(Please see Workshops: Linda & Senior Staff page for advanced workshop descriptions.)
Eponaquest Apprenticeship Program
The entire program is designed to assist participants in discovering their unique gifts, honing their powers of adaptability and innovation, sharpening equestrian and facilitation skills, improving written and spoken communication skills, and carving out their own niche in this fast-growing, multi-faceted field (Specific descriptions and program dates can be found under the individual programs — Equine Facilitated Learning or Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy.).
We make every effort to bring together a diverse, well-balanced, mutually supportive, conscientious group of self-motivated individuals who are either already active in this field or seriously planning to start their own practices. Those who successfully complete the program will be listed on the Eponaquest website as recommended practitioners of this work, and they will receive referrals from us as people contact Eponaquest searching for Equine Facilitated Experiential Learning (EFEL)practitioners in their areas.
EFEL is an educational model, and at Eponaquest we employ the emotional message chart, the false self/authentic self paradigm, the body scan, energy fields and boundary handout, and other tools to assist the clients in their personal awareness of feeling states, body sensations, boundaries and intrusive dysfunctional thoughts.
At Eponaquest we teach individuals, through the Way of the Horse, to take their experiences home and make changes in their lives, if they choose. Our hope is that they can use these tools and experiences to change irrational thoughts and dysfunctional patterns, which have kept them stuck in a survival mentality, and help them to move into a thriving place for more creative and productive lives.
Only apprenticeship program graduates who are qualified Mental Health Workers, according to the regulations of the state where they will practice, will qualify to integrate EFEL principles with their therapeutic or counseling approach. However, it is essential to distinguish between EFEL and mental health models, particularly the area of Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy (EFP).
Psychotherapy is a long-term process involving one-on-one therapeutic sessions with a client and the therapist. It requires an intimate connection and regular sessions. While qualified therapists apprenticing at Eponaquest are assisted in considering how they might integrate EFEL principles into an EFP Practice, psychotherapy is not taught or practiced in Epona EFEL training programs.
In addition to the three on-site nine-day training sessions and ongoing support from small group facilitators, apprentices will have four (4) hours of individual consultation with Linda throughout the year, and four (4) hours with other designated Eponaquest staff of their choosing.
It is important that apprentices understand the financial and time commitment involved. In addition to the three on-site training weeks, there are between session reading and writing assignments, as well as riding lesson and horsemanship assignments. As part of their financial commitment, apprentices should factor into their budgets allowance for lodging and meals other than lunch during the three on-site weeks, book purchases, and for riding and horsemanship lessons (up to 10). Upon graduation, and once they begin doing the Eponaquest Approach™ work, newly approved instructors are asked to engage in six sessions of supervision with an Eponaquest approved supervisor.
We do not expect apprentices to be able to handle the intensity of this work without their own issues surfacing from time to time. However, in order to consistently maintain the safety needed for clients and horses, apprentices must be able to quickly identify their triggers and the behavior patterns that follow.
One of Eponaquest’s principles is identifying and differentiating between congruent vs. incongruent feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. For instance, as individuals we have good and bad days, outside stresses, and unexpected circumstances that contribute to fluctuations in wellness and awareness. When it comes to mirroring hidden emotions, horses do not distinguish between the client and the facilitator. Thus apprentices must also learn to process any of their own incongruities that may arise while facilitating others. This is an opportunity for the apprentice to model, in the client’s presence, how to process the information.
There is a fine line between being “real” and being professional. Apprentices will succeed as long as they maintain self-awareness, integrity, and consistency with their words and are willing to seek and receive feedback from instructors, other facilitators, and clients.
- Prior to being accepted into the apprenticeship training program, all applicants are required to complete an introductory workshop offered by an Eponaquest Instructor. (Please see the Workshops section for qualifying programs.) Direct experience of this work gives applicants and Eponaquest instructors and staff a clearer sense of whether or not the level of mutual commitment required by a program such as this is a viable undertaking for the interested parties. Introductory Level workshops offered by Eponaquest Instructors meet the pre-requisite standards.
- Requirements for application to the apprenticeship program may be met through one of the following three paths:
- Path 1: Attending the Eponaquest Advanced Study Experience (EASE) in the USA or the NOW program internationally or attending the Eponaquest International Integrated Riding Program (EIIR) in the USA or the UK. Attendance at an introductory workshop is a prerequisite for application to the apprenticeship program, as per above..
- Path 2:The completion of three Eponaquest workshops as follows:
- Option 1, Part A: An introductory workshop offered by an Eponaquest Instructor that covers the basic philosophy, skills, and activities of the Eponaquest Approach™ to Equine Facilitated Experiential Learning.(See Introductory Workshops – USA or Introductory Workshops – International.) For information on qualifying workshops, contact Sue Smades at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Option 1, Part B: Two extended workshops of four or more days: one with Linda Kohanov as the primary facilitator, and another may be with an Eponaquest Senior Faculty member, as listed below.
- Option 2: Two extended workshops of four or more days (one with with Linda Kohanov as the primary facilitator and another which may be with an Eponaquest Senior Faculty Member, either one of which must qualify as an Introductory workshop) and, subsequently, an extended, individually-designed training program of four or more days, as approved by Linda Kohanov, with one or more Senior Faculty Members as listed below:
- Path 3: Attending the four-week program Developing Coaching Skills Through Horse Wisdom. Those students who want to begin the apprenticeship during the same year as the coach training program may join a scheduled apprenticeship program after completing three weeks of the coach training program.
- Apprentices must either own their own horse(s) or have routine access to a particular horse in order to practice with the horse throughout the training period.
- Due to the rise in equine-facilitated therapy and experiential learning industry standards, applicants must have at least five (5) years or 2,000 hours of horse experience. This experience can include owning horses, riding lessons, participation in show circuits, instructing, and/or training, etc. (Programs will soon be in place at Eponaquest for those needing to develop their riding skills. The opportunity to enhance ground work skills, basic riding skills and authentic community building skills is currently available through the Eponaquest Advanced Study Program (EASE). Additional programs will soon be in place at Eponaquest for those needing to develop their riding skills.)
- Individuals applying to the Eponaquest Apprenticeship Program and the Eponaquest Advanced Study Experience (EASE) program are expected to have some experience with group dynamics. This could include support groups, work team building, as well as therapeutic groups. The key is for individuals to have some experience and an idea of how to interact supportively and successfully with other group members — in other words, how to support, give appropriate feedback, listen, and encourage other members. Much of the teaching and learning during the year will give individuals more experience and opportunity to hone their group dynamics skills. However, as in all endeavors, nothing can replace personal experience. We cannot expect others to share openly if we have not ourselves understood the vulnerability and risk this requires of each person. Facilitators cannot take anyone further then they themselves have gone. If a facilitator has blind spots, secrets or unconscious patterns, their unconscious behavior is likely to effect others and block them from reaching their full potential. During the course, participants will have opportunities to discover, uncover and reclaim lost parts of themselves. We expect this commitment from our apprentices and we commit to support them as they travel this path.
- Applicants must be mentally and emotionally stable and exhibit a level of personal maturity. The apprenticeship program is designed for people who have already started to move beyond a survival orientation to a creative, emotionally vital thriving lifestyle. Throughout the year, they will further integrate the gifts of “both worlds”: learning to ground intuitive, empathic, and shamanic insights into everyday reality while also learning to relate to others in an authentic community. While this program is not appropriate for people with a history of serious mental health issues, those who’ve faced life challenges—such as divorce, family conflicts, low-level depression and milder forms of emotional abuse—and have worked through these issues with a counselor, may apply.
- The Eponaquest Apprenticeship training is a rigorous program, and working with horses can be physically demanding. It is important that applicants be physically fit and in good health.
Applicants are required to submit an electronic copy of their application to Sue Smades at email@example.com.
Additionally, there is an $80 application processing fee. To pay by credit or debit card or for information regarding where to send your bank check, cashiers check or money order, contact the Eponaquest office at 520-455-5908. Please note, personal checks are no longer accepted.
Listed below are the items that comprise the Apprenticeship application. Please provide the information in a Microsoft Word document that is a maximum of four (4) pages using text only — no photos or graphics.
- Date application and include name, address, phone number, and email address
- List schools, programs, trainings, certifications, etc. that have supported your growth and development
- Include the name of teaching/training institution, year/time attended, and a one to two sentence description of the program, its purpose and value to you.
- Professional Experience in one or more of the following fields:
- Riding Instructor/Trainer, Educator,
- 5 or more years of horse experience,
- Licensed Mental Health Worker,
- Shamanic Training,
- Alternative Human Health Care,
- Animal Health Care,
- Unique Experience, Skills, Connections
Note: Specify the number of years of experience you have in each area and the particular nature of each category (e.g. Dressage Riding Instructor for seven years, High School teacher for ten years.)
- Describe your initial experience with Eponaquest. Indicate nature of experience (workshop, private sessions, or an intensive), the name(s) of facilitator(s) and workshop(s), and dates. Indicate which of the Epona concepts or activities were difficult to integrate when you returned home? For example, the concept of emotion as information, authentic community building skills, or the false-self/authentic-self metaphor. Which of the concepts were most useful?
- List the date and Facilitator of the Eponaquest Introductory Workshop you attended along with the names and dates of the qualifying workshops with Linda Kohanov and Eponaquest Senior Faculty member.
- Horse Experience (you do not have to be an advanced rider to do this work, but some experience with horses is essential).
- Describe your attraction to the field of Equine Facilitated Experiential Learning. Why are you attracted to the Epona Apprenticeship Program?
- Given the requirements and energetic demands of the Apprenticeship Program, describe how you will integrate it with your personal and work life during the year of training.
- Describe your goals in this field (e.g., running your own EFEL center, adding EFP to your counseling practice, creating a more holistic, emotionally supportive rider instruction program, etc.)
- Indicate the state of your mental and physical health.
- Knowing yourself as you do, if you were to run into a problem during the apprenticeship year, what might it be? How do you imagine the program could help you acknowledge and address that issue?
- If so advised by an Eponaquest Instructor, are you willing to seek outside help in an area where there seems to be a deficiency?
- Indicate your capacity to send and receive emails with Microsoft Word attachments via computer on a routine basis. If you do not currently have this capacity, indicate whether or not you are willing and able to acquire the necessary setup and knowledge. (This electronic exchange among Eponaquest personnel and apprentices is integral to providing professional, personal, and logistical support.)
Applicants will receive email notification as to whether or not they passed the paper-screening phase. Phone interviews for those passing will be scheduled by Sue Smades. The application process will continue until the program is full and a waiting list is established.
What You Will Learn as an Apprentice:
In the Eponaquest Apprenticeship Program, students learn about:
- Creating an effective herd capable of mirroring a variety of human issues
- Assisting horses develop the necessary skills to support clients
- An overview of The Eponaquest Approach™ to teaching riding lessons
- Facilitating a variety of round pen activities
- Using creative visualization and the body scan to help clients connect with themselves and their horses
- Observing the horse’s behavorial feedback and assisting clients in reading those equine messages
- Helping riders work through any emotional issues that impede their performance
- Studying and evaluating various riding, training, and therapeutic styles
- Developing a personal style of facilitating that draws on the facilitator’s strengths and interests
- Adapting various ground training and mounted activities to teach human development skills, including self-empowerment, anger management, emotional fitness and agility, leadership, team building, conflict resolution, creativity and expanded multi-sensory awareness
- Running a humane, creative, equine-facilitated educational center in which horses, clients and staff members are encouraged to be authentic with one another, ask for help, and develop their own strengths and talents in a nurturing, empowering, congruent environment
What You Will Learn as an Apprentice: Educational / Mental Health Components
Students learn how to:
- Create containment and a consistently safe and nurturing environment conducive to optimal learning.
- Identify clients’ coping strategies and behavioral patterns used to survive, assisting them in developing behaviors which move them to a place of thriving rather than surviving
- Understand and recognize Dissociation, including the differences between Discordant and Concordant Dissociation
- Understand and work with projection and transference, their role in relationships, and teach clients to be able to do the same
- Differentiate various Personality Traits from more severe Personality Disorders
- Appreciate when a client needs more than education and therefore when to refer the client for counseling or psychotherapy
- Identify subtle energetic cues from the horse and teach clients how to use that information to understand fully their own subtle energies and underlying thought patterns
- Know, through body cues and thought patterns, when the facilitator is triggered and be able to effectively deal with these personal issues
- Differentiate between the client’s and the facilitator’s intuitive messages and intruding or egocentric thoughts
- “Dance” with clients: to move in and out of their process, assisting them without too many words while providing consistent support
Students also may explore:
- Ways of incorporating art, music, and dance into workshops, horse camps, and educational sessions sessions
- Transformational activities with horses, including shamanic journeys, myth, storytelling, and journaling
- Approaches to greater self-awareness and acceptance through mindfulness practices
- Techniques for using the Eponaquest Approach™ in teaching riding