We are proud to announce that Blissful Strides, LLC made its debut in the Kiowa County Independent Newspaper on March 2, 2016. It was an amazing opportunity to work with Priscilla Waggoner (author) and her friend (the client) to introduce what Equine Gestalt Coaching is all about.
A special thank you to Priscilla Waggoner (editor/author) and Kayla Murdock (graphic design) for making this article possible! I am forever in gratitude!
by Priscilla Waggoner
There's an older cowboy from around here who's spent most of his eighty-some years in a saddle. He tells a story about a winter day years ago when he was out working cattle. It was late afternoon and just starting to get dark when a fog rolled in, a fog so thick, he said, he couldn't see more than a few feet ahead. He turned his horse in what he thought was the direction home but within a few minutes, he realized he was going the wrong direction. So, he tried a different way. Same result. Surrounded by thick, white fog, he couldn't get his bearings. Then, he said he did what he should have done from the beginning. He just let loos of his reins and allowed his horse to go whatever direction he wanted. Straight away, as he says, that horse took him to the barn. This cowboy always ends the story the same way. "It's like that ol' saying goes. If you get lost, trust your horse to show you the way home, and he'll do it every time."
It's doubtful Lindsey Seybold has ever met this cowboy, but they seem to share a somewhat similar philosophy. Seybold, certified practitioner and owner of Blissful Strides, LLC, describes herself as a life coach who "assists people in examining their life and choices they've made with a focus on designing a positive future". That's a description that could fit the work of most life coaches; however, there is one big difference. Instead of meeting in an office surrounded by books and serene pictures on the wall, Seybold works with her clients in a paddock, and her horses are effective partners in the process. "The horses are very intuitive," she says. "You can tell a lot about a person by the way horses react to them."
Seybold is not new to the field of psychology. She got her B.A. in Psychology from Adams State University and, several years later, started working at a rescue ranch for horses where equine therapy was used with troubled pre-teens and teens. She recalls Joe, a 12 year old boy, who "played really tough: until he was to halter a horse.
"Being in the presence of the horse made him just drop his facade." she says. "He went from being a tough guy to a 12 year old kid in...seconds."
A therapist on the ranch told Seybold about the Equine Gestalt Coaching Method, a program she'd attended that took equine therapy to a new level. A lover of horses all her life and now intrigued by the effect horses have on people, Seybold researched a program and decided to pursue her two year certification in EGCM. "I learned so much," she says, "not just about working with clients but myself, as well."
In recent years, equine therapy has gained a significant amount of recognition and is being used for situations ranging from family interventions to veterans suffering from PTSD. But equine therapy is a broad category of treatment with a number of very different methods. EGCM is distinctly different from other approaches that it addresses in the "whole person" --the person's experiences in that moment along with their individual history, values and body awareness--and not only includes the horse in the process but actually enlists the horse's natural intuition and interactions in helping the client work through issues.
To the casual observer, EGCM seems like a deceptively simple process when it can actually be profound. Last Sunday, Seybold met with a client for the first time. After having her complete a temperament assessment, Seybold asked the client to step into the paddock with her. The client complied; she was open to what might happen but later admitted to being fairly skeptical, as well. So, when Seybold let the horses Scout and Blaze into the paddock, the client fully expected them to stay near Seybold. They didn't do that. As Seybold asked the client different questions about a very difficult decision she was trying to make, the horses walked around the paddock, uninterested in anything Seybold or the client were doing. However as the client grew more emotional, Scout and Blaze seemed to key in on her and walked to where she stood, standing next to her side by side. There they remained, not moving except for nuzzling her at one moment and moving closer when she grew more emotional. They even seemed to know the session was over before the client knew. She'd been standing with her eyes closed, and, at the precise moment she opened them, Scout swung away, walked across the paddock and rolled, something Seybold says he very rarely does.
Later, when asked about the session, the client said Seybold was very helpful. "But so were the horses," she added. "It was bizarre...like they were reacting to things going on with me. Like they...knew what I was saying. I mean, they stood right next to me the whole time. They could have gone anywhere in that paddock, but they stood right next to me, and when I was done, so were they." When asked how she felt, the client didn't hesitate. "Better," she said with a glance at the horses. "Clearer about what to do."
Although Seybold is from Castle Rock, her family frequently came here to enjoy the lakes when she was growing up, and she says she's always felt like Eads was home. Nonetheless, she admits she's picked a difficult place to open her practice where horses are not relied upon for their natural wisdom or intuition but their strength, agility and ability to work with cattle. "I'm not here to educate anybody," she says. "But maybe if I can help someone see horses in a new or different way... that would be okay with me."
Lindsey Seybold conducts periodic workshops and coaches pre-teens, teens and adults in both individual and group sessions. She can be reached through her website www.blissfulstrides.com.