Is your relationship with your body based on CONTROL?

My relationships have changed drastically in the past sixteen years.

First, is my relationship with horses. Second, is my relationship with my body.

Both of these relationships are now based on a two-way street of communication, mutual respect, trust and compassion.

I grew up in the ego-dominated world of showing horses competitively where it was strictly a one-way street of communication. The horse had to do what I demanded in order to “look good” and receive external validation from the show judges so we could beat the competition.

Even though my body was in the saddle, I was mostly “riding and living in my head”. When my horse would act up, giving me feedback that he was confused or frightened, I would grit my teeth and do what I was taught, which was to tighten the reins and get my horse under control immediately.

As the rider, I was programmed to be in control at all times and make my horse do what I wanted.

The thing is, this was the exact relationship I had with my body for many years. I controlled my body by “holding onto the reins” as tightly as I could. I accomplished this through extreme restriction and desperately trying to look perfect to receive the external validation that my ego craved.

Always in a matter of time, my body would revolt and act up out of hunger and exhausted, I’d “drop of the reins” momentarily. This allowed me to buck and kick and run wild, eating everything in sight. Then I would capture my body and beat it back into submission through purging and then depriving it of any basic needs or nourishment.

Whew, I think back on the amount of energy it took me to keep my horse AND my body under control and it was a constant struggle which turned me into a shell of a person.

Through my personal journey of healing from an eating disorder, I discovered the profound impact of listening to my body. This gift was uncovered in my treatment process, through partnering with horses in an experiential way, with no agenda.

By connecting with horses and with the help of Marla Kuhn, my equine therapist, I learned to ground myself, experience emotional clearing and healing and stay present which allowed me to tune into my body. This was not about horsemanship at all, but about listening…to what the horse was communicating and to what my body was communicating.

Today, I no longer “tighten the reins” when I get scared and desperate to control things. I tune into what my body is communicating to me through awareness and quieting my mind. Then I can decipher what it is I need in that moment; many times it has nothing to do with food!

Horses have taught me the profound impact of a two-way street in a relationship. This is the juncture in which healing occurs, in all of our relationships.

In loving partnership,

Unbridled Retreat showcased in Horse Illustrated Magazine

The Unbridled Retreat was showcased in Horse Illustrated Magazine! Read the article below…

Equine Wellness Retreats

by Stacey McKenna

As equestrians, we know that horses are good for us, and often head to the barn on the most stressful of days. In recent years, that intuition has been supported by a bevy of scientific evidence. By creating a therapeutic environment, horses help people process emotions, build self-awareness, and bolster their confidence.

Psychologists have used equine-assisted therapy to treat numerous conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder and eating disorders. And less formal learning and coaching programs teach coping skills, communication tools, and more to everyone from troubled youth to corporate executives. In fact, author and scholar Temple Grandin has written that just being around equines boosts our physical and mental health.

In response, wellness escapes all over the world are harnessing these benefits to help guests heal, excel, and find harmony with themselves. Some offer life and health coaching, some pull in yoga and mindfulness practices, and others have built an environment that fosters serious self-care. And although most programs can accommodate newbies, some do better than others when it comes to providing an experience that’s fulfilling and fun for more seasoned riders. Here’s a list of our favorite horse-centric wellness getaways for experienced equestrians.

Combine “A-ha” and “Yee-haw”

Equine Gestalt Coach Devon Combs of Beyond the Arena ( runs empowering retreats all over the western U.S. Her annual Unbridled Retreat at Tucson’s White Stallion Ranch is tops for riders looking to pair powerful internal work with excitement in the saddle.

All of Combs’ retreats incorporate group and one-on-one coaching sessions in the round pen and tailored activities such as journaling or creating vision boards. She draws on her love for horses, life coach training, and excellent intuition to guide her clients through processing emotional difficulties and setting new personal and professional goals.

She finds that the work also helps people improve relationships with their own horses back home. By highlighting behaviors such as licking and chewing during the coaching sessions, Combs helps riders notice their own emotions and recognize how they affect horses.

“They’re reminded to be mindful, more present, to just be with their own horse, as opposed to always having to do something when they’re with their horse at home,” says Combs.

Afternoons at the ranch are filled with rides, one-on-one coaching, and self-care (massage, anyone?). And White Stallion Ranch is truly equipped to accommodate riders of all levels. Experienced equestrians get to take canter-heavy trail rides or can try fast-paced arena events such as team penning and barrel racing.

To reserve your spot for the Unbridled Retreat at White Stallion Ranch on October 17 – 20, 2019, CLICK HERE.  

To read the rest of the article, CLICK HERE.