Engaging with People, Horses and More-than-Human Animals

Connection and kinship with nature are at the heart of my work with people, horses and more-than-human animals.

When you deepen your understanding of the needs of more-than-human-animals, the impact of systemic oppression, and our own human lens, you can begin to create solutions for change.

I offer consulting services that support practitioners who incorporate horses into human healing, in being the best advocates they can be for their horses.

Unexamined Practices

After 30+ years in the horse industry, I know that people love their horses and want what’s best for them. I also know this love is accompanied by contradictory practices like the use of force and pain, lack of choice and autonomy, and misinterpretations of equine behavior. This results in horses who are shut down and living in a state of learned helplessness, depression or anxiety.

Unfortunately, many equine-assisted psychotherapy and coaching programs borrow from unexamined practices in the horse industry. In these programs, horses that are used to help humans heal are  exposed to excessive amounts of aversive or punishing training techniques. You may have noticed these practices, too, and felt in your gut that something's just not right.

"What animals are experiencing should matter to our anti-racist movements if we understand the "animal" as a social construct was designed to prop up the ruling class and the "human.”

― Aph Ko

Reimagining Equine-Assisted Practices

The ethical inclusion of horses in human treatment requires stepping outside traditional horsemanship. It means we must honor the science of learning, all we know about equine behavior and the integral role that safety plays in connection. It is an enormous responsibility to understand, care for, train and prepare a therapy animal.

This often requires us to unlearn what we've known about horses and reimagine equine-assisted practices, so that our experiences with horses can help bring us back to the essence of who we are.

You’re Ready to Unlearn and Learn Anew

My approach is centered on advocating for the horse as a foundation of relational safety for any client you are working with. I draw on my experience as a Certified Brené Brown Daring Way Facilitator to help you identify your deepest values and create practices and behaviors that embody those values. I create a container of relational safety and unconditional acceptance so you have space to examine what’s coming up for you as you unlearn and learn anew. Our work together provides you with room to speak truth to thoughts, feelings and actions that feel shameful, and I provide guidance on ways to move forward with self-compassion and self-kindness.

"We measure and record and analyze in ways that might seem lifeless but to us these are the conduits of understanding species not our own. Doing science with awe and humility is a powerful act of reciprocity with the more-than-human world....These are just ways we have of crossing the species boundary. Of slipping off our human skin and wearing fins or feathers, or foliage, trying to know others as fully as we can. Science can be a way of forming intimacy and respect with other species that is rivaled only by the observations of traditional knowledge holders. It can be a path to kinship."
– Robin Wall Kimmerer

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