Touted to improve communication skills, equine-assisted coaching is designed to develop self-confidence, help build trust, and reinforce the importance of clearly defined goals.
Undertaken in a personal or professional capacity, on an individual, group, or team basis, equine-assisted coaching has increased massively in popularity in the last decade. Especially popular with businesses, the process is often used to develop leadership skills within organizations, or by high ranking executives for personal improvement.
“It’s a rapidly growing market,” explains Suzette Bernadine Belgarde, an equestrian expert, and advocate of equine-assisted coaching from Faribault, Minnesota. “Horses, purely by their nature, are the perfect animals to assist with helping individuals who may otherwise struggle to develop self-confidence, presence, or awareness.”
While horses are believed to have been used in various forms of therapy for thousands of years, modern documentation started in Europe in 1946. Formal documentation from the U.S. begins in the 1960s. “There’s evidence that horses were used for developmental assistance as far back as ancient Greek times,” Suzette Belgarde mentions, “with historical references dating back to as early as 600 BC.”
Now practiced in over 40 countries globally, Belgarde explains that the process of equine-assisted coaching improves an individual’s abilities in a number of key areas. “From understanding how to effectively cooperate during times of uncertainty to grasping the true importance of roles and responsibilities, equine-assisted coaching is helpful on many, many levels,” suggests Belgarde.
Equine-assisted coaching is also believed to foster a deeper found respect for an individual’s surroundings. “It’s about mindfulness and paying attention to a particular or given environment,” adds Suzette Belgarde.
The equine assistance expert goes on to highlight other benefits. These include accelerated development and understanding of leadership capabilities, improved self-belief, increased confidence, increased awareness, and development of new approaches to leadership in the face of adversity. This, says Belgarde, creates a particular ability to then lead more effectively under challenging circumstances.
“Equine-assisted coaching participants have expressed to me personally how profound and effectual the coaching has been for them,” says Belgarde.
“To bring about our very best selves, we need to receive forthright, candid, and timely feedback, delivered with no sense of judgment,” she suggests.
And best suited to providing this type of feedback? “Horses,” reckons Belgarde. “They’re the masters of this, and the very reason why equine-assisted coaching is so successful,” she adds, in conclusion, and in closing.