A Horse Was My Therapist! And He Did A Great Job Helping Me Release Old Issues!
You might want to experience this wonder!
As many others, I was afraid of the biggest horse on the ranch named Butler. And I was determined to overcome my fear. So when I’d scheduled my next session to work on my stuff, I chose to work specifically with Butler.
What happened next was a miracle… I was able not only to let go of huge fear, Butler and I created such a deep connection, which I’ve never experienced before. And when I showed up much later for another session, an unexpected happened… Butler was on the ground enjoying early sunshine. I approached and started petting his neck.
Butler liked my petting so much that he deliberately fell on his back right in front of me.
It was a sight to behold! He had a pose like a dog would have belly up, saying, “Scratch my belly. I really like it.” A dog? That would be normal to me. A horse? Never happened in my reality. Needless to say, I felt ecstatic!
A few years ago I’ve met Butler’s owner Diana Gogan at one of networking meetings and instantly liked her warm and calm nature. We ended up talking about the fascinating work she does on her FireHorse Ranch in Phoenix, AZ.
Diana told me that she owns three horses: a miniature horse Max, beautiful Princess and a big guy Butler. Diana guides the activities and observes how the clients and horses interact with each other, coaching her clients in a subtle yet effective way.
At that time I was actively releasing my old issues and instantly, I knew I had to schedule a session with Diana. I would pick one horse to work with at a time. One session turned into several and later, I started including a day at Diana’s FireHorse Ranch as a bonus for my Radiant Mastery Academy clients.
Back then every time I would have a session with Diana, I would tell my friends, “I’m going to have a session with a horse” and my friends would say, “Oh, you would be a therapist to a horse!” And I would laugh and say, “No, I wouldn’t be a therapist to a horse. It would be the opposite – a horse would be my therapist.” I have talked with several people before my several sessions and several people told me the same. People would always assume that I would be a therapist to a horse. And it was absolutely the opposite – horses actually were my therapists. Of course, I wouldn’t let Diana out of the important equation. She has always done a great guiding, observing and coaching work in my sessions with her horses.
Below is my interview with Diana about her fascinating work (transcribed with some corrections and changes).
Diana: It’s really about connecting inside because I believe that we all hold all of the answers we are looking for inside ourselves. It’s just coming to that phase where we are in alignment in hearing what our soul has to tell us, and we are really ready and open to do that. So when we work with the horses, what that looks like is coming out, being outside the nature, being around animals and becoming very present within oneself and then through a series of guided activities, we dive into what’s most prevalent at that time.
A lot of people come out with objective – like you did – things they want to explore, things they want to understand, things they want to release or eliminate, things they want to bring into their live, whatever that is. And some people just want to experience it, because they have never heard of it and it sounds exciting. So that’s really where we begin, becoming very focused on self, on what it is that we are actually here for and listening to the responses that comes up within ourselves as well as watching where the horses interact with, because they are a great reflector back of what the energy and the thoughts and that physical movement we make. And a lot of times we don’t really realize what it really is until we see that.
Irina: And an interesting point that usually a horse knows even in advance or maybe senses or intuits in advance what’s going to happen and that this horse will be chosen for the session as I have experienced. At that moment it displays behavior that we can interpret, and it really correlates with what’s going on. So that was an amazing moment to me. (Irina: Before I came in, Diana already knew that I would pick Princess to work with based on Princess’ behavior several hours before my appearance.)
Diana: Absolutely. You know, people ask me how I train the horses to do this or how the horses know. And honestly, I never know how the horses are going to respond, how they are going to interact or not interact as the case maybe, because that happens as well. But it’s been really positive and motivating not being able to predict what’s going on to facilitate the rest of that session the way it needs to go.
Irina: And of course, Diana, when you lead the session, you are very present there and you are watching the behavior – watching the person and the horse – and so you also have to know intuitively, I’m sure, what guidance to give or what activity to choose for the person, right? So I’m sure you rely on the experience that you already accumulated before, so can you tell us what your background is, how did you even started?
Diana: Well, I just tell people that for me it started when I was a very young girl, and I fell madly in love with horses and that was my whole childhood, everything was horse-related. Where we grew up was not a horse property, my parent couldn’t afford horses and we lived in the city.
So that has always been a passion. It wasn’t until I found myself into a career and climbing the corporate ladder and becoming just really disconnected to the point that I found myself siting in the parking lot and just crying every day before going in to work, just mustering up the strength to go in, do the job, to be present and just get the job done and get home. So in that process I found that I become very disconnected, so I began searching for ways to reconnect.
I have continued in my coaching education over the years. And we moved to Arizona 8 years ago, I looked at my husband as we crossed the border between Utah and Arizona and said, “This is my mid-life crisis. I want to get horses to mark it. It’s a 40-year journey!”
And then we settled down here, got horses, my purpose was just to have them for riding and enjoy personally and then I found myself taking clients in by saying, “You come and try this, come and feel where the horse is standing.”
And I started finding that magical things started to happen. We could have done a lot of energy work. We could have done a lot of coaching around, but when we go out and stand with the horses, things shift so quickly in the moment. I just thought it was a magical combination.
I did a little research and came to find out that equine assisted activities were becoming a popular modality. The exciting thing about this activity to me is that it continues to grow. The way my business is now, the way I work with horses now is different from a year ago or two years ago or 3 years ago, so it’s always an exciting evolution.
Because just as my clients learn from the horses, I do too, and of course I get to do my personal work – my own personal therapy with my horses.
Irina: Every time I had a specific issue that I needed to go through; and of course, I have done a lot of healing myself and so I knew what I was doing. But your sessions blew my mind away because they were so phenomenal!
When you understand your issue on a mental and emotional levels, and with the horse, with these guided activities, you actually embody the understanding. It’s an embodiment of whatever was somewhere on the mental or emotional level, it now grounds you or you are grounded with whatever it is. And so that was an amazing feeling for me because, I always fly far away, but to be grounded with the animal, working there and doing those activities was absolutely amazing, and this activity accomplished so much on several levels.
Diana: Absolutely. And the word “embodiment” sounds good when we talk about it. It’s like you are actually experiencing and realizing what happens, because the simplest way to describe that as what happens is to make it part of your story. You have experienced it, you felt it, you smelt it, you have tasted it, and it’s become a normal engagement in your senses.
Your body now knows how to respond because it responded to it in the actual circumstances, so that when you go back out into the world, you already have a memory of this is how I can do this or this is not how I don’t do this, or whatever it is that you are working on. So that embodiment is the magical piece that helps everything to click together very quickly.
Irina: Actually, you are so right, because that’s what I found myself doing. I was in the middle of very important decisions in my life, that’s why I came to you. And the decisions were really like a fork on the road indicating that my life was changing completely.
So when you are on the ground with the horse or horses, you are feeling it, you are seeing how it’s done. I had to let go of control. I had to let go of tension. I had to connect with the horse, and in fact, I still feel my connection. I still remember it.
That’s what you are saying, that I would remember it later and I do, because I had this experience for the first time in my life: an amazing connection with a horse.
Long time ago as a teenager, I took care of a police horse back in Russia, but I haven’t experienced such a deep connection as I experienced this time. I’m happy he liked me and I liked him. The connection was so amazing that I’m still feeling it, and it actually created wonders.
And when we were walking, you actually did something outrageous, at least in my mind, when you gave me the blindfold and you said to blind myself, we would do this activity – the obstacle course – that’s how it is in life.
And I had to trust you. I had to trust my newly found connection with the horse. I had to trust your horse to guide me and to walk with me. And so we did and as I told you I felt that you represented to me the divine guidance, because I was blindfolded, and I had to listen to the divine guidance.
I had to listen to your voice and decide: do I want to follow your saying, “To the right, to the left, straight ahead, turn into circle” or do it myself.
And then there was a horse who was protecting me from going into a fence and walking somewhere I shouldn’t walk. And he was walking next to me. He could see. You could see, but I couldn’t, and that actually somehow made it into the core of me and now every time I do something, I actually remember that memory on a physical level. It’s quite remarkable.
Diana: It is remarkable. And that’s when we really learn things. If we can embody whatever it is that we are really learning, then we have it, then it becomes part of us. It’s no longer separate just like you have experienced it.
Irina: Diana, could you give us an example of your ideal clients, whom you like working with.
Diana: The person I really like to work with is a person who holds a bigger vision, whether for themselves, their family, their careers, for their communities, their world, whatever that is. We all have that really big vision that scares us a bit. Maybe it’s not even in focus yet, you don’t know what it is, but it has a little stirring in your heart.
And the person I like to work with is the person that knows that it’s out there and is ready to explore it. And also know that between where they are today and where they want to go is a big gap, and they are not certain of all the things that are in there.
As you know, the work that we do, wherever we really seek to consciously make a big change, all other stuff comes up. And so that’s where I really like to help people work through that stuff that comes up.
To see and hold that bigger vision and that potential and embody all of that, so that they can cross that gap as quickly as they can and get on and accomplish what it is they are really here to do, and what their souls really tell them.
And I consider these people leaders, whether we are in a personal leadership to our family, our business, our community, whatever it is. We are at a time that all of us have been called to step up and step into that leadership role; whatever that looks in our life. And when we do that, it’s just amazing what happens, and how that one little change we make within ourselves, ripples out to the world. So that really the person I love to work with, who is just ready to do that and wants to do it now.
Irina: That sounds very good. And I highly recommend Diana’s work. I got phenomenal results, and I’m sure I will be returning again and again because you don’t just go and forget about the session. It stays with you. It gives you results. You can feel it.
So Diana, for people who would like to connect with you, how could they do that?