recommitted to my work as an Equine Guided Coach and Educator.

The next day I was in the round pen with a different horse reflecting on the question, “What has heart and meaning for you?” My heart answered, “This work with the horses.”  I hardly closed the round pen gate before the little red mare who had been standing at the far rail strode over to me and placed her nose on my heart. She followed me like a puppy when I walked about and, for good measure, got behind me and propelled me forward with a good strong nudge with her head.

I’ve been doing Equine Guided Coaching and Education for over 10 years now. My dear husband, Bill, still supports my commitment to this work one hundred percent.  I not only coach individuals and offer horse retreats, but I teach this work to others around the world.  Every day I witness miracles that the horses open up in my clients’ lives. Thank you, Yani, for being one of the first horses to show me, in my own life, the power of horse wisdom. It was a profound lesson in understanding that it’s not about what the client already knows. It’s about coming into alignment with ourselves--body, mind and spirit.

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.

© Lynn Baskfield 2014