We learn quicker from horses than we do from humans, according to Deb Reynolds, a facilitator of equine experiential learning workshops in Northfield, Minnesota. Equine workshops teach people horse-human relationship skills, mind-body awareness, emotional fitness, assertiveness, and leadership skills.
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“People get it with horses while other methods of change hasn’t worked for them.” says Reynolds.
It all started with a family-owned Shetland pony named Timmy. Deb was six years old living in Oregon with her family when the neighbors would call saying, “Timmy is out of his pasture. Come get him.” Her father and Deb would safely rescue Timmy one more time.
From an early age, Deb knew she loved horses, for she would cry whenever she past a pasture. Her family was poor but her mother would find a way for Deb to ride horses. She went to a stable in Reno, Nevada for riding. Later she helped with cattle roundups or spent weekends at a friend’s cattle ranch near Spokane, Washington.
Deb’s two horses are the first she has owned. Each day she goes out into all kinds of weather for two hours to water, feed, or pick up manure. She teaches high school chemistry in the mornings. She has taught for 23 years.
Deb works in a round pen, which is a circular metal bar fence 50 feet in diameter, on the ground with her two horses, Metolius and Reina, for two hours a day. “When I work with my horses I groom them one at a time so they each have a special time with me. I do Parreli games with them like back up, come forward, or go sideways and then free lunge them. The first part they usually have a lead rope and halter on, whereas the free lunging they do not. I try to get them to walk, stop trot turn direction and cantor all from the center of the pen. I do have a carrot stick in my hand as an extension of my energy.
“My clients work with my horses in two ways: reflective and active round pen work. Initially people do reflective work which is hard to describe because each person’s needs and desires are different. One person may want to just be able to stand close to a horse for a while, whereas another may want to “join up”; meaning see if the horse will follow he/she around the pen. It sounds simple but there are some amazing truths that come from reflective round pen sessions. Active round pen works is a person standing in the middle attempting to move the horse around the perimeter. This exercise really deepens a person’s understanding of what focused energy feels like; not in the mind but in the body.” says Deb.
Horses are intelligent prey animals that are always picking up clues from their environment. This makes them good teachers because if they do not get an authentic congruent response from their trainees the horse will give feedback by walking away or displaying agitation. Putting on a happy face while feeling sad or angry is not to be trusted.
“Even though I am a scientist,” Deb says, “I have always been aware of a spiritual realm. So much goes on beyond what we can experiment with, see, or sense. We are moving toward a new way of living in our world.” says Deb.
This summer she will travel to Oregon to find land for an art camp for at-risk youth. She will move there with her horses. Deb said, “I want to do the two things I love, helping people find themselves and working with horses.
Horses as teachers
by Jeanette Fordyce
We learn quicker from horses than we do from humans, according to Deb Reynolds, a facilitator of equine experiential learning workshops in Northfield, Minnesota. What is an equine experiential learning workshop? What do the workshops teach? WHO do they teach – horses or humans?
It all started with a Shetland pony named Timmy. Deb was six years old living in Oregon. The neighbors would call saying, “Timmy is out of his pasture. Come get him.” Was Timmy Deb’s pony? What happened to him?
From an early age, Deb knew she loved horses, for she would cry whenever passed a pasture. Her family was poor, but her mother would find a way for Deb to ride horses. A dairy farm with a stable in Reno, Nevada was one place. Later, she helped with the cattle roundups or spent weekends at a friend’s cattle ranch near Spokane, Washington.
Equine workshops teach horse-human relationship skills, mind-body awareness, emotional fitness, assertiveness, and leadership. The simple act of grooming a horse can put a person in a relaxed meditative awareness conducive to creativity and intuition. Horses can inspire, restore self-esteem, and bring a spirit of adventure.
People can vary a great deal in their personalities and can be quite inconsistent with their responses to our actions. What is learned with horses can be brought to our human relations and back to our communities. Can you give some concrete examples?
Horses are prey animals and have to be hypersensitive to their environment. If horses don’t get an authentic congruent response from someone they will bite or move away. Putting on a happy face while feeling sad or angry is not to be trusted. Sounds like this could be dangerous to people who are coming for the therapy but have many problems. How does she deal with this?
Deb’s three horses are the first that she has owned. She spends two and half hours each day watering, feeding, and picking up manure; two more hours if she works with them (??) in the round pen. Deb works with her horses on the ground and in a round pen. Most readers will not know what it means to “work with” the horses – explain that this is training for the horses. Also explain what connection, if any, this has to the workshops. Are the horses trained as therapy animals? How does the training work?
Deb teaches high school chemistry in the mornings. She has taught for 23 years. “Even though I am a scientist I have always been aware of a spiritual realm,” Deb says. “So much goes on beyond what we can experiment with, see or sense. We are moving toward a new way of living in our world.”
This summer she will travel to Oregon to find land for an art camp for at risk youth. Does this have something to do with horses, too? Deb said, “I want to do the two things I love, helping people find themselves and working with horses.”
Deb’s workshops are only 45 minutes from the Twin Cities. Her next workshop is April 19th and 20th. Call Deb Reynolds at 612-414-4661 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org Who signs up for the workshops? Do people ride horses during the workshops? What goes on?