A Guest Blog by Jane Strong
I recently had a session with one of my favorite horses and one of my favorite people named Val…a powerhouse of a THREE who knows the Enneagram and herself very well. While she’d never been this “close” to a horse except for a couple of trail rides as a kid, she’s used the Enneagram in her consulting business for several years. Perfect for this work.
When I introduced Val to Dutch Boy Paint, my Arab-Pinto gelding, I noticed something different about her, but wasn’t sure what it was. I knew it would reveal itself soon enough. So, I asked her if she was up for the challenge of getting Dutch to pick up his hoof. She thought it wouldn’t be easy but seemed very willing to try. “Just make your intentions very clear and ask for it,” I said. Much to my surprise, she did – and he did – on the first try.
Val said later, “I’d never been around horses, so it was incredible to me that I could be so connected and feel so powerful with Dutch just by being congruent.” I told her that sometimes, we wait for 15 minutes while clients get clear about what they want and Dutch yields one of his hoofs. For horses their hooves are their first line of defense…when in doubt…RUN!
So, we went outside and I asked her to put all of her energy and attention into her Head Center and take Dutch for a walk. She took the lead rope and he complied, but I noticed that his head was turned slightly away from her…as if they really weren’t together. She said as she circled back around to me that this felt familiar and often “where she is” when she deals with so many things at once. She told me that this was very familiar territory for her but she’d never “seen” how disconnected it really is.
Then, I asked her to take a deep breath, put her attention into her Heart Center and take him for another stroll. As they went, I could see him come closer, lower his head and turn it toward her shoulder. When she returned, she said, “I’d been doing a lot work on myself lately in terms of getting into my body…and the second I went from my head to my heart, he was nuzzling my shoulder. Before this, I never had any evidence that moving my energy from one center to another would have such a striking influence on another being.” I thought to myself that this was what I had noticed about Val. She was more in her body and more honest about her own concerns than I’d ever seen before.
Next, I asked Val to let her energy rest in her Body Center. She did, and moved out into the arena with Dutch in tow. He went with her, but tested her leadership all the way…as if to say, “Are you sure, are you sure?” That’s Dutch. She stayed focused on the task, but noticed that it wasn’t as rewarding as when she’d been in her heart. According to Val, this exercise made it quite clear that accomplishing something by making it happen is also familiar territory for her but that it felt like a hollow victory.
Finally, I suggested that she move her awareness to all three centers and just be mindful of them all as they went one final round. When she came back this time, she was radiant as she told me, “As a THREE, I’m used to spending a lot of my energy and attention on making sure that things happen. Now I can see how much more powerful and easy it is to get something done by being mindful of my energy and staying congruent.”
Val is extremely adept in her verbal skills and getting lots of things done, so it was delightful to watch her trust the process and be open to experimenting with Dutch. She had a firsthand experience of the awareness and control she really does have by being more aware and congruent. She loved the power she experienced by really inhabiting her own body. “I feel so validated with the feedback from Dutch. And you just reinforced it by adding to my awareness of what was happening. I’ve experienced immediate feedback but this was instantaneous!” The impact and choices we really have are amazingly clear to me now.”
Because of Val's knowledge of the Enneagram and personal interest in development, she was able to make an immediate connection between what she experienced at the barn and some habitual patterns of behavior that she can now change in the larger “arenas” of her life.
As you can read in the above story, once it becomes obvious where the work lies for each client, I create simple ground exercises designed specifically to reveal and help that person move beyond his or her barriers. Coupled with the Enneagram, clients get both a somatic experience of how s/he comes across to others, as well as some powerful insights into the underlying motivations that keep habitual patterns in place.
This is the third of four blogs on The Equine Enneagram by Jane Strong.
An Enneagram teacher, business consultant, coach, and Senior Member of the Enneagram in Business Network, Jane is the pioneer in the field of the “Equine Enneagram.” An Equine Learning Instructor since the early 2000s, Jane combines her Enneagram expertise and her work with horses to accelerate her client’s growth, transformation, presence, and leadership skills. Jane can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The next Equine Enneagram blog explains how to work with Enneagram Body Center style Nine.