Many of us know we need someone to talk to but are loathe to go to a traditional therapist due to the perceived stigma of “being crazy”. What if there was an alternative to talk therapy? Someplace outdoors, in nature, with perhaps some animals? Wouldn’t that be awesome?

Well, there is an option like that ~ Equine Gestalt Coaching. This type of Coaching is done usually on a ranch with horses and a certified coach. In my professional certification program, there are over 250 practitioners located throughout the US, Canada, and the UK.

Horses have the power to influence people without them even realizing it.  That’s where your equine coach comes in.  With my certified training, I guide the client in dealing with feelings, emotions, and even frustrations that come up (and they will) and even how the current situation with the horse applies to something they are dealing with in their life.  As the client participant develops a relationship with “their” horse, it naturally affects them in a positive manner.  The horses never disappoint and by the horse’s interaction with the client, I get the insight needed to guide the client through the issue that is presented.

 “Why partner with horses?”

Horses are intimidating to many as they are large, powerful, and somewhat unpredictable. This creates an opportunity for some to overcome fear and develop confidence. Working alongside a horse, in spite of those fears, creates confidence and provides wonderful insight when dealing with other intimidating and challenging situations in life.  Like humans, horses are social animals, with defined roles within their herds.  They would rather be with their peers. They have distinct personalities, attitudes, and moods; an approach that works with one horse won’t necessarily work with another.  At times, they seem stubborn and defiant.  And yet, if they are with a client they are acting that way for a reason beneficial to the client.  Horses provide vast opportunities for metaphorical learning, an effective technique when working with even the most challenging individuals or groups.

For example, I was working with my client, Sharon – she wanted to figure out why she kept sabotaging herself every time she got close to being successful. What was her definition of success? Her father was very successful, what she remembers is that he never had time for family and all the family friends thought he was a complete asshole. As we were discussing this, our horse partner, Burrito, joined us and immediately started to bump into Sharon, even trying to push her chair over. In other words, he was being a complete asshole. While Coaching her I shared with her that what I was hearing her say is that being successful: you have to give up your family and be a complete asshole. She sat back on her chair and said: omg I never thought of that before. Once she had the realization that her idea of success was based on her father, the horse let out a full body release, gave her one more nudge on her shoulder, and walked off.

Horses require us to be our authentic selves, whether in caring for them or working with them.  In an era when immediate gratification and the “easy way” are the norm, horses require people to be engaged in physical and mental work to be successful, a valuable lesson in all aspects of life.

Most importantly, horses mirror human body language.  Many complain, “This horse is stubborn.  That horse doesn’t like me,” etc.  The lesson is that if the client takes the necessary steps to explore a different perspective, the horses respond differently.  Horses are honest, which makes them especially powerful messengers.

For parents sometimes setting boundaries and limits and then trying to decide what the best type of consequence is appropriate leaves many feeling inadequate as parents much of the time. Being able to set boundaries with a 1200 lb animal is empowering and validating.  All of the exercises are presented in a manner that seems fun but always has significant meaning behind them.
Utilizing horses to support therapeutic processes for individuals and groups promote insight in a new and exciting manner.

Marianne Bailey The HIP Senior Founder

Marianne Bailey is the passionate owner and founder of, a dynamic online platform dedicated to empowering, engaging, and connecting seniors with resources and information to help them live their best lives. As a natural extension of her commitment to supporting the senior community, Marianne is also the energetic host of The HIP Senior Podcast, where she sparks insightful conversations with fascinating guests from various fields, sharing their wisdom and experiences with her listeners.

Marianne's dedication to redefining the senior experience has garnered her a loyal following and made her a respected voice in the senior community. She continues to champion the idea that age is just a number, and that life after retirement can be filled with adventure, new challenges, and endless opportunities for personal growth.

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