Coaching trends: Do you know an ‘equicoach’?

FedjerIs it just me, or have you also noticed a new ‘coaching vibe’?

I keep seeing books and articles both in French and English on the subject of ‘equicoaching’ or ‘horse coaching’. Friends and colleagues also notify me about coaches who conduct this kind of work; meaning leadership programmes, team building and personal development – where the horse is ‘partner coach’.

As an ICF (International Coach Federation) certified coach I have to continue educating myself in the coaching field to keep my certification, and this is how I discovered coaching with horses. There are some businesses specialized in training coaches for equicoaching that are approved by ICF. I noticed this particular niche of coaching on the list when I looked for places where I could accumulate the credits needed for a certification renewal. I started reading about equicoaching, signed up for newsletters and attended a webinar on the subject. And voila! I was hooked!

After one training in the method ‘Eponaquest’, I was convinced that coaching with horses is something unique and should be brought to my clients. My experiences with the method so far are very positive.

What is unique about it? Whether you like horses or not, meeting this gracious and sensitive animal will have an impact on you. Yes, they are big, but tiny ponies have the same impact. There is no riding involved, just communication – which means yours and the horse’s body language.

How often do you really take the time to notice your own body language and the messages it has to you, or really pay attention to other people’s body language? There is so much information there, yet we mostly pay attention to words and tone of voice, at least consciously. Unconsciously, we take in a lot more. Being with the horses help you make the unconscious become more conscious. They are mirroring your feelings and behaviours, which can be quite an ‘aha’ experience when it’s right in front of you!

To give you some concrete examples of the mirroring I am talking about, I had a client who had difficulty in setting a boundary with the coach-horse; this horse kept coming too close. The client realized that she wasn’t setting clear boundaries with people either. She left the session and had a very constructive conversation with a family member that same evening, which resulted in my client feeling that she was more respected. Another client had a stress issue. In the meeting with the horse, he managed to ‘listen’ to own body, connect with own feelings – and he felt the horse gave him understanding in return, there was no judgment. He realized that people probably don’t judge him either; the judges were in his own mind. The client left with a plan to change several daily routines and to ask for help in one area.

In team building I have seen people get immediate eye-openers to their colleagues’ body language after having spent half a day together practicing listening skills with the horses. Which also funnily led to the comment ‘we need a horse at work!’

I have noticed, and other’s report the same, that coaching with horses accelerate the learning. Personal insights appear to come quicker and they are more visual. I also see that clients move into action right away, which isn’t always the case with regular coaching.

Equicoaching certainly offers a complementary route to insights and learning. For teams there is the additional experience in being outdoors and doing something different together. As a client said; ‘it’s magical’!



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