Kelly joins me today to share her flashpoints in life and how she found her passion for horses. She describes how her father influenced her work today, the influential people in her life, and how working with horses affected her career trajectory…
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On a hot, humid afternoon, a small dog-like creature nibbles on fruit suspended above a lush fern-covered ground. The thick jungle forest is bursting with sound, as this is a time when mammal life explodes with innovative evolutionary options. Nearby our earliest ancestor (also small) moves past, vying for the same sweet delicacy. For a moment the two lock eyes.
How do we become the people we want to be? How do we create a more just society? These are the questions Kelly Wendorf has spent her life exploring and finding innovative approaches for. Neuroscience says we are wired for love and connection and to understand that we are one – which means we have the blueprint for happiness and fulfilled potential within us. So what ignites the blueprint?
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.
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.