The Connected Horse facilitator requires skills that on their face seem contradictory. One picture of a facilitator is someone in the front of a room with a marker and a chart pad leading a group toward a specific educational or business outcome. Another comes from support groups, where the facilitator sits in the circle helping group members to acknowledge their feelings so they will advance toward their therapeutic goals. A third model is the side-coaching employed in improvisational theatre. The side-coach is focused solely on helping the actor to move more completely in the direction they are already going.
Connected Horse facilitators use elements of all three approaches: The clarity of a workshop facilitator needs to be there to set up an activity, create some structure and boundaries. A coaching approach brings the sensitivity to timing and individuals that helps to modify and customize the programs for the group and individual needs. The side coach approach brings curiosity, presence and goals into the program.
“Side-facilitation” is particularly important. Rather than being the focus of attention, the Connected Horse facilitator facilitates from the side, drawing attention to the horse-participant connection rather than to themselves or knowledge they want to impart. Knowledge that participants don’t need takes a backseat to what participants do need to be more fully in their experience.
The side facilitator takes mindful presence as their primary task. This mindful presence is the prerequisite for successful Connected Horse facilitation: connected, responsive and responsible. The Connected Horse facilitator is responsible for creating a safe container for participants and horses. While the activities are constructed with a goal in mind, their primary purpose is to create a container that enables a connection between the horse and participants. This is why we provide you with education, practice time, coaching, self-reflection activities, and ongoing feedback.
Preparing yourself to be a Connected Horse facilitator is a significant commitment involving about 40-60 hours of online and onsite training and coaching. There are nine steps to becoming a qualified Connected Horse facilitator:
During this training, you will grow comfortable with screening tools, logistics, and the business end of the workshops. Our training focuses on our research-based curriculum and is not comprehensive on all aspect of working with horses. You may need to find another source for more in-depth education regarding safety and horsemanship.
This is a mutual commitment. Connected Horse is committed to helping you become a successful facilitator. We expect that you commit to supporting the Connected Horse Workshops, and participate in its continuing education and evaluations.
Altogether, you can count on spending several months preparing yourself to be an effective Connected Horse Facilitator. You will learn more about each of these components in future modules and during the onsite training.