Cultivating Emotional Competence Through Equine Connection

Travis Stock
May 2021

I want to start by wishing everyone in our herd, and those aligned with our work, a Happy Pride Month! While our current global circumstances continue to require modified celebrations and gatherings, it feels more important than ever to stay connected to the core message of Pride. For many of us in the LGBTQ+ community, Pride is about a celebration of belonging – belonging to our own selves and to a community with a shared experience of the world. I vividly remember the internal shift I felt while attending my first Pride Festival in Phoenix, AZ as an out, gay man. Seeing others, like me, experience true joy in living authentically and gathering with others who validate that joy, gave me permission (possibly for the first time) to actually feel at home within myself. 

I want to start by wishing everyone in our herd, and those aligned with our work, a Happy Pride Month! While our current global circumstances continue to require modified celebrations and gatherings, it feels more important than ever to stay connected to the core message of Pride. For many of us in the LGBTQ+ community, Pride is about a celebration of belonging – belonging to our own selves and to a community with a shared experience of the world. I vividly remember the internal shift I felt while attending my first Pride Festival in Phoenix, AZ as an out, gay man. Seeing others, like me, experience true joy in living authentically and gathering with others who validate that joy, gave me permission (possibly for the first time) to actually feel at home within myself.

 

When I reflect on my first experience with Equus Coaching, I can see I was still working on how to belong to myself. There I was in a round pen with all of my perfectionism, intense desire to get it “right” and the fear of being truly seen. What a gift it was to see that my horse partner didn’t seem to be bothered by any of that. The space that horse held for me to be however I needed to be, without judgment, changed something within me. I learned there was permission for me to belong, with or without the coping strategies I picked up over time. That lesson continues each time I observe a horse herd. In a herd, there is space for each individual, for different levels of sensitivity, and even for conflict without the fear of rejection. No horse needs to be anything but themselves in order to be a member of the herd.

 

That message of belonging is something we center our work on in The Koelle Institute for Equus Coaching. In fact, it’s one of our core values. We believe, “Workshop participants, individual clients, and Equus Coaching students are guided by horses beyond the limiting fear-based messages of our current social structure and back to their true essential nature. Nature models for us the way to be truly at home within our own experience of life.” So, for this Pride Month, I encourage us all, whether you are a member of the LGBTQ+ community or not, to find more of what gives you that “at home” feeling.

 

What is one “turtle step” (a phrase we often use as Equus Coaches) that you can take to create more belonging in your life – for yourself and for others?

 

I hope you all have a safe and happy Pride Month.

-Travis