Q&A with Erin Cutshall, Master Equus Coach & Training Coordinator
Who/what inspired you to become an Equus Coach?
One day, I was driving down a street in my neighborhood, trying to figure out what to do next with my life. I saw a woman and a girl riding horses down the middle of our street. I’d never seen horses being ridden in our neighborhood before and I’ve never seen them since. In my mind, at that time, it felt like a sign to me to do this horse thing I had heard about, as strange as that seemed to me at the time. So I signed up for Equus Coach training, without really knowing exactly what it was. At the time, I didn’t think I could ever really be an Equus Coach, but it called to me somehow anyway.
What have horses taught you about Leadership?
There are two things horses have taught me about leadership. The first is to have a clear vision of where I am going and to embody how I want things to feel as I move in the direction I want to go in. “Become the energy you want to see in the world,” is a saying we sometimes use in Equus Coaching. If I want to create movement in the world, I bring movement to my interactions. And if I want to create more stillness in the world, I need to learn to embody stillness. The horses respond to the energy I bring, so they can tell me how I’m doing with embodying the energy I’m trying to create.
The second important leadership principle is to be myself, whatever that might look like in the moment. I love looking at horses and seeing that they can’t pretend to be something they are not. Pretending to know more than I do or to be someone I’m not doesn’t really work with them, and I don’t believe it works with humans either. When I’m with the horses, I get to practice just showing up as I am. They don’t have expectations or need me to impress them. I’ve found my best leadership moments are when I show up fully as me with the humans in my life as well.
Has Equus Coaching impacted or changed your parenting style?
The greatest impact the horses have had on me in my personal life is with parenting my highly sensitive son. When I first started Equus Coaching, he was 6 years old and we often struggled. He acted out and then I put my focus on his behavior. But trying to control his behavior had never worked and I’d been looking for a better way for years, without feeling like we were making any real progress. I noticed that controlling the horses’ behavior didn’t work either. It was an interesting parallel.
After a weekend working with a highly-sensitive mustang, I came home and tried the same thing that worked with the mustang, which was to relax my entire body when I was up close. I’ll never forget that first moment when I was standing in my kitchen and my son came up to me, arguing and tensing his little body over something I had said. I did the same thing I had done with the horse. I relaxed my entire body, and my son instantly stopped and turned around and walked away happy. That was the beginning of an entirely new relationship between us. I had learned that his behavior was feedback for me and the way I was showing up in each moment. Once I stopped believing I needed to control him and started to focus on myself and how I was showing up instead, the conflicts went away.
On the topic of Spring and rebirth, can you speak to the symbolism of the season and what’s top-of-mind for you right now when it comes to doing intrapersonal work?
I was born on the first day of Spring, and I love how the air on my birthday has a feeling of newness. The tulips and daffodils are just starting to break out of the ground where I live and I’m so excited that winter is behind me. For me, this time of year is when I’m ready to move forward with a new season, new goals, and new energy. I’m excited to look forward, knowing that I don’t really know what life will bring this coming year. I know there could be some challenges and also some wonderful surprises. It makes me want to show up in my life so that I’m ready for whatever comes my way.
If you have any questions, or would like to connect with Erin, email her at email@example.com