• Carly

Meredith came to Montana for a reset. As it has for all of us, life had worn her down this past year. She is a successful and determined woman, with a masterpiece of a heart. I am better after knowing her. She showed up at my round pen not knowing what to expect. “I told someone in passing what I was doing with you and their advice to me was to not google anything, so I didn’t!” She later reported that it was the perfect advice, as it allowed her to show up with an open heart. Meredith connected with the horses immediately and jumped right in on session one. Luther softly encouraged her as she navigated all that was on her heart. It was beautiful. We both cried. She left with a new direction and deeper understanding of the inner workings of her heart.

I could write separate, moving blogs on each of our sessions, but I have a day job and a toddler, so I’ll be brief. Session 2, Rio took to the work like a dream (his first time!). He blew me out of the water, helping Meredith come to her most pure, underlying truth. Her natural defenses (the good kind, that keep us surviving through the hard stuff) tried to fool us a few times; not Rio. He stood firm and gently rerouted her to a neuro pathway that was congruent with her soul.

Session 3 of 3 Meredith showed up excited. “I feel like a kid on Christmas morning when I come here”, she said to me as we began. We had already worked through so much in the few short days we had spent together. “Before we get started, I have a question”, she said. “In our last session, you used the word needy [as a descriptor]. I don’t think you meant it in a negative way, but it feels negative to me.” “Great!”, I replied (after confirming that I did not mean it in a negative sense), we headed straight for the round pen. Rio helped Meredith process the word needy- what it meant to her, how it showed up in her life, how she enjoyed being needed, but it was hard for her to need in return. She realized that deep down, she did not feel valuable if she was needy. We explored where she felt the idea of having needs in her body. Her heart was hurting and her arms were tight. Rio responded to these feelings (called somatic responses) and supported her as she sifted through how avoiding being needy has shaped her life. Meredith began to understand that she could not give continually without getting her needs met. She recognized patterns in her life where needing was discouraged and being the cup feeler gave purpose and pride.

I believe all humans can relate with this phenomenon on some level. Needing is hard and vulnerable. But it feels so good to help others! Yay for helping. But also, your cup has to be filled in order to pour into another. What a simple concept but a hard reality.

We were able to travel through events in Meredith’s life that revealed this pattern. Meredith adopted to a new appreciation and compassion for herself. She is truly a radiant person inside and out and I’m so happy for her. She glowed at the end of our session. She felt lighter. The tightness in her arms was gone and her heart soared. I felt these changes in my body too.

That’s a lot of ground we covered in an hour and a half!

For reference, ‘needy’ was the only word I could come up with to describe the part of herself that desired relationship and connection. I still can’t come up with a better one. When I googled synonyms, the results were cringe worthy: deprived, disadvantaged, destitute, poor, to name a few. ‘Scuse me google, your word is poorly represented. Needy is not shameful! Needy is normal! To need is to be human. Our needs matter.

Updated: Nov 25, 2018

Often when I talk about what I do, I get a similar response, "Oh, so you work with kids with disabilities?" In fact, no I don't. I work with adults who have suffered a loss or a trauma, or merely struggle to get passed something that happened in their..well...past. What is important to note, is that we usually don't realize why we do what we do, or why we react rather than respond, or what triggers us. Trauma doesn't have to be a massive car wreck or death of a loved one; it can be caused by the most minor of offenses, especially during our childhood. This trauma shapes us in ways we appreciate, as well as ways we'd rather not shout to the world. Whether you've walked through a blazing fire or jumped over a candlestick, nobody gets out unscathed.

Que my love child, Wildfire Equine... which operates with a deep understanding that our trauma can consume us. This looks different for everyone, but the end result is the same: fear, heavy self-criticism, and ultimately poor quality of life. I started out in this work because I highly value life, as I'm sure you do, and knowing that we only get ONE, I want to live it to the deepest capacity. To me, that starts with emotional wellness. I realized that by healing my own soul, I’m more present and available for others around me, I am stronger on my own two feet; I’m more appreciative of the skin I’m in and the life I get to live. We have to address our operating system, otherwise we will continue in our same patterns, same habits.

1. That sounds nice, honey, but what does it look like?

So the bones of it are:

One-on-one coaching sessions: just you, me, and a horse on site.

Group sessions: 4 or more individuals on site.

Retreats: these vary in premise and attendants. Typically 6-10 participants for a 4 day getaway revolving around valuable process time with the horses and authentic healing connection. Lodging is off site and meals are included.

Phone coaching: includes a series of 30 minute follow up calls to keep you on track, packaged to fit your needs.

*do note, A handler will be present at all sessions but information is kept highly confidential.

We will work with the horse in a round pen (or outside the pen, if you are more comfortable). Sessions are approximately 1.5 hours minimum but can be customized to cater to you. Half day and full day rates are available. At this point in time, I work outside so all sessions are weather dependent.

And the heart of it is:

My horses deepen this work 100-fold. They help you cut through the fluff and get right down to business. This allows me to be extremely efficient and effective during each session. I’ve heard folks say they’ve done years of therapy and after one session in this work they unearth more than ever before. (disclaimer, I DO NOT discount therapy! I have an amazing therapist that I refer clients to if need-be and she is wonderful at what she does.)

Actually, let’s talk about that…

2. Why coaching instead of therapy?

These are my opinions. Think of it this way, our healthcare system is set up for 2 extremes: the very sick, and the very well. We are working on a manageable system for the in-betweeners, aka most of us, but nothing is streamlined yet. Have you ever been ill or had something out of whack but were too stubborn or busy or reluctant to go to the doctor?


Now, therapy is awesome. We need it, it saves lives, it provides answers, it manages difficult illnesses and emotional states that society often doesn’t know how to help. So THANK YOU, THERAPISTS, for doing what you do!

As a coach, I operate with the understanding that you (client) and I are on the same playing field. I do not hold your answers, I will not scribble down your words and give you loads of unsolicited advice. I am there to coach you and to work with you to help reach your highest potential. I am highly trained, and I’m good at it. My horses are even better.

2. Cool, what do I wear?

If you don’t live in Montana, you should be aware that our weather is subject to change several times throughout the day. Please wear closed toe shoes, jeans, and bring a few layers. It is best to wear something you are comfortable in and don’t mind getting a bit dirty.

3. Where are you located?

We are in Bozeman, MT. Specifically, located off Nelson road near Springhill (North of Bozeman, approximately 20 minutes from the airport).

4. What if I'm allergic to horses?

If you are like me, you may be allergic to hay, dust, horses, cats, life, etc. I am not above a good dose of Zyrtec, Claritin, or Allegra prior to arriving on site. If you are partial to essential oils, a glass of water with a drop of lavender, lemon, and peppermint works like a dream for most folks. We work out in the open, so generally it's not a huge issue. If you are severely allergic to environmental allergens, please discuss this with me on our intake call.

5. Intake call?

Yes, there will be a complimentary 20 minute intake phone call prior to our first session.

6. Do I need horse experience?

Absolutely not. We will go over the basics when you arrive for your first session. Most work is done on the ground so don't worry about being saddle-savvy. I will adjust to your comfort level - horse-o-phobes are welcome!

7. What is that gesundheit word you keep referencing?

Gestalt! It is a german word. There is no direct translation to the english language, but the closest would be "wholeness". Gestalt therapy is built upon the foundation of being completely aware and working through things experientially, in the present moment. Essentially, my horses are masters at bringing awareness to your core being, this is key for the healing process.

8. How many sessions will I do?

It really depends on you. You may choose to do as many sessions as you want, but I recommend doing at least a few. We can spread them out over the course of a few months, so don’t worry about a weekly commitment unless you wish to do it that way! Telephone coaching really helps with continuity of progress when sessions are less frequent.

9. I’m not local….

Great! I’m not lying when I say that I live in an INCREDIBLE place. Bozeman is a small, eclectic mountain town with gorgeous views, intimate downtown, and strong agricultural history. It is the perfect getaway and a gorgeous location to do this work.