Reflections of A Horse Retreat: Leaning into Softness

It’s a beautiful sunny morning. The space feels clear and light as I enter into the field with a woman who has come for her second horse retreat at our space.

The intention...to listen and to be open to what is coming.

Last time, when she was here, we spoke about the power of letting go, of not holding too rigid to our expectations of what we are trying to make happen in our world.

She left and felt the shift in her environment, in particular, in her relationships and then came back.

Horses are mirrors. They provide us with a reflection of what our energy is doing and what we are needing to see that perhaps isn't obvious to us.

In their prey nature, horses are highly sensitive to what comes into their environment, reacting to it through their behaviour and interactions with us and in their space.

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Today with this woman who came to spend time with the horses, the reflection brought about this intention of softness.

When we are soft, we are receptive, we are open and we are allowing of what is wanting to come into our world.

When we are being soft, we let go of the rigidity of how we are holding our world, ourselves and the interactions with it.

I sat in the field with this woman while my lead mare came over with purpose. She walked over to where we were sitting and put her head next to my client’s face. She then walked over beside my lead gelding and lay down.

Deliberate mirroring on her part to emphasize the message we were receiving from the rest of the herd.

A mare in her feminine energy, laying down to rest and gather herself in the space of the herd is a softening. It is yin and was an invitation for my client to step into the embodiment of what this space was inviting her into.

Sometimes, we get a mirror for ourselves that we were not expecting or thinking was a part of what we were being invited into.

And always with the horses there is a purity of being witnessed in exactly what we needed to see and gives us the clarity of what is missing in our lives, what embodiment we need to seek out to be in connection and in success of attainment of what we are wanting to change in our lives.

If this resonates for you…

Sometimes, we stumble across something that is meant as a message to us as well.

It is an opportunity for us to be open to what is seeking us in connection to something that we ourselves are experiencing struggle with.

Our tendency as humans is to push, to force, to control, instead of allowing, letting go and being.

Our rigidity and control chases answers from us.

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Grace, allowance, softness creates the space so the answers can seek us out.

To embody softness means we exercise a practice being open, find space in our day to relax, to be still, to be and imagine what it would mean to be soft in our energy.

For me, softness is an invitation to be noticing my holding patterns, breathing into where things are feeling rigid, noticing my pattern of wanting to control and instead flowing with what is happening.

It means taking time in my day to be intentional about relaxing, being still, and opening up.

When we are available in this space we are loosening our resistance to what life is offering us.

An invitation to softness is an invitation to acceptance, receiving and being available for what is to come.

Think about where this lands for you and where the application of it can be present in your world.

And if this moves you to be curious about what our horse retreats are about, follow this link to learn more about our private retreat experiences, which are waiting to be custom curated for you today.

Private and Custom Retreats




Rescue Horses Reunited

A year and a half ago, I came home after weekend away to a story about a horse that was rescued from the British Columbia wildfire in need of a home.

He was a big, grey Percheron who had been seized from the fire with his herdmate. He was now looking for his forever home.

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Immediately, I felt a connection to this horse and his story and we gave him a home.

I named this big, beautiful, grey horse, Malachi and welcomed him into our herd.

Malachi’s journey here was bittersweet. He found a forever home but was separated from his herdmate, Poppy.

As fate would have it, these two horses would one day be reunited here.

A little back story…

I grew up with a love and passion for horses. After spending a few years in the horse breeding industry, I discovered a darker side to the equine industry that spurred a mission and purpose for me and these amazing animals.

What many people don’t know is many, many horses get discarded, sent to slaughter after they are no longer deemed useful.

Years ago, when I began my journey to one day having my own property, a piece of it was to be able to give homes to horses that were in need.

The majority of our herd that calls our retreat center home are “rescues,” horses that were in need of a home, and a second purpose because they were not deemed rideable.

For most horses, if they are not able to be ridden, they are not seen as valuable or worth being supported so they are often sent to slaughter or to be euthanized.

The work I do with horses here is about introducing people to a different way of being in relationship with horses, and being introduced to them as a teacher and a guide for us to create greater self awareness of our impact, ourselves, and how we are operating in the world.

The horses that come here are able to step into having another purpose and find a home that supports their own healing along with the incredible positive effect they have on those who come to experience their wisdom.

In March of this year, we got an email from the woman who adopted Poppy asking if we could give her a home and reunite her with her herdmate Malachi at our center.

When Malachi and Poppy were seized during the 2017 wildfires, Poppy was taken on by a woman in the Lower Mainland who (with her veterinarian and farrier) was able to provide individual care to Poppy to help her recover. As an effort to provide the best outcome for Poppy, after her long journey to recovery, she reached out me knowing that it would be a beautiful ending for these two horses to be reunited once more.

When I meet a horse for the first time, I like to give them a medicine name, something that will capture the essence of who they are and what they bring to the new purpose they will now step into at our center.

Sometimes I get a name that pops into my head, or a symbolism when I see a horse. Poppy is a beautiful, spotted draft mare that instantly evoked a connection to Native American tradition with her paint color. I gave her the new name Aponi, meaning butterfly in Native American, their symbol of transformation.

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I believe this mare in her journey is a beautiful symbolism of the transformation we meet in life. Sometimes we go through challenging times that are often difficult for us to understand, not knowing that the road to transformation often leads to a positive ending.

For Malachi, he has always carried a sense of loss around him, not fully bonding with our herd and always running to the fence when another horse has arrived. I believe perhaps he has been waiting for this reunion and to be back with his herdmate once again.

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In connection to Poppy, now Aponi, arriving at our center, I am creating an opportunity for sponsoring this mare in her new home and purpose here with us.

Sponsorship of the horses allows me to continue giving homes to horses in need and supporting them having a forever home and doing meaningful work in the world.

For those in our community who often feel connected to our horses and wonder what they can do to support the mission, sponsorship is a perfect opportunity to do so.

Aponi’s arrival at our center allows me to continue to share about the mission of our space with these horses and introduce more people to connecting with horses in a new way.

I have created sponsorship opportunities for all of our horses, and for those who are called to sponsoring Aponi here at our retreat space, here are some ways you can do that:

Sponsorship includes supporting the horses feed and care that encompasses, hay, vet care and farrier.

Options:

1 Month Sponsorship:  $250 CDN

The 1 month sponsorship comes with pictures and videos of Aponi in her new environment and check-ins of how she is doing at the ranch.

3 Month Sponsorship: $750 CDN

The 3 month sponsorship includes an equine guided session (in person or virtual) pictures and videos of Aponi and an in-person visit if you live locally.


6 Month Sponsorship:  $1500 CDN

The 6 month sponsorship includes an equine guided coaching session (in person or virtual), pictures and videos, a 2 night stay in one of our cabins and opportunity to come and meet Aponi in person.  

If none of these options are available to you right now but you would still like to contribute to Aponi’s arrival here, you can customize a sponsorship with this link and choose the amount you would like to contribute.

If you are curious about learning more about our herd and sponsoring another one of our horses, you can follow this link.

I look forward to being able to reunite these two horses and allowing Aponi to step into her new role as equine teacher with our programs.  I look forward to being able to share her medicine and teachings more deeply with you as she begins her new role in our herd.

The Medicine of Self Care

Self Care.

For some of us, when we hear this word, we brush our hands to the side and think it is not important.

For some of us, we might think this is a foreign concept not one that we empower or understand.

This week, during a private horse retreat I led out of our beautiful retreat center, a man---coach, leader, TED talk speaker---came and spend 3 days with us.

He was seeking clarity on his purpose, a quest for a vision, a call to be with horses.

He was not a horse man. He didn’t grow up with horses. He was a man seeking clarity and his intuition said to come here.

Often what happens in these retreats is that people come with one agenda and another one emerges.

For this man, from the first day what became a theme was the theme of self care.

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When we don’t recharge ourselves, we run on exhaust fumes.

We are constantly depleted, unable to give to ourselves, our dreams, our responsibilities, our businesses and our families.

We are not in service of anything in these places.

The horses mirrored for this man during his retreat the essence of care. The herd lay down, stood silently, and created a space for him to recharge.

Horses understand the necessity for self care and the indulgence of listening to when we need rest, or to eat, or to pause. As prey animals, if they do not tend to their energy, they will not have anything left if a predator comes by. For them, it is essential to their survival. It is for us as well.

Stress, depression, exhaustion, worry are all and can be parts of our daily lives that we have come to simply just accept as part of life. But we don’t have to do that, and truthfully, it doesn’t serve us when we do.

We spoke about how to integrate this into his life. He shared with me that he realized this retreat was for this purpose, to have space, time to care for himself.

The clarity that was found was this...

Until he created space to tend to his needs, nourish his body, mind and soul, the clarity he was seeking couldn’t come to him.

Self care is not a frivolous act. It is not something we cannot afford.

Self care is an essential ingredient to our well being, worthy of being listened to and being integrated into our lives.

Self care promotes wellness. It gives us energy; it recharges us.

Self care needs to be a part of our day and tended to. It needs to meet our needs holistically, from our spirit to our body.

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There is a great article on Psychology Today that gives ideas to ways we can hold our self care as an example.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/click-here-happiness/201812/self-care-12-ways-take-better-care-yourself

The Chopra Center also wrote a great article breaking down all elements of self care you can read below.

https://chopra.com/articles/how-to-make-self-care-a-priority

What I find important is for us to listen to what self care looks like to us, to be fluid with it, taking time to ask how it wants to be held instead of assuming, or imposing what it is.

For me, self care is a way of being. It is a mindful way of being in relationship with my whole self. It is listening to my body needs, to my mind, emotions and to my spirit, having daily check ins, listening to my rhythms, creating space for all pieces of myself to be tended to.

I asked this man on his last day to sit with how it was going to look like to integrate self care into his world, and to remember the purpose behind it.

It is our mind and our beliefs that keep us from tending to ourselves, telling us stories that we don’t have time, or we can't afford it or that it will take away from our responsibilities. But we have to challenge those beliefs because they are simply not true.

Self care empowers your process. It allows you to have energy for your responsibilities. It doesn’t have to take all day; it can be intermittent moments that blend in your day, 10 minutes. But we have to realize that we can’t afford not to.

I encourage anyone who is reading this to really listen to where this is hitting home. Depletion, hustle, being unwell is not a badge of honor we can afford to wear.

Self care can be moments in your day, and giving yourself a few days every quarter to recharge. Our retreats are perfect for honoring that time for reflection if it calls to you. (Read about our retreats here.)

Listen to what you are being asked to hold for yourself and make it priority. A simple shift in how we hold ourselves and our care can go a long way.  

And if you are curious to hear about this man’s account of his time here, you can watch his testimonial below, and also get to meet our dog, Luca who inserted himself into this video.

 
 
 

If this resonates for you, feel free to share it, or comment. I love hearing from our community.

Wisdom from the Herd: Efficiency

I am starting a new series on our blog post and youtube channel sharing the wisdom of the herd.

Over the last 12 years of me facilitating in the realm of equine guided coaching and running horse medicine retreats for my clients, I gained some incredible wisdom that has positively impacted my life and those of my clients.

I want to bring these teachings out into the world more deeply and so this series began.

This week, I hosted a women’s business empowerment retreat for women entrepreneurs at my retreat center and facilitated an equine guided coaching experience with them.

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The theme that emerged for them (and for me as well) was the theme of efficiency.

As prey animals, horses are highly efficient with their energy output and consumption. They have to be---for survival.

In nature, it will not serve a horse well to have a lower energy reserve because they have to make sure they are able to flee when a predator comes.

Even though horses are domesticated, they still operate with this prey survival mode.

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As human beings, we are not super-efficient with our energy output. We are constantly leaking our energy on future worries or fears, holding onto the past, or feeding assumptions that we build in our minds.

We struggle with stress, burn out, and fatigue because we have not learned how to be efficient with our energy.

What I have learned from horses and from the wisdom which came through this weekend for these women is how important it is for us to be conscious of how we are utilizing and wasting our energy.

When we are holding space for big things, or even just navigating through life, our energy is essential to being able to put action, focus and direction into achieving our goals, or simply just living a life that isn’t filled with stress and fatigue.

As an entrepreneur myself, and having a full life, I have had to learn this lesson the hard way. I had to understand that efficiency is something that is deeply important to my own personal well being and that of my business.

Think about this for a second... How much energy do you consume on your stress? Worry? And on fears of something that hasn’t happened yet, or happened in the past?

Do you notice yourself experiencing dips in your energy level, or flirting with the edges of burn out on a constant level?

Does stress impact your health? Do you find you have less time to enjoy your life? Foggy mind? Frustration or short temper in communication?

Do you avoid conflict, and then, stress about it?

Do you feel as if you are constantly running on empty or low fumes? Never able to fill up the way you need to?

All of these are symptoms of lack of efficiency in our energy, or knowing how to be sacred keepers of our focus.

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Truth:

It is just as detrimental to our survival to not be efficient in our own output of energy. We may not be prey animals who have to think about having energy to flee, but we do need to be at an optimal level to achieve what we desire in our lives without burning ourselves out and sacrificing our happiness.

So how do we become more efficient and pull this lesson forward in our lives?

For the women this weekend, we spoke about listening to when we feel we need to rest. It is really easy for us as entrepreneurs to get into this hustle mode where we think we have to work all the time to get ahead.

Our brain and our operating systems that we have been raised in will push us in this way, telling us that the only way to get what we desire is to work really hard and sacrifice ourselves.

But this way of being is not actually efficient, or productive to achieving the level of success we seek.

When we are depleted and running on empty, we really don’t have the capacity to create what we need, serve our clients, our business, our family, or ourselves.

To be efficient, we need to pay attention to our rhythms, to listen to when we feel we need to eat, rest, and create.

All aspects of this process are important to honor because this is what fills our tank.

It is not lazy to rest. It is serving to your energy and efficiency to do so.

In my own journey, I have also fallen into the trap of work harder, and push myself, and that almost killed me, literally.

It took me getting trampled by one of my horses to snap out of it, and listen to where I was abandoning my own needs for self care and rest.

Now I pay attention. When my body is telling me to rest, I take a break.

I have created my days in a way that serves my most optimal and efficient energy output. I understand what it looks like in my own rhythms of when I am most productive and when I need to break.

Eating when I feel hungry (and knowing how to recognize it), drinking enough water and giving my physical self what it needs is super important.

On a mental level, I have created boundaries around how long I allow myself to stress or worry about something.

I don’t think it is realistic for us to not worry or stress at all, but we need to be mindful of how much time is spent here.

For example, if something is stressing me out, or I need to have a little worry session, I put a time limit on it. This looks like for me saying, Ok, for 30 minutes you can stress about this and then you need to let it go.

I also look at what is causing the stress and what is going to relieve it. Is it delegating the issue to my staff, recognizing that it is an issue that is better suited to their zone of genius?

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I will tell you as a leader of a business the importance of delegating and letting go of tasks that create stress for me has been essential.

Holding a practice of mindfulness so that I am aware of my thoughts is also key because we lose so much energy on the thoughts we feed in our minds all the time.

Developing a practice where you are tending to your mental mind is key to a more efficient use of your energy.

Emotional agility and health.

What often happens when we get really busy, or we are full in our lives, is we bypass our emotions.

I am guilty of this one as well.

There is a lot of energy that gets wasted and consumed on our emotions that go left untouched or ignored that depletes us.

I have created a practice in my life where I check in with myself at the end of the day. How am I really feeling?

Did something happen today that bothered me?

Was I triggered somewhere?

The first 3 years after I bought this ranch, I was in survival mode. I created no space for myself to feel. I was on autopilot. I was also exhausted a lot of the time and was bypassing my emotions all over the place.

I didn’t always realize what a toll building and sustaining my vision, and things that were happening in my day-to-day where having on me. I didn’t think it was important for me to sit with what was happening, and it caught up with me.

We don’t often appreciate our sensitivity, or how things impact us until it shows up in a health crisis or breakdown. If we create time in our day each day to do a simple check in, to have someone we can talk to if we need it, we'll save ourselves a lot of energy and grief in the long run.

If you are a coach or a facilitator... we don’t always appreciate what we carry for our clients as well. Checking in to clear ourselves of holding energy that doesn’t belong to us is also an important aspect of tending to our emotional efficiency. (I spoke to this on another video you can check that out here).

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Efficiency is a way of living and it is a practice. I have learned, though, what helps me to be devoted to some of the practices I spoke to up there is to understand the impact on me if I don’t do it.

Click here to read another perspective on Why Rest is the Secret to Entrepreneurial Success.

Whether you are a woman entrepreneur who is seeking to create her success without burnout, and sacrifice to your personal health...

Or someone who holds big spaces in her lives in another capacity with family or career...

Our efficiency is going to support our ability to be able to hold space for all of this and ourselves.

I created my success through burnout only to understand that wasn’t really success. I was unhappy, stressed out with little time in my life to devote to my own health and relationships. It didn’t align to my values of how I wanted to live.

Taking this lesson to heart has created more spaciousness for me, intuitive creating that empowers my natural way of being in the world, and time for relationships, friends and family that are deeply important to me.

I am also just a happier human, as will you be.

Efficiency is a powerful teaching gathered from the herd which also has deep application to our own operating systems as human beings.

For further interest…

For my women entrepreneurs who resonate with this post and are interested in experiencing horse wisdom for yourself, check out our horse wisdom for Business Mastery Retreat happening in June. Click the link below for more information.

Women Who Run with Horses: Business Mastery Retreat

Horses and The Path of Entrepreneurship

I was 29 years old when I embarked on the journey of becoming an entrepreneur.

It wasn’t driven by a desire to be in business; rather it was driven by a deeper pull of holding purpose in my world and creating something around my love of horses and the knowing I had of the wisdom they had to share in the world.

No one really can prepare you for the journey of being an entrepreneur. The ups and the downs, the rejection and the heartbreak, the sheer force it takes to continue each day to battle against the fears and the doubts that come along with beginning something that is yours to create.

I was naive when I began, unprepared for what would be asked of me, what it took. I knew nothing about running a business, marketing, creating a service around what I did.  I was terrified, filled with doubt and lost in my own fears.

Over the last 7 years, my business has grown. I went from leasing a facility to buying an 80 acre ranch, to struggling with my business and running into debt, to generating 6 figures in three branches of my business.

I have watched my own vision deepen in the world, the impact of my work deepen, and my success continue to rise each year.

There are many formulas, secrets and keys people share about creating success. If I have learned anything over the last 7 years, it is that there isn’t a formula. It is not always about understanding the logistics or practicalities of running a business, but rather the journey we take inward to find the courage for us to pursue the things that call to us.

The majority of my success I believe lies in my capacity to travel inwards and hold space for my visions, to be confident in what I create and to know with certainty the clarity of the message and mission I bring to the world.

 
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For me, my horses have been not only what I create around, but my own lifeline of connecting to my courage and inner compass that guided me along the way.

One of the greatest challenges I believe we take as entrepreneurs is moving through our own doubts and fears, which often paralyze us and prevent us from taking action, being courageous and listening to our own guidance when it comes to knowing the how’s.

In my greatest moments of uncertainty, when I have not been able to find my way forward, or I get lost in my own fears, I find myself walking into my herd looking for a different anchor, a knowing that feels elusive to me and a courage that allows me to continue to pursue my path and stay the course of building my business around my work.

Three winters ago, during one of the hardest years of my journey, I found myself out in the field with the herd looking for answers.

I was doubting myself. I was scared, uncertain that I would be able to support this new evolution of my journey in my business with a retreat center, bigger bills to pay, all on a single income.

I went to the horses to find some place of clarity and strength within me and I sat against a tree. One of my horses, Chief, who is the lead gelding came over to stand behind me. His presence alone with his strength and certainty seemed to permeate over to me.

In that moment I could feel his support, a reminder that I wasn’t on this path alone and what I needed to access within myself was the trust in my own vision and leadership.

When we are building something, it is hard to trust our instincts, especially when we are inundated by advice that seems to fill our news feeds and come at us from multiple pathways.

People in our lives give us advice or fill us with doubts, and we can begin to doubt ourselves and wonder what we are doing.  It takes us off course and fills us with fear. It is hard amidst that to find our own voice and to trust it.

As I sat in the snow against a tree with Chief at my back, I got access to a part of me that had been elusive.

 
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The part of me that trusted I would be able to see this through, that trusted my own instincts, that I was supported in what felt like an insurmountable task at hand suddenly emerged in these precious moments with Chief.

Just being around this horse, in his leadership and his knowing, his presence behind me was enough for me to find that space within myself.

This is what I have always found so powerful about the medicine of horses, the palpability of the energy that emerges from them. In the space I co-create with my herd there is a deeper space of presence of which horse emerges for us and what is significant about that.

Chief, being the leader of the herd, in his quiet presence and powerful knowing was exactly what I needed in that moment to feel the part of me he mirrored.

His strength and his presence gave me the ability tap into that part of me, to continue in the persistence of what was before me, and in a way that didn’t feel disconnected to my own leadership.

The space horses open up for me and for those that travel here is powerful.

The success of my business has been built upon the ability of me to navigate for the most part the places I hold myself back, get lost in my own fears, and move beyond my doubts.

When we are building something, it is important for us to have confidence, to trust our intuition, to know the clarity of our mission and vision of what we are building and understand the best course of action that will play to our strengths.

When we walk into the space with horses, we are getting access to parts of us that sometimes go hidden in the worries we carry. We get mirrored in our clarity and find certainty in their reflections.

This gives us the strength to keep moving, to keep building, to clear out the clutter in our minds and know for certain what, where and how we will continue to grow and pursue what is ours to create.

What has been inspired by my own journey and through what I have supported hundreds of women over the last 7 years is a retreat that is dedicated to empowering women who are feeling stuck and held back by their own fears and uncertainty when it comes to navigating the journey of entrepreneurship.

Horse Wisdom for Business Mastery is a 5 day retreat for women that are feeling stuck in their business, vision and belief in their ability to create their success around their purpose and calling in their work.

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It is a deep dive into our internal world, looking at our places of fear that hold us back while achieving support in the external pieces of our business as well.

The horses become our mirrors and guides, giving us clear feedback which allows us to see where we hold back and creating a space to step into a more empowered and clear state of being.

If you are moved to give yourself and your business a space of wise and layered support, that will have you feeling clear, confident and knowing of how to move your vision of success forward, move beyond where you feel blocked and on your way to achieving the tangible outcomes you are seeking...

You can read more about the retreat here and register for a space. Limited spaces are available due to the nature of the retreat.

Or if this speaks to you and you are wanting a more private immersion as part of your process, I hold private and custom retreats for women entrepreneurs that I love supporting when it is time for them to emerge more deeply and successfully in their vision and leadership. You can check that out here.

Otherwise, if you simply needed to witness the energy of this post, I am glad to share it.

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