Q&A with Jennifer Voss, Master Equus Coach & Training Instructor
Can you tell us about the first time you experienced Equus Coaching?
In the summer of 2010, I learned more about myself in two minutes with a large black horse than I had in two years of coach training.
Let me be clear. The experience was not pretty. I wanted to be “in control” and “look good” in front of my buddies. Why I thought I would be able to control a horse when I hadn’t been near one in 20 years is beyond me, but I was totally invested in it at the time.
My ability to control crumbled right into the dirt under my boots. The fortress walls I had built around my heart and ego did, too. My mascara didn’t stand a chance. It was awkward, exposing, and very, VERY eye-opening.
And then it happened – the moment I stopped trying to control and told the truth about how I was feeling (vulnerable, discombobulated, and afraid), the horse began to take interest in what I was doing and let me lead.
Not control. Lead.
The horse was giving me very clear, non-judgmental feedback as to when he wanted to engage – and when he didn’t.
That weekend I redefined and recalibrated, through visceral experience, what effective leadership (in life and in business) looks like for me.
THIS is what experiential learning should feel like.
Why did you decide to become a life coach and an Equus Coach?
I decided to become a life coach almost by accident. It was through a series of synchronicities and intuitive hunches that led me to enroll in Martha Beck’s Wayfinder Life Coach Training program.
Deciding to become an Equus Coach, though, was a conscious decision. Not having horse experience, I didn’t know why I wanted to enroll in the Equus Coach training, but after the summer of 2010, I knew it was the next right step. Being from the corporate world, I’m a fan of efficiency and effectiveness and Equus Coaching is its own special blend of those two things.
What does “the magic of Equus” mean to you?
It’s the simplest way I know to explain an experience that is hard to put into words. It’s not magic in the “woo woo” sense. It’s true grounded connection with nature and how we are supposed to experience the world. Many of us have just forgotten, and the moments of remembering are something magical.
In simple terms, the energy of the client and the response of the horse shows us how we impact the environment we are in without words and without judgement. As the client begins playing with how they are moving through the space, the horse joins in on the dance. It never ceases to amaze me that the horse can feel and respond to what is truly happening, to where the client is in alignment and when they aren’t.
Even with a logical explanation, the dance still feels like magic to me and I’m pretty sure that’s how we are supposed to be in relation with ourselves and each other.
What does it mean to show up authentically? Do you think this is a common challenge for people today? If so, what are some contributing factors?
So many of us have been shaped by our cultures and taught how we are “supposed to” act, feel, behave, and succeed. Due to family and/or society pressures, we veer away from our true nature, our innate strengths, and what makes us come alive.
As mentioned above, if a client engages with a horse and is pretending to feel what they don’t really feel, or do what they don’t really want to do, the horse will mirror this back to them. The partnership won’t be in sync, the communication between the person and the horse won’t be effective, and the end results won’t be as envisioned.
The beautiful thing about horses is that they are in the moment. They don’t care if the client was out of alignment a minute ago. Once the client begins to own their true feelings, to set clearer boundaries, to speak truer words, the horse will respond. The connection between the person and the horse becomes clear and the partnership feels more like the dance.
What’s one of the more surprising or unexpected things you’ve experienced in the pen, personally or with a client?
The thing that still surprises me is that every single session is a new experience no matter how many times I step in a pen with a horse. There is always something new to learn and experience.
What advice do you have for anyone who’s on the fence about becoming a coach?
Follow your intuition.
If you have questions, or would like to work with Jennifer, connect with her at truthexperience.net