by Tiffany Sedorus
Happy Hooves Oasis
Introduction: This capstone project examined the power of conversation versus expectation and the ability to change the traditionally one-sided relationship between horse and handler.
Significance: Analysis of the above comparison resulted in adjustments made to my training methods and changed subsequent interactions with my horses while both partnering with, and while interacting with, them outside of a training session/program.
Purpose: The intent of this capstone was to document the observed changes that occurred between horse and handler when the handler changed their approach to the interactions with the horse.
Setting and Participants: The setting of the capstone was my farm in Prairie, ID. Participants were myself, my client and my equine partners Quinn and Roush.
Capstone Description/Process: Observations that are foundational to the inferences drawn in this capstone, were made over the course of fifteen years training and twenty-five years riding horses. In 2019, a pivotal conversation with Melisa Pearce led to making contractual agreements each day with my equine partners. The material elements of the contract included the horse agreeing to “show up” ready to work together, mutual agreement required to change or alter the contract and the right for the equine to decline to participate in any stage of the process.
Contracting is working in partnership with the horse to achieve a common goal. It recognizes and respects the horse’s individuality, choices and is suitable for both the horse and the practitioner.
Relevant observations made during this capstone include experiencing a favorable response to contracting from a newly acquired horse (Quinn) deemed by others to be “dangerous “and “aggressive.” In addition, having that same horse take a supportive role to my equine partner (Roush) during a client session a short time later. Tertiary observations made during the process stage included the exchange of energy between and amongst the practitioner, the participant and the horse. And, the release of energy via leaching by Quinn, in their supportive role, at the conclusion of the session. All these tertiary observations are indicative of the horses involved honoring their contract.
Capstone Results/Impact: The knowledge and awareness gained from the observations made during this capstone project have translated into changes made in the training methods I now employ. Further, I now practice active listening with my horse, match the pace at which they work and respect their right to choose.
The EGC Method®, developed by Melisa Pearce, celebrates the use of contracts in line with its tenants of equality for all parties in the triad partnership. Pearce’s innovative style and groundbreaking coaching principles and practices are well represented in this contracting component.
Capstone Evaluation: The results of this capstone project were examined, evaluated and interpreted through the lens of the EGC Method®.
Future Directions: Further exploration and evaluation of such key elements of the Method as contracting is encouraged. Other potential components of the Method ripe for analysis are the energy exchanges occurring during the session, contact and its role in this coaching Method and the empirical validation of the contracting outcomes observed.
Acknowledgments: Thank you to Melisa Pearce for introducing me to this concept and leading me to a new way of communication and working with my horses. Thank you to program coach Lorrin Maughn for supporting me and giving me more insight into partnering with my equine partners. Thank you to program coach Marsha Bressack for encouraging me to spend more time with my equine partners outside of our partnering work for my benefit and theirs. Thanks to all of the trainers I have followed and worked with throughout my riding life who have been examples, both positive and negative.
Pearce, Melisa., & Fitzpatrick, Carolyn, et al. (2015). Equusology
Roberts, Monty. (2002). Horse Sense for People
Anderson, Clinton. (2013). Philosophy
Porter, Milly Hunt. (2001). The Horse Gods