Alyssa Aubrey is the Founder and Program Director of Medicine Horse Ranch, a 1,000 acre horse, cattle and sheep facility in Marin County, California, north of San Francisco. She specializes in experiential learning and human development through working with horses.† She is a certified Equine-Guided Educator. Below is an interview about her work with horses and how it can affect people on a deep personal level.
What is Equine Guided Learning†and what would one expect to happen at the first horse interaction at a ranch like yours?
Equine Guided Learning incorporates horses into human self-development. The word “guide” means one who takes another into unexplored territory. In my EGL work, the horse has the primary role and is doing much more than assisting or facilitating; the horse is the one being listened to for authentic feedback. This creates a relational dynamic between the horse and the facilitator and also the horse and the participant/student/client. Even in the more traditional vocation of horsemanship, masterful horsemen and horsewomen consider the horses behavior and mood while training and/or riding and will make adjustments in consideration of the horseís kinesthetic feedback. Naming horse as guide calls forth a level of respect, distinct from the horse being a prop or a tool that is being used. This distinction is one of the more important standards/codes of ethics set forth in Equine Guided Learning.
The role of the human facilitator is to create and hold a safe learning space or container allowing the person being coached to have personal reflections that encourage learning to happen. The human coach is also holding safety as a primary and fundamental consideration while the participant is interacting with the horse. Often emotional changes occur as the body is prompted to let go of old stories and habits† which impede the new emerging growth. The client may be coming to an Equine Guided Learning group program or private coaching session with one or more topics or issues relevant to making changes in their lives.
Common EGL topics may include: some kind of transition such as a marriage ending or job loss, a desire to sharpen or focus a goal, create a vision for a meaningful future, nourish creativity, build self-confidence, develop trust, improve communication skills (verbal and non-verbal), practice setting healthy boundaries.
Being on land like ours (1,000 acres in West Marin), around animals and in nature opens human consciousness and allows our instinctive connection to the natural world to open and inform us, restoring our spirit and our hope for the world we live in.
Why is it that interacting with horses can be healing for some people?
For many people being with animals feels safer than people.†Horses, like all animals are non-judgmental and larger visual reflections of ourselves. Working with horses offers new perspectives and pathways for exploration which many people find comforting and reassuring. Instinctively we know the horse has no agenda for us, they are honest, cannot be bribed or manipulated, nor do they make us right or wrong.
They respond to our energy and congruency, our visibility and authenticity and they will often move away from us when we are performing, being incongruent or pretentious. I believe many people are relieved to find such frankness.
To date I’ve worked with over 2,500 people from all walks of life and continually notice the studentís ability to take feedback from a horse when they cannot accept it from the human being…even if they have never been around horses before and/or don’t especially like or know anything about the horse.
Related: The Power of Equine Therapy