Charisma Connection

Two Way Communication With Your Horse

Nancy Proulx - Friday, February 16, 2018

    What does two-way communication look like with your horse?

Horses are very sensitive and intuitive animals. What they want most from us is to tap into these qualities within ourselves in order to connect with them.

I have a very subtle but powerful example of communication that I would like to share with you. There is a four-year-old warm blood gelding in the barn that I will be working with soon. As of now I have not had any physical contact with him. Today I was asked to remove his blanket for the vet because the owner was not available at that time. I walked into this beauties stall; he faced me, staying firmly planted, he reached his neck and very chiseled head towards me in order to sniff me. I intentionally stopped where I was to honor his space and I reached out my gloved hand to him. I’m sure he got a good whiff, not only was it a polar fleece glove but it was full of the loose hair falling from my mare’s body in hopes for an early spring. I felt his curiosity and his apprehension in my gut at the same time. His nostrils flared very slightly and the length of his breath increased as the scent affected his mind and body. I could sense his awareness that this was the scent of a mare. I could feel the testosterone in him start to come to the surface. I became aware of my personal space for safety reasons. My gut told me that the young nature of this horse didn’t lend him much control over his reactions. He felt impulsive to me. I held my ground while becoming more relaxed in my body and breathed deeper for him. Offering him a calming nature to tap into and the space and time to process this new experience. I didn’t want to unconsciously push to hard and cause him to act out. Our assessment of each other happened in a matter of seconds. It is in these first interactions where mutual respect can be offered.

Learning to understand the non-verbal language of the horse is so rewarding. This subtle communication can be almost invisible from the eyes point of view. It’s a deeper more sensitive part of oneself that needs to be developed. In this case I could see the possibility of this young horse being misunderstood and bad behavior escalating if no one recognized his characteristics. Many of us are not schooled in this subtle communication or shut down communication from the horse because you have been taught that the horse needs to accept you and your actions unconditionally.

I love inspiring great horse human relationships. I have found a simple change of perspective help me create just these changes with many horses. Instead of expecting the horse to understand our language learn to speak the non-verbal language of the horse. Energy and emotion are common to both species.


I Almost Sold My Soulmate

Peter Proulx - Tuesday, January 09, 2018

 

My Soulmate

Recently I was talking to a young woman. There was history of disconnection between her and her horse. She told me she was selling her horse and if that didn’t happen fast she was sending her to an auction by the end of the month. Her money to take care of this animal had dried up. Underneath her stoic nature, I could feel her pain. I asked her what she learned from being with her horse? She said she learned nothing but frustration and failure. She regretted ever buying the horse and she said she would never get another horse again. I could see that this experience had broken her spirit and destroyed her dreams. The horse wasn’t intentionally trying to destroy this young woman’s dreams, but somehow they attracted each other.

This woman’s experience was breaking my heart and I couldn’t get it out of my mind. As I sat with it I realized that this woman’s pain made me sink back to a time when I felt this same gut wrenching despair. It was some 20 years ago when I was faced with a very similar situation. I had it all, so I thought. I had this amazingly talented horse. She was everything I wanted in a show horse, young, powerful and ready to mold. She was so physically talented; she could effortlessly trot with her knees up to her chin, hocks digging into the earth, dirt flying and head held high. She was exquisite to watch, but beyond that surface talent there was something deeper, a feel, a presence that would captivate the viewer. Just observing her trot across the arena would make the hair stand up on my arms. She was appropriately named Charisma.

Harnessing this power was challenging for me. The techniques and training tools I had learned were not enough. We won many ribbons, but the rides were a bunch of over reactions and mistakes on my part, there was no connection. The show ring left me feeling terribly exposed, vulnerable and somewhat of a failure. I found myself frustrated and stuck. First I had tried to overpower her with more equipment, harsh bits, over checks, whips, etc. Then with frustration growing I decided the best thing to do was sell her. So off she went to a trainer out of state to be sold. Nine months later when that didn’t happen the trainer’s advice was to send her to a sale. I was at a crossroad. Was a sale even an option? Much agony went on within me. I would jump back and forth between my head and my heart. Not knowing which decision to make. When I allowed my deepest thoughts to surface I found myself saying things like “I just can’t get myself to cut the invisible ties between her heart and mine”. “How did this horse weasel her way into my heart”? I had always been able to barricade myself from listening to that part of me. I had been trained that success in life happens with control, trusting what you’ve been taught and attacking life head on. It certainly wasn’t about trusting a feeling. Somewhere, somehow something had shifted in me and in the end I choose that oh so subtle promptings of my heart over my training. I brought her home, finding myself in new territory for sure. At first I felt somewhat paralyzed by my decision. The reality was that all of the strategies I had held so fiercely and all my skills and techniques I had used on my previous horses weren’t enough. She was asking me for something more, something deeper.

This was the start of a new way of being with horses and much learning. I started to just spend time with my horse without an agenda. In these quiet moments I would talk to her. I began to show her more of whom I was, exposing even my weaknesses to her. I found that the more I showed her about myself the more she showed me who she was. The communication between us deepened. As I became more self-aware I could feel my personality soften and loosen up. My empathetic abilities started to open up. This practice of learning to be present and mindful increased my ability to feel my body and my ride. No longer was I focused single-mindedly on the result. My concern was to support my horse. I became aware of even the subtlest language between us, an ear twitch, a look, or a thought that passed between horses. The walls were breaking down and an intuitive channel started to open between us. It was as if not only our bodies were connected but our emotions and our minds. I would instantly know what she was feeling or what she was thinking. We were developing a soul connection. I believe that this soul connection is what horses are asking us for when we take them away from the herd. It’s much deeper than the eyes can see.

If your lucky and you ride long enough you too will meet that horse, the one that asks you to become more, more than a mere rider. This horse will ask you to fine- tune aspects of yourself. It will ask you to not only have physical balance in the saddle, but to develop emotional and mental balance as well. It is my truth that we must harness our own inner power in order to ride theirs. It’s difficult for many equestrians to shift their perspective but I encourage everyone to see that life is never as it seems. The teacher can show up in the body of a horse.

“A soulmate is the person who makes your soul grow the most.” Caroline Myss


 

The Mind Body Connection

Nancy Proulx - Saturday, December 09, 2017

Catherine called me last week for an equestrian coaching session. She was faced with a very common equestrian scenario. She was frustrated with her horse Scout. Scout is a 14 years old chestnut quarter horse and Catherine has been his person for 6 years. Catherine’s main complaint was that Scout gets anxious and always spooks when going to the right in the riding paddock. She told me there was a valid reason for this. About a year ago a deer jumped out of woods, frightening both of them. She said they both literally had their hearts in their throats. She avoided the fall but now Scout is on high alert going this direction. What makes things even more frustrating for Catherine is that her trainer can get on Scout and he’s an angel. He stays calm, doesn’t spook and stays completely connected and goes to the right just fine, YES EVEN if there are deer grazing in the pasture.

So what’s going on here? Does the horse have her number? Is the horse spooking for a valid reason or is she creating it?

Many of the tools I use can be used long distance as in this case. I really enjoy these coaching calls because I get to rely on some of my other skills. I’ve been a lifelong horse person and trainer but I am also an intuitive. I formally trained with Caroline Myss and Norman Shealy MD for four years in the field of Medical Intuition and Intuitive Counseling. I am also an Eponaquest Instructor, which focuses on personal development in front of the horse. These two fields allow me to address my work in a more holistic way rather than from purely a training perspective. I think of myself more as a healer verses a horse trainer.

One of the first things I did with Scout was to do a quick intuitive assessment of the horse from a picture before we talked. The picture carries a magnetic charge allowing me to sense personality, history and if there is anything that may be making the horse uncomfortable in his body. Many times this just helps to validate that I’m connected to the horse long distance. After confirming that most of what was going on was behavioral verses a physical pain, I told Catherine that what looks like bad behavior is just communication from a horse’s perspective. I’ve felt that what Catherine needed first was to strengthen her body-mind connection. She had the riding ability but her energetic system and body were not backing her up.

I use a very unique tool in my work, an exercise called the body scan. The body scan is useful in all sorts of situations and I have found it to be foundational and transformative in my work with veterans who suffer from PTSD. It helps them to gain deeper understanding of how our mind can overload our body with old programming or how what is stored in our body can wreak havoc on our goals.

For Catherine I took her through a deep body scan over the phone. This allowed her to develop an awareness of her body and what’s inside it. When we are taught to engage with our body at this level we realize that the body has it’s own wisdom and opinion and that body postures hold all types of information for us. I instructed her to first practice this body awareness exercise for a good week and get familiar with it. She was to use it in all sorts of situations; at work, in the grocery store, and in front of her horse. Then when she felt comfortable with it I wanted her to try it on her horse while she was riding. We were to touch base a week later.

The exercise was quite enlightening to Catherine both in the saddle and out. It really hit home while riding Scout. She realized that when she reversed to the right she did a little giggle and grinned, which she said she does when she gets nervous and then she dropped her hands, collapsed her spine and took a tighter grip of the reins, preventing him from going forward. This is a common mistake; we put the brakes on and the gas petal at the same time, confusing the horse. She became aware of how frustrated she was with the tension in her body and how her body responded. Things started to quickly turn around once Catherine realized that her unconscious body messages were shutting down her horse. It was her hidden fear that was influencing the horse. Horses will ask for the mind and the body to be on the same page. They sense incongruences and then act them out.

Over the weeks we continued to work with exercises to enhance this mind-body connection and many areas of their relationship started to change. Scout seemed to have a softer eye, he started to stand at the mounting block and they were making great strides at going to the right under saddle.

* For more information on the body scan you can reference it in Linda Kohanov book The Power of the Herd, chapter 14.


Liberty Work Can Help Develop Feel

Nancy Proulx - Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Liberty Work Can Help Develop Feel

Over the past ten years, liberty work with our horses has become quite popular. Liberty work serves as a great foundation in developing the bond with the horse. I use it to access any new horse I’m working with to tell me who the horse is. Recently, I’ve become a little angered while reading a few articles describing the correct way to do liberty work. Being humans, our brains are always trying to organize and put things in a little box. I hear “use a whip, don’t use a whip”, “use a round pen, no use open space”, “use treats, don’t use treats”. Just as we have seen in the riding arena, if you get stuck on the technique and ride from your head you will lose touch with the feel, the connection and the oneness. The horse will always remind us to come back to balance and use both the head and the heart. Liberty work is about relationship and developing combined awareness of being able to feel into the horse and yourself at the same moment. It’s about adjusting each moment by trusting what your solar plexus is telling you about space requirements, using empathy to sense your horses response and emotions, and fine -tuning your ability to modulate energy.

I encourage the human to go into this process with the mindset of dropping technique and giving up trying to do everything perfectly. Strive to become a student of the horse and experiment with feel, body awareness and the non -verbal cues coming from the horse. The horse will be your best teacher. Just watch the magical moments that will occur when you have the courage to be vulnerable and choose to be present with the intention of learning each other’s language.


Bully of a Pony

Nancy Proulx - Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Bully of a Pony

I am feeling so grateful for an opportunity this week. I was asked to do a demonstration for our young equestrians. I found an interesting character when I was brought a 6-year-old gray, very handsome pony. His person loved him very much and she ended up with him because no one else wanted to deal with him. You see he was a bit of bully. He was very pushy and when it came to responding to the bit he just pushed right through it. Just a few minutes in the ring at liberty showed me who this guy was. Using body awareness and the ability to sense and adjust the approach will tell you who they are. He first showed himself as disinterested in me, which is a subtle way to not connect with a human. I waited and asked him to show me who he is. Fairly quickly he showed me his anxiety on a nonverbal level. I am so amazed at how honest horses can be when you just wait and choose to connect. My body could pick up his anxiety under the surface of his bully behavior. I realized that his anxiety showed up as pushing through everything in response to a human. It didn’t take long for the pony to understand that I was sensitive to his needs and that I understood him. He was following me in no time and then the release happens, the yawning and releasing his pent up tension. I don’t necessarily feel like he was outwardly abused, just misunderstood. He was born sensitive and the way we are taught to train animals and people not usually very empathic. He just developed a bully type response to protect his sensitive nature. He learned to push through everything with blind force. By teaching the rider his point of view not only will help her in understanding where the behavior stems from but the pony can have some peace with a more aware human.


How Doubt Affects Your Horse

Nancy Proulx - Monday, May 22, 2017

Have you ever gone to a clinic where you have watched a talented horseperson demonstrate a technique or training method that will seem to fix all your horse related problems? You then come home and try to apply the same theory because it was so successful for them. Only you don’t get the same results? What makes it successful for them and not you?


This is a hard concept to grasp but it is not the technique that the horse is tuned into as much as the energy behind the technique that matters. You can’t just keep going out and looking to correct a horse’s behavior by looking for the next great method. Many times I see that it is the persons energy that is weak and confusing the horse. This is why I teach self-awareness and personal development when it comes to being with horses. There is a level of experimentation when we apply something new. This can be uncomfortable to some people who think that life has a formula that you follow. It’s ok to have a goal in mind but it doesn’t help to panic when something else shows up. When our action don’t get the results that we’re promised we start to doubt ourselves and then we look weak to the horse. We become disconnected from the self. We jump from an embodied instinctual presence (being very horse like) to a place of being in the head and trying to figure things out or even worse yet, the dreaded critical mind. When we are in the head we look totally out of focus to a horse. They will view our actions as weak, the horse does not respond to us, they ignore us and can even become irritated by us.

Most people hear about developing personal power in the work place but don’t take it into consideration when we work with horses. A horse wants to support you in staying true to yourself. I suggest you never give up the student’s mindset with horses and in life. Allow yourself to come up with new ideas and responses to your interactions, allow it to be instinctual and creative. A horse connects to the strength within us. This comes from not betraying yourself, staying with yourself, with your heart, your integrity and your ability to play with life. Sometimes it’s our craziest ideas that allow the magic to happen between two individuals.


 

Lothlorien Therapeutic Riding Center

Nancy Proulx - Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Excited to be partnering with Lothlorien Therapeutic Riding Center.

http://www.lothlorientrc.org

Animal Communication, YIKES!

Nancy Proulx - Tuesday, February 07, 2017
Animal Communication

Animal Communications

I recently had a dream that I was selling diamonds and they asked me to wear a nametag that stated my job description. The nametag said animal communicator. In the dream I said “I should probably wear this nametag since I’m uncomfortable with this role”. When I woke up I realized that I didn’t value this part of my work, which was represented by the diamonds I was selling in the dream. I had to ask myself what the resistance was about?


I myself have questioned this ability not only in myself but also in other people. Not only have their been some bad representation of the work but it can be difficult to validate because animals are just wired differently than us and there is no verbal feedback. Many people who start out doing intuitive work use the excuse it is not a science or that is just what I got and I’m not responsible for the information, it just comes through me. I think this can be an easy way out and has given the work a bad rap. When I did my four- year intuitive studies with Caroline Myss and Dr. Norm Shealy we were held to a standard. The program was the Science of Medical Intuition and Intuitive Counseling. We were tested for accuracy it was not about being right that is a totally different thing. The ego is involved in the latter. It is a skill and it needs to be exercised like a muscle to develop fully.

The good thing is we all have this intuitive ability. It is in understanding how it works that helps demystify it. The Equine Facilitated Learning work that I do with the horses has helped me to not only trust my intuition but I use it to help others connect with theirs. Horses have a heightened sixth sense. They are prey animals and without the ability to trust what they feel verses what they see the species would have been extinct years ago. Think of how animals know and sense that a tsunami is coming and they all run for higher ground. Were they able to tell the future? No they sensed what was coming. They felt the vibration the subtle energy that was coming towards them. I use this skill in every area of my life from my health to dealing with a new situation and yes communicating with animals on a subtle level. How many of you have had your dog or a horse stare at you and you just don’t know what they want? You know they are sending you a message but how do we interpret it? For me the key was to use my body first not my head. Just like a horse would be able to read the subtle vibration coming from a lion that is passing by; that horse could sense whether that lion had a full stomach or was on the prowl for his next meal. The horse reads the energy of the situation.

Our intuition and instinct is subtle and many times overlooked because we have put so much value on our big brains. Life works so much smoother, is more creative and you are definitely more connected to life if you learn how to reclaim your skill of intuition. Don’t be afraid of it.


Love Can't Be Severed

Nancy Proulx - Sunday, October 09, 2016

 


Years ago I was called to a client’s house to assess what was going on with their dog. She was a young female germen shepherd who seemed to not be that thrilled with her job as a canine police officer nor with her partner whom was the husband. When I sat in the family room with this couple I felt so much tension between the couple. The woman told the story that the dog always put up a fight when it came to leaving her side and that the dog would bite the husband. So the dog’s opinion and feelings were quite obvious. We talked about the husband learning to soften his interactions with not only the dog but with his wife. Blah, blah, blah! Yeah like that went over well! I remember leaving and feeling the overpowering aspect of the husband over the wife and the dog obviously stepped in as the protector.

About two months ago I got a call from this same woman. Only now she was divorced but had recently moved in with her boyfriend. She stated that her dog (the same germen shepherd) was now going after one of her boyfriend’s dogs after co existing for the past three months with no problem. She didn’t know what triggered this behavior.

My greatest strength is that of an empath, I go in and get a feel for the situation and try to help regain balance or harmony. My intuitive hit was to direct the woman’s attention to how she feels about this new living situation. It didn’t take much for her to admit she wasn’t sure about the situation and that she felt annoyed and would snap at her boyfriend. Bingo the words right out of her mouth and she made the connection that if she couldn’t speak up her dog would. Of course we talk about boundaries and the correct use of them and her ability to start voicing them.

But the most amazing part of this story is what she told me next.

She tells me that after that initial visit some years ago, things didn’t get better. At one point her and her husband had gone on a vacation and they left the dog with a fellow officer and his wife for the week. Upon return, the report was that the dog was an excellent houseguest. Not to long after their return home and back into the routine the aggressive behavior towards the husband continued until once again he was bitten. That was the last straw for this woman she couldn’t continue living with the stress between her husband and their dog. She decided to place the dog with the couple that had watched her while they were on vacation. Dysfunction continued in the couple’s household and it took about a year to finally make a decision for them to split. And here’s the amazing part! The day that her husband removed all his belongings from the home, her dog showed up sitting on her front porch just staring in the front screen door. This woman was shocked but enjoyed the coincidence of the visit. She then put the dog in the car to return her to her owners. When she got to their house and with much coaxing the dog refused to get out of the car. Luckily these people were quick to realize that the dog’s heart and loyalty always belonged to this woman and they were mere caretakers for the year. The dog returned home when her owner finally decided to come home to her self.


 

Self Awareness and Horses

Nancy Proulx - Monday, September 26, 2016

What does self -awareness have to do with horses?

The more I learn about horses the more I’m convinced that self -awareness should be a prerequisite in the classroom of being with horses. With that being said I do believe that mastery is a lifelong journey. The lost knowledge about horses is that they look for congruency and authenticity. We all know they are prey animals, making then wired to be emotional protégés. Horses read what is below the surface. It is just as important for them to know whether a herd member is relaxed and present or sensing danger. This survival mechanism allowed them to know if the lion was on the prowl for their next meal or just passing by and had a full stomach. Horses sense if the lions outside actions match their inner agenda. Because of this mechanism, incongruence means danger to a horse. The problem is that many of us have been conditioned to numb ourselves out and not be aware of what we are feeling or creating unconsciously with our feelings and the thoughts connected to them. As riders we are taught to put on a brave face and push threw our emotions and pay attention to our programming (limited beliefs) or the technique. We are not really fully present. We are on autopilot. If we have been trained to live totally in our head to a horse we look out of focus.

I’m here to suggest that how we create our world works the opposite than most people understand. In our western culture we are taught to focus our awareness outside ourselves. We project our image on to our children, partners, horses and even one’s house. It becomes a mirror for us and it becomes a box for us especially when the image doesn’t live up to our expectations. This is why my teachings are not about any technique or riding style. I teach people how to become aware of the bigger picture. It is our inner world that creates our outer world. Horses want us to be connected to our essence or our true self. This work requires you to look at your agenda and personal motivations. If you are looking for external power then you are a mere rider. Inner power and a connection to ones inner self brings calmness, clarity, focus and connection. This can be a difficult process but well worth the journey. This ability to be in the heart space is not a place of weakness where you constantly lose yourself to another person or animal. Quite the opposite it is empowerment and the ability to stay centered. When you begin to live in this space of this expanded awareness you will recognize your horse as your guide and teacher. The journey becomes more important than the goal.