“Horses show up for us time and time again, they hold space for us, and if we listen, they willingly tell us much about ourselves.”
Article written by Vonie Kalich
Once upon a time, I understood the value of my horse as an animal I could groom, ride, spend time with, and enjoy. Other than being happy to be a horse owner, I honestly didn’t understand the significant value of my horse until I went through the Touched by a Horse program, where I began the journey to become an Equine Gestalt Coach. Throughout my extensive training, I witnessed the miracles that take place when a coach partners with horses to facilitate the coaching process.
This is one story of what I’ve experienced with my clients…
Dissolving the Goo
Seated outside the round pen, my client spoke of an intense feeling in the middle of her rib cage. The metaphor was of a blockage that she described as a black goo, and it just wouldn’t go away. The goo held her hostage in her waking hours with thoughts of wanting to break free, to understand herself better, and to know the real person inside of herself. As we talked about the goo, she understood it was keeping her stuck and unable to move forward until she could let it go.
I moved her into the round pen with my horse Cody. He checked in with her, circled a spot, and rolled. He’d never rolled with anyone in the pen before—this was a first! It was fascinating to watch. As he stood up, he did the usual shake off of the dust and then walked straight over to her and put his head to her chest with his nose right on the goo spot.
He stood there for some time, then brought his head down and placed it at her feet. Once he was done at her feet, he moved around to her side and wrapped his head around her back. It was a beautiful site as Cody worked on giving her the support and love she needed at that moment.
As the session progressed, she was at a point where she was choking back the words with tears flowing down her face. Cody moved his nose to her throat, offering her the encouragement to speak her truth. During the debrief of our session, she found clarity, felt lighter, and was happy to move forward with a plan to completely dissolve the goo!
This client and countless others have been the inspiration for a structured program I’ve created that includes retreat time with horses, specifically to help women dissolve the goo—in whatever form that takes for them. I call it “One Size Fits None.”
Healing from Cancer and Creating a New Life
My coaching work partnering with horses taught me this truth as I navigated my own healing journey through cancer in 2019. I had been a long-distance runner and Pilates instructor when cancer knocked me out. I learned (with Cody’s help) that I had to do things differently to overcome the enormous physical, mental, emotional, and financial setback I was experiencing. There was no cookie-cutter program or magic wand to fix it all for me. There were definite actions I had to employ along the way, but the true healing and transformation came from inside. The ability to embrace a new perspective and make the necessary changes for a new way of life post-cancer came from the coaching I received and the work with the horses.
I hope that you, too, get to experience the value of connecting with your horses and how they hold space for us in many unseen ways, helping us cope with the good, the bad, and the ugly challenges life has in store for us!
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The Northwest Horse Source is an independently owned and operated print and online magazine for horse owners and enthusiasts of all breeds and disciplines in the Pacific Northwest. Our contemporary editorial columns are predominantly written by experts in the region, covering the care, training, keeping and enjoyment of horses, with an eye to the specific concerns in our region.