Experiencing Body, Mind and Spirit with Horses

Embodied Horsemanship is an equine facilitated experiential learning modality in which horses are co-teachers/facilitators for those who wish to develop a closer and more conscious connection with themselves and their equine partners, and for those who are recovering from trauma and addiction.

How can horses help humans?
I believe that horses can help us with whatever needs helping. They can illuminate issues or give us insights into the places that we are stuck - places of resistance or habits of body and mind that have become obstacles to our opening fully to our desires. Often that information is stored in the body. It can show up as pain or stiffness or a lack of feeling and joy. As my colleague and mentor Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen says, "There are no wrong postures, only positions we have forgotten how to come out of."

Horses mirror our physical and emotional expression and show us when we are "out of sync" - that is when our inside feelings and outside behaviors are not in harmony. Unlike humans (or any predator), horses, as prey animals, are always congruent - their behavior always matches their feeling. The simple non-judgmental presence of a horse can help us calm and ground ourselves physically and emotionally. Learning to be with a horse in a quiet, embodied way - how to slow down and feel the body - and understand more clearly what we are communicating with our movement and touch, builds confidence and helps you to see and feel yourself with greater clarity and compassion. This heart-centered way of touching and moving with horses can dramatically shift your relationships at home and at work, and inspire you to move courageously toward goals that may have seemed impossible or out of reach.

I don't believe that the horses are here so that we can pin ribbons on the stable walls, or achieve some kind of technical perfection. I believe that they are in our lives for a much larger, more soulful purpose that has to do with opening up and doing the hard, hard work of becoming more fully human. By that I mean more vulnerable, playful, expressive, curious, loving and kind.

They can help bring us into alignment, which is not about posture or putting the parts of our bodies into some kind of correct position. Alignment is about relationship and connection between ourselves and others and within our bodies. It is dynamic, flexible, and improvisational.

When we are open to it - and by that I mean fully feeling our bodily selves - the horses (and our other animal companions) help us feel life flowing from them to us, from us to them, and from both of us outward to the world in then back into us. In doing that they help us orient to pleasure, to what feels good, and to the possibility of a joyful body and mind.

Who can this work help?
  • Those who wish to feel greater confidence and pleasure in their personal and professional lives.
  • Those who want to experience a more profound sense of connection and communication with their horses.
  • Those seeking a more authentic, conscious and compassionate relationship with their bodies.
  • Individuals suffering from injury, physical or emotional trauma, or recovering from addiction.
  • Children and adults on the autism spectrum.

    My background is that I am a choreographer and dancer and bring an artist's improvisational perspective to all of my work with horses. I believe that this offers others an opportunity to deepen relationship by including our innate, creative selves in the process of relationship and recovery. I am a Certified Laban Movement Analyst (CMA) and a registered Somatic Movement Educator and Therapist (RSME/T) accredited by ISMETA, the International Somatic Movement Education and Therapy Association. I am a Guild certified Tellington TTEAM practitioner and a Somatic Experiencing® practitioner, trained in the trauma recovery work developed by Dr. Peter Levine. My writings on movement and dance have been published in Contact Quarterly and I write a blog called Ride Dance Write. My book, Our Horses, Ourselves: Discovering the Common Body was published by Trafalgar Square Books in September 2017.

    I am available to teach private sessions, workshops and clinics that focus on helping humans and horses find a clearer body-mind connection with each other. I can come to your facility or I teach privately both in my movement studio in Kent, CT or at the barn with my horse partners Sanne, Amadeo and Cappricio in Rhinebeck, NY.

    Contact Paula to make an appointment for a private session or book a workshop.

    Find Our Horses, Ourselves: Discovering the Common Body
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