by Marcy Waelti
That Zen Farm, LLC

Introduction: This Capstone identifies Equus as an active partner in the Equine Gestalt Coaching Method®. Instinctually, the horse knows how to co-coach and be fully engaged in the Gestalt process. This narrative describes how a horse achieved a strong connection with a client emotionally, and in the context of the EGC Method® coaching triad, contributed greatly to their betterment.  

Significance: This anecdotal information shines light upon the power of the horse as a co-coach in the EGCM®.  It further accentuates the sentient nature of the horse and is meant to elevate the status of Equus to the position of prominence in the EGC Method® that they rightfully deserve.

Purpose: Integral components of the EGCM® like connection, focus on the present moment, partnership and congruence are represented in this rendering. The horse, in summation with these integral components, brought about the therapeutic gains realized by the client. The purpose of this Capstone was to document the synergistic qualities of the EGC Method® I observed at work with this client. 

Setting and Participants:  This coaching session occurred in the indoor arena on the Waelti Horse Farm in Brooklyn, WI. It was a private session with the client, myself as the EGCM® certified coach and two equine coaches.  

Capstone Description/Process: The client arrived in a state of high agitation and anger. An experiential experiment, utilizing the empty chair technique, was initiated. The client began by placing a soiled, worn-out old tarp in a chair. The tarp was intended to represent the person she felt anger towards. The client sat in a chair across from the object of her displeasure. One horse stood next to the client and another positioned itself next to the tarp.

Melisa Pearce, founder of the EGC Method® has masterfully incorporated the Empty Chair Technique into the same. The empty chair becomes an imaginary person towards whom the client can express their feelings. The client engages in an emotional dialogue with this person who is imagined to be sitting in the empty chair during the session. person. This technique is effective when used to address unresolved issues, conflicts, and emotions.

Pearce states in her tome What the Heck Is Gestalt (2019) that “our bodies need to release the pent-up emotions” and that “Gestalt process encourages the release through tears, voice, a primal scream, or beating on a cube with a racket (p. 82).”  This client launched into a stream of angry language and body posturing directed at the tarp. The horses held space and never moved for the 15 minutes of the tirade. As the energy came down, the client said, “and you can just fall off the edge of the world for all I care!”

The horse picked up the tarp and threw it into the middle of the space. The client said, “And you can stomp on her too!” The horse stomped on the tarp once and made eye contact with the client. The client then shouted, “You can do more than that!” The horse stomped on the tarp three more times in rapid succession. Once again, the horse made eye contact with the client. The client burst into tears.

 After the client was done crying, the coach asked what was behind the tears? The client replied that they, as a lifelong horse person, had never known how much the horse actually understood. Both horses moved to the client’s side and they placed a hand on each horse. The client was calm for the first time since their arrival.   

Capstone Results/Impact: I observed a horse listen intently, be fully present and hold space while a person raged and became congruent with their emotional state. I learned that a horse can co-coach with deep connection, understand what is needed in the moment and act upon it. I learned to create space for my equine partner to do what they feel is best.   

Pearce declares in her above referenced book “In our EGC Method, horses are seen as our partners-a second coach in the session. The horses are full-on partners in the process (p. 171).”  Observations made during this memorable session supports this proclamation.

Capstone Evaluation: I evaluated this session through the power of observation within the context of two years of daily Equine Gestalt Coaching experience. 

Future Directions:  Further examination and analysis of the equine-Gestalt coach partnership to fully understand this synergistic mechanism in the context of the EGC Method® is encouraged. 

Acknowledgments: My thanks to my amazing horse Gandalf. Also, I wish to express my deepest gratitude to my mentors in life, especially Melisa Pearce at Touched By a Horse, for expanding my mind and experiences, and opening the doors that were closed.


Pearce, M. (2019). What the Heck is Gestalt? Elizabeth, CO, Touched by a Horse, Inc