Monday, 14 August 2017

Embodied knowing, how equine experiential learning can help us get back into our senses...

Embodied knowing, how equine experiential learning can help us get back into our senses...


Developing our body awareness, intuition and creativity through experiential learning with horses.

Horses communicate mainly through body language, but did you know that at least 90% of how we communicate is nonverbal too! So why is it that we seem to concentrate entirely on the 10%? As Einstein said “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant.” In these workshops we concentrate on the other ways of knowing, as well as our 5 senses, and explore further through experimental learning our intuition, our emotional intelligence and embodied knowing.

We will coach you in basic horsemanship skills, how to connect with the horses, how to lead, and how to work with the horse at liberty. The horse is always asking us to stay in the present moment, and is always given the choice of connecting, engaging and working with each participant. Horses are not interested in our agenda, status, or outer persona but to ones inner story, body language and commitment to what one really cares about.

By engaging with the horses without over using our rational cognitive mind, for example judging, assessing or questioning, we adventure into being fully in present in the moment, the horses will then give us accurate, non-judgemental feedback. In this way they help us train our willingness to let go of what me know in order to open up to what we don’t yet know and this becomes the ground from which we can develop new ways of seeing, and new pathways in a balance between the four ways of knowing.

In this authentic state we develop natural presence, with the opportunity to relearn how to trust our feelings, our hearts and our sensate responses, and gut feelings. Team work with the horse helps shift our intention towards what is naturally good in self and others and an understanding of how our differences are important assets to a team.

A well facilitated session with horses engages us physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, takes us out of our comfort zone, into the unknown, and back again – to see ourselves and the challenges we face in a more connected way.

We will be operating in an environment of safety, trust, mindfulness and openness, the horses will do most of the work.

"The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift."

Albert Einstein

The four ways of knowing:
Intuitive knowing involves opening up to our perceptual experiences by simply paying attention to any insights and ideas that emerge, often spontaneously and unexpectedly.

Emotional Intelligence describes the knowing we pick up through feelings and emotions, they are a rich source of data about our own reactions, towards the horses, other people in the group and what is happening around us.

Embodied knowing is the knowing we pick up through our bodies, when we tune into them in the present moment. We have often been unconsciously conditioned to ignore our bodies, horses tune into their bodies all the time as a source of information about other members of their herd and their surrounding, hence they are great teachers in showing us how to become more aware of our body sensations.

Thinking and cognitive knowing is where the emphasis is on the rational mind, particularly useful in intellectually analysing mathematical and scientific data, creating logical sequences such as strategy, planning and concepts.

Our education system has tended to favour cognitive knowing – often to the exclusion or detriment of the other ways of knowing!

The Power of the Herd

In a herd of horses the members must know that the leaders have their best interest as their source of motivation at all times.


In a herd of horses, leadership is shared.

The lead mare sets the direction and pace of the herd. The lead stallion keeps the herd together and protects it from predators. Each member of the herd has a role in protecting the health of the herd. All of the horses in the herd contribute to the socialization of new or young members, teaching them what behaviours are healthy and correcting those who behave in ways that could compromise the health of the herd. The ever-present goal of herd leadership is health, harmony, unity and safety.

For herd members to place their trust in leaders, they must see four qualities in them:
1. That the leaders are paying attention and can detect even the most subtle shifts in the environment.
2. That the leaders can give them clear direction on how to respond to the shifts.
3. That the leaders are able to follow that direction with focused energy, providing the herd with guidance on the pace with which to respond.
4. That the leaders display congruence of their inner and outer expressions.


The bottom line is that confidence in the leader makes the herd agile in times of change.

Attention, Direction, Energy, Congruence:
Ultimately, the herd members must know that their leaders have their best interest as their source of motivation at all times. When leaders demonstrate these qualities and skills, the herd becomes confident in their leadership. The bottom line is that confidence in the leader makes the herd agile in times of change.

Working on our leadership presence through horses provides a rich opportunity to refine our natural leadership qualities. We deconstruct our limiting ideas of leadership and learn that everyone with in a social context has leadership responsibilities. To gain our confidence, our leaders must demonstrate that they are paying attention to what is going on in their communities/organizations, are able to give clear direction with focused, inspiring energy, and are so authentic that their intentions can be fully trusted.


Confidence in leadership makes a community or an organization agile when the time for change can no longer be avoided.

Returning our senses to our herd-like nature is not a sign of weakness, but a place to gain personal power through self knowledge and acceptance. As we gain wisdom we increase our ability to contribute to the greater good. The horse insists that we stay centred on what is important to us. Without clear leadership the horse quickly becomes bored, frustrated or disinterested, the bossy leader learns a new way to lead with encouragement and inclusion, the controlling leader learns to trust and delegate, others learn from horses to have constructive boundaries, or stand their ground and direct with clearer intention and assertiveness.

We can learn from the nature of horses how be clear about what we want from our community or organisation and pay attention to what is going on, at any given moment. With an understanding of how both our peers and those we are leading are communicating, simultaneously bringing attention to both, we can take appropriate and effective action.

Working experientially horses can reflect our internal states and make the invisible visible. They do not judge or have any personal agenda and only respond by how safe and energised they feel in your presence, they just respond to who and how you really are, in your body, in the present moment. In this way a horse can give accurate and instant feed back.

Within a group workshop participants learn to understand and appreciate the unique skills of each member, working together in challenging situations, to learn new ways of engaging the team more effectively with clear vision on how to work together with cohesion, clarity of purpose, awareness, respect, confidence, trust and belief in self and others. Here we learn the importance of complexity and the dynamics of leadership in a team and open up to the creative self by getting out of old habit patterns and expanding our comfort zone.

Also see

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Three Wishes in 2017 from Adventures with Horses

Three wishes in 2017 from Adventures with Horses ...


The first is to wish everyone a Happy New Year and all the very best in 2017. And within that a very special thanks to all of you who have already supported Adventures with Horses Crowdfunder Campaign.

The second is a wish that the world at large starts to understand the benefits of equine facilitated experiential learning and therapy. It's a young emerging therapy and intervention that needs to be better understood by the mainstream. This wish is not just for me but for all who are professionally working hard in this field. To work in equine facilitated/assisted learning and therapy takes a lot of multi-tasking expertise and study. In my mind, and I am sure many of my associates would agree, we need to be professional therapists, coaches or/and teachers of people, and people around horses, we need to be professional experienced horse people who have spent day in and day out caring for them and learning from them, we need to be animal communicators, we need to be nature connected, and ecologically and spirituality grounded - that's what the horses ask of us. In addition there are now more and more of us taking Masters and also PhD’s, and much more research taking place into the outcomes of equine facilitated/assisted learning and therapy. Working in this field is profound and I feel utterly grateful that I have been given the opportunity to be working in this way with horses.

The third is, I wish with all my heart that somehow Adventures with Horses Crowdfunding Campaign reaches its target and in doing we start to flourish and thrive. If we reach half way over the next few days we may also qualify for some match funding, so it's really important for people to pledge now, and not leave it until the final mile!
Please take a moment to listen to the video and go to our crowdfunding page...

So please, if you haven’t already done so, please support us in anyway that feels right. You can simply share to others, make a small donation, or please come on a workshop - if you book through our Crowdfunder Campaign not only will you help us reach our target, you will also receive a discount as the reward and the profits will go towards our young people programmes and caring for our horses.

So please check out our rewards, most are about getting more of you to come on our workshops with great discounts on our normal prices including; Art of Leadership and Team Building, Art of Horse Whispering and Equine Facilitated Experiential Learning and Coaching. if you book a workshop or a one-to-one session through our Crowdfunder Campaign not only will you help us reach our target, you will also receive a discount – that’s the reward. It's a Win Win situation all round! You benefit by coming and any profit we make goes to financing our children and young people programmes. Our workshops and programmes are professional and innovative whether you are a CEO (Chief Executive Officer) or a SEN (young person with special educational needs). See the flyers below.

Love and warm wishes for 2017

P.S Here is the link again to our crowdfunder campaign


Sunday, 4 December 2016

Please support Adventures with Horses...

Over the next six weeks as we lead into Christmas, the New Year and beyond, we are hoping to raise £7500 through our Crowdfunding Campaign. We are live now and up until 9pm on the 18th January 2017 

Over the next six weeks as we lead into Christmas, the New Year and beyond, we are hoping to raise £7500. Our crowd funding campaign is rewards based, starting at £7 for our beautiful Adventures with Horses Calendar, to £750 for a two day Leadership and Team Building workshop. Because it's rewards based however much we raise we keep. So please pledge and please share with others...

Adventures with Horses offers learning and growth through the naturally occurring therapeutic opportunities connecting, engaging and working with horses can provide, through Equine Facilitated Learning. 

The work we are doing has the potential to change lives for the better. By pledging a donation or an award you will be helping Adventures with Horses start to flourish and thrive into a sustainable social enterprise that can offer more people the benefits of equine facilitated learning.

We offer equine facilitated learning to help children and young people who are vulnerable and excluded. We help adults find the leader within, and our Personal Development and Art of Horse Whispering workshops help people of all ages find the courage to move forward, reconnect with nature, and step into what has meaning and harmony in their lives.

We are a social enterprise in the final stages of setting up as a Community Interest Company. We started running workshops, programmes and one-to-one sessions in the summer of 2015, and we are already having some great feedback from the people who have experienced equine facilitated learning at Adventures with Horses. Please see some of our testimonials about what people are saying about Adventures with Horses here

What we want to achieve
We particularly want to create more programmes that can offer disadvantaged people the opportunity for growth and learning.  We work with children and young people, aged between 9 and 25 years, who may have special educational needs and/or other challenges, such as those diagnosed with autism, ADHD, dyslexia, and other social, emotional and behavioural difficulties, including young people who are not in education, employment, or training.

Outcomes of equine facilitated learning are being proved to help with:
• Growth in self confidence • Increased self esteem • Reductions in anxiety and stress.
Which can lead to:
• Better engagement and motivation • Building new skills and knowledge • Gaining new hope, vision and the courage to move forward • Reduced problem behaviours in children and young people.

We would also like to encourage more adults to come on our professional and personal development workshops, or our Art of Horse Whispering adventure days. By doing so you are making an investment in yourself or your organisation, and you help finance our young people programmes. Also if you run a business and come on one of our leadership or organisational change workshops, you could be fulfilling your corporate social responsibility goals. You can do this now through pledging and receive quite a saving on our normal prices. Our financial strategy is to become sustainable through our professional and personal development workshops, so please come.

We are looking to raise £7500 so that Adventures with Horses can start to flourish and thrive into a sustainable social enterprise. Our campaign is rewards based so when you pledge you receive a reward.

  • Rewards start at £7 for a copy of our 2017 Adventures with Horses Calendar including postage.
  • Other rewards include for example: • A gift to come on a one-to-one session, course or workshop, which start at £30 
  • Come on a Art of Horse Whispering half day taster session for up to 6 people for £120 • And the biggest award is £750 for a two day Art of Leadership and Team Building workshop for 4-6 people. 
  • You can also make a donation where the reward goes to a child or young person who wouldn't otherwise afford to be able to come starting at £25. 
  • In addition you can also make a donation where the award goes towards feeding our extraordinary team of therapy horses Arthur, William, Harry and Tristan also starting at £25. When you donate this way you get a copy of our calendar as a reward.

 What will happen to the money we raise

The money raised will go towards the following:
  • Developing bursaries so that more children can come through schools, charities and privately.
  • Developing our programmes for children and young people between 9 years and 25 years
  • Develop our courses and workshops in professional and personal development including looking at how equine facilitated learning can help professionals suffering from work related stress and burn out.
  • Train our team of therapists, teachers, horse experts and volunteers.
  • Invest in more equipment and learning aids
  • Support our therapy horses by feeding them well and caring for their environment.

Adventures with Horses 2017 Fundraising Calendars

As part of our fundraising we have produced a calendar to raise funds, to create awareness of our work, and also to celebrate our beautiful horses. These Calendars are unique to Adventures to Horses, they have been professional designed and printed, and the photographs in the calendar of our team of therapy horses Arthur, William, Harry and Tristan have been professionally taken. Instead of photographing what we do in equine facilitated learning we have focused on what horses do naturally behind the scenes; eating, sleeping, playing, rolling, grooming and connecting with one another. I have also chosen pictures that depict the seasons, their coats changing, and sometimes soaking wet - it rains a lot on Dartmoor! I hope both the film and the calendar will also give you a sense of how beautiful the land is here. The environment is an important part of how we work at Adventures with Horses. Our horses live as naturally as possible which allows us to work with the many natural learning opportunities horses can provide.
  • Professionally produced and printed 
  • 12 stunning photographs taken of our horses (The adventures with Horses Team: Arthur, William, Harry and Tristan) doing what horses do in nature...
  • 12 wisdom quotes on what horses can teach us 'by just being horses'
  • Space to write your appointments
  • All UK bank holidays are listed
  • Hole punched for hanging on the wall
  • Size 210mm x 210mm, 28 pages, high quality photography and print.
  • They come in perfectly fitting high quality white envelopes.
Please note: the money from your pledge is not taken until the project has successfully closed. If you would like your calender in time for Christmas I am willing to post it to you, if you don't pay when the project is closed we will loose out, so please only ask us to do this if you are going to pledge. Please contact me for further details

 Gift Vouchers

We have produce gift voucher that can be sent to a loved one, family member, a friend or yourself, and can be used on any workshop, course or one-to-one session at Adventures with Horses in 2017. We will post the printed voucher to you, or directly to each person being gifted with a personal message from you, and we will send you a copy as a PDF by email or by post if you prefer.

Please note: the money from your pledge is not taken until the project has successfully closed. If you would like your voucher in time for Christmas I am willing to post or email you the voucher, obviously if you don't pay when the project is closed the voucher will be void.

How it all started...

Becoming a social entrepreneur feels very natural. I ran my first horse business for 3 years when I was only 21 years old, and then ran a marketing communications and graphic design business for over 20 years. A Social Enterprise is described as an organisation that applies commercial strategies to maximize improvements in human and environmental well-being, which completely fits with my values, my vision and our mission at Adventures with Horses, Equine Facilitated Learning.

Developing Adventures with Horses is exciting and it’s also occasionally terrifying! But I think running an organisation where you are impacting on other peoples lives is a responsibility that should be taken seriously, and it’s healthy to feel fear at times. Also, running a Community Interest Company is what it says, it’s not just about me running a business, it’s about something much bigger than me, it’s about a whole community. 

Our mission is to facilitate learning and growth through the naturally occurring therapeutic opportunities horses can provide, in order to develop potential, self awareness and skills, which are transferable back into peoples every day lives.  My vision is about how equine facilitated learning is a process of discovery that fits in so well with our needs as human beings in the 21st century, to find the courage to move forward in times of uncertainty, reconnect with nature, and step into what has meaning and harmony in their lives. 

The more commercial aspect of our work at Adventures with Horses is in providing professional development, leadership and team building, and never has there been a time when I have felt in such a parallel process to the business clients I facilitate, in developing co-creative leadership skills, with the feedback from our equine coaches, for these are the very  skills I need to develop in myself. It is crucial now that I can develop and lead a team of people at Adventures with Horses who have the qualities and qualifications that support my vision and collectively sustain our mission, which is able to inspire our clients, stakeholders, schools, agencies, organisations, funders and the wider community at large. So that Adventures with Horses develops into a sustainable social enterprise that will flourish and thrive and can offer more people the benefits of equine facilitated learning, for many years to come.

Working and engaging with horses has been a journey of learning for many people over 1000s of years. I see equine facilitated learning as a profound new way of working and engaging with horses that is totally inclusive, you don’t need to be wealthy, or own a horse, or even want to ride to get the benefits of being around these noble, powerful in yet humble beings in this work. For our clients working and engaging with horses may just be over a programme of 6-8 sessions, or a workshop, or a course. For some of us, including myself, this is a life long journey of deepening my insights into reciprocal relationship between man and horse, on how horses can enhance our well being, and how we can enhance theirs.

Horses as my teachers

 My journey started when I was a child, and connecting with horses in their natural environment was something I did from a young age. At the time hanging out with herds, and engaging with the wild ponies in the New Forest were the only opportunities I had of being around horses, of course at the time I didn’t realise how important what I was observing and learning was, like most children what I wanted to do most was to ride. I did not come from an equestrian background, and finding a riding stables where I could work at the weekends was something I had to do for myself. I did this from the age of 12 and I have worked with horses either full time or part-time ever since. Through my life I’ve had wonderful opportunities to compete at a professional level in horse trials and showing, I have trained horses and hung out with various natural horsemanship teachers, I feel my horizons have been expanded by the best of what the horse world can offer. Learning experientially through horses deeply expresses all of what I have learned and am still learning on my journey, and teaching others about the gifts horses can give feels like a great privilege. I feel horses have been transporting us on outer journeys for thousands of years. In the 21st century, equine facilitated learning is a profound new way of horses transporting us on inner journeys from where we are to where we need to be.

I started to have a strong calling to work in equine facilitated learning since its early stages of development in the UK. Natural horsemanship started being introduced from the United States in the late 1990s, followed by various models of equine facilitated growth and learning and equine assisted therapy. I had already worked with challenged youth as a horse riding teacher, I had already naturally developed ways of facilitating, coaching and mentoring business people, so I had the right kind of skills. But, the strongest sense of wanting to do this work came from my own inner experiences of how my horses helped me, as my teachers, coaches and therapists, through my own life’s journey.

From Foals to Facilitators

However, I had no expectations at the time that Arthur, William and Harry who have been with me since they were foals (2004/2005) would choose to come on this adventure with me, but they did. This work doesn’t suit all horses or ponies, so to be working with three horses that I have trained and hung out with since the early stages of my development as a practitioner is extraordinary. Arthur, I bred, (I was the midwife at his birth, and like wise his mother, and his grandmother was with me from the age of 8 until she was 30 years old). William and Harry, (two New Forest ponies came to me at six months old and I have been learning from about 6 generations of their ancestors since I was a child). Arthur and William are now 12 years old and Harry is 11, experiencing their growth and development with clients is utterly amazing - I feel deep gratitude.

In 2008 having decided to train in equine facilitated learning I decided to sell my property and land in Dorset and it felt like the right thing to find Arthur a new home where he could fulfill his talents as a sports horse. Training in equine facilitated learning was going to be expensive and also includes training as a humanistic integrative counsellor, and in ecopsychology. So in June 2008 Arthur aged 4 years old went to a new home in Kent. On 14 December 2012 I bought him back, and he was reunited with his two play mates from foal hood, William and Harry. I wanted to prove horses are sentient beings who feel love and emotions, so I got their reunion filmed and put it on You Tube. The video went viral and at the time of writing this, there has been over eight and a half million views worldwide. This magical horse reunion was really the beginning of Adventures with Horses, and the seed was sown for the work we are now doing. Arthur, William and Harry are Adventures with Horses! They continued to inspire and open hearts, and mostly this is now face to face. We moved to Middle Stoke Farm, Holne on Dartmoor in December 2014 and began working with people officially in the summer of 2015.

You can find out more information about myself and the team at Adventures with Horses on our website:

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Becoming a Student of Horses

Written by Beth Thomas

The way we work with horses is to develop connection and relationship, which requires self mastery rather than mastery of the horse. Developing relationship requires us to listen to the horse as much as we speak, thus building a pathway of reciprocal communication. To make the horse do something through domination relies on fear, whereas to ask the horse to do something through connection requires a process of self-enquiry in relation to the horse. In this way we are working with horses rather than horses working for us. They are not our servants and neither are they our tools. They are horse beings equal to human beings, and it is through respectful and reciprocal relationship that learning is possible. 

Working with horses in this way has the potential to teach us empathic leadership; a way of leading grounded in humility and service. They help us to find a middle path between unassertive, timid leadership and overly dominant, demanding leadership; thus helping us to step into our power as authentic, sensitive and strong leaders.

The reason horses as so powerful to work with is because they are highly sensitive to body language and respond with incredible accuracy to how we really are, beyond pretence or mask. In this way, they can become an enlightening (and sometimes painful) mirror onto our humanness, and particularly the congruence of our intentions. To be a strong leader, the clarity of intention needs to be held at the core of one's being for it to be expressed in the subtleties of body language. The horse will pick up on falsity.

Sue writes:
“The horse listens not to the participant’s agenda, status, or outer persona, but to their inner story, body language and commitment to what they really care about.”

Horses can help to deepen our commitment to the world by highlighting incongruence between our values and our being; demanding us to bring conceptual commitment into embodied living. Horses can shine a light upon unhelpful narratives that keep us blocked, and through reflection and fresh eyes we can form new narratives that serve our ability to offer ourselves more boldly to the world. They are also natural teachers of mindfulness without knowing it (or perhaps they do know it, who can say!). Working with the horses helps us to be more fully in the present moment, paying attention to what is - both internally and externally, and noticing how the two worlds relate. Being with horses has the potential to bring us into deep states of peace and inner stillness. 

Horses are our teachers in this work. They are not like the teachers we are used to in a traditional classroom; rather they are like very good spiritual teachers. Like a good spiritual teacher, horses draw out the wisdom and resources that already dwell within. In this classroom there are no rights or wrongs, only levels of engagement. How much you choose to engage yourself or even challenge yourself is  your choice; sometimes it can be a scary or painful process to meet yourself in such an honest light. However, the light shone is a gentle one since it is a non-judgemental and uncritical honesty that the horses offer.

The space held by the facilitators is also very important in the process. Facilitators create an environment of safety, trust, confidentiality and openness, and like the horses offer a non-judgemental space in which to explore and play.