“Horses are good mirrors. They allow us to see reflections of ourselves and our behavior. Unlike people, horses don’t stay in uncomfortable relationships. They either walk away or lean in,” said Jill Rivoli founder of New Perspectives, an Equine Perspective workshop offered through Carmel Valley Ranch in Carmel, California.
I had the opportunity to join in a two hour equine-focused class facilitated by Rivoli. A horse whisperer of sorts, Rivoli’s workshops are not centered around horseback riding. In fact, the entire workshop is conducted in an outdoor arena perched high above the beautiful Carmel Valley. With aromatic scents of Button Sage, scenic views and ocean fog undulating over the nearby ridge lines, it was hard to keep focused in this outdoor classroom, but the horses demanded our full attention in a subtle, yet very powerful way.
Natural horsemanship is a wide spread belief system and training method that incorporates communication with the horse in a way that he understands. It promotes a partnership, rather than dominance. It has been around for many years and experts in the field have made great strides in introducing these methods to the masses, most notably of late, Buck Brannaman.
Rivoli was introduced to horses at a very young age and got her first horse at the age of nine. She is not a horsemanship instructor, but rather an Equine Assisted Learning facilitator. With Rivoli as our facilitator, we were able to get into “horse time.” It was our time to chill and disconnect from our head space. For some of us, this was easier said than done.
As I groomed Ladybug, a bay Arabian mare with a sweet and gentle disposition, I felt my heart rate slow and my blood pressure drop. For me, horses are my therapy. I grew up with horses as a child and young adult. I’m fortunate that I have been able to keep horses in my life through my travel writing, but the physical connection and simple task of brushing a horse’s mane and tail had been lost on me for over twenty years.
“Horses are masters of awareness,” notes Rivoli. “They are prey animals, so they are vulnerable and aware. The more clear we are with our needs, the greater the chances we have of getting our needs met,” said Rivoli.
Carlos Solorzano, a Quality Assurance Manager of a well-known high technology company based in Cupertino, California opted for the Equine Perspective over a Carmel Valley horseback ride. “If I wanted to ride, I can ride anywhere,” noted Solorzano. “This opportunity looked different. I thought I’d try this instead.”
The language of horses
There are two ways to communicate. We can respond or we can react. Responding is a conscious choice. All of our behaviors are based on how we think and feel – feelings you can describe in one word. With this class, we learned the unspoken language of horses.
“It’s a subtle experience,” said Rivoli as we recapped our morning. “I thought the most interesting experience was leading the horse around with the imaginary lead rope,” reflected Solorzano. “I enjoyed the self-awareness. Knowing what I’m feeling.”
Need to know: The two hour Equine Perspective class is $175 per person and open to participants 10 years and older; three hour group session, $250 per person; six hour group session, $450 per person, available for groups of up to 16 people max.
Insider Tip: No horse knowledge or equestrian experience is necessary to enjoy this workshop. My best advice is to come to class with an open mind and be ready to play with a horse. For additional insider tips follow @Nancydbrown on Twitter @ridinghorseback and @Carmelvranch.
If You Go:
Equine Perspective (855) 687-7262
Carmel Valley Ranch http://www.carmelvalleyranch.com/
One Old Ranch Road
Carmel, California 93923