Changing the world one horse, one herd, one heart at a time!
I believe that it is time to change the way that we interact with and keep our horses. We have made great strides in recent decades as we moved from traditional methods to what have been called natural methods. We made a shift from a purely physical approach to training to a mental approach. We started to look at horse psychology to better understand the horse and train from a perspective that would be gentler.
Many of us are now called to step into the next evolution of working with horses – we are called to connect with them from the heart. There are individuals popping up here and there who are taking a revolutionary approach to training and being with horses. We are finding a new way to move forward in our relationship that honors the Spirit of these magnificent animals. There is not yet a central term for this emerging work, but I like to call it Soulful Horsemanship.
Soulful Horsemanship is a step beyond the natural horsemanship movement – and I am certainly not the only one who is feeling this pull into a new dynamic. Just as the natural horsemanship movement revolutionized our traditional approaches, it is time once again to revolutionize our understanding. We can take everything that we learned from the past and transform it into a new way of interacting.
One of the big differences in this approach is that it is not just about training the horse. Instead, an emphasis is placed upon the partnership. Within that partnership, both parties must grow and transform. Soulful Horsemanship asks that you turn within and go on your own healing journey. The path forward is not just about tools and techniques to affect the horses’ behavior. Instead, it is about finding your authentic voice and blending together the energies of horse and human to create something innovative.
By cultivating qualities such as compassion, inner peace, love, and joy within your relationship with your horse, you can begin to revolutionize your entire life. The world in which you live is colored by your inner state of being. The horse provides a reflection for us to see our inner way of being to bring it to our conscious awareness so that we can change that which does not serve us. When we begin to change our way of being, the entire world is affected through our interdependence.
Soulful Horsemanship is also a call to bring greater peace into our interactions and relationships. There is a big opportunity to heal the horses in our care and resolve past traumas and challenges. While we have improved our interactions with them, there is still a lot of room for greater awareness, compassion, and peace in the way that we handle, train, and manage horses.
You love your horses and want to do right by them. That may require that you shift your perspective and see your assumptions through a new lens. Take a walk through the horse world and observe it objectively with fresh eyes as though you are learning about the techniques used in the equestrian world for the first time with no preconceived notions. Look at the facts from the perspective of the horse.
Start by acknowledging those things that you would like to do differently, if you knew another way. There is no need to feel shameful or blame anyone else. Shame and blame do not help us to transform – they just keep us stuck in the fear and separation. This peaceful equine revolution is about cultivating love and unity. Explore this website for inspiration and insights about ways to build collaborative relationship with the horse.
As we change our herds, we change ourselves – and as we change ourselves, we change the world.
About Stef P. Durham
Stef walks through life with a spirit pony on her ankle guiding her every step. She attributes everything in her life to the horses and the lessons that they have taught her over the last thirty-ish years.
She grew up riding hunter/jumpers and working with lots of OTTBs who were, for a timid rider, tough teachers. But, learn she did. After meeting a neglected mare named Shadow, a fire was lit in Stef’s heart to help her and all horses.
Armed with a B.S. degree in equine management from Wilson College, Stef worked and volunteered for multiple rescue organizations. She also used her certifications in equine massage, bodywork, and saddle fitting to make horses more comfortable. Eventually, she burned out with compassion fatigue and frustration.
Stef returned to horses because she recognized the healing power of working in relationship with them. Having volunteered for Therapeutic Riding organizations and having seen the power that they had in her own life, she decided to share that with others. She became certified in equine assisted mental health and psychotherapy.
Working with the horses as partners in healing, Stef realized that this work ran much deeper than she ever realized. She also recognized that every equestrian has access to an amazing transformational experience – if only they would just let go and look within.
It was the idea that we could free both horses and humans from the mental-emotional bondage that causes suffering that led to Stef’s first book, Soulful Horsemanship. This website is an extension of that work.
Stef’s passions are spiritual growth, writing, and (of course) horses. Nothing makes her happier than to combine all of that in one place.
Thanks for being here!
If you are interested, you can read more about my story.
B.S. Degree in Equine Managment from Wilson College, 2006
Equine Specialist in Mental Health from PATH, International, 2011
Equine Specialist in Equine Assisted Growth and Learning from EAGALA, 2011
Holistic Health Coach from Institute of Integrative Nutrition, 2011
Equine Body Worker from Equinology, 2008
Equine Sports Massage Therapist from Equissage, 2003