According to one of most well-known EGE pioneers Ariana Strozzi Mazzucchi, EGE stands for:
Equine: A horse representing the ancient archetypes of strength, courage, dignity, power, honor, beauty, endurance, resilience, mystery and integrity.
Guided: The extraordinary way horses to take us into unknown or unexplored territory; a place where we can heal the past, re-imagine our future, and connect to our life purpose and share our natural wisdom.
Education: Educational and coaching models that encourage effective relationship, communication, coordination and social interaction skills for individuals and/or groups.
Entrepreneurs are often asked the ‘why’ behind their businesses. Compelling stories are the common thread that weave together those of us that believe in something enough to bring an idea to the market. Today, I’m sharing my story about how Equine Guided Education (EGE) found me and what motivated me to partner with horses to coach people in learning and implementing skills to improve interpersonal and workplace dynamics.
I enjoy sharing space with people hungry for growth. Growth requires cultivating new skills, putting such skills into practice and reflecting on what is learned so new behaviors are fostered and new habits created.
International bestselling author Miquel Ruiz states, “You don’t need to change the world; you need to change yourself.”
The growth adventure that lead me to coaching with horses was spurred by a self-discovery journey that began in my late 30s in the spring of 2006. I found myself at an old barn in rural space with a colt that had unexpectedly shown up in my life. I arrived at the barn with a simple goal: training the colt with some guidance from an experienced trainer.
As it turned out, it was more about the colt teaching me than it was about me training the colt. It didn’t take long for the colt to see right through me. And he began unraveling the uptight, arrogant, Type AA perfectionist individual I was one thread at a time.
He showed up with a spirit that moved me. And he didn’t judge or criticize the fears that paralyzed me. He held space so I could go deep within myself. And waited patiently while I gained enough confidence to lead. He sensed things about me I didn’t know. And probably didn’t want to admit. It was like nothing I’d ever experienced. And the divine timing would eventually make sense . . .
About 18 months later, I agreed to help gather and move cattle horseback (rather than by 4-wheeler) at my parent’s southern Iowa ranch.
I lacked confidence in myself and the colt I was training so I borrowed a horse from a good friend. As I was traversing a picturesque pasture among the rolling hills and trees offering a breathtaking array of fall color, I was consumed with questions I couldn’t answer.
“How do you walk away from 100 years of a ranching lifestyle?” my inner voice said. “Your parents started with next to nothing and built everything they have. You have no clue what goes on at this ranch or any of their other agricultural operations. It’s simply something for you to sell when they’re gone. You’re going to take the money and run. . . “
In that moment, everything changed.
I made the split-second decision to leap off a cliff and learn the cattle business out of respect for my parents. So, leap I did – into the space somewhere between the cliffs’ edge and the crash landing at the bottom, hoping and praying wings would sprout.
The minutes following my decision were excruciating. For the first time in my life, it became crystal clear who I’d become. And it wasn’t a person I felt good about being.
Somehow, all the variables that needed to fall into place to make what was erupting from deep within me possible did just that. Three-and-a-half years after my colt’s first human-teaching lesson, my boots-on-the-ground adventure at my family’s ranch began.
This life-altering path unfolded at top speed and I hadn’t a clue how to pull back on the reins to it slow down.
Despite the fact that my first day at the ranch was in the dead of winter, there was an indescribable stillness where land met sky that still resonates in my soul. It was time to simply BE, take in my surroundings, pray, be spiritual, awed, humbled and unearth buried parts of me.
I began to slow down. I got out of my head; and into my heart. I stepped into my fears and overcame them bit by bit, each time I was there. I grew thick skin, found my intuition, sense of humor and my center. I became a part of something bigger than myself. And because often it was just God, my horse and I in the middle of nowhere, I learned – bit by bit – how to let go.
It was those ways of ‘being’ that transformed me from the cliff-jumping person to the person I was meant to be. The cattle, Mother Nature and the horses provided the most impactful learning experiences.
While I maintained my identity as wife, mother and business owner to continue serving my marketing communications clients, another side of me emerged. It was the side that ultimately led me to become certified in the field of Equine Guided Education (EGE).
Through the colt I set out to train in 2006 (who ended up teaching me more than I thought possible) and my five-plus years at the ranch, I approached my relationships with horses with intention. Earning the colt’s trust so he would look to me as a leader required me to show up with a new level of patience and confidence.
At the ranch, I worked tirelessly to transform myself from a liability on the ranch team to someone who could pull her weight and be trusted with responsibility. While blazing that trail, the horses showed up in a different light. I experienced them in a new way. Their intelligent, sentient way of being guided me deeper into self-awareness and taught me the true meaning of partnership and team. I discovered on an even deeper level that effective communication – whether with horses or humans – requires slowing down so one can be aware of his/her emotions and control them while being sensitive to the emotions of others. I also learned the value of establishing boundaries with the horses which became a valuable skill with humans too.
What transpired within me are among the skills I want to coach others to acquire. They’re all learnable, flexible skills. All they need is a desire to grow. My intention is to be the helping hand that empowers paradigm shifts so people create new horizons in life and work.
According to a Forbes article, people want to be part of a workplace culture that empowers them to discover their own identity and inner confidence while unleashing their full potential. However, because many workplaces lack emotional intelligence and have leaders more interested in advancing themselves rather than serving others, this empowerment could be greatly improved upon.
Today is a time like no other: The issues we face as a society and in business are no longer solvable with traditional models of rationalization and strategies. Rather, we need to embark on a journey of re-awakening where we can be guided toward what’s right in balance with the greater good.
Can you imagine how transformational it would be for people to make more emotionally intelligent business decisions? How about authenticity and intuition? What if those decisions were more closely aligned with preserving the human spirit?
It’s time for people and the business they work in to return to a place of integrity + grace.