Rosie Withey uses the unique emotional intelligence of horses to help people become self-aware, grow, or even change their lives. Rosie talks to The Industry Leaders about how she got into this unique field and why she does her work.
How did you end up sitting where you are today?
I'm so fortunate that the work I do today brings together my experience gained through a lifetime of being around horses, my interest in complementary therapies and my fascination with personal and spiritual development.
After running my riding centre for 13 years, personal challenges led me to explore and train in Reiki, Hypnotherapy and Life Coaching. In 2008 I read The Tao of Equus by Linda Kohanov, which marked the beginning of a transformational personal and spiritual journey and led me to become an Instructor of Equine Facilitated Learning. It also led to the creation of the business I have today.
What kind of work does your role involve?
Through both emotional wellbeing coaching and equine facilitated learning (coaching incorporating interactions with horses), my role involves helping my clients to live a life true to themselves.
I help them break from past conditioning and emotional trauma and understand their emotions to freely express themselves and live a life with purpose and joy.
My holistic approach includes body awareness, emotional understanding, mindfulness, creative activities and interactions with horses. Transformation happens at a visceral level enabling clients to connect with and trust their own emotions and intuition, develop meaningful relationships and have more enjoyment in their lives.
What gets you excited about your industry?
The light bulb moments!
Interacting with horses is a particularly powerful way to bring old and unconscious patterns of behaviour and belief into the light. Horses respond to who we are in the moment, not to who we think we are or should be! I love the 'aha' moments that arise from coaching. Interacting with horses, and the potential of this field of work is expanding.
Awareness is the first step towards any change, development and growth, both personally and professionally, and coaching and equine facilitated learning are amazing ways to develop self-awareness.
What's the best advice anyone ever gave you?
I spent much of my life believing that others knew what was best for me. Then one day, someone told me, "You are the only one who knows what's best for you". This was the best piece of advice I've ever had because it led me to trust my own feelings, emotions and intuition, and this was key to feeling calmer, in control and fulfilled in my life.
What, or who inspires you?
In the past twenty years, the two people I've been most inspired by are Linda Kohanov of Eponaquest Worldwide and Peggy Cummings of Connected Riding. They both share an insatiable desire to understand the connection between human and horse.
What inspires me about them is their drive for excellence in their fields of expertise and humility, alongside their ability to remain in 'beginner's mind'. They are consistently open to learning, expanding their own awareness and developing their own knowledge for the good of horses, humans, and all humanity.
How do you keep up to speed with what's happening in your industry?
Through reading and studying research and reports about developments in the industry, written by leaders in the field. I am part of an Equine Facilitated Learning development group, and we meet monthly to share ideas, the latest research and personal experiences.
What was the most challenging project or situation you've overcome?
This is a difficult question to answer because of the personal nature of the work which I do.
Many of my coaching sessions and workshops bring childhood trauma to the surface to be healed. The initiating traumas have developed in many different ways. Some of those I've experienced were accidents, illness, abuse, grief, and critical schooling or parenting.
The challenge is to hold the space for deep emotional release with calm, integrity, compassion and confidence. These are skills that I continue to hone and develop as my years of experience and practice grow.
You finish work today and step outside the office to find a lottery ticket that ends up winning $10 million. What would you do?
So many things!
Firstly, I would invest to guarantee my financial security for the rest of my life and that of my partner and daughter.
I would buy a new home with land and then take time out to travel the world. I would also create a charity to develop and continue the work I'm passionate about and support more therapists, coaches, business owners, and parents to live an authentic life and share their unique gifts.
How do you switch off after a day at work?
In the winter months, I like to curl up in front of the log fire and read a book. In the summer months, I might go for a walk, spend time with my horses, potter in the garden, have an evening out with my partner, daughter, friends or family or curl up on the sofa and read a book!
If you had one wish for the future of your industry, what would it be?
For the future of coaching, I wish the focus to be on supporting people to be true to themselves, to find their purpose and their unique gifts and talents and to share them with the world.
For Equine-Facilitated Learning, my wish is that the horses are treated with respect and valued for being the teachers that they are. That horses have a choice of how and when they interact with clients so that the welfare of the horse is of equal importance to the wellbeing of the clients.
What book or podcast should everyone know about?
The Power of the Herd: A Nonpredatory Approach to Social Intelligence, Leadership and Innovation by Linda Kohanov is the book I would recommend. It's a fascinating read, incorporating examples drawn from historical figures and human development, as well as lessons learned from years of working with horses.
How should people connect with you?
You can find me via my website www.rosiewithey.co.uk
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