Aedín is a small black six-year-old quarter horse mare who was saved from the kill pens last year. When she arrived three months ago to live at our ranch she had not been trained or ridden. In horsemanship terms, you would say she hadn’t been ‘broken’. Broken––such an incisively appropriate term for what we do to horses (and people I would add). In order to feel safe on the back of one thousand pounds of wild horse muscle, trainers notoriously intimidate, bully and manipulate their four-legged companions into submission, rendering them emotionally numb and spiritually bereft. Cowboys call these horses proudly ‘yes ma’am-ers’. I call them a tragedy.
In this MoxieCast we are joined by Kelly Wendorf and Lead Mare Artemis. Kelly Wendorf is a coach, mother, spiritual mentor and founding partner of Equus, an 11-acre experiential learning & discovery campus in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Horses are co-facilitators in their work at the ranch, and much of Kelly’s wisdom on leadership has emerged from her life-long observations of the horse herd, a 56-million-year-old system.
We have a lot to learn from animals – just ask Kelly Wendorf, whose life’s work shows us what we can learn from horses about leadership. Kelly sat down with us for a chat about her work with horses, her journey to coaching and her upcoming book, Flying Lead Change (out October 2020).
Scott and I are currently in week four of our lockdown. Our New Mexico governor wisely called a state of emergency well ahead of the others. So in an effort to do our part in flattening the curve, and shortening the duration of this crisis, we shut our doors socially and professionally (i.e., to seeing clients in person). Fortunately, a portion of our work––coaching, online courses and Wisdom Circles has always been done virtually, so our days are still engaged and fulfilling. But that doesn’t make the lockdown any less challenging.
I have a small square card placed on my desk. On it are these words, written in frank, block letters “Opt out of consensus reality”. This simple instruction has become my north star, a compass setting inside the maelstrom of narratives that exist in our collective mind. These stories can feel deeply personal, such as “I’m not enough”, “I’ll go broke”, or “I should have done that differently”. Or civilizational, such as “homework makes better students”, “drink more water”, “we need a growth economy” or “humanity is bad”.
The most memorable experience, perhaps, is located a short but beautiful hike away from the resort, at Thunderbird Ridge. There, bordering the property of Egan’s former home (where local shamans have located two spiritual vortexes), co-founders Kelly Wendorf and J. Scott Strachan have launched a horse-assisted self-empowerment program, Equus.
Dream denial comes in all kinds of forms, packaged seductively inside facts, rationalizations, statistics, or morality. I would hear things like, “Well, let’s just be realistic here. Banks don’t make business loans to companies with your cash flow.” Or “It’s even more expensive to take care of your own horses than just board them at a stable,” Or said for my own good like “Do you want to have all that responsibility?”…
Sitting across the table from Dr. Hoffman, I observed a very specific sense emerging in the space. It was a feeling of infinite possibility. I felt exceptional self-confidence and sparkle—not in him—in me. I felt, well, remarkable, as if I had super powers and could do anything I put my heart into. It then dawned on me that this was his gift—he saw, and therefore evoked, greatness in others.