Equine Guided Mentorship
Also known as Equus Coaching, Equine Assisted Learning (EAL), Equine Experiential Learning (EEL), Equine Facilitated Wellness (EFW), Equine Facilitated Learning (EFL), +, this powerful form of life coaching is revamping not only the way humans are transforming and evolving, but also remolding the way horses are seen and held in the world.
Through the guidance of a coach and the reflections from a horse, you can experience immense healing, growth and awakening. Horses are powerful yet gentle catalyst for unique and effective self-analysis and personal development.
In sports, a coach’s role is to create a vision of victory for the team and assist the athletes in developing to their fullest potential in order to turn that vision into a reality. The coach trains the athletes and holds them accountable for their performance. Equine Guided Mentorship is not all that different. It’s a results-orientated partnership between client, coach and horse(s) that is designed to support clients on their personal journey and moves clients from where they currently are to where they want to be.
Equine Guided Mentorship is done on the ground, next to the horse. No horse experience is needed. These sessions [1:1 in-person, group, or virtual] are held in a sacred space where the horse(s) are free to engage at will, inviting an authentic connection with clients through resonance.
Horses are prey animals, they are masterful at listening to their intuition for their own safety and the safety of their herd. As highly social herd and prey animals, they make amazing teachers and healers at a capacity that exceeds even the most practiced human experts. We as humans tend to think, rationalize and problem solve. Horses feel, reflect and respond. It’s their natural prey nature to read what’s happening in their environment and intuitively react.
When our energy isn’t aligned with our actions, [if we’re incongruent when we show up for a session], maybe we’re masking a wound, a fear, a trigger, or suppressing a memory, a feeling, a dream, a need, horses feel unsafe and become agitated and (although horses can’t speak, they are excellent communicators) respond with clear communication through body language and interactions with the client and/or within the herd. And it’s my job to translate that communication to a language humans understand.
For all beings, communication is 90% nonverbal. This is powerful for witnessing and understanding our energy, our masks, and our intuitive whispers.
Horses don’t care if we show up in pj’s, with messy hair, an empty bank account and old beat-up truck. They care about our vibe, our intentions, our truth.
Horses don’t have egos, biases or agendas. Their feedback for us is instant and pure, it holds no judgment nor attachment. Even the most enlightened gurus experience life through their personal filters, therapists and coaches alike. A horse’s lens is clean and wholesome.
The horse is a mirror to your soul. Sometimes you might not like what you see. Sometimes you will. ~ Buck Brannaman
My Journey to Equus
I didn’t grow up around horses, I begged my parents to let me spend my summers as a teenager at horse camp. I have always felt a strong calling to horses but never understood the depth at which my world would shift with them by my side.
After a treacherous period that included my marriage coming to a painful ending, closing my yoga studio, and losing myself in the storm; Spiritual Bypassing (check out my first article in Volume 1 of Birth of A Woman), I finally decided to look into western riding lessons which led me to buying my first horse, Marg.
I always dreamt we’d gallop bareback through open fields, my horse would come running to me at the gate when I arrived, we’d hug and have magical moments.
Yea no. That is not AT ALL how my equus path unfolded.
Marg, a well-trained hard-worked ranch horse, was completely aloof and wanted nothing to do with me, a beginner rider who pretended to feel confident and whole, meanwhile was stirring deep within with fear, wounds, limiting beliefs, and ego-based goals.
She saw right through my sparkly cowgirl boots and fancy tack.
I spent so much time simply showing up and being with Marg, grooming her, journaling in the pasture, observing her with her herd where I boarded her, and I began to pay attention when she would come around and when she would keep her distance. I noticed how I was feeling at those moments physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
After countless hours of experiencing first-hand horse medicine with Marg and the herd, I recognized the unparalleled guidance that came from the authentic mirroring from a horse and began researching different trainings in the field of equine facilitated leadership. I found a certification program that illuminated my unique medicine in partnership with my herd so we could share this life-changing mentorship and awakening with others on their bumpy ride through life.
Horse medicine for the soul is like yoga medicine for your mind and nutritional medicine for your body.. healing and transformative.
Horses mirror the deeper currents of energy that run our lives, often energy our subconscious mind isn’t even aware of; old traumas, toxic patterns and relationships, unhealthy habits and cravings, and so on.
I was cycling in my health (yo-yoing with my weight, alcohol, binge eating then starving myself, extensive exercise to binge watching Netflix), I was repeating childhood wounds in my marriage (I literally was my mother and married a man just like my father), I would have amazing business ideas (the entrepreneur gene was not only in my blood but in my dreams) and I would let fear and insecurity hold me back (I quit on myself numerous times), I subscribed to the belief that I was stupid, I didn’t know enough, I wouldn’t amount to anything, etc, and lived my life in competition with the Jones’ so to speak.. the picket white fence image.. everything looked amazing on the outside, but I was lost and disconnected on the inside.
I felt like a fake. It wasn’t until I answered those dreams to have horses in my life [that call from my soul], where I found my confidence and my courage, I found my purpose. I found my truth.
Learning about myself through the eyes of a horse has changed the way I approach everything .. my romantic relationships, parenting, my business, my health and wellness, my tribe, my rituals, my beliefs, my perceived failures, my fathers unexpected passing, my success, everything!
I had been wanting to change Marg’s name for so long but knew it had to happen naturally, and through our relationship and growth, we both transformed and she became Yara - meaning butterfly, the symbol of transformation.
Our herd grew from one to two, three, and then four. And each horse has joined with their own unique medicine and wisdom [which I share through this series of humbling yet empowering Equus Teachings].
People often ask me “how has being around horses changed who you are?” and the first thing that always comes up is that I am finally living my life [on the outside] as the truest version of myself [on the inside]. To me, that is congruency.
Congruency in mind, body and spirit. Alignment. Connection. Whole. Real. Raw. Truth.
Some might say I found horses but in all honesty, horses found me.
There are things that horses did for me that a human couldn’t have done. ~ Buck Brannaman
I’m inspired to lead other women who feel lost, disconnected, unhealthy, inauthentic, and broken to dig deep for the courage to unbridle from all that is holding them back (limiting beliefs, toxic patterns and relationships, wounds, fears), to follow their inner arrow, to birth their wildest dreams, and to confidently step into their soul’s calling.
Throughout this series I will be sharing the most penetrating sage from our herd. The learning is never-ending, for there is so much wisdom horses have to offer us on our human experience here on earth. I’ve chosen these gifts (teachings) from my own personal experience and those of clients and peers to inspire you to explore Equine Guided Mentorship and the transformation that awaits you in mind, body and spirit.
The first (and most profound) teaching we are sharing with you is inner truth.
Like mentioned under Why Horses, horses feel completely uncomfortable around someone who isn’t being authentic. Whether that is a buried wound you haven’t addressed, you’re pretending to feel happy when you’re depressed, or you’re scared and acting confident .. you will catch a glimpse of yourself through the reflections from a horse and you learn to trust the direction of your intuition’s deepest knowing.
Flashes of your truths are a lot like wild horses. You must travel through untamed territory
to find them. And whether you seek them out, or come upon them expectedly, that first sighting takes your breath away.
Your truths are rooted soul deep in your wounds, healing, transformations, passions, desires, and callings.
Sometimes we discover our truth through dark periods; sexual assault, illness and disease, addictions, divorce, death of a loved one, accidents.
Sometimes we are born with our truth; race, sexuality, disability, passions.
Sometimes we learn our truth through life experience; personal development, education, relationships, health, hobbies.
What we do with our truth is the most important piece of our life.
Hiding from your truth is poisonous. It takes great courage to face your truth and transform it.
Defining your truths helps anchor them in your daily life. Therefore, you must clarify what your truth looks like, feels like, acts like.
To be fully engaged, present and connected to your unique essence is the foundation of embodying your truth.
Expressing your truth is the act of getting it out - not repressing, not numbing.
If you don’t allow the truth of who you really are to come forward, that truth tries to get expressed in other ways, like addictions or illness and disease.
The impact of your truth is where your unique essence meets the world! It is the foundation of our lives, loves, health, relationships, careers, happiness, and success.
We deceive the world by holding back our truth, and in turn deceive ourselves. This compromises the quality of our lives and affects those around us. The epitome of self sabotage.
Anchoring into your truth is you becoming congruent, aligned, in mind, body and spirit.
Anchoring is to provide with a firm basis or foundation.
Anchors provide stability and security even during rough seas.
With a strong anchor into your truth, you will be able to weather any storm.
What anchoring into your truth is about, is living everyday in action that is intentional and aligned with your truth.
Equine Guided Mentorship leads you to and supports you in anchoring into your truth. *
The horse knows. He knows if you know. He also knows if you don’t know. ~ Ray Hunt
If you’re curious about working with the herd and I, we invite you to contact us through any of our platforms:
Facebook Page: Alyssa’s Farmacy Facebook Group: Unbridled Mamas Instagram: @alyssa.sheffar
Website: www.alyssasheffar.com Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 1-403-305-1015
I look forward to next time, All our love, Alyssa & the herd
This article was originally published in the Vol. 3, 2020, “Into the Blissful Dark” issue of Birth of a Woman Magazine. That issue may be found here.