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We want people to know what a day in the life of a facilitator could really look like. Because this is a job that you may like as you might have a love for horses and a love for people but you don't even know that this job is out there.

You have to start. Because when you start, that's when a path opens. So you become certified you have everything you need for the programs. You find people who want to come in and work with the horses. You learn further to understand how to run and how to facilitate these programs. What you see is the humans making a change within themselves.

Sometimes you may think, in your present job, I do not want to go to work. That doesn't seem to happen with the job of a Facilitator because it isn’t like any other job you’ve had. It's a purpose. It's a passion. It’s something you're going to do and it’s what you love every day. Is it going to be a hard day? Yes.

You’ll have moments of thinking. Is it cold outside? Is the wind blistering and horrible? You betcha. However, we get to prepare for a program, we get to set ourselves up for how this is going to work today. All of the work that you get to do is towards the end goal of helping somebody move forward with their life. There's nothing better than knowing that each day you're adding value to this world. I think because every single human being has value in this world, the more that we can do, the better off we are.

Every day your horses give you something as horses speak one language globally around the world. This is a fact that we know they speak one language. They're not like us humans but in a beautiful way all horses are. They have different personalities, just like we do. The greatest piece with horses is they can only think, act and respond like a horse. They can never think, act and respond like a human.

So that's where it can become tough. We have to understand their language, their culture, so that we can actually have a conversation. This form of communication we understand from Doctor Stephen Peters. He’s the brain neurologist for horses and helps us know how a horse thinks, acts and responds. It really opens up a world for you. That's life changing with your horses.

This is a day in the life of a Facilitator. Here is a story about that.

We are in the arena working with two of our horses, Disco and JR. They are a tight couple of friends. We are talking when Carolyn notices JR is looking rough. She’s looking very tired.

Carolyn asks her. (That's the best part, is when you ask a horse what's wrong? Or you ask a horse a question, remember, they're not hearing it in your English words. It's how that thinking,

feeling and stimulus is coming to the horse from you, that they will answer back.) So JR lets Carolyn know that she is hurting. Carolyn puts out her hand and says. Okay, I'm going to close my eyes and I'm going to put out my hand and you just put it where it hurts on you because I don’t know. Meanwhile we’re thinking poor horse, we're trying to help but you have to tell us where. We don't know.

I'm going to put my hand on the spot that is painful, Carolyn says. Disco walks up and places Carolyn’s hand over her shoulder area. We both look at each other. Is this really happening? Disco, her friend-horse, comes over to Carolyn. He touches the hand again to reassure us. He moves it a little, moving it up and then pushes it onto JR's body more. So, we're thinking, is this really happening?

What we do is breathe. We shake it all off and say, let's do this again for reassurance. This is so we understand correctly. The same process happens. But this time Disco shows much more surety making it very clear where Carolyn’s hand has to go. He literally takes his muzzle and moves her hand in his lips. It is amazing.

After this, I hire a massage therapist to come in. I don’t tell the massage therapist anything because I always like to see if people are really listening, hearing and understanding what the horse is saying. She’s been doing the massage on JR for an hour now because it takes a long time on a big horse. I come in and she says, you know, JR, she has been fabulous everywhere I have worked on her. It was great, except she continues, as I'm finishing off, I discover this in her shoulder. Now I’m thinking, that's where Disco put Carolyn’s hand. The therapist says, come and take a look.

I take a look and it's where JR’s fascia band is (fascia band is what keeps all of our body muscles in place). It's like a saran wrap that holds everything where it's supposed to be. It's like if you had hamburger or a piece of chicken at the grocery store and it has the saran wrap on it. If you actually break a hole in that wrap, you can never bring that saran wrap back together again. It is the same with fascia. If you have damage to your fascia, it cannot grow together again. This is what the therapist had discovered. Perhaps you’ve thought, why does my horse have a dent here? It all worked out for JR. Just by listening to our horse.

A day in the life of a Facilitator is continually listening and understanding where it is that they come from. When we don't know who do we ask? The people who have more knowledge than us. Who do they ask? The people who have more knowledge. I'm telling you, I think for any of us humans who work with horses on this earth we will never know everything that there is to know. But, we’re doing a great job as we're moving forward.

The day in the life of a Facilitator is an exciting piece, because now your horses are working with you in this beautiful way to help another human to be able to move forward in their lives. There's so much purpose not only for ourselves as humans, but for our horses, because you see the number one thing a horse needs is to feel safe. When they are not feeling safe they let us know right away so we can step in and help the human. Not with the answer because the

humans have got their own answer, but because they love their horse and they want to keep them safe, so they know they have to make a change in themselves.

So how do our programs work? Every exercise has been designed with a predictable outcome. So what that means is you are going to have a result at the end of all programs and exercises that you run through with your clients. Typically one of the exercises would last an hour and 15 minutes, maybe sometimes an hour and a half. You always have a beginning where you're briefing what the exercise is going to be with your clients that day. Perhaps it's working on communication. We're going to talk about that.

That's what our clients are going to learn as they work with their horses. We move everyone to the arena, spending about 40 minutes there. This is where we, as the facilitators, are trained to understand. We have to be able to help our clients be able to hit the objective of communication. How we do this is by stepping in, this is where we ask questions or mini-debrief the process.

This will always include the objective, which would be communication. We help them in hitting that goal by using parallels to their own life.

We never want the learning to stay within the arena. We want them to capture what they did and know what changed inside to get to their communication goal. We want them to use it in their everyday life. How does that skill translate? So if you knew you had to adjust this behavior, this style of communication or speaking your truth in everyday life, where does that fit in? They start piecing everything together.

A lot of the groups we work with are addictions groups. The objectives are huge for the reintegration back into everyday life. When you are an addict everything has to change. When you get back out into the world, that means everything for change is on you. You have to learn all of these skills, almost like it's for the first time. So there are a couple of things that some of our participants have said. Especially after the first exercise they come to or one of the programs following.

Perhaps this is the first time they have taken one of the exercises at Equine Connection. When you think about what these words are that they have discovered for themselves, they're quite profound. Respect and trust of self and others is important. Trust is a do word. Take action to trust. We have them come into a room so we can debrief the objective. We always have them write down in what my horse taught me today, a reflection.

What are the first two pieces? They say it's basically asking. How are you going to apply what you've learned today from the horses to your time and your treatment? The second question is. How are you going to apply that now to everyday life as well?

They take the opportunity to respond to each of those pieces. An example of how are they going to apply this to their treatment? Connection is the opposite of isolation. We thought that was a really huge one. When you think about that word isolation, it means something very different than it used to before (i.e. isolated village). Isolation is incredibly difficult on people. People are

not meant to be lonely. How are you going to use this in your everyday life? Patience. Patience is key. They’ll say thanks Kokanee for your help. I love it when they thank the horses.

Here we are in the day in the life of a Facilitator. Our addiction programs run once a week. We have the Calgary Dream Center, who comes once a week to learn a new skill. We also have the next step ministry ladies who come once a week to learn a new skill. This fills your bucket.

Every day. This fills your bucket to take that next step, that next move, because to see how profound the experiential learning is when a horse is literally allowed to be the teacher. When you are trained enough to understand that you step in just to help the human to find their own answers. You realize they have to be empowered on how they move forward with it.

The journaling piece or “what my horse taught me”. I think this is the most profound part. Being human we are not sure if that went very well today or perhaps Faye tried to nip someone. Then you read the what my horse taught me and you are in awe. That's what a human got out of it? This is how they're going to apply it to their everyday lives by not letting anyone push me around. I'm in charge of me, not anyone else that's around me. Huge changes!

We worked with a youth medicine lodge, which was the treatment center and intake center for youth at risk. They came to our facility for several months taking our equine assisted learning. One teenage girl came up to me to say, hey Kari, just so you know, I'm going to be leaving the Medicine Lodge. And I just wanted to thank you so much for everything you and Carolyn do and the horses. It was lovely. I said, yeah, no problem. I never ask why? Because I'm not a therapist. I don't need to know their whys.

Later that day we’re doing a program that is called It's All Up to You. The objective for that exercise is choices. She does the whole thing, our beginning, middle and end. We say goodbye to everybody. They've already written on their what my horse taught me page. We read these after, we always read our journals or what my horse taught me to our horses too because we want them to be a part of this whole process. It’s the horses that have changed that human's life. It wasn't us. We are trained enough to know the difference.

We're reading them and get to the teenage girl who is leaving. She says. Today I discovered that I have a choice and because I have a choice, I am choosing to stay with the youth medicine lodge. Oh my gosh, of course we sent it off to the lodge. Then we call and we think this is so amazing that this human has made a decision because they’ve realized we always have a choice.

Every time you take a program you always have a choice. But because we were specific to working on that one objective and that exercise that day, it was like the epiphany for her that she discovered. I can make the choice for whatever I need in my own life. She stayed to the very end of the treatment.

I know those are the kinds of moments that you think this is why we do what we do. So this was one girl’s final journal after she had finished all of her programming at the center as well. My

body language is really important in life. Others will perceive me based on how I present myself, just like Brandon does. Brandon's the horse. Brandon will not follow me unless I'm confident.

Eyes forward, shoulders back, and I know where I'm going, so I must always present myself that way so others show me respect, just as Brandon did. I will try to remember what Brandon has taught me about my own ability to lead. I do have it in me. He showed me that with the right courage, confidence and determination, I am able to lead the leader of a herd of horses. Thank you so much. It's been such an honor and privilege to be here with the horses. I will never forget reading this and my experience that gave me the shivers. Brandon is the head of the herd.

That's why it was so powerful for her. Now that is amazing.

A day in the life of a Facilitator is the most dreamy of worlds that you could possibly ever think of. Is it hard work? You bet it is. But to have a dream that you can literally wake up every morning knowing that you're doing something so purposeful. In this very short life that we have and being able to make money. Makes it beautiful that this is a day in our life.

You have a business, you have your write offs, your horses are a part of your business. Instead of just spending money on them, you can write them all through the government. Or anything else that you're doing as you start a business. Now everything you do with your horses as they are the essential part and key ingredient to your business. Now you have all these write offs that go along with being in business.

Always remember, you are an absolute gift to this world. Don't let anybody sway you from that. You are here for a reason, for a purpose. Go be with those beautiful animals. But know you are the gift that is making someone have a different day just because you exist. That's right, facilitators, you are the gift.



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