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Equine Sport Therapy: Alexa Linton on healing with horses

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For some, they are beasts of burden. To others, they have partnered with mankind throughout history, in battles or in forging farm land. Alexander the Great credits his horse with helping him conquer most of the known world at the time by the time he was 26. Horses have been in service to humans for many an epoch. With the emergence of equine facilitated therapy, horses are bringing their healing hoofs to a therapeutic use. Equine Sport therapist Alexa Linton explains how.

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Linton started out as an Equine Sport Therapist in 2003 which means she works on horses doing Body work, saddle fitting and nutritional counseling. This is still the work that she does with her company BalanceWorks Wellness. This is completely different than Equine Guided Learning or Equine Facilitated Therapy which is done on the ground with the help of horses (no riding involved). Linton's background in Equine Sport Therapy inspired her to learn about Equine Facilitated Learning but they are very different things. The work that shes does with her horse Diva currently is Equine Facilitated Learning (no riding) combined with BodyTalk. Diva helps Linton in her sessions on the ground.

You are an Equine Sport Therapist. Tell me more about the kind of work you do and how you discovered this modality? Where did you train to work with horses in a therapeutic capacity?

Equine Sport Therapy really found me more than I found it. I was in my fifth year of university studying Kinesiology and wondering what I was going to do with the rest of my life. One day, browsing the web, I discovered a college in Vernon, BC where I could learn to work with horses doing rehabilitation and treatment. I can't tell you how excited I was! At the time I had recently rediscovered my passion for horses and was riding a horse with structural imbalances. I found myself extremely curious about alternative methods of treatment. That was over ten years ago now and I love this work! It is incredibly rewarding to work with horses and their people this way. Dave, my teacher at the BC College of Equine Therapy is a pioneer in the field of holistic equine well-being which meant that our program covered everything from equine massage and acupressure, to magnet therapy, aromatherapy, energy work and flower essences. And I am constantly adding new tools to my tool kit!

After a decade of working with horses, how would you described your own style of equine facilitated healing?

Great question. Because of my background in Equine Sport Therapy and my long-time passion for exploring the equine-human partnership both with my own mare Diva and my clients, I'm able to bring a very cool dynamic to the work. It is a unique blend of intuition, insight and embodiment and has a powerful positive effect on clients. I also bring to the table years of training and apprenticeships in this area. For those who are curious about Equine Facilitated Healing or Learning, this is a blossoming field where horses take part in the healing sessions for people, sharing their well-honed wisdom and awareness with often miraculous results and aha's. In the sessions here at my farm in the Cowichan Valley (on Vancouver Island), I work with a herd of three mares and in particular my mare Diva, creating a safe container for people to experience the presence and teachings of the horses. I also add in my main modality of BodyTalk as we go to make the sessions that much more juicy and effective!

How do you explain the healing effect of equine facilitated therapy? There has been improvement noticed in autistic children who have experienced the healing ability of horses. What is happening do you think that is the cause of these outcomes?

Horses come by healing naturally. In a herd dynamic, the health of each individual relies on the health of the whole group. It means that horses are in tune with the physical, emotional and energetic health of each herd member and do the same with people. Typically, a horse can track down a physical imbalance within seconds of meeting you. Because they are so in tune, they also know exactly how someone is feeling, even if that person is not able or willing to admit it to themselves or others. And they are incredible at finding our "spots", those places that we try to keep hidden about ourselves, and bringing them to the surface. As a healer, this can be one of the most effective ways to do deep work and horses do it naturally and easily. It is a part of who they are - it is unsafe in the herd for something to be hidden or skewed. You can imagine how healing it is for someone who has never been seen clearly in the human world to finally be understood and "seen" without any judgement, criticism or dishonesty. This is just a part of the power of working with horses. It is hard to describe as anything other than magical!

Another modality that you are skilled in is something called BodyTalk. Oprah Winfrey is apparently a fan of it. How do you describe BodyTalk to someone who has never heard of it? How does it work?

The BodyTalk System is my favorite healing system to work with and I've studied a fair number! I've been practicing BodyTalk for close to seven years and it just keeps getting more and more rich. The most important thing for me with any healing system is real, practical results and BodyTalk delivers. Essentially, what it is, is a consciousness-based energy medicine system that is based on the understanding that each one of us has an innate wisdom, that part of us that understands how to heal. By facilitating a connection with this innate wisdom we're able to create awareness in the body-mind that naturally allows it to heal and shift. We use a tapping technique on the head and over the heart to help facilitate the shift. It is one of the most complex and at the same time, simple, systems imaginable and the results are nothing short of miraculous. For more information on BodyTalk I would invite you to check out www.bodytalksystem.com. (I also have a video of one of my favourite BodyTalk techniques, perfect for balancing the brain and creating focus and clarity - check it out here: http://youtu.be/NKnlbO9scRs)

Shortly after Valentine's Day you launched a BodyTalk group coaching series called "From Broken to Better than Ever' which addressed with emotional issues associated with the heart. How does applying BodyTalk to a group differ from individual sessions with people? Could you describe more about this series and how it works?

This program was inspired by my own life experiences and my personal journey back from a broken heart. After a particularly devastating end to a relationship in early December and the subsequent healing process, I felt a deep desire to share my learning and my process with other woman and men who had experienced something similar. Heart break can be deeply affecting, more so than we often know, with roots into our physical well-being, our inner fire or lack there of in life, our ability to be present in relationships or to ever trust again. After experiencing the possibility of coming through a devastating betrayal and literally going from broken to my best ever - with more fire, inspiration and focus then I've ever experienced before - I knew that I had to share and help others make the same walk. This was confirmed when I talked with so many women especially who had experienced a similar situation to mine and had made their way partially through or were stuck, but were so ready to take the rest of the trip to a whole and healed heart. This group program includes four BodyTalk sessions with discussion and lots of one-on-one work. It is designed for a small group to move through this powerful journey together, supporting each other and opening the doors for deep reflection and insight. I'm excited to be offering one here on the farm starting in late May 2014 and another online course starting in June 2014. Dates will be up on my site soon!

Another coaching series you are offering for the spring is the 11-day inspired business master cleanse. What's this package about and how does it address business issues faced by participants?

The 11 day Inspired Business Master Cleanse is a fun and creative way to clear up "stuff" that might be blocking your business from moving forward in an easeful way. What I mean by "stuff" is all the old beliefs, fears, paradigms, relationships and even excuses that are holding you back and keeping you stuck. I developed this individual program after doing my own business cleanse using BodyTalk and finding it very effective. Using BodyTalk we can get deep into the subconscious factors that are holding you and your business hostage and get things flowing. Essentially, this program is set up over 11 days and you can start whenever you would like! It includes two one-on-one 45 minute BodyTalk sessions with me from anywhere in the world, a workbook and several other supportive exercises. All the feedback from this course has been great - people have loved it! (http://alexalinton.com/master-cleanse/)

As a follow-up to BodyTalk sessions, what are your Bonfire sessions all about? What can people look forward to?

The Bonfire Sessions are a fun monthly BodyTalk session that I've developed as a gift to my community. Anyone in my world can take part and it will be done over Spreecast each month - so you get the benefit of a BodyTalk session from the comfort of your own home. The focus of the bonfire session will be a little different each month with the main theme being letting go of the old and allowing the new, hence the term Bonfire. The first one will be on May 8th and if you'd like to join in you can sign up here (http://alexalinton.com/bonfire-sessions/).

Even though you are located in British Columbia it doesn't mean that you clients have to be local or able to travel to see you. How can you be sure that distance coaching will work for BodyTalk as well as an in person session? On the surface, the whole notion of distance coaching for a modality that address mind-body issues, is hard to grasp logically.

Another great question. Distance sessions are definitely a stretch for many people, usually until they experience on themselves! It can be hard for us to wrap our heads around the idea that I could be sitting in my house here on Vancouver Island and working on you across the world and that it could be just as effective as being in the same room. I admit, it was very hard to wrap my own brain around this when I first started doing them six years ago. But the results spoke for themselves and that's what I always listen to. This is just one more reason I love BodyTalk. The BodyTalk sessions that I do at a distance have proven again and again to be just as effective, which allows me to work with so many more incredible clients around the world and to work with groups. I love it because of all the possibilities it opens up!

For those who can go to where you are, tell me what is available at your FireFly Farm & Studio? What is the "All Lit Up" 2 day intensive all about?

Firefly Farm & Studio is a beautiful 11 acre property located in the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island. It is picturesque and peaceful, with a view of the lake, cedars, wild flowers and nesting eagles. It is also the home of myself and our herd of horses. All of my Equine Facilitated Light up sessions with the horses happen here, as well as BodyTalk for people in the local area and my private intensives which include All Lit Up. All Lit Up is something I've been envisioning for a number of years and I'm incredibly excited to be offering it at the farm this year. It is an absolutely unique two-day private intensive with Diva, myself and my favorite photographer Devon Gillott.

Essentially, this two days is all about bringing out your inner light and then capturing it! It is perfect for anyone who has had trouble getting in front of the camera, finds themselves shutting down as the centre of attention or is fearful of really being "seen". Devon is one of those photographers who allows people to feel totally at ease. She has the ability to capture the true essence of everyone she works with. You'll spend the whole time here at the farm, with wonderful little trips around the valley, whatever you need to feel turned on from the inside out! Plus BodyTalk and experiential work with Diva and of course, hair and makeup. There are only three spaces available this year and I have a feeling they will fill up quickly! There are also several private one-day intensive spots with myself and Diva available - a great way to get re-focused and re-ignited. (http://alexalinton.com/all-lit-up/)

The Diva Project is something you have spearheaded. What is it's mission and purpose? Any exciting plans for it in 2014?

The Diva Project was birthed at 3:00am in the morning last year after many years of wondering, dreaming and journaling. I was at a hugely pivotal point in my life at the time and combined with my ten year journey with my mare Diva, the Diva Project began. I often say that it is for black sheep and ugly ducklings and it is, but truly it is for all of us, every one of us has an inner diva that wants a voice. My tagline "Get your shine on" indicates a little of what being a Diva is really all about. Not the negative definition we hear about in the media or learn from past generations, but a woman that knows deeply who she is, what she needs and how truly valuable and amazing she is. This knowing is not from a place of arrogance, but rather, from a place of deeply centered truth.

My redefinition of Diva is Divine Inspired Vessel of Awesomeness to denote that really being a Diva is allowing life and your divine nature to live through you and create something amazing in this world. And the more that we can let go of the stigma around "being a Diva" being a bad thing the better. It is actually most healing to speak up for ourselves, set boundaries and ask for what we need - and I learned this all from my horse Diva who knows exactly what it means to be a true diva! I envision this project moving into more work with the horses with the younger generations of girls and woman, to inspire them into deeper respect and self knowing. I am also in the works of writing my first book, aptly titled Becoming a Diva and talking more deeply about my relationship with Diva my mare and my own inner diva. I'm very excited to see what comes in the next year!

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