Although a lot of people call it horse-coaching, officially it is called Equin assisted coaching. And that is exactly what our horses do!
The communication within a herd of horses is very complex and is done in many different ways. Horses react to people as they do in a herd. By observing their behaviour valuable information is shared or made clear. Information about the person who is being coached, the individual(s) within a group and the groups dynamic (the herd).
Our herd is formed by two horses and 2 pony’s. They are used to working with people and are well behaved.
When we enter the paddock during the session, a paddock is the space for the horses, we become part of the herd (temporarily). The horses will scan us and react accordingly.
What is our natural behavior and role in the herd? Are we a threat, a leader or a follower, how well do we set our boundaries or how confident are we in the communication with others. These are signs they scan and will react to.
The subconscious reacts to the questions asked or the situations we’re put in. Maybe we’re not even aware of these responses, but the horses are. Certainly when the topic of the questions are about a theme that is affecting you. The nonverbal physical communication can change a lot. Rising blood pressure, muscle tension , holding your breathe or shrugging with your shoulders.
Feedback from coach & horse
As said before, our horses are well behaved. But that doesn’t mean that the responses they give are “the socially preferred ones“ or sugar coated. Yawning, rolling, standing still during a walking exercise or totally losing interest and walking away are responses that can be given.
The coaches won’t explain why a certain behavior is triggered, but will steer the session in such a way that new insights are or can be formed. It is important to know that there are no good or wrong answers. Every answer is a good answer, as it is an indication of where you or the team stands.
Equine Assisted Coaching is experiential (according to Wikipedia: “learning through reflection on doing”). Through the exercises and feedback people will learn from them selves and each other. The horses will help by giving feedback.
Ofcourse the coaches take care of the safety during the session. The safety of both people and animals.