“You were an amazing coach and helped us all to see our individual and team strengths, and ways we can improve. We have lots to bring home with us! Thank you,” Malta (NY) Animal Hospital staff veterinarian, Michelle Bombard, DVM, told personal development and corporate leadership coach, Katie Navarra, after eight members of the MAH staff took part on August 8 in a half-day Equine-Assisted Learning (EAL) workshop to reconnect and explore what could move their already high-performance team to the next level.
It was Navarra’s first equine assisted coaching program since recently completing Equine Experiential Education Association (E3A) Level I Practitioner training.
“In the world of EAL, we say that horses are a mirror that reflect the emotions and behaviors that we are unable to see on our own. This workshop proved it. What stood out to me was that this was an already high-functioning, effective team that truly treats people like family. Along with that strength, they found that they work best under pressure. The horse activities helped them realize their communication and ‘groove’ slipped when the pace was moderate,” Navarra observed.
“Thank you,” she continued, “to all the participants for affirming that horses are our willing partners, and that they have a lot to offer as teachers when we are willing to reflect more deeply inward.”
Navarra recalls being personally moved during her own E3A training, by a Capstone Course experience in Colorado, when a herd of mustangs were presented as partners in the training: “It was a transformative experience, to translate what we know about horses into our personal and professional challenges, and use that to reconnect people with their purpose and passion in life.”
Navarra started her workshop with a ‘First Impressions’ introduction to horses Cam, Colton and Sierra, who were alternately turned loose in the arena while the MAH team was asked to observe and describe each horse. Next came team-building activities asking for “12-legged collaboration,” and finally, the goals of each participant, including generating new business ideas, reconnecting with hospital family, and understanding horse therapy, were revisited at the end of the workshop.
“The last year has been incredibly difficult for veterinarians and their staff to serve patients amid COVID. The pandemic compounded the compassion fatigue that is a real issue in the vet world,” she said. “The MAH team was eager to spend time together outside the practice to celebrate their collaboration and look for was to continue further team development.”
E3A (e3assoc.org) is the fastest growing equine assisted learning organization in the world and set the first Industry Standard Guide to address the concept of training people with horses. E3A Certification equips individuals, including coaches, consultants, educators, and mental health professionals, with greater ability to help others learn and grow, and offer transformational experiences through EAL (Equine Assisted Learning). Certification candidates must complete three classes and pass all E3A self-tests to attain Level 1 Practitioner Certification.
Navarra is a rider and award-winning agriculture and education writer of the 2020 AHP Equine Media Award-winning, Horses Helping Seniors, on the impact of horses on those with Alzheimer’s; Leading the Way, in the Spring 2021 CHROME and, for Business Insider Premium online, Three Professionals Who Worked with a Career Coach Share How It Helped Them Get Promoted, Land Better Jobs, and Increase Their Pay.
She is now accepting coaching clients via remote and in-person opportunities at your barn or hers, including corporate organizations and companies, profit and non-profit boards of directors and trustees, civic groups, and all others committed to personal growth and improvement. Get in touch at KatieNavarra.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Images available on request