What I’m Learning About Presence

Erin Cutshall
December 2023

When I was a young child, my grandpa used to take us out on long trips into the deserts of Utah in a horse-drawn wagon. Two huge drafts would pull my grandpa, brothers and cousins and me through the sand, over rocks, up and down hills, or wherever else my grandpa asked them to go. We even went into the nearest small town and through the drive-through for ice cream cones. I’ll never forget the smell of the horses, sweating in the hot sun, the squeaking of the harnesses and the bumpiness of the wagon on the road.

Sometimes, my grandpa would give me the reigns and I would feel the horses pulling against them, their strength transferred through the leather to my small hands. My grandpa and I would look back at the wiggly lines we made in the sand when I was driving. I wished I could make straighter ones but didn’t feel strong enough to guide these giants into straight lines. I wondered, even at that young age, why the horses moved for me at all.

Horses are full of grace. There is the gracefulness of their movement, of course, but there is another kind of grace that horses bring to human interactions. They are full of curiosity about us, and have a willingness to work with us and for us, even though humans haven’t always been as gracious in return. They are bigger and stronger than us, and yet they are gentle with us. I felt a sense of wonder as a child at that gentle strength.

Today as an Equus Coach®, I still have that same sense of wonder. I wonder when they gently place their head at the heart of a grieving client. I wonder when they stop searching the ground for food and come closer to move with a client that’s stuck. I am often overwhelmed with gratitude for their willingness to help us and ultimately, for the grace of their presence. I don’t imagine I will ever lose that childlike wonder that I felt on those wagon rides or ever truly understand why they move for us, but I hope I can learn to be as gracious with the humans in my world as horses have been.

The Center for Equus Coaching