Shurla has attended two Unbridled Retreats. She is a recent graduate of a health coaching program, proud mom of a 13-year old son, and CEO of her household.
How did you discover Unbridled, and when was your first retreat?
My first retreat was the beginning of my journey. It was Spring of 2018. I was taking a nutrition course, and one of my classmates told me about this horse program. I was going through a divorce and really felt like I needed to get away, so I did some research to see if I could find out more about it. The first retreat I found online was Unbridled in Arizona, and the dates and everything just came together.
The divorce was hard, and I was feeling pulled in so many ways. Everything felt like it was on me, so many emotions and changes to manage. I just really needed a break from all of it. But it took a lot of courage to take the step to go.
I had no idea what to expect once I got to the retreat. I remember the opening circle. I’ll never forget it. I thought to myself, “What’s the worst that could happen? I’m meeting people who live in the US. I live in Canada. I will probably never see them again!” But it was such an open and freeing space, and with Devon’s energy and presence, I remember sitting in the circle, and we introduced ourselves, and we shared a little bit of our story. I felt so comfortable in that moment that I felt free. The tears just came, and I felt like I could release and be open. And it was such a beautiful experience. I never really experienced that before.
Prior to Unbridled, I always traveled with my former husband, or friends or family. For me to go on my own was a huge leap.
I had always been afraid of horses but being in the desert and with all the other women and being in the presence of the horses and learning about their nature…they are so powerful yet so peaceful and so gentle. Devon shared a lot about the horses being prey animals and how they always must be present in the now. That really struck me because I am always busy doing so many things at once. Watching the horses, listening to Devon, things just started to click for me.
Now when I’m unsure of something, I always go back to my time with the horses, and the gentleness and grace they had, just being present.
You mention the courage it took to go to your first retreat. What was your process for moving through that fear?
I needed a break from everything so badly, I thought I would burst if I didn’t take some steps. When all the logistics worked out for the retreat, I just thought why not? I was crawling out of my skin. When something big breaks, it’s like the uprising of everything. You’re getting a divorce. He’s moved out. Your son is crying every night. This is happening. This is real. I had so many questions, and I needed a change of environment to clear my head and make sense of it all.
In some ways my first retreat was more for my son, finding courage to be a better person and figure out how to get through this divorce as my son and I move forward together. I knew I would come back a stronger person.
Looking back this was the beginning of my journey. When I decided to say yes to the Unbridled retreat, it was the beginning of saying yes to myself, to my growth, to a more authentic version of myself, and to stepping into who I really am.
Once you took that leap and went to your first retreat, did you start to find that it got easier to care for yourself?
There were so many things that happened in Arizona that I have taken with me. I felt like I was safe to be myself. The Unbridled Retreat was so powerful. I wore cowboy boots and went all out. I believed I could move forward with everything I learned when I left, but it takes time. When you come back home, you’re back into your life with everything else and if you don’t have boundaries in place, it becomes easy to get back into the old ways.
One thing that really changed is how I parent my son. The horses taught me the power of being present, and I realized that when I talked to my son, I needed to be fully present. I consciously started putting my phone down or turning it over. I would sit and engage with my son and listen to him and be present.
Being surrounded with the other women and sharing each other’s progress and how we changed and grew was powerful. I was able to release a lot. I came to understand way deep down I would be okay, even though there was still a lot of work I needed to do.
Was going to a second retreat a way to keep your Unbridled spirit alive?
Yes. I went to my second retreat in Montana and felt much more comfortable being on a horse. I felt comfortable and powerful. It was so freeing. Someone said to me, “You look so happy!” And I was genuinely happy because I felt free.
The retreat and the horses helped with that sense of presence. I am better at boundary setting. I’m a better person, a better parent, a better sister, better friend. Being present, authentic, and true to myself are the biggest lessons I learned.
Whenever I second guess myself, I always go back to the horses.
The horses don’t second guess themselves.
Has your son noticed the difference in you and your relationship?
Yes. We’ll sit on the porch and just chat now. Our relationship has become better because he shares more. He’s open. We both practice being present together. To have that bond is very important to me because it’s a very different bond than I had with my parents.
What does being Unbridled mean to you?
It means being free, stepping into the truth of yourself and your being, and who you are wherever you are, in that moment in your life. Trusting the process. But deeper than that, trusting yourself to become the best version of yourself. Being Unbridled is like a flash of light and an opening of all the best parts of yourself. Stepping into that light and not apologizing for anything. Being the best version you can be as you go out into the world and project yourself, spread your goodness, your light, and your beauty. Freeing and breaking free. To live in that space is powerful. And Devon taught me how to do that with her program.
What would you share with someone who is thinking about going on an Unbridled Retreat but needs a courage boost?
Feel the fear, don’t push it away. Be brave and step into it anyway because what’s the worst that could happen? We often look at the outcome before we’ve had the experience. So go to the experience and be fully present and available. Be there for yourself and don’t compare yourself, it’s your individual journey. Others are on their own path. So, stay in your lane and receive the lessons you need to receive to continue your journey. Be open. Great things can happen.
What’s the biggest gift the horses have given you?
Not being afraid of new things. Just saying yes, saying yes to myself.
Anything else you’d like to share?
My first retreat was 5 years ago, but it still feels like yesterday. I felt free of the entanglement of my life and could just be me in that moment with my cowboy hat and boots on, and Yeehaw! That’s how I felt. I was just being me at my most relaxed and happy. I found out I was a pretty cool person. I like to have fun and do interesting things.
The divorce was not fun but I’m grateful for it, and it happened for me because I was somehow hiding. And now I have reawakened.
I am learning to trust myself and trying to teach my son to do the same. When he goes into a new venture or new place or new people, I tell him to just trust himself. That’s the greatest lesson.