Barb Ganske, Eponaquest Instructor
B.Sc. (Pharm.), B.A., M.T.S. (Spirituality)
Power of the Herd®, Master Herder®, Sentient Communication®, Connection Focused Therapy®
After happily practicing pharmacy for twenty years, I was becoming disillusioned. Most of my day was spent dispensing narcotic pain medications, anti-anxiety drugs, sleeping pills and anti-depressants. I began to realize that I was helping people to cope, but not heal. I finally left pharmacy, but left with a question – How do people heal and does how they understand ‘God’ impact their ability to heal?
That question stayed with me for a few years until an opportunity to explore it landed in my lap, in the form of a Master’s in Theological Studies in Spirituality program that I could do via distance learning. I spent the next seven years, taking one course at a time, delving deep into the world of spirituality and healing. I realized that what I was learning was for my own healing.
Throughout this time, I was continuing my connection to horses. As I began studying dressage with a coach who really understood the need to sense into the body to connect with the horse, I struggled to find muscles to engage and others to let relax. I was finally getting to know my body.
I had read Linda Kohanov’s first book, The Tao of Equus, in about 2002, and thought at that time that it would be the greatest job in the world to help people heal with horses. However, I had two small children then and this was not even a dream I could imagine. But, in 2017, something urged me to re-read that book, and I was again moved by the human-horse connection. I decided I needed to take a course with Linda. From that came the opportunity to study with her.
My quest to understand what it really means to heal, and to be whole, has led me to the field of Equine Facilitated Learning, where I am able to partner with my horses to help you on your road to self-discovery and healing.
I have been involved with horses since I was a child and, as I entered my adult life, my love for horses grew into trying to find a better way to communicate with them on their level. I read books and tried to apply what I read when interacting with my horses. When Barb told me about the journey she was embarking on with equine facilitated learning, I really started to observe the way Barb interacted with her horses. When I first met Barb and her horse Ella, Ella was very hard to catch from the field. I watched Barb spend time in the field with Ella, welcoming Ella to come to her just by breathing and body awareness. Barb continued her work with Ella in the field and now Ella is easy to catch.
After watching Barb work with Ella, I approached Barb to see if she could help me in my communication with my mare. We have spent hours in the barn alley just chatting about breathing, body awareness, mind awareness and applying the techniques. With the learnings from Barb, I have been able to have a better relationship with my mare.
One of the most profound experiences I have had in applying my learnings from Barb has been with one of three rescue horses that I took on in 2018. This mare appears to have had a bad past and has bald spots and marks where it looks like she had a halter grown into her face. She is what I would consider feral. I could never get near her. One day this spring, I went into the field with a new attitude towards her. No agenda, no goal, no pressure. After about 10 minutes of doing breathing exercises - going through awareness of my body, clearing my mind and really just being quiet - the mare let me into her space. She allowed me to touch her hind end, then back, then all the way up her neck. I couldn’t believe it. I left it at that. Later that night I went into the field again and just stood there, again completing the breathing techniques, body awareness and clearing my mind. The mare came right to me. I allowed her into my space, she then allowed me to touch her whole body. We stood together just breathing and being still for about 15 minutes. The other horses were eating and it was just her and I in this really quiet calming space. I couldn’t believe what had actually happened.