There are books and courses that say they will change your life. With the exception of my training as a Body Psychotherapist at Cambridge I had never come across either.
But my experience at a remote ranch and training ground in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, was different. I was there for an intensive six week course on Parelli Natural Horsemanship*, and although I didn't know it at the time, it would be my next and final step to forming what would become Equest.
Here I experienced not one defining moment but many. These moments in turn enabled me to make sense of other moments. My time with Delilah and what had happened in that field on that day. The role Winnie, my third horse, played in enabling me come to terms with the death of my mother. And that leadership isn't about how to be or what to do but simply being who you are.
My teacher? A small chestnut Quarter Horse called Coop. So called because he was always flying the coop.
I had thought I was a competent rider but I couldn't ride Coop. Something wasn't quite right. I blamed the saddle, I blamed the horse, but finally I had to stop, take stock and look in the mirror. I was afraid. Afraid to let go. To trust in myself to trust this wonderful Quarter Horse.
Thanks to Coop and the team at Pagosa I learned about what they called brace and I called fear. That point of holding back. The point that stops us being fully in the moment and true to our selves.
I was beginning to join the dots. The Parelli approach to horsemanship and my training as a Body Psychotherapist and my work delivering leadership programmes. It was all beginning to make sense.
Thanks to Coop and the team at Pagosa I learned about what they called brace and I called fear.
Six months later I would start up my own company**. It would be called Equest. Its guiding principles, its approach to coaching, teamwork and leadership development and its insistence on placing horses at the centre of that learning were a direct result of my time at Pagosa Springs, a remote ranch 7000ft above sea level. A place far from home but very close to my heart.
* Parelli Natural Horsemanship, developed by Pat Parelli, is based on a deep understanding of equine behaviour and psychology and aims to help humans communicate and build partnerships with horses based on good leadership, personal responsibility, trust and respect.
** Equest was originally co-founded with Harriet Worthington to whom I shall be forever grateful and without whom Equest may never have been.