Welcome to my blog. This is my friend Lance, and my first experience with Equine Assisted Coaching and my first blog post about it. Lance helped me accept who I had become post double mastectomy as I started my journey to move beyond cancer.
Before the moment between Lance and I was captured in the photo, here’s what happened. I wanted to experience Equine Assisted Coaching first hand and found a great place near Nisswa. I leaned on the fence and looked out in the pasture at all the horses that were available to work with. My initial thought was that none of them could handle me.
Usually the coach chooses the horse for the client based on “horsenalities” and the coaching topic. Because I was interested in working with horses, I asked my coach if I could pick my own horse. She agreed, so off we went to meet the herd. As we entered the pasture living room all of the horses became alert that we were there. We slowly walked towards each one for a meet and greet. I really didn’t feel a connection with any of them, and realized I wasn’t really connected with myself either.
Each of the horses turned and moved away as if they knew I was rejecting them by rejecting myself. They wanted no part of my self rejection. Then I spotted Lance in the distance. He was a big boy, and I smiled across the pasture as he looked up. He looked like he might be able to handle me. I stared at him quietly and patiently waited for him to come to me. I made the first move and walked towards him, then I stopped, and he started to walk towards me.
We had a initial connection. Clearly he was big enough to handle my stuff. I warned him about me, but he still willingly let my coach and I escort him through the gate. As we headed towards the arena, all of sudden Lance stopped. I looked at him and said, “hey buddy, did you change your mind about me”? He didn’t change his mind about me, but he must have picked up on my low body trust and self esteem at the time. Or maybe not. Who knows, it could have been something out in the woods that made him stop. Why did I think it was something about me or something I had done? To this day I will not know for sure why he stopped suddenly, but the breakthrough came next in the arena.
After my coach and I talked for a bit with Lance close by, I was invited to tell Lance how I was feeling after my surgery and what my concerns were. I stood by him for awhile sharing the horrors of the insurance hassle the night before, and the actual surgery and night in the hospital that never admitted me, walking the halls with 4 drains and inexperienced medical students. Oh the trauma of it. That was the easy part. When I started to talk to Lance about the me that was left over after surgery, the me standing before him, he just stood strong and held the space for both of us.
I felt a week sensation in my arms and legs and my stomach was on fire, with an aching heart. Soon words stopped and tears poured out dropping to my boots. The horse did not cry with me, he did not look and walk away saying this is too much to hear or handle, he did not say, ” don’t worry, at least you are alive”, or get over it. He did not tell me how lucky I was because I caught the cancer early and how others are not so lucky. He did not tell me at least I didn’t lose my hair. He did not try to change my feelings, or perceptions of my new reality. I started to feel shaky as I re-entered my body. It sounds strange, but looking back I was so afraid of my body and any cancer it could make, that I was living in my head and dragging my body along for the ride.
That was the beginning of my ride beyond cancer and I felt the healing power of being with Lance and a skilled coach who had no agenda, but worked with what was happening in the moment. That is the beauty of working with horses. You can be still and just be with them. There are a lot of activities you can do with horses and coaching that involve movement and props depending on the coaching topic. My topic was trusting and accepting my new body. It was my first time experiencing equine assisted coaching as a client and it was a perfect healing session. Thank you Lance for helping me be still and letting you be the horse.