Every time I partner with my horses to coach humans, I’m amazed at the humans’ profound discoveries.
In this instance, the fact that a group of people I hardly knew were willing to show up for an Equine Guided Education (EGE) demonstration was incredibly humbling. Each individual was intrigued enough by Danny Beyer’s previous experience to want to try it themselves. I’m so grateful for their open minds and the discomfort those who weren’t comfortable with horses overcame in the spirit of learning.
Horses are incredible partners because they can read our heart energy from up to 10 feet away and they sense what’s within us in the time it takes us to blink an eye. They show up without judgement and they live completely in the moment. Think of how much simpler our lives could be as humans if we embodied similar qualities.
We’ll call one of the participants Katie. Katie’s story is particularly interesting because initially she was uncomfortable with horses and was simply doing Danny a favor by attending. She was courageous enough to lean into the discomfort.
Her insights are reflected here:
“The morning of the Emotional Intelligence workshop in Earlham wasn’t a good one for me. I woke up in a bad mood. I couldn’t find my hat, gloves or coat. It was pouring rain and cold. I was already running late and the last thing I wanted to do was to drive thirty-five minutes for something I wasn’t even sure I wanted to do.
I showed up at the workshop facility upset and depressed. Life hadn’t felt balanced for quite some time evidenced by the fact that I hadn’t been eating or sleeping well. My husband could tell I wasn’t in a good place. He told me he hoped I found something to help as I left the house that morning.
I did find something, and it made the entire trip worth it.
With the horses as our learning partners, the other workshop participants and I ran through some activities to get comfortable around them. The majority of us had no horse experience or were flat out scared of them. Our anxiety made the horses anxious. Horses seem so much larger in an enclosed area than they do outside! There was a lot of nervous energy around us. Kim quickly assessed the situation and put everyone at ease with her encouragement and knowledge of the dynamic occurring.
Part way through the workshop, we were asked to stand in the arena and see if any horses wanted to work with us. That’s when I first met Dale. He’s a blue roan gelding that’s dark gray in color and seemed slightly skittish. I later learned he’s usually calm and laid back but was anxious around me because of the energy I brought to the space. He didn’t exactly bound up and volunteer to work with me, but approached hesitantly until our anxiety went down a notch or two.
Noticing that I was attempting to overcome my anxiety and connect with Dale, Kim suggested I halter Dale and take him to a stall to spend time together without the distraction of other workshop attendees. One-on-one time with Dale was exactly what I needed.
The first ten minutes or so we simply stood. We existed in the moment. There was no movement, no talking, no judgement. It was just Dale and I. Slowly, I approached him and stroked the end of his nose. A calming peace washed over me. It was a peace I had been struggling to maintain for some time. . It was then I noticed Dusten, a business associate of Kim’s, standing near the stall door.
I couldn’t tell you how long he’d been standing there, nor do I really care. He smiled and said, “I’m not very good with words but around the horses I don’t have to be. Neither of you are talking right now, but you’re having a conversation. Sometimes, what you don’t say is more important that what you do say.”
In that moment, the aspects of emotional intelligence our group discussed earlier in the day – the ability recognize and understand emotions in yourself and others, and your ability to use this awareness to manage your behavior and relationships – made sense. Each one of us brings energy and emotion into every situation. It’s the way we manage it, or don’t, that affects interpersonal dynamics. It’s no wonder decades of research points to emotional intelligence as the key element that sets high performers apart from others.
The amount of self-discovery and clarity occurring was profound. Somehow, everything seemed right. A peacefulness washed over me. I felt as if a weight was lifted – a weight I didn’t even realize I was carrying. Somehow, Dusten and Dale provided me exactly what I needed in the moment I needed it. My entire outlook on the dynamics going on at work changed that morning. It was so impactful that my husband noticed a difference when I got home that afternoon.
“I’m so glad I decided to make that drive even though I was less than appropriately dressed for a cold, rainy day with horses and I was running late,” I beamed. I proceeded to share the discoveries that showed up from within myself and marveled at the profoundly impactful yet simple experience.”