If you would have told me ten years ago that one day I would be working with horses facilitating life skills, I would have called you a liar. I’m a little different than most of the people that have done this course in the fact that I had no horse experience - and never really had a desire previously to get any. I had grown up with dogs and thought that was good enough. It was not until Kari asked me to come on board to help with marketing and technology stuff that I started to truly understand the teaching power that they possess.
So initially Kari asked me to come out to Saskatchewan with her to see some programs and meet the program designer. So I went out and it was cold. I don’t deal well with being cold and I don’t hide it well either, so Kari was very aware that I was not super impressed with being there. At first, I didn’t get it. All of these people were so in love with the horses and talking about how amazing they were, but I hadn’t yet connected the dots. In fact, they kind of freaked me out. They were huge and I also found out that I am fairly allergic to them as well. It wasn’t until I got to watch them in action that it really “clicked”.
As I stood back watching the teens working with the horses, the team leaders for the youth program were chatting with me. They were telling me the stories of these children - where they had come from, the things that they had done, the challenges that they faced and how “troubled” they were. But these were not the teens I was seeing in front of me. I watched intently as the horses reacted to the situations that the groups were in and reacted to the authentic stimulus of the client and I finally got it! I witnessed first hand how the clients reacted with these beautiful creatures and how they truly listened to them to create a change within themselves.
That night, Kari and I went out for dinner and she asked what I thought. If I was in for helping her with this project. Now, I am not a cryer. Never have been. But something about the day had touched my heart and started a new path and passion and I actually started to cry as I said, “Yes! I am absolutely in!”
From there, it was a bit of a learning curve. There was a lot of fear to get over and a lot of skills to build and the place that I was at in life wasn’t necessarily a happy one. At first I was up in Leduc doing the marketing. While I was there I had my beautiful daughter (the light of my life) and ended up with post partum depression. I didn’t have any friends around and came home to Calgary as often as I possibly could as I felt very alone. My self esteem was as low as it had ever been - not like it had ever been that high - and although I had confidence, and outwardly people would never have know what a dark place I was in, I was a shell of a human being.
After about a year of living in Leduc, we were thankfully transferred back to Calgary (woohoo!) When I moved back home I thought things would get better. Maybe my problems would all be solved! Well turns out that isn’t the way life works. I was still in a pretty rough place in life. Shortly after we moved home, a huge blow hit and suddenly my marriage was over. I felt lost, betrayed and like a failure. Now what? I didn’t even know who I was anymore. How would I move forward? How would I support my daughter and I as I was making very little money at this point.
So Kari came over and helped me make a plan. We figured out what she could pay me to make it work, but I was going from a six figure household income to a significantly less household income. I panicked. I wasn’t sure if I could continue on with EAL. Did I need to get a different job?
So I needed to think on all of this, and at this point I was a certified facilitator and working with the horses regularly and facilitating programs. However, the horses were not exactly working with me the same way. Every time I worked with the horses - any horse - they would bite me. Or push me around. And I don’t mean like little bites. I went home everyday looking like a leopard.
It’s odd. Anytime in life before this, I would have quit. I would have thought that it was a sign to go and get another job and I’m not sure why my brain didn’t go there, but I knew that they were reacting to the twisted mess that my insides were at that point.
About three weeks later, Kari (who had been incredibly patient up to that point) told me she needed an answer. So I went home that weekend in complete turmoil, not knowing what I was going to do. I don’t know what happened - I don’t even know the moment that I made the decision but I decided that if mama is happy, baby is happy. This was my passion. I needed to do this for me. So I went in to work on Monday and told Kari that I was in for the long haul. I was never bitten again by a single horse.
If it weren’t for me recognizing the teaching that the horses were trying to do with me, I would have quit. I would have aborted my passion and probably be working behind a desk somewhere today. To this day, they are my greatest teachers. I have grown as a person because of them. Because I could step into being the leader of my own life. A leader to myself. Believing that I am worth more. I know that the horses believed in me and my capabilities enough to take the time to bite the crap out of me for three weeks. Being a facilitator is not just about changing the lives of others, but taking a journey to change your own life. I love my job. I love my life and I love the person that I have become. I am confident and I have self esteem. I know now that this is the greatest thing I could have done for myself - to take the teachings of the horse to heart and to find out the answers that truly matter to find my authentic self.
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