What I’m Learning About Presence

Erin Cutshall
July 2022

International Coaching Federation (ICF) featured blog

Read on coachingfederation.org

When I first started Equus Coaching, my son was six years old and we often struggled. He acted out and I put a lot of focus on trying to control his behavior. But trying to control his behavior never worked, and I’d been looking for a better way for years, without feeling like we were making any real progress.  

I’ll never forget the day I was standing in the kitchen and my son was very upset. Having spent the weekend working with a highly-sensitive mustang, I decided to try the same approach I had taken with the mustang with my son. I reminded myself that I needed to relax my entire body. There he stood, his little body tensing all over. As I relaxed, my son began to ease up too. Then, unexpectedly, he turned around and walked away happy.

That moment was the beginning of an entirely new relationship between us. I learned that his behavior was mirroring the way I was showing up. Once I stopped believing that I needed to control him, and started focusing on how I was showing up instead, the conflicts lessened and eventually went away. Years of trying to problem solve his behavior couldn’t teach me what I had learned experientially from a horse.  

I have found that working alongside horses in the way that we call Equus Coaching allows for deeper inner transformation than I have experienced elsewhere. So what is Equus Coaching exactly? It’s a visceral experience that is often difficult to put into words. In its simplest terms, Equus Coaching is a unique experience 1:1 with a horse that offers individuals the opportunity to understand how their inner dialogue and outward energetic expression affects their relationships and everyday life. Equus enables a person to shift from internal confusion and conflict to personal  alignment and flow. It can be a powerful approach to exploring our inner worlds and true selves. 

These are a few of the client benefits Equus has to offer:

A safe place to heal. As fellow coach Honor Medina describes it, “Equus sessions elicit emotion organically without heavy reliance on talking. I love how horses naturally create a safe container for humans to heal emotional wounds.”

Horses don’t judge. Many of us are highly in tune with “what’s wrong,” however, when a message about how to move forward comes gently and nonverbally from a horse, there seems to be more willingness to say, “Okay, message received.” My clients instinctively know that the horse can only tell the truth and doesn’t judge them for what they bring into the session, which
can be profoundly healing.

Faster results. Equus Coaching combines proven life and leadership coaching techniques that generate faster results. When a client leaves the session, a noticeable shift often occurs. We believe  his shift happens due to the horse’s ability to mirror behavior and energy – just as the mustang showed me with my son. To see this happen so quickly with clients is extremely rewarding as a coach.

When it comes to adding Equus to an existing coaching or therapy practice, a lot of people think they can’t do this type of work because they don’t own a horse, or they need prior experience. Not true! I didn’t expect to become an Equus Coach® as a mom with two young children. I didn’t grow up a “horse person” either. But when I was introduced to Equus, I knew it was something special and worth exploring.

Becoming a certified Equus Coach® has many benefits. Here are just a few:

1. Expand client base. I have offered Equus Coaching to existing clients and it has opened doors to a wider range of clients including individuals, couples, families, corporations, nonprofit organizations, Veterans and other groups.

2. Fulfill a deep desire to truly help others. Equus Coaching is a different interaction and process than talk therapy or other forms of life coaching. Equus is highly rewarding and fulfilling for coaches and clients.

3. Community. People gravitate to Equus at various stages of their lives. The coaches I work with come from a diverse set of backgrounds and professions – from RNs to LCSWs to retired Wall Street executives. These men and women are inspiring leaders and caretakers who resonate with the transformative and healing elements of Equus. Just as the horses rely on their herd for safety, we have leaned on our human “herd” for support and advice. Equus is what brings us together.

Today, I can’t imagine having a coaching business without Equus. Guiding others in this way has helped me grow personally, and in business, in ways I never imagined.

Erin Cutshall, PCC is the owner of Koelle Institute for Equus Coaching. Erin spent 20 years working in risk management and finance in large corporations. She has a master’s in organizational leadership, is an ICF-credentialed coach (PCC) and certified Master Equus Facilitator.

The Center for Equus Coaching