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"The Way of the Horse"

"The Way of the Horse,"
a Horse Spirit Connections interview with Kathleen Ingram

Program for Returning Vets
 
Kathleen is Co-Creator, 

Mental Health and PTSD consultant for IFEAL's "Dare to Live" programme.


Missed a mailing? See the Archives for valuable and insightful data about this exciting field of Equine Facilitated Learning (EFL).

 

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"From the moment I met Kathleen I could feel that there was something special about her, something many of us don't get to experience often enough in our personal or professional lives. Kathleen's wisdom, experience, and dedication to this field radiate acceptance and a genuine willingness to share her knowledge. Her philosophy of "holding the sacred space of possibility"  and encouragement to challenge your learning edge creates an environment for personal and professional growth that is open, warm, and most of all inspiring! It was truly an honor and a blessing for me to have her as my EFL facilitator trainer and to have experienced her gift of mentorship."     ~ Drea Bergquist Bowen, Silverdale, Washington

Greetings!

 

Happy Spring! Since the last newsletter came out in Fall of 2012, I have been fostering a lot of marvelous new opportunities, life transitions, and developments with Equine Facilitated Learning (EFL).  In this newsletter I hope to catch you up on all the action, and let you know about opportunities to work with me in exciting, new ways.

 

horse triad On the personal side, I can announce I'm now an official "Crone," by virtue of a beautiful Croning ceremony that my UK colleagues organized as a surprise tribute in the Fall of 2012! For those of you unfamiliar with the term, the Crone is the elder in the triad of the Maiden, Mother and Crone.  This triad is sometimes depicted in the Celtic design with 3 horses-how fitting!  The Crone in traditional cultures is encouraged to offer her experience and wisdom to guide her younger "sisters." The UK ceremony was a wonderful way to acknowledge my current role, which is teaching and supporting 3 EFL training programs in New Mexico, Canada and the UK.  You can find contact information for these programs at the end of this newsletter. 

 

The article I wrote in a 2011 newsletter called, "Conscious Generativity" is about intention and the gift of working wisely and consciously in the later part of our lives.  So many of my colleagues and contemporaries are looking for ways to transition into this next stage and want to support and mentor those who are in the middle stages of life.  My gratitude is beyond measure to those who are creating, generating and offering the gifts of healing and possibilities.  I will continue to mentor, teach, coach and inspire this next wave of exceptional individuals.

 

I've also become a Certified Coach through the Center for Credentialing and Education (CCE).  I felt that becoming a Certified Coach was an important way to acknowledge the transition I've made over the last decade, from a full psychotherapy practice of 30 years to my more recent role of shaping a new field of psychotherapeutic interaction with our equine co-facilitators, and a host of other professionals.

 

two horses Just a glance at the literature that's now available on the subject proves that working with horses in the field of mental health and human development has grown exponentially over the last few years.  Our field, which in the past was questioned as a legitimate avenue in the mental health field, is finally getting the recognition and validation it deserves. 

 

There is also a growing variety of choices for those who want to engage with the EFL field in some manner. I believe it's important to carefully survey the field of choices when it comes to training programs, recognizing what each program is prepared to address as well as being aware of what components may be missing from a program. One needs to consider the gaps in expertise that may need to be filled in one's preparedness to enter our great field of promise. Remember that training should help you prepare for your responsibility for the mental and emotional needs of our clients.

 

In developing my training, I asked myself,  "How can I contribute to the field of EFL and what do I bring that is unique to me?"  As it often happens, an email I received from Beth (New Zealand) in 2010 prompted me to consider the possibility of a long distance training program.  Thus, my Mentorship program in EFL was launched. The two key components of the program are relationship with self and relationship with others including our equine masters. 

 

In the article to follow, Toni from Canada gives a wonderful explanation of how the mentorship program is working for her.  More about this exciting individualized program can be found on my website. You can also hear more about it in my interview with Jennifer Oikle in April.  

 

kathleen in england fall 20

Many Blessings,
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Events for 2013


California and Virginia:
Plans are underway for Kathleen to facilitate workshops in late summer early fall- dates to be announced soon. 

 

feel certificationMay 28-30:  FEEL training at Horse Spirit Connection in Canada

 

October 15-17: Zone of Intuitive Knowing Workshop with Kathleen and Sun Tui, UK

 

October 24-25: IFEAL training with Kathleen and Sun Tui, UK  

Mentorship in Equine Facilitated Learning
When people ask me what is different about your approach and teaching style, I respond, "I am interested and very excited about what I call the 'psychological/scientific/spiritual underpinnings' of an equine facilitated learning experience." I have found over my 15 years of teaching this work that the best facilitators really know and understand themselves, and are willing to identify and be consciously aware of their internal emotional, psychologically and physiological processes.  

 

noche In the mentorship program I have created a concise and thorough way for my students to track this process for themselves, their clients, and the horses.  The best way to describe this to you is to give you an example from one of my current students, Vatonia (Toni) Harris, from Alberta, Canada.  

 

Toni is about way through her mentorship program, which means she is practicing with volunteer clients.  This essential practice is monitored and recorded by the student and discussed pre and post session with me.  To follow are Toni's own words about her third practice session with a client.  Note her references to "arousal- window of tolerance" (Mindsight: The NewScience of Personal Transformation, Daniel J. Siegel, M.D); "feeling felt" (Siegel) and "limbic connection" (material and references from A General Theory of Love, Thomas Lewis, MD, Fari Amini, MD, Richard Lannon, MD). These notable researchers have given us valuable information about the importance of relationship in the healing process. 

  

Toni's Session with her Horse Stocky and Client

 

"During my pre-session body awareness and observation process, I was surprised to notice how relaxed and confident I felt going into my 3rd EFL practice session. I observed mild excitement about what may transpire with my courageous client and equine friends. My bodily functions felt rhythmic, comfortable and relaxed. It was a beautiful day, and I believe the warm weather contributed to the relaxation and peace I was experiencing. I was thrilled to get outside the barn and spend the entire session outdoors amongst the healing presence of nature, and for my client to experience the possibility of more movement with the horses. My energy felt grounded and positive, and I was keen to share this energetic momentum. I was also aware that this positive arousal may inappropriately affect the creation of a sacred space. I was struck by the self-assuredness I was experiencing in relation to the potential usefulness or outcome of the session, as I was confident the horses would offer my client whatever she needed that day. I found it fascinating to monitor my inner experience so closely, and was amazed by the rich information my body was offering me as I went through this pre-session personal evaluation. 

 

The mentorship readings and consultations thus far have significantly expanded my understanding of this integrative process. I now have enhanced awareness of the valuable information my body holds, and its vital importance to the relationship and change process. It is essential we pay attention to our own arousal so we are able to understand the energy/thoughts/ feelings we are bringing to the relational experience about to transpire. It is essential we are able to separate our own history, preconceptions, emotional triggers, projections, counter-transference concerns and present moment bodily responses from those of our clients. A sacred space offering the client the experience of "feeling felt" (a term coined by Daniel Siegel) can be created only if we notice and appropriately nurture these fundamental aspects of ourselves.

 

My client was notably relaxed when she arrived for her session, presenting as relaxed, open and engaged. When I inquired into my client's arousal level upon commencement of the session, she identified herself as being at a 1 or 2 which closely matched my own body sense and observations of her. This again affirmed the importance of acknowledging my body as a sensing device and as absolutely integral to the process of change facilitation. My client's arousal stayed at a 1 and 2 for most of the session, with the exception of a short period during the Leading Exercise where Stocky refused to move or respond to any of her requests. During this moment of discomfort, I felt my own arousal begin to intensify as I noticed her increasing agitation with his lack of compliance. I found myself struggling with my own need to rescue, and the compulsion to take over and "show her what to do" to engage my horse and offer effective leadership.
 

As in the past, I used this rescue tendency as a learning opportunity to focus on my own breathing and self-regulation, offering myself as an energetic anchor by opening my core and focusing on the manifestation of limbic connectivity. When I noticed my client's arousal increasing, I attempted to bring it to her attention by asking her what her intensity level was at that particular moment, and whether she noticed any changes in her body. Through this gentle encouragement of an internal assessment process, she was able to come to her own understanding that a shift had occurred as she identified herself at a 4 or 5. In fact, her ability to access this information and share it with me had improved exponentially from the first session. As a result, I do believe she is starting to become more in touch with her own bodily sensations and the rich information easily available to her. 

 

Personal awareness is integral in an EFL session as it is a relational process involving a sentient being that is perceptive and responsive to energetic changes. Connectivity is directly impacted by arousal, so it is of vital importance we stay attuned to moment-by-moment shift. It is also important so that the client's "window of tolerance" (Siegel) can be gauged throughout the experience, and addressed in a gentle, ethical and safe manner. Without understanding arousal, the risk of taking someone too far too fast is increased which can be detrimental to our client's well being. 

 

Throughout this session, there were many moments of intense connection and disconnection between my client and my equine co-facilitator.  It amazed me to see how "in the moment" these shifts would take place, fleeting and changing sometimes within a span of seconds.  The horse's ability to mirror the client's presence and offer immediate feedback will never cease to amaze me.
 
As always, I was offered a window into my client's internal workings as she went through the leading exercises, which provided valuable material to work through during the session. My client seamlessly connected her experiential struggles with Stocky to her life "out there", clearly indicating that she lacks integration between her 3 energy centers and that confidence, clear communication, and intention are extremely challenging.
 
hand on horse Experiencing the dramatic shift in Stocky when she (my client) managed to align all aspects of herself was quite profound and emotional. She couldn't believe what it "felt like" to experience this type of leadership integration, and it was quite fascinating to watch her physically transform as the session progressed.  Her eyes lit up, shoulders went back, and she started walking with a new sense of purpose and belief. Stocky continued to respond to my client's new found leadership, offering her his trust and following whatever request she made. I encouraged her to take this learning and look for opportunities in her "real life" to lead in an integrative manner, and to reflect on how well Stocky responded to her when she was able to do so.

 

During this session, the limbic resonance was immediate between these two, with my client finally opening herself to Stocky in a way she hadn't in the past. She was drawn to him, and the unspoken language between them was beautiful to observe. As always, I struggled with containing my own arousal during the observation of this connectivity. Instead, however, I went inside myself, breathed deeply into my own energy centers, and did my best to offer myself once again as an energetic anchor to the sacred and healing moment occurring. The importance of this ability to "step back" and transcend ego-driven impulses continues to amaze me.

Once I have allowed these highly charged emotions to pass, I am blown away by what occurs without my outside interference. The saying "it's not about me" takes on a whole new level of significance, and I am once again reminded of the healing nature of relationships. 

 

As always, I was touched by the beauty, grace, intelligence, receptivity, love, courage and honesty offered by my amazing equine co-facilitators. A common and often mundane therapeutic or self-help topic of "what constitutes good leadership" turned into a unique, experientially rich learning opportunity that engaged and captivated us both. I was struck by the natural unfolding of key elements important to this area of personal / professional development, and by the fact that I didn't have to "talk" or explicitly "teach" any of it. The learning was clearly in the doing, impacting my client on a fundamental level that she can translate into all her relationships.

 

This mentorship experience has been incredibly fulfilling, enlightening and transformative for me on numerous levels.  The learning and development offered through the readings, consultations with Kathleen and the experiential sessions transcend words. I continue to be profoundly impacted by the connection and healing offered by these beautiful beings, and the overwhelming 'power of relationships'."

 

Thank you Toni for this excellent description of the experience between you, your horse and the client!  Toni can be reached via email at: vatonia@gmail.com.

 

Kathleen and Lozen Having Toni focus on her inner process, I believe, is one of the biggest differences in the teaching and training I offer in this field.  This difference became evident to one of my students just a few weeks ago while we were working together in person. It was a beautiful day and my student's horse was getting the opportunity to do his first EFL session with her mentor no less!  I noticed the horse's confusion when my student and I were both in a very large arena as he kept turning his ears and head toward my student and then back to me.  

 

I suggested that my student put her "heart in her feet".  It was one of those moments when you come up with a comment that doesn't sound logical but worked!  As soon as my student changed her focus, her horse joined up with me and we walked around the arena together at his pace.  A herd of cows distracted him for a short time but I took the pause and waited for him.  The look and the pleasure on my student's face when we came back to her were priceless.  She learned that even good positive thoughts and feelings could affect the outcome of the client's experience.  I tell more of this story in my interview with Jennifer Oikle. 

 

new mexicoFind out more about the individual Mentorship Programs that I offer on my website or contact me directly for an interview and more information.

 

In addition to individual mentorship, I continue to teach and collaborate with Sun Tui and her colleagues in the UK: www.IFEAL.me; Wendy and Andre in Toronto, Canada:  

www.HorseSpiritConnections.com and Lisa Murrell and Susan Castaneda in New York and New Mexico: www.EquineAlchemy.com

 

I highly recommend these excellent programs and I am grateful to them for letting me bring my contributions.  

Healing with Horse Tele-Summit


Kathleen was recently interviewed by Jennifer Oikle Ph.D for her Healing with Horse Tele-Summit, which will start on April 1.  The Tele-Summit is absolutely free; to sign up visit  www.HealingWithHorse.com




Jennifer's intent is to make April an epic, equine-assisted extravaganza. She is adding a special live call on the equinox to bring everyone together for a guided journey from the dark into the light.

 

Others to be interview for the Tele-Summit include:
● Linda Kohanov, founder of EPONA, author of The Tao of Equus & Riding Between the Worlds and her newly released, "Power of the Herd"
● Ariana Strozzi, Founder of EGE, Equine Guided Education
● Liz Mitten Ryan, founder of Equinisity and author of One with the Herd
● Shannon Knapp, creator of Horse Sense of the Carolinas
● Beverley Kane, MD, founder of Horsensei
● Sherry Ackerman, Ph.D, author of Dressage in the 4th Dimension
● Wendy Golding, Horse Spirit Connections
● Drea Bowen, Horses Heal Hearts

Stay tuned for the announcement of dates and times for Kathleen's interview!

Two New Books: Kathleen's Endorsement

power of the herd
Linda Kohanov, author of The Tao of Equus, and with whom I worked and collaborated with from 1999 through 2007, has published a new book!  
The Power of the Herd, A Nonpredatory Approach to Social Intelligence, Leadership and Innovationis now available at Amazon.com and in book stores. Linda's new book gives a thorough and well researched history of horses, leaders and the field of Equine Facilitated Learning.   

 

www.Eponaquest.com

 

 

 

 

Leigh Shambo's new book, The Listening Heart, The Limbic Path Beyond Office Therapy, is also available on Leigh's website and through Amazon.  Leigh takes many of the exercises and concepts she learned through the Epona Approach ™ and expands on their uses.  She offers good explanations for the adaptability of the work with mental health clients and those experiencing post traumatic stress disorder.

 

Leigh went through the Epona Apprenticeship program in 2003; she was a member of the first class to graduate from the program I co-created and taught with Linda Kohanov from 2003-2007.  Leigh was one of my mentorship students and she and I collaborated on workshops and created and co-facilitated the HEAL training program from 2008 until 2010.