Equine Supported Somatic Experiencing©

Prayer, by Stuart Kestenbaum, from Prayers & Run-on Sentences

Our problem - may I include you? - is that we
don't know how to start, how to just close
our eyes and let something dance between
our hearts and our lips, we don't know how
to skip across the room only for the joy of the leap.
We walk, we run but what happened to the skip
and its partner, the gallop, the useless and imaginary
way we could move through space, the horses we
rode before we knew how to saddle up, before we
had opinions about everything and just loved
the wind in our faces and the horizon in our eyes.

THE EMBODIED EQUINE EXPERIENCE is an equine-facilitated, experiential learning and therapeutic modality in which horses are co-teachers/facilitators for those who wish to develop a closer and more conscious connection with themselves, and for those who are recovering from trauma, addiction, eating disorders, or deep-seated, long-standing concerns around self-worth and the ability to realize goals.

Trauma exists in many forms. It may be the result of an accident or injury, a profound loss, abuse, medical trauma, or family history including birth trauma. Signs and symptoms of trauma may include anxiety, hyper-vigilance, low self-worth, compromised immune system, depression, hopelessness and chronic anger or rage. We may feel shut down, inhibited, or overly sensitive. Our emotions may be unbearable or feelings may be absent, with an array of somatic symptoms. Our system is in a constant state of fight or flight. Paula integrates her experience as a Somatic Movement Therapist and a Somatic Experiencing® practitioner (the trauma recovery work of Dr. Peter Levine) into her work with horses and clients.

Connecting in an embodied way with horses opens us to discovering our authentic selves and learning new ways of settling and balancing body and mind. Horses can help us become more comfortable in our own skin, more trustworthy to ourselves and others. With their help, we can find a more reliable sense of physical and emotional balance, resilience and ease.

Conscious Movement and Touch support ease and balance in the bodies of both horse and human, helping us become more aware of what we are signaling with our bodies and minds. Moving consciously with horses means bringing an improvisational and playful quality to our relationships with horses.

What does an EQUINE SUPPORTED SOMATIC EXPERIENCING© session look like?
It starts by just standing with the horse, noticing the horse's and our own responses to simply being together. Work can take place in the stable aisle, in the stall or in a larger enclosure. Each session has its own organic structure, sometimes involving touch, leading, or simple, ordinary movements. We break things down into simple steps, noticing when we are moving too quickly or asking too much of our equine partners or ourselves.

Embodied Horsemanship Clinic at Mountain Horse Farm

Who can this work help?
  • 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.

    What will you learn?
  • How to track your body's and the horses's responses and how to listen and attune.
  • Build feelings of confidence, ease and a spirit of improvisation.
  • Connect with the horse using bodily practices that are intuitive and playful.
  • Learn how softness and listening can create physical and emotional balance.

    No previous riding or horse experience is necessary. All work is done on the ground.

    From the participants:

    Yesterday was wonderful. Today, while at work, I would catch myself re-experiencing the feeling of warm weight against my side; the sense of chase and play and wonder; the expansive place of learning and feeling something quite new and unexpected; the awe as foreign transitioned to a fluidly familiar facet of self. Your gift as a guide to worlds unknown is astonishing and masterful. And the horses. I have no words. Thank you.
    Aislinn MacMaster

    [Your workshop] was truly an adventure of otherworldly experience. Over the past nine days, I have let the magic of the weekend marinate into my mind, body and soul and awaken my lost self. Surrendering to the moment and to your teachings on the weekend was a leap of faith for me in ways that words cannot express. How wonderful it was for me to be held in such gentle, caring space by your thoughtful, wise, and intuitive presence. All I can say is that, the exquisite flavors of adventure, discovery, courage, and enlightenment of your life essence have offered me a new vision of possibilities. I cannot possibly offer gratitude sufficient to the task of thanking you for your grace, guidance and wonder.

    WOW, WOW, WOW!!! What an amazing experience with such an incredible, articulate (in body, mind and spirit), intuitive, inspirational teacher with such a thoughtful and gentle touch. I want to thank you here for offering us such an incredible opportunity for enlightenment this weekend.

    I got back to the arena earlier this afternoon and Paula was flowing with the little ones [miniature ponies]. It was so beyond beautiful and magical I thought to myself "this is well worth the price of admission right here!" I could have watched Paula all afternoon. There is just something so transcendent about her movement and connection that ripples out this peaceful grounding energy into the space around her and beyond. She just floats in another world where physical form gets swept up in the flow of the eternal and body, mind and spirit become one with the Universal energy. Watching her draws you into that world and, for a moment, you can start to see. How amazing to have experienced the gift and gifts of Paula!


    The experience engendered much conversation about the experience of leading and following on a lead line and attunement to each other. I was fascinated by my responses and the responses of the two people I was working with. It gave me new insights about my desire for control and relationship to being in power as well as my responses to being controlled rather than related to. It was intense and clearly [touches] issues at the root of community and cooperation. Much thanks for a deep and meaningful experience.
    Kim Kaufman, BMC Practitioner

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

    Find Our Horses, Ourselves: Discovering the Common Body
    at your Local Bookstore Here