Cultivating Emotional Competence Through Equine Connection

pamela hunter
March 2022

Instructor Spotlight: Pam Hunter, Certified Master Facilitator, Principal at Unbridled Life Coaching

To get started, we’d love to hear about your background and the work you did before you became an Equus Coach.

My former career was that of a New York City-based investment manager, where my teams and I managed mutual funds as well as the assets of corporations and high net worth individual investors.  Over the years, I was fortunate to learn many skills as a securities trader, Client relationship specialist, investment portfolio manager, loyal employee, business development and division manager. It was a fast-paced, highly performance-centric and pressure-filled world, but also lots of fun.

How were you introduced to Equus Coaching? Was there an event, or anything specific, that led you to this new career? Did you have any previous experience with horses? What were your first impressions?

The global financial services industry went through massive consolidation with many firms merging and/or acquiring others. I began to contemplate life after Wall Street, with the knowledge that my own career could potentially be disrupted if a firm I worked for was sold. Distilling what I loved most about my career, it absolutely came down to partnering with my Clients and teammates in helping them create a path to life satisfaction and achieving their own goals. Life Coaching as a career was garnering considerable attention and after performing due diligence on the myriad of programs offered, I began to study with Martha Beck in 2012 and through her learned of Equus Coaching. Although I hadn’t been on horseback for awhile, I always loved horses and was intrigued with working with them in coaching. I attended a weekend workshop shortly thereafter. My first session was with Travis, then an Assistant Instructor, who quickly identified my performance anxiety while working with a very young amped up gelding(who clearly reflected my own lack of confidence!). I felt my cheeks blazing with a combination of self-directed anger and embarrassment which only intensified this horse’s need to get away from me! Travis coached me through my anxiety/fear/shame response and had me center through feeling my feet on the ground and breathing, ultimately shifting the horse/human relationship to one of mutual trust.  This simple time- out became a valuable lesson in every aspect of my life and I knew then that I wanted to become an Equus Coach.  I left the “ street” in 2018 to become a full time EC along with six equine partners.

 

When it comes to professional development, performance and career growth in the corporate arena, how can Equus Coaching help employees (and companies) overcome obstacles and reach their goals?

Corporate coaching, leadership development and team-building initiatives through experiential learning is one of the fastest and most effective means to help companies meet the many challenges presented to them in a rapidly transitioning world. Leaders often come into an Equus Coaching training session with false bravado and the need to “perform” perfectly in front of their team, who, in turn, imagine judgement from their coworkers and the critical eye of their manager. Of course, this vulnerability is exposed through their interactions with horse, who senses their lack of mind/body congruence and responds by moving away(fleeing), pushing boundaries(fighting) or not responding to requests(freezing). As the individual or group explores different ways of being/doing/playing with horse, they learn confidence, emotional agility through energy modulation, clarity in communication, how using utilizing individual strengths and competencies to achieve a common goal raises the likelihood of success, and that collaboration fosters trust and galvanizes the team. Ultimately, they learn their success or failure is dependent on the level of trust and collaboration among individual team members as well as the team itself as a cohesive entity.

 

What is exciting for our Herd is that there are a myriad of business opportunities to explore in this arena. Companies are finally recognizing the value of good employees and how to best attract and retain them, thus are willing to deploy resources towards this effort. ECs can work with the executive teams of major institutions, staff onboarding and orientation(would be great for those going through corporate training programs), change management, crisis management,

and workplace diversity and inclusion. And there are many more opportunities  in the professional development space!

 

What has working with horses taught you about yourself? What obstacles have you overcome? The horses have made me a much better communicator, listening and waiting rather than rushing in and jumping to conclusions. Prior, I vacillated between being energetically high or low, a pattern unsettling to horses. They taught me that it is okay not to know and to experiment.  Mirroring their stillness and self-acceptance has made me a better, more intuitive coach and peaceful human.

 

 

Do you have a New Year’s Resolution, or something you’re looking to learn or master this year? Yes! To continue learning about this body of work and the multiple applications for both corporate entities and individuals of all ages. Looking forward to creating workshops and collaborating with our Equus Coach herd and to promote our work to benefit the personal and professional lives of those we serve. It is so much more fun to co-create with others than it is work alone!

 

What advice would you give to someone who is on the fence about starting a second career? If possible don’t leave your present career immediately; use the time and resources to thoroughly understand what it is you want to create in your second career and what it takes in terms of business set up and financial costs. Know your work style and competencies. Are you good with technology, marketing and business? If not, there are many inexpensive online courses where you can learn or enhance these skills, or you can hire expert help. The more you prepare, the higher your likelihood of success and the lower your start-up costs. You can also embark on your new career in your free time so that you are building your business and brand awareness while maintaining your income. Finally, don’t hesitate to ask for help and seek advice in areas where you would benefit from the expertise of others. I employed the services of a skilled Equus Coach for several years who helped me with my decision to change careers and shepherd me through the transition. Doing so provided the clarity and courage to make the leap!