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  • Writer's pictureSarah Rivera

Side Effects

When I was in high school, I was certain that I wanted to be a pre-school teacher. I signed up for college and was going to work on a degree and be a caring and inspiring person for little kiddos. Then reality hit. Turns out, I am not cut out for that line of work. I barely finished my first year of school and had my final epiphany while watching a four-year-old pick his nose and eat his boogers. I was done.

Since then, I had jobs, but never a career. I thought a dozen times about going back to school, but I didn't know what to go back for. Life kept moving and I was busy with my marriage, babies, and all the things that go with starting a family. It wasn't until years later that I finally figured out just what it was that I wanted to do.

Equine Assisted Learning was something I had never heard of until a few years ago. And while it is gaining some traction, it is still a fairly new idea for most people. Still, I fell in love and felt that I had finally found what I had been looking for. I was thrilled when I received my certification and excited once I had my first official class. My passion to support women as they asses where they are in life and what their next right step might be brings me so much satisfaction.

I've been in the arena and have seen first hand the powerful effect horses have on their human students. My Equine Life Coaches teach so much without ever saying a word. It is my privilege to watch them work with and guide these women.

However, I think the biggest change I've seen so far has been in myself. So many times, I've had to step outside of my comfort zone in order to move forward. I'm discovering that on the business side of EAL, it's keep moving or, like a shark, drown. My choice to keep moving has pushed me to try things I've never done before. It's forced me to talk to people instead of just hanging out in the background.

But one big thing it has also done is pulled me out of my head and how things "should be" to acknowledge the reality of what is. I've had to look in the mirror and ask myself some of those same questions I've asked my clients. What do I have the power to control? How can I make things better for myself and, in turn, the people around me? Are there some comfortable lies that I've held onto in order to hide from the issue I don't want to face?

Slowly, but consistently, I've been examining my own life and what my own right next steps need to be. It is much easier to ask clients to consider these than to do them myself. It's messy. It's uncomfortable. Sometimes, the journey is frustrating and exhausting. Committing to change is a lot easier said than done, but it's also rewarding.

The side effects of doing this amazing work with horses is the work you end up doing on and for yourself. I celebrate when my clients go home with new epiphanies and discoveries. It's a feeling I've experienced myself and I'm becoming a better version of myself. Equine Assisted Learning may seem like fun, fluffy sessions on the surface, but I assure you, the work goes much deeper. I know who I want to be and the only person who can do that work and step into that reality is me.

So when I ask my clients what their next right step is, I can honestly say that I'm working on my own. I doubt that I'll ever be done, and that's quite alright. None of us will ever have it all figured out. All we can do is work towards progress and encourage those around us to do the same.

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