Why Women? Why Horses?

Les Editeurs in Paris

The March weather was more heavy mist than rain as I walked through St. Germain that chilly Tuesday morning towards my meeting with a stranger. In our email exchange she had suggested Les Editeurs – which was a wonderful choice; I couldn’t imagine a more Parisian cafe in which to connect with someone who shared one of my great passions – horses.

Last January while I was thinking about my upcoming trip overseas I decided to see if I could connect with other coaches who are working with horses. I searched Linkedin and got very few results. Ultimately I connected with three women, one of them in Paris. What a delicious thought – sitting in a Paris cafe talking about coaching with horses. We made a date and now I was going to finally meet this amazing woman.

We clicked, Marion and I. It turns out she wasn’t currently coaching with horses but is working with an international company coaching women to get TED Talk ready. She has developed a wonderful methodology that intrigued me instantly. We talked about the overlap in her work and mine. Yes it is about content but it is also about presence, delivery, authenticity, and a sense of inner power. We decided to explore the options of doing some work together and both of us have been charged up about the potential of combining our overlapping areas of expertise. We didn’t have enough time that day to dig into all the things we wanted to discuss so we have been enjoying the benefits of technology – Skype – and are planning a workshop for women in October here in BC. You can find out more about Marion Chapsal by going to her blog here or checking out her company’s site here. You can find out more about the workshop by signing up for my newsletter or connecting with me on Facebook or LinkedIn.

Why Women? Why Horses? Girls are to ponies as boys are to dinosaurs. There is something primitive and ancient in our deep attraction to certain animals. Boys usually lose their infatuation with dinosaurs as they grow but most women do not seem to lose the passionate feelings of attraction to horses when we grow up. Usually we put horses out of our minds purposefully because they are such an impractical love to have.

I believe it is the horses’ enigmatic nature that compels women to love them. Horses are powerful and beautiful animals and yet are incredibly fragile and robust at the same time. Despite the fear we might feel being around a horse – they are so big and slightly mysterious – we women instinctively connect to their prey nature and innately know that they are as vulnerable as we are.

Because of their size and flight nature, the most effective relationship one can have with a horse comes from developing a relationship instead of merely dominating through brute strength and physical force. I am not for or against a feminist viewpoint here but women innately seem to understand the need for patience and empathy where men tend to focus on task and results.

Horses have proved to be the great equalizer in war and sport. There are countless examples in ancient art and archeology that prove the horse enabled women to compete equally with men. In the horse culture that came from the steppes of Eurasia, a real warrior princess named Khutulun matched and outdid men in her ability to out-wrestle and out-ride all comers. Other women warriors that have left their mark in military history (only to be relegated to the margins) include French king-maker Joan of Arc; Celtic Queen Boudicca; Japanese samurai Tomoe Gozen; Apache warrior Lozen; Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra; Tri?u Th? Trinh, the Vietnamese Joan of Arc; to name a few. In sport even today, equestrian disciplines are among the very few that permit women and men to compete directly against each other instead of being sectioned into men’s and women’s divisions.

A traditional Freudian assumption posits that there is an underlying primitive sexual urge that draws women to the horse. Some joke that a woman astride a cantering horse is being aroused by the rocking movement. Without exception the women riders I know snort at the absurdity of this idea. In truth the arousal we feel is the thrill of speed, the wind in your hair, the feeling of freedom, the divine joy of entrusting yourself to the power of the horse, two beings becoming as one, while deftly directing your joint energies with the slightest of movements. As men love motorcycles and hot rods, women love horses.

Japanese warrior woman on horseback