coaching with horses

When A Horse Calls BS On You.

Christel Van Gelder Stories 1 Comment

Last month I had the pleasure and privilege to experience an Equus coaching session with Anna Kerckhoff de Sacchi. I’ve always wanted to be coached by horses, and since Anna and I are from the same “tribe” and in the Algarve, we decided to get together and just go for it.

Anna is a certified instructor in the Join Up method by Monty Roberts. She is also a Certified Equus & Life Coach by the Koelle Simpson Institute.
Anna’s horses live “free”, as in they’re not limited to stables, boxes or any particular area of the land. They just roam like a herd in a large part of her land.

Now, I hear you wonder. What the hell is Equus Coaching?

Let me try to explain. In Equus Coaching the horse acts like a coach. Horses have the amazing ability to see through your “mask” and to make you connect to your true self. They act like living mirrors to our fears and stinking thinking, our hopes and dreams. By interacting and reacting to you, they give you honest feedback without judging you. When you’re in the roundpen with a horse, an exchange of energy happens. Horses will show you when you’re in truth and integrity with yourself and when you’re not. They show you when you’re stuck in the rut of stinking thinking and emotions that cause you pain. They will also show you when you’re saying or doing something that is true and joyful to you.

I started my session with an intention. I shared with Anna what I’m struggling with. I told her I have loads of ideas for my business but that I like to hide behind my computer screen. Because I’m afraid of simply not being good enough. Not a good enough wife, mom, friend, coach. You name it.

So there was my intention: to come out of hiding and to believe I am good enough.

Now it was time for Anna to introduce me to the horses and see which one would show interest. It would basically be up to the horses to pick me. My stinking thinking got triggered right there and then: the fear that not one of them would pick me or come up to me. Or in other words, the fear of not being good enough for the horses to choose me. Yet, at the same time, I felt my energy picking up when I was near them.

As we walked among the horses, Dolly came up to me, but soon wandered off. 
“OMG, this is not going to work”, my monkey mind gleefully told me. But then it happened. We approached a feeding place where three horses were happily grazing on some hay. Sharif pulled his head out of the hay and greeted me. But Anna wanted to introduce me to some more before making a decision on who would be my teacher. As we walked around the hay, Bunny stopped eating and came over. I don’t know why but I was pulled towards her energy. Now I had two horses who really wanted to be around me. Who to choose? Yet Bunny kept close. So I decided to go with her. As we started walking towards the roundpen, Sharif appeared to be keen on being part of our little get together as well. Anna said it was OK. We left Sharif in the big riding arena and took Bunny into the roundpen.

Stepping into the roundpen, Bunny dropped down in the soft white sand and started rolling. Anna asked me what Bunny was trying to tell me. Bunny was showing me she had fun. She was relaxed. And she was vulnerable with her belly up. She was showing she trusted me fully. I felt exhilarated being trusted by this beautiful creature.

As the session went along Anna made me talk about the reason why I was hiding. This took me back to my past. I told her I used to feel like a “dancing monkey”, obliged to do what people wanted me to do, to be whom they wanted me to be. Even if it hurt my soul and spirit.
Whenever I was voicing this, Bunny would move away and stand there chewing. Anna shared with me that horses make these movements with their mouth when processing stuff. Bunny was processing my hurt so it could be healed.

And then Anna shared Bunny’s background with me. Bunny was a severely abused horse who arrived at Monty Roberts’ place —aka the Horse Whisperer— very traumatised and aggressive. She was hit into submission because she didn’t want to be a “dancing monkey”. As she was strong-willed —which I am as well— she was hit even more. After all that abuse, she stopped trusting people. It took them a long time and a lot of TLC to get her to calm down and gain her trust.

Yet here Bunny was, showing her belly to me, even choosing to come to me, to soothe me. To show me I can trust myself. Whenever she felt I was in pain or sad, she came up to me and put her head against my heart. Bunny understood and said it was OK to feel that pain.
At a certain point, deep into my story, I shared that often I felt a fake. That maybe I was the narcissist, instead of the man I had shared so many years of my life with. That I was to blame for all that went wrong. Bunny’s reaction was priceless. She turned away from me and literally showed me her bum. As if giving me the big middle finger. As if saying that I was full of shit when I believed that. She showed me what was true and what wasn’t. She showed me that she vehemently disagreed with my BS beliefs about myself and unashamedly showed me her behind. It was hilarious. I started to laugh out loud, a feeling of deep calm and relief flooding me. She turned around and came back to me. Head close. She was saying: “You’re fine. You are enough, more than good enough.”

During the time I had my one-on-one with Bunny, the other horses had come up the side of the hill. They stood watching and focused on what was transpiring in the roundpen between Bunny and I. Witnesses to the transformational energy.

It’s hard to believe that you can learn so much from a horse. Yet, Bunny showed me where I was my own worst enemy. Where I needed to heal and how I needed to play and have fun. This horse, so abused in the past, showed me how to trust, especially myself, my gifts and abilities. So that I could come out of hiding.

I’ve waited a while to write about my experience. I needed time to process what happened. I also used this time to get very clear on how to come out of hiding. On where my strengths lie as a coach. The results are a greater focus, more clarity and an idea or two in the making of bringing my key passion together. And of course, I’m learning how to put into practice trusting myself and my gifts as a woman, wife, mom and coach.

One more thing I want to share. As Anna and I come from the same “family” of coaching — Anna, The Koelle Simpson Institute, and I, the Martha Beck Wayfinders’ Training, we’re thinking of setting up an Equus Coaching Day together.

If you’re interested please send me an email. Or click here. This will send you to a sign-up form so you can receive updates on where and when this will happen. Curious? Just click that link and you’ll stay in the loop. Any questions, just shoot me an email.

BTW, if you’re living in or visiting Portugal, check out Anna’s website. Anna’s wonderful, her horses are amazing teachers and the place where she lives is absolutely stunning. Besides coaching, Anna has beautiful two-bedroom apartments she rents out for holidays. And she loves taking experienced riders out on trail and beach rides.
You can find Anna on the web: and on Facebook:

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Comments 1

  1. I experienced a join up at Flags Up Farm yesterday and it has changed me and how I see the world already. I am so grateful.

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