Last summer, on a warm and sunny Saturday, Jana, my business partner and I welcomed a group of ten people at the farm where we were conducting our monthly Coaching with Horses session. The participants walked into the field where a group of horses were grazing peacefully. Most of the individuals who decided to take part in this workshop had never been close to horses before and were intimidated by the sheer size of these beautiful quadrupeds.
Watching them connecting and interacting for the first time with these magnificent animals brought back many memories. As a child, while spending the summer at my grandmother’s country house, I had the good fortune to take some horseriding lessons. Little did I know that this first riding experience would lead to a practically full-time hobby and a few part-time jobs as a horseriding teacher for many years. However, it took a couple more decades for me to fully understand how my relationship with horses in my childhood was indeed the backbone of my coaching career.
Over the past twenty years, I have applied and implemented various training methods which have proven to be highly beneficial for my clients. Partnering with Jana Zajícová and horses allowed me to come full circle in my business practice. It gave me the opportunity to combine my love for horses and my two decades of coaching practice to offer a program which addresses the mind as well as the individual’s emotional and body intelligence in a complete program.
After launching the first Coaching with Horses program with Jana Zajícová, following the EAGALA (Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association) method in the Czech Republic, I wanted to deepen my own understanding and practice of the fundamental principles of EAGALA: client-centered, solution-oriented, evidence-driven. I decided to take advantage of the more relaxed summer schedule to attend one of the European EAGALA fundamental trainings to become an EAGALA-certified professional.
Anyone that has been involved with horses, even in a very limited way, will know how much we can learn from them. Partnering with horses during a coaching session or a team building workshop gives participants the opportunity to develop their personal and professional identity as well as strengthen their self-confidence and self-esteem. It also helps them overcome their fears and self-doubt. At the end of the workshop in the summer, when the participants shared what the horses helped them understand about themselves and others, we heard the following feedback:
“This horse did not judge me so I did not judge him.”
“As I have never been much around animals, I did not believe that we can learn so much about ourselves and that horses can help us find our own solutions. They have the map but we have the answers.”
Thanks to their innate honesty and ability to observe and respond to nonverbal communication, horses are very effective at challenging disconnected behaviors and attitudes; they have the capacity to identify the discrepancies between what people think and say versus what they actually do. When someone behaves in a very assertive way while feeling scared inside, the horse will recognize and acknowledge the disconnection right away. By reflecting our internal emotional state, horses mirror our inner feelings to help us identify our lack of alignment between our internal thoughts and external behavior. The physical presence of the horses helps us understand the motivation behind our behavior as well as the behavior of others more accurately.
With each workshop, I am reminded that the language of the horses is energy. Horses are a simple, honest gauge of our energy, they reflect it right back at us. They reflect what we think, what we feel as well as recognizing our internal incongruence and our self-limiting perceptions. They constantly challenge us to be true to ourselves. By encouraging us to be fully present and mindful of ourselves, they are the perfect partner for a journey within.