On Becoming a Speaker

I never saw this coming. When I envisioned myself as an executive coach working with people and horses I never saw myself in front of a microphone telling people about the magic of my work. Let’s be clear – I am an introvert and was always most comfortable in the background. It caused me some[…]

March 2016 News

In honour of International Women’s Day I am featuring the painting on the right, completed in 1855, by the french painter Rosa Bonheur, one of the greatest artists of the 19th century. The subject matter is the Paris Horse Fair held on the Boulevard l’Hôpital near the Salpêtrière asylum, which is just visible in the[…]

Paris

It is Sunday midnight in Montparnasse. I am still awake living in a time zone of my very own, somewhere between Pacific Standard and Central European Time. Parisians are settled in for the night. If I look out of the living room windows, off to the west I can just make out the top third[…]

Horses, Leadership, and Leadership Models

Views on leadership, leadership qualities and leadership models diverge widely. Models of leadership have focused on situational theories (e.g. Hersey & Blanchard), behavioral styles (e.g. Blake and Mouton), traits theory (e.g. Derue, Nahrgang, Wellmand & Humphrey), as well functional theories (Kouzes and Posner).  Some argue that leaders are born, some that leaders are made, and[…]

Horses Teach at Med School?

That sounds like one of those tabloid headlines designed to draw your attention because it is so nonsensical. But at Rutgers medical school that is indeed what is happening! Horses are teaching at Med School! It’s “a doctor’s presence alone, rather than their competence, that can mean the difference between life or death.”  Maria Katsamanis,[…]

The Science of Team Building

“Yet if we look at our evolutionary history, we can see that language is a relatively recent development and was most likely layered upon older signals that communicated dominance, interest, and emotions among humans. Today these ancient patterns of communication still shape how we make decisions and coordinate work among ourselves.” I just read a[…]

Conscious Communication

  I’ve been thinking about conscious communication a lot these days. It’s a complex topic that doesn’t get enough attention. Usually it gets attention when it’s a problem and then frequently that problem appears to be an insoluble one. Non-verbal communication incorporates everything from bad breath and taking personal space to an inexplicable feeling of[…]

Mindfulness, Awareness, and Concentration

Mindfulness seems to be on everyone’s mind these days. Sorry for the bad pun – but it is, apparently, increasingly a topic of interest. In fact, Google search trends show a steady increase in web searches for the terms mindful or mindfulness since 2005. Europe was the source for most of the searches of the[…]

Leadership and Leadership Models

Views on leadership, leadership qualities and models of leadership diverge widely. Models of leadership have focused on situational theories (e.g. Hersey & Blanchard), behavioral styles (e.g. Blake and Mouton), traits theory (e.g. Derue, Nahrgang, Wellmand & Humphrey), as well functional theories (Kouzes and Posner).  Some argue that leaders are born, some that leaders are made, and others that leaders are a combination of innate leadership psychology and learned or groomed behaviours or habits.  Ideas around leadership qualities vary widely and so far it appears that no-one has been able to develop a definitive list of leadership qualities. […]

Authenticity, Self Awareness, and Leadership

Authenticity, self-awareness and leadership – one of these things is not like the others. In Daniel Goleman’s excellent article The Focused Leader, written for The Harvard Business Review, he discusses emotional intelligence in terms of awareness and where the effective leader directs his attention. In terms of being an authentic leader, he asserts that a leader needs to be[…]

Awareness and Coaching Presence

Awareness and coaching presence are core competencies for coaches. I love coaching with horses because they foster and reinforce these competencies constantly. Being with horses just naturally seems to focus one’s attention on inner states and how we are affected by inputs from the environment and other beings. Horses are natural-born coaches that way. At[…]

The Heart, the Brain, and the Herd

Have you ever walked into a room full of people and felt really uncomfortable yet couldn’t pinpoint why? Or have you had the experience of joining a group where the feeling was positive and welcoming and you immediately became infected by an ineffable sense of well-being. If you have experienced either of these situations you have encountered what psychologists refer to as an affective state, or a state of awareness that may be pre-cognitive. When something is pre-cognitive it means that information is being perceived, shared, and processed unconsciously and is not yet available to our cognitive or conscious thinking functions. In essence you are having a shared experience, being a part of a collective, being one with the herd, the flock, the school, or the tribe. Sometimes it is pleasant and other times it is uncomfortable.

While scientists are pursuing studies on topics associated with perception and neuroscience, we mere mortals often continue to struggle with some of our affective perceptions, especially in the workplace. Sometimes we are conscious of these feelings and we might refer to them as a “hunch”, “gut feeling”, “intuition”, or we might try to ignore them altogether because we can’t classify them, rationalize them, or make logical use of them.

We humans have evolved a significantly different skillset from other mammals – that of verbal language. It may be that this higher order communication skill comes with a cost – that of a loss of awareness of the information sharing that occurs through non-verbal means. Another cost is possibly the false bias that we are rational beings that experience emotions instead of the fact that we are emotional beings that are capable of rational thought. […]

The Myth of Join up in the Round Pen Explained

This is a difficult article to write. And the title is likely a little grandiose but I am going to have at it anyway and try to explain this thing called join up in the way that I and many others are coming to understand it.

The last thing I want to do is criticize the good work of so many honest and talented horse people who do amazing healing work by putting horses and non-equestrians together. So many people have benefited from an increasing  number of equine practitioners who are getting into the field of equine assisted/facilitated healing/learning/psychotherapy/coaching. I know because I am one of them. I have been planning my life around this work since 1998 and am passionate about what I do. I have witnessed many people light up and come alive in the presence of horses. I have never witnessed someone leave an equine facilitated session feeling sad, depressed, hurt, empty or used.  I am certain the many people involved in assisted/facilitated healing/learning/psychotherapy/coaching would say the very same thing. I wish we could all say the same about the experience that the horse is having. Too often, the experience of the horse is not considered or if it is, it is not really well understood. […]

Coaching, Attention Density, and the Quantum Zeno Effect

What? You might well ask what the heck does that mean! Attention density and the Quantum Zeno effect are outputs of some of the learning that is being published from studies of the brain and how it functions. These ideas are also tightly aligned with effective coaching and, especially, with equine facilitated coaching. David Rock,[…]

Their last journey

Emotional Stuckness

This article has much in it that is applicable to people in so many different aspects of life. EH and EMIt is a story told by Jim Overstreet about his mentor and famous American horseman Tom Dorrance.  In it Jim describes a lesson he learned about getting something done and encountering resistance – resistance that he created unknowingly.

One of many life lessons I have learned at the hands of a horse was about resistance – or emotional ‘stuckness’ – at the time I was in the saddle and I was trying to get something done (although I don’t remember now what that was). When I had the insight it was such a powerful experience that it has stayed with me for years and positively affected my behaviour and performance in many ways. This is the value of insight – it has the ability to change the brain and build new neuro-pathways that make the lesson stick. […]

Values from Horses

A Father’s Explanation of Why He Had Horses for His Children.

“My daughter turned sixteen years old today; which is a milestone for most people. Besides looking at baby photos and childhood trinkets with her, I took time to reflect on the young woman my daughter had become and the choices she would face in the future.

As I looked at her I could see the athlete she was, and determined woman she would soon be. I started thinking about some of the girls we knew in our town who were already pregnant, pierced in several places, hair every color under the sun, drop outs, drug addicts and on the fast track to no-where, seeking surface identities because they had no inner self esteem. The
parents of these same girls have asked me why I “waste” the money on horses so my daughter can ride. I’m told she will grow out of it, lose interest, discover boys and all kinds of things that try to pin the current generation’ s “slacker” label on my child. I don’t think it will happen, I think she will love and have horses all her life. […]

Their last journey

Will You Eat Horse Meat?

Warning: Reader Discretion Advised.

Their last journey

Their last journey.

Will you eat horse meat? For me this question has no meaning. I became vegan last year, initially out of a desire to get healthier, and then, after witnessing some graphic video of slaughterhouses on ‘candid’ camera, it so sickened me I haven’t been able to consider eating any animals, fish, or other sentient beings since. So the current ‘scandal’ over horse meat turning up disguised as beef does not concern me at all. Neither am I against others choosing to eat meat. What does concerns me is the hideous treatment to which all food animals, horses in particular, are subjected on their way to the dinner plate. […]

Presence Enhanced through Equus

Coaching is a fascinating line of work. Learning how and why people think, act, feel, and behave the way they do is an endless topic of study. As a coach, I work to understand how to assist people in focusing on goals, identifying and overcoming obstacles to success, and planning actions that will take them to their highest ideals and best selves.  […]

Coaching with Horses at Liberty

I made this video a couple of summers ago with my horse Easter’s Hurricane – aka Harold – and the help of a dear friend and horse trainer Lyz Rudolph-Michaels. In this video you will see a combination of the body language I learned from Chris Irwin and the Waterhole Rituals that Carolyn Resnick developed for building connection with horses. My intention is to show the type of activity one might engage in when having a coaching session facilitated by horses. The interaction is simple and yet as complex as any interaction we have with humans – and more mysterious until we learn to speak the language of the horse fluently. Each horse is unique just as we people are, however their language is universal in the equine world. […]

Anthropomorphize No More

Yes it’s an awkward title but sparked by an article that came to my attention about a recent acknowledgement in the scientific community that mammals and some other life forms do indeed have consciousness. In July 2012 the Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness was adopted at the first Francis Crick Memorial Conference. An excerpt from the declaration[…]

Seasons Greetings

The end of the year approaches with its stormy weather, long dark nights, and ‘wet’ coast rains. Christmas and the winter equinox are celebrations; they help us hold onto the faith and hope that spring will come, the sun will return and we will once again enjoy the lengthening sunshiny days and clear starry nights.[…]