I’ve been inspired by many horse trainers and spiritual teachers over the years, but what was it that drew me to Linda Kohanov of Eponaquest?
Nearly ten years ago I climbed on a plane, destined for Tucson, Arizona to begin a training and spiritual journey with Linda Kohanov, author, speaker, riding instructor and now internationally recognised innovator in the field of Equine Experiential Learning.
What was it that inspired me to take that leap of faith?
In hindsight I know that it was my intuition, my sixth sense, a ‘whole body’ authentic decision. It wasn’t purely a logical one or a whim of my heart’s fantasy. Some part of me knew that this was a huge and important step for me to take, one which would change me on every level of my being.
“when I can teach feel I’ll be a millionaire.”
After some challenges with my horse Jack, I was recommended by an animal communicator to read Linda Kohanov’s book The Tao of Equus. It woke me up! It drew me in! I resonated on a deep level with so many of Linda’s experiences, on a personal level and as a horse trainer and riding instructor. I can remember standing in my arena on many occasions, frustrated at my inability to convey to a rider how to perform an exercise with her horse and saying, “when I can teach feel I’ll be a millionaire.” I’d tried many approaches and improved my abilities to a point, but there was something in Linda’s writing about non-verbal communication, energy and consciousness that led me to believe that she held the key that I was looking for. Little did I know that I would acquire more than one key on this journey!
The first step of the training was a two-part personal development programme (6 days in each part) which I attended in Arizona in February and May 2009. This was a deep and life changing experience. I learned the basics of the Eponaquest approach of Equine Facilitated Learning and began to integrate them into my life.
One cold February afternoon I arrived at Apache Springs, the beautiful purpose-built centre near Sonoita in Arizona, at the foot of Elephant Mountain, which Linda had created as her business centre, and writes about in her books. I was shown to my room, one of six in a spacious and tranquil space. I was delighted to find that, from my bedroom window, I could see Midnight Merlin, the Arab stallion, who was central to Linda’s journey and a key figure in The Tao of Equus. Linda had learned much about personal space, boundaries, mutual respect in relationship and the balance between power and gentleness from her relationship with Merlin.
Although we were not allowed to interact with Merlin, I did spend a little time sitting outside his coral during my first two days. I’m honoured that I had that opportunity because on my third night there Merlin had a tragic accident.
When I woke in the morning there was commotion outside and together with my colleagues I was ushered into another part of the building. We were later told that sadly Merlin had escaped from his coral at some time during the night and impaled himself on a stake and had died.
The purpose of me sharing this story with you is because of what happened next.
they held the space for us to connect with our own grief ……… That was a whole new way of ‘being’ for me!
Rather than suppressing her emotions and continuing to lead the programme, Linda stepped away and allowed one of her senior faculty team, Carol Roush to take over, supported by three other Eponaquest facilitators. Their shared their grief with us, their memories of their time of knowing Merlin and what lessons they would take from their experiences. Then they held the space for us to connect with our own grief, not only of the sad loss of Merlin, but of any unacknowledged grief that we may have suppressed during our lifetime! Whoa! That was a whole new way of ‘being’ for me! I had lost count of the number of horses and ponies I’d had to have put to sleep, throughout my childhood and during my years running a horse business. It was a challenging and yet amazing experience, one which I will never forget.
Towards the end of the week Linda facilitated some of the sessions and she also shared with us a eulogy that she had written in Merlin’s memory. She had Merlin buried in the extensive grounds and had created a beautiful memorial stone which we could visit, leave our messages/gifts and pay our last respects. Linda also held a ceremony, which sadly I missed, because I had to fly home.
What I saw was a woman clearly ‘walking the talk’ of the Emotional Message Chart, which she had first written about in her book Riding Between the Worlds, showing me a whole new way of moving through grief!
When I returned to Apache Springs for the second part of this programme in May 2009 more change was afoot as Linda had put the centre up for sale, because her business partner wanted to withdraw.
At the end of this week I knew that this was definitely an approach that I wanted to be a part of and be able to share with others and so I signed up for the Apprenticeship which was due to begin a few months later. I attended the Apprenticeship, a 3 x 9 day programme, in September & December 2019 and March 2010 and qualified as an Eponaquest Instructor of EFL.
By September 2019 Linda had moved out of Apache Springs, back to a former home and small holding near Tucson. She had taken some horses with her, some went to stay with Shelley Rosenberg and others found amazing new homes.
Linda used this time to write her fourth book The Power of the Herd. She began to write about leadership and what it takes to be a leader; all the things that I witnessed during that four-month period.
I saw her ability to be vulnerable, to be human and most importantly to walk her talk
The Apprenticeship was moved to another horse facility in Sonoita and the horses were loaned by horse trainer Shelley Rosenberg, who had her own ranch about ½ mile away. Linda led the programme with Shelley, Carol Roush and Mary Louise Gould, her senior faculty team at the time and other Eponaquest Advanced Instructors who came from different parts of America.
What I admired was the way that Linda could be flexible, collaborate and experiment on a ‘grand’ scale. I saw her ability to be vulnerable, to be human and most importantly to walk her talk and ‘be the change she wanted to see in the world’.
If you can flow with your emotions and take the time to acknowledge the learning, it’s possible to chart a new course with ease and grace.
What I learned from this experience is that you cannot control life’s events, but you do not have to let them diminish you. If you can flow with your emotions and take the time to acknowledge the learning, it’s possible to chart a new course with ease and grace. This is one of the most valuable lessons I’ve ever learned and aim to practise in my own life!
I’ve been inspired ever since by the way that Linda ‘walks her talk’. She doesn’t try to hide or fix her feelings, she meets them, feels them, writes about them and uses them as information to guide her. This is a quality which has changed my life and has inspired the legacy which I want to leave in the world, which is to encourage others to identify their unique gifts and talents so that they can be happy, healthy and benefit their communities.
If you would like to find out more about my coaching to support you to connect with your unique gifts and the legacy that you want to leave in the world please get in touch.