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[…]

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[…]

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. […]

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. […]

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. […]

Privileged Communication

Harold and EvelynLately in conversation with horsewomen I have heard many say they got involved in equine activities because they were “called” by the horses. It struck me that this is not a common description of how one becomes involved in a sport or recreational activity, or even, for that matter, in a career. Linda Kohanov, author of The Tao of Equus and an innovator in the evolution of horse human relationships, speaks powerfully of being called and the profound change that occurred in her life – because she listened.

I was drawn to horses slowly and almost by accident. I always loved horses and did the occasional trail ride in my youth. It wasn’t until I read The Horse Whisperer in 1998 and discovered what I had imagined in childhood was true: the violence humans did and do to horses in the name of training, the so-called “breaking” of horses, was unnecessary and was indeed bullying at best, at worst it was sadistic. […]